Thursday, February 02, 2006

Imbolc/Candlemas: The Light Returns!

In popular culture, February 2nd is referred to as Groundhog Day, when the little creature's shadow (or lack thereof) is said to determine whether winter will end soon or endure for 6 more weeks.

Like many sacred cycles on the Wheel of the Year, Feb. 2nd has been translated into a watered-down interpretation of its deeper meaning.

In cultures throughout the world, this day has traditionally been known as Imbolc (the ancient Celtic name that celebrates the goddess Brigid) and as Candlemas ("mass of the candles"), which in the Catholic religion marked the end of the Yule season.

The midpoint between Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox, Imbolc signifies the return of the Light, and thus is cause for celebration.

You'll find lots of enlightening lore on Myth*ing Links, a wonderful website chock-full of insight and inspiration concerning all aspects of mythology.

It's a potent moment for feeling our own inner fire (see the February issue of my e-newsletter, What Shines, on this topic!)

Rae Beth explains,

"The three-aspected springtime fire of the Goddess Brighid, especially linked with the recent festival of Imbolg, is very much connected with healing. For the surge of fire, experienced in Northern Europe as slightly longer hours of daylight, restores us in three ways. First, it gives us a lift of physical and psychological energy. (It is well known that daylight deprivation inclines people to depression and lethargy.) Secondly, it pleases our souls, because it not only brings the presence of spring flowers but inclines our thoughts to love and romance. Thirdly, it can increase our creativity. As our spirits lift, we are more likely to be inspired with new plans and projects...

"It seems to me that these three aspects of the Goddess's fire are linked, in many ways. If a person's creativity is fully expressed, their health is likely to improve. Love and romance can incline us towards creativity – people often write poetry (however badly) when they're in love.

"Nature's springtime fire increases our personal fire – that power which the East calls 'Kundalini'. (This is an electrical force said to lie coiled like a snake at the base of our spines. It is awakened by sexual attraction and by certain kinds of magical and mystical experience.)

"I believe there is said to be a biological connection between daylight, the pineal gland and stimulation of sexual/creative energy. In ritual and intuitive ways, it seems to me that this is what we are celebrating, when we light lots of candles on February 2nd, in honour of the Goddess Brighid (the Lady of the first stirrings of the Light, however we name Her.) And that this was perceived by our Pagan ancestors, in the days before anyone knew anything at all about the endocrine system and light sensitivity."

Shine On!

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