May 29, 2007

Hey, what is that?

Sometimes I wish people would ask instead of stare. St. Brigid's cross is certainly unique, as crosses go. If you've read Brigid of Ireland, you know that in the final chapter Brigid weaves her famous cross. But it's a book without illustrations, so you may not know what it looks like. Now you do.

The Christian version of the story is that Brigid wove this cross out of rushes she picked up from the floor. (Rushes were spread to soften the hard dirt floor, an ancient carpet of sorts.) She was attending a dying pagan and wove the cross to pass the time. In the process, she talked about Jesus and His sacrifice on the cross. As a result, the poor man found salvation before he died.

Some say that the cross represents the sun, an object of pagan worship. An ancient interpretation is that the four corners point to the four seasons or the four festivals of Beltane (May, the beginning of summer), Lughnasadh (August, harvest), Samhain (October, the end of harvest), and Imbolc (February, the beginning of spring.) Since this calendar was based on the solar and lunar calendar, it's a logical explanation of the cross looking like a sun.

Imbolc (also Imbolg) is celebrated on February 1, the day of St. Brigid's feast. That is the day the crosses are traditionally woven and hung over doorways. While the cross may symbolize the rebirth of the earth in the spring, it also represents the story of Brigid using it to save a dying a pagan. The Christian cross is also a symbol of rebirth, the new life that is possible because of Jesus' sacrifice on the cross. It seems there is no separating these stories about St. Brigid's cross.

Here's a site you might want to check out: Irish Festivals

Do you have a favorite St. Brigid's cross? Send me a picture and I'll post them here!
Actually, there is a small cross on the book's cover. See if you can spot it and let me know.

May 16, 2007

Celtic Symbolism/HAPPY ST. BRENDAN

©Cindy Thomson

Many people are curious about Celtic symbols and the meaning behind them. Some Christians are even fearful of them, fearing all Celtic symbols as pagan.

I came across a wonderfully written article by jewerly maker Stephen Walker. The article was written back in 1996, but he has added new information. Anyone interested in this topic should read it. You can find it here.

May 16 is the feast day for St. Brendan, perhaps the first white man to discover North America. Read more about him here.
St. Brendan's Cathedral ©Cindy Thomson