|Imbolc Hare photo: visualhunt.com|
Brighid gave the moon her fire,
Warmed the earth with a lunar pyre,
Freed from icy tombs underground,
Life fed roots and plants did abound.
The new year has crept in under a cloak of snow; for many a dangerously deep cloak. The Hag of winter has let us feel her icy talents only too well, wreaking chaos and causing us to remain indoors. She is cunning. This enforced hibernation is her plan, so we have sufficiently internalised our intentions for the year ahead - holed up like other mammals at this time of year, to pause and reflect on what it is we want from 2018.
As we emerge into the Celtic festival of Imbolc (ewe's milk), 'Breo sagit' the fiery arrow lights our way. In Pagan circles, the triple goddess is shedding her crone skin and becoming the white virgin maid once more, her birch staff and lantern guiding us from out of the dark wood of winter and into the path of spring. Her companion, the wolf, leads the hunt for nourishment as Brighid's lantern, illuminates the shadows.
The super blue blood moon crossing 31st January to 1st February, literally over Imbolc itself, would have been a potent omen in ancient times. They may not have named it as such, but it would have been a symbol of intense feminine lunar power. Rites and rituals were guided by the cycle of the moon and sun and rare spectacles bring with them a particular magic.
Imbolc is, like all Celtic festivals, tied to the cycles of the earth through the seasons. It is the time of first shoots, when we seen green buds forming on some plants and trees. Crows and magpies begin searching for nesting material so they can mate with their partners. It is the season for lambing, with many ewes lactating, hence the root of the festival's name. It can be a time to plant the first seeds now the frosts have ceased.
In the modern world we can be so disconnected from nature, that we do not pause; we do not see the changing environment around us, except perhaps to moan about the weather on social media. If you take a moment and listen, look around you and observe, you will hear the earth. When she asks you to be still, rest. When she asks you to break into action, react. Move with her and she will reward you, as she does today for many farmers and gardeners.