Wednesday, February 2, 2011

imbolc

Most of us know today as Groundhog Day (if we know it as anything at all) wherein a furry little creature predicts an early or late Spring.  It is indeed a seasonal turning point.  We’re seeing it in our own yard and community with the first signs of sprouting, an occasional mild warming and the changing of the light.  Just a few days ago Ryan realized that when he drove home from work it wasn’t dark!  The little green leaves of the tulips have begun to wedge their way out of the ground and, were we sheep keepers, I understand that traditionally this would be the time they’d begin to lamb.  That’s why, prior to Punxsutawney Phil or his European badger predecessor, the ancient pagans named this day Imbolc (which means “in the belly”).


It’s mid-winter, or the winter cross quarter day, marking the mid-point between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox.  It’s also the celebration day of the pagan goddess Brigid or the Christian St. Brigid’s Day or Candlemas (if you’re Catholic).  It’s a time when people of many traditions celebrate the lengthening of days and the “return of the light” with all its metaphysical implications.  For the earth it is a re-birth.  It’s also a time when many celebrate the light that has been held dear during the dark of winter - both candlelight and the hearth of the home.  We’ve decided today to burn our fading evergreen wreath to send winter on it’s way.  When it’s gone, we’ll clean the fireplace and spread the ashes in the garden. We’ll also make some changes to our nature table, stories, books and play.  Father Frost will stay but will begin to make way for the Children of Spring.  Some changes will wait until the traditional Equinox but we can see it already, the return is approaching!  On this cold winter day, we celebrate for that which is to come...

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