Imbolc 2010

Imbolc                                            Waning Cold Moon

Though daytime begins to gradually increase right after the Winter Solstice, it is not until Imbolc that we begin to see actual signs of life’s return.  An early indication of life’s strong statement against the inertia of the cold comes as ewe’s become pregnant, have life within their bellies–imbolc.  Not many of us (Gentlemen Jim Johnson excepted, of course) have pregnant sheep in our lives, so this early pointer to the green means little to us.

The weather in Celtic lands had rain and chilly, but not cold, weather in these months, so the grass and plant life would begin to emerge.  Here in Minnesota this week often has some of the coldest temperatures of the year and snow is far from unusual.

The only U.S. ritual I know of directly related to Imbolc is Punxsutwaney Phil. Click this link for a direct immersion in this small Pennsylvania town which still celebrates an animal, the woodchuck, who comes up from a hole in the ground and checks the weather to give an indication of winter’s length.  His prediction stretches out six weeks which takes us close to the time of the spring equinox on or about March 20th.  In other words he predicts the weather during the season of Imbolc.

It’s been a while since I’ve written about my favorite Celtic goddess, Brigit.  This is her holiday and the candles in the picture here allude to the sacred fire, kept burning day and night, for at least 1,000 years and probably much longer, in her honor in the Irish county Kildare.  Brigit is a triple goddess, common in Celtic lore; she is the goddess of the smithy, the hearth and the poet.

The link between these aspects of her is fire and creativity.  The smith, in the time of the ancient Celts was a wonder worker, developing strong tools, weapons and jewelry for the people.  The hearth is the center of domestic life and the Irish put it out once a year and relit it from a large bonfire built on the sacred hill at Tara.  Finally, the poet, a crucial element in Celtic political and creative life, drew his or her inspiration from the holy fire of Brigit’s presence.

Imbolc, called Candlemas by Catholics, is a good time to examine the creative projects in your life:  at work, at home, in any location where you reach in to  your Self and offer something back to the world.  You may want Brigit to participate with you in that search, or you may want St. Brigit, the Catholic saint named after her.

Live into this holiday and this creative season as a person on fire.

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