Brigid, Foraging, Imbolc, Plants, Uncategorized

Imbolc or the Beginnings of Spring

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Brigid’s cross. Yes, I made this.

Imbolc marks the first stirrings of Spring in the Northern hemisphere, either February 1st or 2nd, depending on your source for dates. Some years, Winter hangs on and lingers; but this year, at least on the West coast, Spring has Sprung!

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Chives peeking up in my garden.

Imbolc is associated with the Goddess Brigid in Ireland, and the violet is one  of Her flowers.

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Sure enough they are just getting ready to bloom.

Brigid is considered the Goddess of Water and Fire. I’ve been exploring the Red Alder, Alnus Rubra, and gathering bark and catkins as the tree is flowering at this time in late winter/ early spring. It’s not traditionally associated with Brigid or Imbolc, but I still consider it fitting as a tree of Water and Fire. Alder has an affinity for wet climates and watery places. It’s a gateway plant, meaning it’s one of the first trees to come back where humans or fires have disrupted the land. Alder fixes nitrogen into the soil and remediates the ph. As a relatively short lived tree, it grooms the soil for longer lasting trees to take over and thrive again.¹ The fire part comes in the bark. When the bark is scratched or peeled it turns red. Considering the Doctrine of Signatures, we would guess that Alder is useful to the blood, which in fact it is. It aids the lymphatic system and is anti-microbial. For an amazing in-depth monograph on Alder, read this by Kiva Rose.² Dried alder bark helps with digestive issues. The tincture turns a lovely red just like the dried bark.

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Alder bark tincture as it looked just before I got lost in the viewfinder of the camera and kicked it over. Hmph.

What signs of Spring can you find in your own yard or neighborhood? What are your experiences with alder?

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Kitty checking out the Spring garden. My artichokes came back in Nov. and so did most of the ones around town and they’ve made it through the little bit of freezing weather we had the end of Dec.

¹http://arnoldia.arboretum.harvard.edu/pdf/articles/1995-55-4-a-nitrogen-fixation-the-story-of-the-frankia-symbiosis.pdf

²http://bearmedicineherbals.com/rivermedicine.html

All information here is for educational purposes and not intended treat any medical conditions. If you have any questions please consult your doctor.

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