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 has returned.

We stand at 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 worn-out gown and falls into deep meditation while regenerating her vital life-giving energies.

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 wears you down. Concentrate your inner strength in contemplation – for soon, the wheel of the year will turn, and the Sun will be reborn.

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 harvest is fraught with danger: Late frosts can kill sensitive starters, and summer storms can ruin the crop in just a few minutes. The harvest is by no means guaranteed. This year, Lugh has been fierce. The summer heat is so intense that it is causing terrible damage, scorched landscapes and draughts. We need the Sun’s warmth and light, without water, there is no life.

Lughnasad is called Lammas in the Christian tradition, which comes from the Anglo-Saxon ‘hlaf-mas’, meaning ‘loaf mass’. Bread and wine are the traditional sacraments of the Eucharist.

But harvesting the seed is only one of the stages of the perpetual cycle of life. Ideally, what we harvest at this time of the year should sustain us beyond our current needs and nourish us in the winter, when the Earth is barren and still. It must provide us with the seed necessary to start the cycle gain next year. We reap as we sow, but we also sow what we have reaped.

In the face of the unfolding climate catastrophe, we are grateful for what we can harvest today. But if we want to secure future harvests, we must change our practices.

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.

Summer Solstice

Summer Solstice

On the Summer Solstice, the Sun reaches the zenith of its annual journey. We celebrate the longest day and shortest night. It is a magical time: nature is blossoming. The veil between the worlds is thin: sprites and spirits easily cross between them and we may even catch a glimpse of the little folk.

The young Sun-God Bel has climaxed, and his powers are beginning to wane. Lugh is taking over the reign. He will ripen the fruits of the earth and transform the Sun’s power into sugar and starch that will sustain us through the dark half of the year.

At the Summer Solstice, we honour the Gods and offer rituals and prayers. We ask for protection, health, and sustenance.

But most of all, it is a time of gatherings and celebrations, of revelling around bon fires, and of dancing, feasting, and merry-making.

The herbs are now at their most potent, and we should gather our annual supplies.

Spiritually, it is a time to seek guidance by divination or retreat on a vision quest to hold counsel with the gods.

Happy Beltane!

Happy Beltane!

On May 1, we celebrate Beltane, the festival of spring.
Mother Earth is donning her lushest gown of flowers and blossoms, and birds are singing from the trees. The heart rejoices as the spirit soars!
At Beltane, we celebrate the magical powers of creativity, fertility and abundance – the sheer miraculous beauty of life.
The God and the Goddess who preside over the undying force of life are in love, turning the land green and lush wherever they go. Every fragrant flower – a kiss and a blessing of their adoration.
Let’s share in their passion and celebrate the miracle of life! Beauty, love and merry-making are their rituals. Taste the zest of life!
If you have a garden, you witness and partake in this magic as you nurture your young seedlings. Pouring energy into your budding projects produces a similar experience of participating in this magic of creating. The magic of manifestation lies in the nurture and love that nurtures the seed ideas.
Take time to reflect on nature’s generosity and practice gratitude and mindfulness to attune to every nuance of this blessed time of the year.

Photo credit: Image by Ronny Overhate from Pixabay

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