As the light lengthens, so the cold strengthens- traditional saying
Welcome the time of the year when we experience a 'quickening’.
Imbolc owes its origins to Celtic cultures, with the earliest mentions of Imbolc in Irish literature dating back to the 10th century. It centred on lighting of fires at a time when winter is still yet to find its footing. It is also the day of Bridgid, a Celtic goddess of fire, healing & fertility who crossed the boundary of the pagan world to become venerated as a saint, such was her influence. She was worshipped by the Filid, a class of poets and historians among the Celts of ancient Ireland and Britain. As for the Christian calendar, this celebration became 'Candlemas' when candles are lit to remember the purification of the Virgin Mary.
It was traditionally the beginning of the lambing the original word Imbolg means 'in the belly' – pregnant, expectant a time of hidden potential.
Bring light into your life and into the lives of others, heal wounds, forget disputes, and banish darkness. The illumination we bring to our homes and gardens through candles, fairy lights, fires at this time of the year not only reflects our want for the sun to return, bringing us light and warmth, but also in our own lives it can represent illuminating our ideas and wishes for the year ahead. If we look to nature to guide us we see a few resilient, foolhardy plants that bring hope to us when we see them. It is wonderful how each year we seem to have a type of amnesia that makes us forget we see this every year so that we can feel a real sense of elation at witnessing the snowdrop, the catkin, the witch-hazel as if for the first time. But apart from these stoic plants most of nature is in a state of standby, of preparation and readiness for when spring bursts back into our lives.
So rather than jumping in, let’s take a step back and just start to formulate those ideas, visualise the possibilities, select from a multitude of things we may want to a shortlist of those things we can realistically achieve. As with all seeds we need to do some work before we plant them and we have to be patient until we reach that optimum time that will ensure they have the best chance of thriving. Now is not that time – it’s still cold and dark but at least things are moving in the right direction – find a path.
Perhaps a bit of Spring-cleaning is needed as you look towards the future and let go of things of the past that you no longer need to be a part of your life. Tidy up your life, the space you live in and even your acquaintances and friends. This could mean casting out but it can equally mean bringing in. And if you haven’t already done so take your Christmas greenery and decorations down.
‘End now the white loaf and the pie, And let all sports of Christmas die’
Candlemas was at one time the time that all signs of the Christmas festivities were removed. It is believed this was changed to twelfth night because people were slumbering rather than working which was enforced by the promise of very bad luck if you didn’t do this!
You could instead decorate your home by making a Bridgid's Cross from straw, ribbons or paper.
Candlemas Day(2nd Feb) was also known as Badgers Day as it was said that hibernating Badgers woke up and emerged from their Sett on this day. Following the old weather rhyme that warns;
‘If Candlemas day be dry and fair, the half of winter is to come and mair!’ the Badger if he found it was sunny and that he could see the shadow of his tail, he would turn round and go back into his sett to continue his sleep !