Seeds Are Stirring


Imbolc is upon us. Celtic stories tell us that the Cailleach—the divine hag Goddess who rules over winter and death—gathers firewood for the rest of the winter on Imbolc. If the Goddess Cailleach wishes to make the winter last a lot longer, she will make sure that the weather on Imbolc is bright and sunny, so she can gather plenty of firewood. But, if Imbolc is a day of foul weather, it means the Cailleach is asleep and winter is almost over.

The Cailleach was worshipped by the Celts as the sacred Earth Mother in her bare winter form. And she is not just a dark and evil hag who arbitrarily decides how long winter will be. The Cailleach is also the Bone Mother who collects the bones of the animals that die in the winter. The Bone Mother is said to sing or pray or sleep over the bones all winter long. She does this out of love, so that the animals will cross over and can return as new life in the spring.

There is a magic to Imbolc and the early days of February. It is there, running just beneath the surface. Can you feel it? Mama Earth holds the seeds of spring safe for us all winter. As the cold wind blows and the snow piles up, she holds them safe in her soil.

#Imbolc
#Bone Collector
#Hag Goddess

Expansive New Moon

A portal opens with this airy new moon in expansive Aquarius.
Solar and Lunar Imbolc are precisely aligned.
New growth is stirring.

Vision clears.

But with Chiron in the mix, old wounds may also be exposed.
Stay present and look closely.

A new perspective on how to heal wounds that have long plagued you
and your lineage is right there in front of you.‬

☾☽

Brigid’s Blessing

Brigid's Cross
Brigid’s Cross

May Brigid bless the house wherein you dwell
Bless every fireside every wall and door
Bless every heart that beats beneath its roof
Bless every hand that toils to bring it joy
Bless every foot that walks its portals through
May Brigid bless the house that shelters you.

In February the ancient tribes of Europe celebrated Imbolc and the return of spring. Imbolc marks the halfway point between winter solstice and spring equinox. It falls on February 3 in 2017.

Brigid is the Pagan Goddess / Catholic Saint that the Celtic people associated with Imbolc. In Celtic tales, Brigid is said to have been born at daybreak. She rose into the sky with rays of fiery sun beaming from her head. As an infant, Brigid was fed with milk from a sacred cow from the fairy realm. It is also believed that  small flowers and shamrocks would appear wherever the Goddess Brigid walked. As a sun Goddess,  Brigid’s gifts are light (knowledge), inspiration, and the healing energy of the sun. Brigid is also associated with sacred healing waters. There are many springs and wells named after her in the British Isles.

Whether seen as a Goddess or Saint, Brigid commands the power of both fire and ice.  You can honor Imbolc and Brigid by lighting a candle and offering gratitude that spring is on its way.

Brigid
Brigid

Legends of Imbolc and the Cailleach

Ceann Caillí (‘Hag’s Head’) Lightmatter Cliffs of Moher in Ireland

At the beginning of February, we celebrate a strange and wonderful holiday known as Groundhog Day. We are told that if the prophetic groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, sees his shadow on this day and runs quickly back into his burrow, winter will last at least 6 more weeks. Today Phil did NOT see his shadow, thus predicting that winter will end soon. How ironic that this prediction occurs when much of the country is buried under piles of snow!

The idea of waiting and watching for the first inkling of spring is not new. The ancient Celts celebrated Imbolc in early February long before Groundhog Day existed. Celtic stories tell us that the Cailleach—the divine hag Goddess who rules over winter and death—gathers firewood for the rest of the winter on Imbolc. If the Goddess Cailleach wishes to make the winter last a lot longer, she will make sure that the weather on Imbolc is bright and sunny, so she can gather plenty of firewood. But, if Imbolc is a day of foul weather, it means the Cailleach is asleep and winter is almost over.

The Cailleach was worshipped by the Celts as the sacred Earth Mother in her bare winter form. And she is not just a dark and evil hag who arbitrarily decides how long winter will be. The Cailleach is also the Bone Mother who collects the bones of the animals that die in the winter. The Bone Mother is said to sing or pray or sleep over the bones all winter long. She does this out of love, so that the animals will cross over and can return as new life in the spring.

The Celtic tribes lived in the far north where winter is a brutal season. They had to burn huge quantities of wood to keep from freezing every winter. They also had to rely on their own stores of food to get them through the long winter months when no crops could be grown or harvested. There was no corner grocery store to run to if they ran out of bread. Is it any wonder that the Celts were quite focused on the return of spring?

The Celts watched and waited for spring. And they noticed that the ewes began to lactate and prepare for the birth of their lambs in early February. The Celts saw this return of mothers’ milk as reason to celebrate. The flow of milk and the birth of baby lambs meant spring was definitely on its way. The harshness of winter would soon end. The Celts celebrated Imbolc because they understood that their lives depended on the grace of Mama Earth and her seasons.

There is a magic to Imbolc and the early days of February. It is there, running just beneath the surface. Can you feel it? Mama Earth holds the seeds of spring safe for us all winter. As the cold wind blows and the snow piles up, she holds them safe in her soil. Now it is February, not quite time for the seeds to sprout. But the days are definitely lengthening. The wheel of the year is slowly turning towards spring and new growth. And beneath the surface of Mama Earth, the seeds are beginning to quietly stir. Spring is stirring in the ground beneath your feet. Listen with your heart. Can you hear the stirring?

☾☽

Imbolc is traditionally celebrated at the halfway point between winter solstice and  spring equinox.  In 2016, this halfway point falls on February 4.  Here is a way to celebrate Imbolc at your house: Light a candle or two tonight. Then offer up a simple prayer of gratitude in honor of Mama Earth and the return of spring.

The Smell of Spring

Spring Crocus

Last night it rained. This morning when I walked the dog, there was a scent in the air that took me a moment or two to place… Then suddenly I remembered; it is the smell of soil waking up, coming alive after its long sleep.  It is the smell of spring.

Go outside and sniff the air. Do you smell it? Listen. Perhaps you can hear the gentle whispers? Mama earth is beginning to stir. All winter, she has quietly held the seeds of spring in her soil body; she has coddled them and kept them safe, waiting for the time to sprout. And now spring is almost here and the seeds are stirring, preparing to crack open and grow new life.

The chickadees know; they whistle to each other from every treetop in my neighborhood. My dog knows; she sniffs at the soil with new interest. And the sheep know; they birth their lambs in February, knowing spring is almost here. My Celtic ancestors celebrated Imbolc at the time of lamb birthing. It was their way of honoring the end of winter and the promise of life returning to the land. Modern man has turned Imbolc into Groundhog Day, but I personally prefer the celebratory air of ancient Imbolc.

It has been snowing and snowing here, even more than usual. And I had begun to worry that winter might decide to go on and on and on. But then, on a cold, wet day in February, I hear earth’s whispers and I get a whiff of her soil coming alive. It feels like I just received a message from a long lost lover. And I instantly know that the spring I crave is on its way back to me.

The Fire and Ice of Brigid

Fire of Imbolc

I had the great fortune to be on the west coast last weekend for a wonderful workshop led by Nan Moss and David Corbin. What a great group of shamanic dreamers! We journeyed and explored the nature of weather on planet Earth together. Nan and David are amazing guides and teachers. It was an incredible three days.

The only down side to my ‘dreamy’ weekend was that I didn’t have a chance to celebrate Imbolc, a traditional Celtic festival day that marks the halfway point between winter solstice and spring equinox. For my Christian friends, the holiday (holy day) of Candlemas grew out of ancient Imbolc festivals.

My Celtic ancestors held Imbolc celebrations to honor the imminent return of spring. Ironically, when I flew back to my home in the Rockies on February 3rd, it was 11 degrees below zero. And since then, it has snowed twice and been bitterly cold, with temperatures barely creeping above zero. And yet I trust that spring will return soon, no matter how foul the weather is outside. Underneath the cover of a foot of snow, tiny seeds are stirring and Mother Earth is quietly preparing herself for spring.

This year, I decided to celebrate Imbolc with a daily fire in my fireplace. A traditional Imbolc festival would be marked by the entire village feasting and attending a big bonfire. But for me, a small fire burning in my hearth seems just perfect this year. Snow falling outside while a fire burns in my hearth; what a perfect blending of fire and ice!

I have been sitting in front of my little daily fire, dreaming up new classes, and meditating on the Goddess Brigid (AKA Brigit).  Brigid is a fiery Celtic Goddess who is said to reign over the powers of poetry, inspiration and metal smithing as well as the healing arts. She has been associated with Imbolc since ancient times. And Brigid has proved to be quite a tenacious Pagan Goddess; when Christianity took hold in the Celtic world, Goddess Brigid simply morphed into the beloved Saint Brigid who continues to inspire many Catholics and non-Catholics even in this cynical modern age.

Brigid is very special to me personally; she has spontaneously appeared in my dreams many times. She seems to come whenever I need to stop, reflect and find new inspiration. This week she has shown up with messages about how I can release troubling family patterns and allow my writing to bloom in new ways. I LOVE it when Brigid shows up in my dreams! Her fiery energies seem to fill me with new insights and ideas.

As our days slowly lengthen here in the northern hemisphere, Mother Earth begins to rouse from her winter slumber and quietly prepare the ground for spring.  And, if you allow it, this icy time can be a time of inner fire and inspiration. May you find a few moments to pause, reflect on your dreams and light a flame both without and within. As winter slowly melts away into spring, may you be inspired by nature’s fire and ice.

Click here to learn more about Imbolc and the Goddess Brigid.