Higher Living Reflections

Imbolc, the time for imagining

Happy February! Given continuing cold and snow, it can be hard to get into a celebratory mood. But increasing daylight certainly helps foster hope for rebirth, renewal, and warmth.

Throughout the ancient world, the start of February was rich with tradition. It was a time for purification, hence, the mainly Catholic celebration of the Purification of Mary, which came forty days after the Nativity in accordance with Mosaic Law, and the blessing of fire, candles—Candlemas—on February 2nd.

Those sacred celebrations happily coincide with Imbolc, which marks the midpoint between the Winter Solstice and the Vernal Equinox. For many in the pagan tradition, February 1st marks the first day of spring. At Imbolc, the crone gives way to the maiden in anticipation of giving birth, and young Apollo, god of the lyre, poetry, and intellect, rides his chariot in increasingly higher arcs across the firmament.

In the Celtic tradition, the goddess Brighid, who morphed to become Ireland’s St. Brigid, is prominent at Imbolc. As with Apollo, she is the deity of poetry. She is also the goddess of smithcraft—creative process—and healing, so energy restoration. And, like Apollo, she is a solar deity. It’s striking how two disparate ancient cultures, the Greek and Celtic, both correlated the sun and poetry, a decidedly a right-brain process, with the creative process.

On Mother Earth, little or nothing appears to be happening in terms of new life. Yet, growth is beginning. Underground, roots are awakening, getting ready to grow and spread hair-like tentacles. Crocuses and tulips are awakening from hibernation. For those into gardening, this is the time for planting seeds in hothouses or solaria to incubate. Soon they will sprout as seedlings and mature sufficiently in anticipation for their opportunity to bloom in the natural world.

Seeing that aspect of the natural cycle as a metaphor, February is the perfect time to reflect or meditate on what is happening underground in these northern climes and allude it to your ideas’ chest. Imbolc is an ideal time for imagining, a time to shake free of winter doldrums. The idea seeds dormant in your subconscious lie waiting to be brought into consciousness, into the visible, vibrant world.

Those idea seeds might be floating as inclinations, urges, gut feelings, or moving past a “I always wanted to do…” attitude in which you, for one reason or another, delayed or postponed acting on a previous wish. Perhaps, you might want to use this time to begin planning a trip, painting a canvas, or writing. Or planting a garden, literally or metaphorically. Nascent ideas germinating then growing before manifesting themselves to observation.

When one ventures onto his literal journey, occasional forays on side trips of some sort are requisite. They provide opportunity for the individual to take a time out, to separate from his tribe and setting, and to be alone with himself.

Of late, I have two friends in the process of trekking, one, returning and another leaving. When the one returning set out, he planned it in a certain way. It turned out not to unfold that way, but, instead, it became a grand adventure into self-learning. Consequently, he is returning with a deeper understanding and insight into himself and a clearer perspective about what where to go next. The other friend isn’t quite sure about the reason for her leaving; she simply feels the need to go. It is taking her out of her comfort zone, which is always a grand place to be for that is where true learning and adventure takes place. The beauty is that both are listening to and honoring their inner selves.

So, spring has sprung. Don’t dawdle and wait until you see literal blossoms and green grass appearing. By then, the back work is done.

Your task at Imbolc is to start on the underground, preparatory back work of future creations to ensure that when your project becomes truly visible to the world around you, it will appear with radiant and luscious beauty.

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  • Mary Pat Young
    February 1, 2018 at 1:25 pm

    Thank you for this beautiful invocation. Amen