Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Imbolc: Return of the Light

In mid-winter, we celebrate the return of the Light, in every sense. In my We'Moon Daybook, Marian Spadone writes of Imbolc, "All is contained within us — all future possibilities, all growth, all knowing. This is the time after the Great Dark but before the Bursting Forth. This is the time for dreaming and for knowing our dreams. This is the time of illumination…Resting still in the cauldron of birth, we close two eyes and open our third. We have enough light to see now. Use the light! Brighten the light of your Inner Knowing." My February What Shines newsletter will explore many ways to do this, playfully.

This cross-quarter moment (February 1-2) wears many guises. In the U.S., it's popularly celebrated as Groundhog Day, when a small furry rodent either sees his shadow or doesn't, and the result determines whether we experience six more weeks of winter. The day has far deeper meanings than this, as Spadone intimates — and yes, it is a potent moment to observe your shadow!

Celebrated globally, Imbolc is both a Christian and Pagan holiday, known by various names: Imbolc, St. Brigid's Day (Bride's Day), and Candlemas ("mass of the candles", which in the Catholic religion marks the end of the Yule season).

In Celtic and Earth-based traditions, Imbolc ("in the belly") is one of the most powerful portals on the Wheel of the Year: the exact midpoint between Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox. A harbinger of Spring, Imbolc celebrates the return of the Light in a profound sense. As the first "cross-quarter day" on the Wheel of the Year, it heralds the Equinoxes and Solstices, as well as Beltane (May 1st), Lammas (August 1st), and Samhain (October 31st).

At Imbolc, the energies begin to pulse with renewed life and hope. Fire festivals are common. Vicki Noble, co-creator of the Motherpeace Tarot and author of Shakti Woman: Feeling Our Fire, Healing Our World, which affected me profoundly during my own awakening, writes, "Traditionally a time of transformation and initiation, Imbolc brings 'big dreams' and a raised vibration …

"With powerful Pluto in the physical sign of Capricorn (until 2024), we look forward to momentous planetary and personal change. As old structures crumble, inside and all around us, imagine yourself sitting safely inside of Kali's dance of liberation."

What most astonished me was discovering that St. Brigid (in the Irish tradition) is the Patroness of Midwives. Since my birthday is February 4th and I've long referred to myself as a midwife for our global rebirth, it was a clarifying reminder of "what we know, before we know that we know!"

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