Sunday, 1 February 2015

Imbolc, the first showing of spring

Have you noticed how the evenings are definitely getting a few minutes longer each day? A few days before Christmas, the Winter Solstice marked the shortest day, and the turning of the year when days begin to get longer. but the change is subtle, and it is only now that we can really begin to see the difference. 
Here in Sussex at least, February has dawned bright and fresh, with a blue sky patterned with fast moving white sunlit clouds. Venture outside and winter will snatch at your breath. An icy north wind races around, and as it passes and runs circles around you, you might hear a muttered threat of snow. 
But there is an intangible sense of hope, a feeling that this may be winter's swan song, it's last hurrah; there is a rumour of spring. 

The blue tits are calling outside my window, their feathers bold yellow and blue with all the cheer of spring flowers. 
Only a few days ago, on the stretch of grass beside the fallen log where Jubilee Path meets South Pond, I saw a host of crocuses poking up through the soil as if stretching and yawning after their long winter sleep. 
In my garden the pulmonaria or lungwort is also about to open its buds, in time to greet the first emerging queen bumblebees as soon as the weather turns mild. 

And then there are the snowdrops. Dainty green rises hung with bells of pure white. They seem delicate, yet push their way through the frozen ground and ring silently even as snowflakes dance and gather around them. 
Snowdrops have long been associated with this time of year and the renewal of spring. 

In the the pagan or celtic calendars 1st/2nd February is the celebration of Imbolc, and the goddess Brigid. 
Imbolc, in the Celtic seasonal calendar marked the beginning of the lambing season and signaled the beginning of Spring and the stirrings of new life. It is Feile Brighde, the 'quickening of the year'. The original word Imbolg means 'in the belly', and therein you have the underlying energy. All is pregnant and expectant - and only just visible if at all, like the gentle curve of a 'just-showing' pregnancy. It is the promise of renewal, of hidden potential, of earth awakening and life-force stirring. Here is hope. We welcome the growth of the returning light and witness Life's insatiable appetite for rebirth.It is time to let go of the past and to look to the future, clearing out the old, making both outer and inner space for new beginnings. This can be done in numerous ways, from spring cleaning your home to clearing the mind and heart to allow inspiration to enter for the new cycle. ('Spring cleaning was originally a nature ritual' - Doreen Valiente). it's a good time for wish-making or making a dedication.Imbolc is traditionally the great festival and honouring of Brigid (Brighid, Bride, Brigit), so loved as a pagan Goddess that her worship was woven into the Christian church as St Bridget. " 
 This quote is taken from 
I found it was the description that best described my understanding of what this celebration meant, 
and still means to many, so this website may be a good starting point if you wish to find out more. 

(Of course this is an external link and I claim no responsibility for the content of the website and 
any views expressed are not necessarily the same as my own, but you knew that already right?)

For me, the resonance of this time of year, is one of the joys of following a local patch; getting to know and understand it's rhythms and cycles. 

The rooks certainly seem to recognise the signs of the turning year, and the trees seem to be almost unable to contain their eagerness to burst their buds. From the oak by the rife, the territorial drumming of woodpeckers provides the bass percussion to the melody of a song thrush that sings from the topmost branches. 

So let's all notice each day how the sun creeps further into the garden, which flowers are the bravest, trust that the singing birds know something which we cannot yet see, and humour the winter wind in it's exuberance and child-like tantrums. 
We have some waiting yet, but we can allow ourselves to imagine spring, and the joys that are now not so very far away. 

No comments:

Post a Comment

About Me

My photo
Hello! Thank you for viewing my blogs and profile. I am passionate about the countryside and british wildlife and I hope that this comes through in my blog. I am a nature writer and have been pursuing photography since early teenage years, whilst building a career in conservation. Helping people to reconnect with the natural world is very important to me, whether through direct hands on interaction, education or literature. Please also visit my website, for more information, my current CV, and further examples of writing and photography. You can contact me or keep up to date with new blog posts via Twitter @SophiEcoWild and/or Feedback, comments and audience participation are always welcome! Sophie May Lewis