Full moon in earthy Virgo, keeper of Earth’s cycles, rhythms and mysteries. Virgo is lover of green trees furry creatures, running streams, buzzing bees, soil and stone.
Now is the perfect time to embrace your inner Earth priestess or priest. Earthy rituals are particularly powerful when the moon is full in Virgo.
Offer love and honor to Mama Earth; create a mandala out of objects from Nature, sing a song of gratitude to Earth and Sky, offer up a joyful poem to your favorite tree, sit with the land and give it your loving attention, light a candle and express your appreciation for the air, food, water and shelter our Earth provides, sit in the light of the full moon tonight and express your wonder about the mystery of it all…
There are a thousand different ways to love and honor our sacred Earth. Choose one and do it now. Do it for the land where you live.
As we hold Easter egg hunts and gift those we love with bunny shaped candies this weekend, we are actually tapping into European rites of spring from pre-Christian times. The ancient Germanic Goddess Eostre (aka Ostara) embodied spring, the season of rebirth, renewal and new growth. Eostre’s symbology included fertile rabbits as well as the egg.
The sacred moon Goddess Ix Chel holds a similar place of honor in the Mayan culture. Ix Chel has been worshipped throughout Mexico and many parts of Central and South America for thousands of years. It is said that Ix Chel is responsible for sending rain to nourish the crops, and was sometimes called “Lady Rainbow”. She insures fertility by overturning her sacred womb jar so that the waters will flow through the world, nourishing new life.
Like Eostre, Ix Chel is also associated with rabbits. She is shown above with her beloved consort rabbit:
“the Goddess Ix Chel, known as the Maya[n] Goddess of the Moon, Water, Weaving and Childbirth… all having to do with cycles, tides, creating and bringing new life.
Her Rabbit consort/ child/sister/brother/mother/father/friend is the personification of new life and cleaving to bringing the young along, the gentle spirit, the shy, and yet the enduringly fertile/creative.
She is called the pale one…and is co-existant and interchangable with the moon and the moon’s cycles… she is a miracle maker, a healer, a teacher, a keeper of stories… and as she is also the moon also going dark for three days… Ix Chel suffering torment but comes ever back to full radiant reflective light again.
There are so many Ix Chels in the world, and so many Auroras and so many Jesu’s and so many Attis’ and so many of the great One who was taken down and then came back to life in triumph.
~Clarissa Pinkola Estes
It is amazing that people in all corners of this sacred Earth created similar stories and myths of rebirth and renewal to honor spring. We are truly one Tribe.
Whatever your spiritual or religious beliefs, now is the perfect time to pause and honor this season of renewal and new growth. Create your own ritual with a lit candle, spring flowers, green shoots and leaves, stuffed bunnies… choose whatever symbolizes spring for you. Or perhaps you want to simply go and sit in nature. Just take a few moments to express your love and gratitude for spring.
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.
Look up tonight. The sky will be dark and the stars should be especially bright. This is new moon time.
Each month, our moon cycles from dark phase to full, then back to dark again. This particular new moon occurs when our moon is in the earthy sign of Virgo. Traditionally Virgo represented the Priestess, keeper of sacred timing and rituals. Our ancestors who lived closer to the earth and in synchrony with the moon and sun cycles, liked to place rituals during this potent new moon time.
Forgive and Let Go
“We are all like the bright moon, we still have our darker side.” ~Khalil Gibran
The dark phase of the moon is the perfect time to let go of inner darkness and make space for more light and love. Many times we hang onto dark events in our past because we cannot forgive another person. Or we cannot forgive ourselves. When it comes to forgiveness, ritual can be a great help to us. Ritual can help us amplify our intentions. Ritual can put a little extra power into our prayers.
When most people think of rituals, they picture an elaborate high Mass at church, or long drawn out funeral. But ritual does not need to be elaborate to be meaningful. I share below a simple ritual to help you forgive and let go.
10 Minute Forgiveness Ritual
Create a list of 3-6 things you want to forgive and release.
Light a candle.
Offer up a short prayer; ask Spirit to help you forgive and let go.
Breathe slowly and deeply.
As you breathe, offer yourself love despite some mistake that haunts you.
Then offer that same love to others who hurt you as well.
If tears come, allow yourself to cry and release.
Burn your list.
Dance to release even more; put on a favorite song and move. Dance and shake!
Think of one intention you want to hold for the months ahead.
State your intention aloud.
As you blow out the candle, thank Spirit for helping you forgive and move on.
In this potent new moon time, let’s choose to consciously let go of past troubles and mistakes. Let’s release our heavy baggage, so we can “lighten up” and flow joyfully into fall.