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

Equinox Full Moon

Seek Balance

Spring Equinox full moon in Libra,
lover of equality, balance and fairness in all things.

Day and night are roughly balanced at the equinox point.
Seek balance within as well by calming
and nurturing yourself in whatever way works for you.

Also, take time to celebrate the return of spring! 

🌳🌷🐝🐣

#libra
#equinox
#balance

Image: Wildwood Tarot Card

I Water Things

I water things now constantly:
water the hearts of dead friends with light,
the sores of the living with anything warm,
water the skies with a thousand affections
and follow the voices of animals
into grasses that move like ocean.

I eat flowers now and birds come.
I eat care and things to love arrive.
I eat time and as I age
whatever I swallow grows timeless.

I eat and undie
and water my doubts
with silence
and birds come.

~Mark Nepo
excerpt from Surviving Has Made Me Crazy

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
First Bloom by Nancy L

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.