Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Brigid's Cross - a Cross Stitch Freebie for Imbolc

Before too much time passes, I want to take note of the upcoming next turn of the Wheel - Imbolc, Oimelc, St. Brigid's Day, Groundhog's Day....  Feb. 2 is yet another date that shares holiday time with cultures and eras around the world and across time.

Brigit - a Celtic goddess that was revered not only in Celtic cultures, but also by many in the Roman territories, is a complex figure.  She is goddess of the hearth, of the fires of coming spring, of midwifery, and metalworking and poetry.  For me that all comes together as creative passion and energy, especially that of women... especially that creative passion exercised in domestic life.

This time of year, domestic animals become pregnant and Brigit is connected to ewes (Oimelc means 'ewe's milk, while Imbolc means 'in the belly') and with cows as givers of milk.  She's also connected to snakes and to animals that hibernate.

Perhaps more so than any other pagan deity, Brigid has been incorporated into Christian legend in such a complete way that it is no longer clear which legends began as pagan myth, and which began as Christian saint stories - the cross pollination of storytelling has flowed back and forth for centuries.. and really, isn't that just right for a Celtic goddess who is connected to the Bardic power of story and poetry?

For Christians, Brigit was the midwife to Mary, and February 2 was also the day Mary had completed her 40 day of being 'unclean' following Jesus' birth, and went to present him to the temple.  For pagans, Brigid is midwife to all of nature and her holy day shows the first real stirrings of spring since the Sun was born at Solstice.

Brigid's Cross is one of those symbols that began as a sun symbol - a sunwheel... crossed into Christian custom and associated with St. Brigit, and then was treated in a very pagan manner (and likely stemming from older, existing customs), where it was hung near the doorway of homes for protection and good fortune.  It was generally made of rushes or straw brought in and saved at the end of the previous harvest, and the older cross was either burned in the hearth or broken up and tilled into the soil for the next year's crop.

I've decided I'm going to do a small ornament-sized free chart for each turn of the Wheel, and I wanted to get this up early enough to be usable.  I find there is a shortage of pagan cross stitch graphs, and would like to do my part to expand the available choices.  If you do one, please comment back here and share your result!  Happy Imbolc!


  1. Thank you so much, this is so super. As I told you, I can't stitch that much any more but my granddaughter (my old soul) has shown an interest in learning how to. This is coming just at the right time to give her a project that she can do now and keep. You are a blessing, thank you. The Olde Bagg, Linda

  2. Oh good! I hope she enjoys it! It's so much fun passing it on to the next generation, isn't it?

  3. Being Irish, Brigid's crosses are a natural part of my life.
    I would love to keep that pattern as a future project, unlikely (due to other projects!) to do it this year.
    Your idea of sharing it with future generations is lovely.