Imbolc, which in Celtic means “in the belly” is a holyday representing Hope. This is the celebration of the stirring of the seeds underground. Day by day, darkness gives way to light at morning and evening. There is a sense of the eventual coming of spring, but we feel a restlessness or cabin fever also. This can be the bleakest time of the year when we can wonder if spring will ever come. We long to spend more time outdoors instead of hidden inside.
What seeds are stirring in you? What is restless to emerge? What of yourself do you wish to bring to light instead of to keep in darkness?
Imbolc is a solar holyday, based on the position of the earth to the sun. It has traditionally been celebrated as a fire festival, and also honors Brigid (or Bride), the ancient Celtic goddess of poetry, healing and smithing. It is a celebration of fertility of the coming spring, both with livestock as well as crops.
What do you want to fertilize in yourself? What do you want fire to activate or purify in your life? What do you hope to heal?
Smithing is about hammering and forging metals into a desired shape for a desired function. What are you needing to forge in your life?
The Christianized holiday placed on Imbolc is Candlemas, when there are candle ceremonies throughout the world, welcoming the return of the light of the sun. So strong a figure was Brigid in the Irish culture that she was made into a saint in the early Christian church, and Candlemas is her day.
Candles represent light and life and enlightenment. What do you choose to shed light upon?
Groundhog day is also celebrated on Imbolc. Legend has it that if the groundhog sees his shadow, we will have six more weeks of winter; if he doesn’t see his shadow, we will enjoy an early spring.
What would you like to see as you emerge from the dark into the light? What do you want to birth into the spring? As we are still in the season of hibernation, now is the time to incubate and gestate these desires.
Imbolc celebrates the early birthing of the lambs and the production of ewe’s milk. Birthing is a powerful process, followed by careful tending of the fragile newborns. The lambs must be kept warm and nourished in order for them to grow and thrive.
What do you hope to birth? How can you nurture this desire and prepare it for labor? How can you continue to sustain it so it can grow into its strength and thrive?
Now is the time of the new moon, the waxing crescent, a time of the young Maiden, of Artemis aiming her bow and arrow high into the skies. It is a time of the growth of the lunar light. Let the lunar energy help you to connect with the growth within you as we celebrate this rich holyday.
I hope you find peace and joy today in Nature and her wonders.
(For more info on UU Womenspirit, visit www.uuwomenspirit.org)