This week I am celebrating Imbolc, the halfway point between the Winter Solstice and the Summer Solstice. Traditionally, Imbolc begins at sundown on February 1 and continues through February 2. In the Northern hemisphere, this date is known as Ground Hog's Day. Both celebrations are similar in meaning. We experience our earliest hint of spring in a world still covered in snow and an anticipation of new life.
The literal meaning of Imbolc is "in the belly of the mother." The ancient Celtics believed that Mother Nature was creating new life in seeds and creatures. The beginning of February also marked the start of lambing season. The birth of lambs would provide enough milk to last through the rest of the winter. They also had a deep reverence for Brigid, Christian saint and Pagan goddess of the hearth, healing, and poetry. Legend tells us that Brigid walked across the earth scattering snowdrops which would bravely poke their heads through the snow. In Britain, Imbolc was marked by bonfires and Morris dancers honoring Brigid. To this day, crosses are woven from wheat stalks and exchanged as symbols of prosperity and protection. Hearth fires are extinguished and then relit. A broom is placed at the front door to sweep out the old and welcome in the new. Candles are lit in every room. A young girl is chosen to represent Brigid, and she carries candles or wears them in her hair. just as Brigid brought light and life back to the earth.
In Christian religions, Imbolc is known as Candlemas, a day to bless a year's worth of candles. Christians recognized Candlemas as a commemoration of the infant Jesus" presentation at the Temple and often referred to him as the light of the world.
The bottom line is whether you celebrate Imbolc, Candlemas or Ground Hog's Day, it's a great time to explore what is hibernating within you. Just as the ground hog pokes his head out of the earth, we can look out from winter's darkness and anticipate springtime and new beginnings.
"On Brigid's Day, may the bright goddess's presence bring you comfort. May her flame warm your heart and hearth; may her bright fires inspire your thoughts, words, and deeds. May her presence be a light to guide you through the darkess now and always." (Lilly Weichbergen)
***This information was taken from The Celtic Wheel Year by Meg Llewellen