Her piece seems very appropriate to publish this evening, as it is the eve before Candlemas or Imbolc, February 2nd. Imbolc is one of the Celtic fire festivals, symbolising the transformation of the goddess from the wise woman (crone) to the young maiden. It is also the day of the Celtic goddess Brigid: patron saint of midwives! Lucy writes beautifully about this first movement of spring. In Chinese medicine, this is the movement from the most Yin, dark, inward and still time of winter, to the rising energy of the lighter, more outward Yang: water to wood. This is also the energetic movement of childbirth: from the water, Yin of pregnancy, to the wood, Yang of birth. All traditions celebrated this movement of energy reflected in nature: light, white and new life emerging. Let’s not forget this rich, collective wisdom. We too can choose to honour these cycles of birth and death throughout the year in whatever way feels appropriate for us. In doing so we can find nourishment and support for ourselves and our environment.
Snow Drop Day in Glasgow
Today is Snowdrop day. It’s the day when I see my first snowdrops of the year and my heart jumps a little jig of delight at these tiny white drops of hope, announcing the dark days are over, it’s time to think about new beginnings, soon fresh energy will be springing up.
It’s a beautiful time of year, a time to rejoice in the miracle of life. Ancient festivals have stuck fast at this season, evolving through time with changing religions and spiritual beliefs. The festival of St Bride, the patron saint of Midwives, is a combination of the Christian festival of Candlemas, and the fire festival of Imbolc, of the pagan tradition. This celebrates the ewe’s milk coming (‘oimelc’), as early lambs are about to be born into an uncertain future, will they survive if the season is harsh, will they perish in the snow? And Candlemas holds a similarly uncertain future for the lambs, stemming from the Law of Moses, a ritual purification of the new mother at the temple, 40 days after childbirth, offering a sacrifice of a lamb as thanksgiving for new life, or more modestly in the case of Mary and Joseph, a pair of doves.
For some, the returning of the light is not joyful and rebirth is hard to see. As the days become lighter our inner shadows may seem deeper, the darkness within felt more harshly, stubborn and unyielding to external signs of hope. Patience is required; deep, slow nurturing, and drawing on our reserves of faith, that the light within will return. It is important that the beautiful stillness of Winter does not become stagnation, we must try to look to the future, be flexible and open to the shifting energies of nature.
Likewise, frail lives, knowing deep down that their reserves are almost empty, have held on through the long winter, and seeing the light returning, find strength to let go of their struggle and slip away. This is the cycle of life. We each have our place on that wheel, the big wheel that keeps on turning.
So, now that the snow has trampled the last surviving undergrowth revealing the bare bones of the landscape, we have an opportunity to see our own lives laid bare, stripped down to the underlying structure. Now is a time tor considering plans for the future. We don’t have long if we want to catch the wave of growing energy that lies ahead! Snowdrops were pushing up under that snow, and now it as melted, there is no longer any doubt. Spring is coming!
Lucy Trend 23/1/2015