1st February and we are about half way between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. On the Wheel of the Year, this point is Imbolc, when the first signs of new life are beginning to show. Nature is stirring, influenced by the noticeable increase in daylight hours and the strengthening of the Sun's energy. There is a sense of hope, promise and potential as the Earth, awakening from its Winter sleep, is preparing to receive the seeds of future blooms and harvests. A new dawn.
One of the translations of the word "Imbolc" is "in the belly" which, for me, encapsulates perfectly the meanings of this fertile time in the calendar. Spring bulbs are emerging; the rhubarb is poking through its thick layer of Winter mulch; buds on the trees and hedgerows are pushing through; ewes are in lamb; birds are beginning to sing. The start of our gardening year is imminent: I have organised our seed packets, ordered some seed compost and the propagators will be coming out next week to start sowing aubergines, peppers and chillies which need a long growing season.
In Celtic culture and tradition, Imbolc is the time where the goddess Brigid is celebrated. Goddess of fertility, renewal, birth and rebirth, home and hearth, Brigid is also associated with fire and light. She is the keeper of the flame, specifically the perpetual fire that symbolises inspiration, creativity and physis, Nature's insatiable drive towards life and growth.
Mirroring the natural cycle, now is a good time to make space for new beginnings in our life. This can take the shape of a good clear out and spring clean in the home or a letting go of some old ways of thinking and behaving that impede new growth and hold us back. Imbolc is the time when we prepare to receive and investing time and effort at this stage means that we give what we want to achieve the best chances of success.
Imbolc invites us to stoke the fire in our belly. What inspires you? What raises your energy? What motivates you? The Flame of Brigid can help us find our passion and the emotional stamina we need to take action, bring projects to fruition and make our dreams come true. Lighting a candle and gently gazing at the flame is a good way to give birth to ideas and visualise life blossoming with creativity, with renewed energy and strength.