Imbolc Awakenings

Imbolc Awakenings

Imbolc, the return of the light

Winter is still with us, although is now entering a moody phase. One day it is frosty, stormy, and inhospitable, and a couple of days later the sun pops out to tease us. But there is one sure sign that things are beginning to shift, ever so slightly – the days are beginning to get noticeably longer again.

Imbolc is the season of the light maiden Brighid, a virginal Goddess, who appears to us as the returning light. As the sun climbs just a tad higher in the sky, it adds a few minutes of light to each passing day.

Nevertheless, it is still the middle of winter. But, if you look carefully, the buds are beginning to swell. Some precocious little flowers defy all the odds. Some particularly perky ones are pushing their way through the snow, or old leaves:  snowdrops, winter aconite or dwarf crested irises are among the earliest and bravest. Unmistakably, the life force deep within the earth is stirring. Last season’s seeds are preparing to germinate. The wheel of the year is turning, and the sap is rising once more.

Purification and Fasting

Imbolc, or ‘Candlemas’ in Christian terminology, is the festival of growing light, of cleansing, and purification. It prepares us for Lent, the time of abstinence and fasting intended to purify body and soul.

In the past, fasting was a way of cleansing the body of the residues of heavy winter foods. Spiritually, it is an act of mindfulness and a way to prepare the body and mind for the spring and a new cycle of growth.

Envisioning the future

Imbolc is a time for visualizing in your mind’s eye the possibilities that lie ahead. Some people use divination, others use affirmations. Take some time out to prepare yourself for the challenges and opportunities yet to come. Reflect on your strengths and weaknesses, on good and bad habits, and make a commitment to your soul’s journey.

What kind of nourishment does your soul need? What are your intentions and purpose? How do you want to give back to life?  Are you walking your talk?

Imbolc is a good time to charge the seeds with intention and to foster your inner flame. Take care of that light through the dark of the night. Soon the sun will soon rise and grow strong again.

 

Winter Solstice

Winter Solstice

Happy Winter Solstice, may your light shine bright!

The Winter Solstice marks the shortest day and longest night of the year. The trees have lost their leaves, and all signs of life have retreated below ground. Frozen in time, the land lies barren. Barely rising above the horizon, the Sun only sends a few feeble rays of light. The birds have left on their long journey to milder climes. The Earth has entered hibernation mode.

And yet, we find cause to rejoice at these darkest times! Deep within the Earth, a tiny light is born! Fragile as a baby in its crib, the sun-saviour god returns.

We are on the threshold of a new cycle, not yet sure if the baby will grow. But where there is life; there is hope.

In the old days, the 12 days of Christmas marked a time, when the veil between the worlds is thin, and spirits pass through. The same is true of the 12 days around the summer solstice. Otherworldly beings are visiting us from beyond.

The Solstice is a time of reflection, of cherishing memories, and of gratitude.

It may not have been an easy year, but there are always things to be grateful for, and hope is on the horizon.

During this quiet space, we reflect on gratitude; on love and care, and on being there for one another. We dream about our ambitions for the year ahead and how to make things better.

The Winter Solstice marks a turning point with the promise of a new dawn.

Count your blessings and celebrate hope. The wheel of time is turning, and the light is returning. Let us cherish and protect this tiny flame of hope. When its fire grows stronger, life once more returns to Earth.

Samhain

Samhain

At Samhain, the Goddess retreats into the deep vault of the earth to join her dark lover in the Underworld. Life withdraws, and the landscape turns bleak, cold, and grey. The last fruits, nuts and berries still hang in the bushes, but most are gone. Few flowers withstand the season’s call until the frost kills them off. The birds have left on their journey to the south.
It is a melancholy time, but also a time to turn inward.

We mark this season by remembering those who have gone before us. Death is but a stage of the wheel of life. Far below the surface, the Goddess sheds her wilted gown. Throughout the winter months, she remains in deep meditation as she regenerates her vitality.

We face the cold and darkness as the Sun’s power wanes. Few of its rays can still warm us, and the days grow shorter.

Life and death are aspects of the same eternal cycle. There is no light without darkness, no life without death. Use this time to reflect and remember, to cherish the good and to let go of all that is worn and that wears you down. Concentrate your inner strength in contemplation – for soon, the wheel of the year will turn, and the Sun will be reborn.

Autumn Equinox

Autumn Equinox

Happy Autumn Equinox!

On the Autumn Equinox, night and day are equal. Light and dark are in perfect equilibrium. The Equinox marks the end of the harvest season. We celebrate the gifts of the Earth and give thanks. Gratitude is the magic power of this time. From now until the Winter Solstice, the vital energy begins its retreat below ground. The days are getting shorter; summer is over.

The end of the summer is often intensely busy with hunting for nuts and mushrooms, preserving the gifts of the Earth and preparing for the coming winter.
Stock up the larder and pile up the wood high and dry so supplies will see you through the winter. Spring Equinox is a long way off.

Image by Sabrina Ripke from Pixabay

Lughnasad – Harvest Time

Lughnasad – Harvest Time

The time of the grain harvest

Lughnasad marks the beginning of the harvest season. The fruit and vegetables are ripening, and the grain has turned golden. It is usually an intensely busy and happy time, especially for gardeners. The efforts of the early part of the year are paying off. But not this year.

The growing period, from spring to late summer, is fraught with danger. Late frosts can kill sensitive starts, or summer storms may ruin a crop in just a few minutes. A good harvest is always hoped for, but never guaranteed. This year, Lugh has been fierce. Countless wildfires have caused terrible devastation, scorched landscapes and draughts. Others have been flooded and pelted by hail the size of hand grenades. We need the Sun’s warmth and light and without water, there is no life.

 

Lughnasad or Lammas, in the Christian tradition, marks the beginning of the harvest season. The name comes from the Anglo-Saxon word ‘hlaf-mas’, meaning ‘loaf mass’. Bread and wine are the traditional sacraments of the Eucharist.

 

But harvesting the seeds is only one stage of the perpetual cycle of life. Ideally, the harvest should sustain and nourish us through the winter, when the Earth is barren and still. It must also yield enough to provide the seeds we need to start the cycle again next year. We reap as we sow, but we also sow what we reap.

Facing the unravelling climate catastrophe, we are grateful for anything we can harvest today. But we must change our practices and live more sustainably if we want this cycle to continue and provide for our children and children’s children.

We can no longer afford to ignore the changes that are taking place. We are facing an existential threat – unless we act now. The future potential for our species and life as we know it, lies in our hands.

The future starts now.

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