My weekend with St Brigid

Posted on: February 8, 2024

We’ve just passed Imbolc – the mid point between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. We’ve survived the darkest quarter of the year and the first sniffings of Spring are on their way.

I’m just back from  Dublin after a weekend celebrating St Brigid, one of three patron saints of Ireland whose saint’s day (now a public holiday) is on Imbolc.

Brigid was a kickass woman who, in the fifth century, founded a convent and was famous for her miracle of turning water into beer. She is also known for the distinctive St Brigid’s Cross – woven from reeds and placed in the home to protect it from harm.

I spent a happy Sunday afternoon in a packed room of mostly women and girls at the Dublin Botanical Gardens learning how to make one. Although my shaky first attempt was far from perfect, I loved the process of learning how to make something with my hands from natural materials, and remembered the joy of creativity I felt as a kid – before I learnt to judge my efforts.

In the abstract, digital world of work, with its endless inbox that feels like rolling a rock up hill, I’m increasingly drawn to tactile activities I can do with my hands. Whether it’s cooking, baking, gardening or art –  making things provides a distinct Beginning, Middle and End and something tangible to show for my efforts. 

Also, the resulting product has a finite life span – food gets eaten, flowers bloom and fade,  A Brigid’s Cross is displayed in the house for a year, then replaced the following February with a fresh one.

If you’re feeling depleted by your digital tasks, try making something with your hands. Capitalism seduces us to buy and consume stuff to feel better about ourselves, whispering poison in our ears that our own efforts to create aren’t good enough and won’t pass the “Insta” test. It feels safer to be a consumer than risk being a creator.  

This Imbolc I invite you to notice if  you’ve been holding back from simple creativity, let go of any judgment about how “good” your product is and  rediscover the simple joy of making stuff.