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February 2 Imbolc/Mid-Winter: celebration, prophecy, purification, initiation—Candlemas (Christian), New Year (Tibetan, Chinese, Iroquois), Tu Bi-Shevat (Jewish). Goddess Festivals: Brigit, Brighid, Brigid (Celtic).
The seasonal cycle of the year is created by Earth’s annual orbit around the sun. Solstices are the extreme points as Earth’s axis tilts toward or away from the sun—when days and nights are longest or shortest.
On equinoxes, days and nights are equal in all parts of the world. Four cross-quarter days roughly mark the midpoints in between solstices and equinoxes.
Seasonal celebrations of most cultures cluster around these same natural turning points.
Opening © Jenny Hahn 2004
Fragile stirrings at the threshold of spring. The great snaking energy of life has hibernated, shed a skin, its strike-ready kinetic energy is slowly uncoiling.
We leave our caves for early signs of growth, a clear sighting of the crescent moon, first spring flowers spiking last year's leaves, new colours to live by as we turn towards fresh beginnings.
Holy fire, sacred hearth, keeping a perpetual fame on gentle burn, we 'see' her holding a wild swan onto her heart, lorica, not armour but prayer to keep her open to the flow of creative grace as we wait for the next thread of molten imagination, our visions to ignite.
They gather heady momentum as we work them in leather, hammer them in copper, fire them in heats that could raze the roof off. The ground warms. The cold sky opens.
—Debra Hall © Mother Tongue Ink 2021
Traditional pagan Celtic / Northern European holy days start earlier than the customary Native / North American ones—they are seen to begin in the embryonic dark phase: e.g., at sunset, the night before the holy day—and the seasons are seen to start on the Cross Quarter days before the Solstices and Equinoxes. In North America, these cardinal points on the wheel of the year are seen to initiate the beginning of each season.
Imbolc or Candlemas is a celebration of light and the first spark of spring. It is a whisper of warmer weather and an ember of hope in the darkness of winter.
Crocus' and perennial bulbs start to bloom and Hellebore, Snowdrops, Iris and Daffodils are often the first flowers of Spring to appear.
Imbolc is often celebrated with fire rituals, bonfires or gatherings. It is also known as an inward holiday. Solitude in nature or quiet walks are a great way to welcome Imbolc in.
A Christian holiday celebrating the presentation of Jesus at the temple. This is often a time when folks clear house and remove all the decorations from Christmas or bring candles to places of worship.
France and Belgium: Traditionally celebrate candlemas with crepes or pancakes and candles adorning the entire household.
Luxembourg's celebration centers around children. Children parade through the streets with lanterns and sing to their communities in exchange for treats and sweets.
Puerto Rico celebrates with a procession to the statue of the "Virgen de la Candelaria" with candles. Others celebrate with bonfires or the burning of their christmas trees.
North America: Much of North America celebrates Groundhog day which falls on February 2nd. This holiday entails weather-lore concerning a badger or groundhog, a germanic weather predictive animal, predicting how many more weeks of winter occur before spring. This tradition says that if a groundhog emerges from his hollow or nest on February 2nd, and the animal saw its shadow, six more weeks of winter weather remained. If, however, the day was cloudy and the groundhog didn't see its shadow, it was a sign that the weather during the following weeks would lead to an early spring.
Celtic goddess of fertility and motherhood. She is also a creative goddess holding favor for skilled crafts folk, passion, poetry, creativity and invention.
Like her season, she is a goddess of multitudes and contradictions. She is a goddess of healing, fertility, and motherhood, but also of passion and fire. This season reflects the dichotomy, the promise of spring and the continuing brutality of winter.
Brigid is often portrayed as a fire goddess with a cauldron or vessel near her. She has a strong connection with the sun and Imbolc itself is reflected the sun returning to the world as winter’s hold lessens on the earth. The sun gets brighter and the nights grow shorter.
In ireland, Brigid is a queen of keening at death rituals. Like many mother goddesses she can preside over both life and death. She often resides in and protects cemeteries.
There are many ways to celebrate Imbolc. We hope these ideas inspire you to create your own and share them with us!
Prayer for Sacred Pauses
Goddess of the sacred pause
please grant me the courage
to lay aside swiftness
and take up slowness,
to embrace limitations as learning,
silence as stabilizing,
waiting as worthy,
and sitting as divine.
Goddess of the sacred pause
help me to know stillness as strength,
patience as powerful,
and healing time
as holy necessity.
© Molly Remer 2019
The pile of sticks has grown all winter—
Sticks like witches' wands, weathered prayer sticks
picked-up sticks, built into a woody tent,
a grey and brown latticed cone.
Yesterday it snowed
and now I strike a match
to papers torn and pushed
under damp kindling.
I sit by the crackle,
in silver smoke.
I am burning the past
on its last remaining day:
in unaddressed envelopes
pain pressed between pages
like dried flowers
Outdated bills, lists, memos
emptied from their files—
Time's linearity seared.
Flickers of orange curl back black edges,
thin and ephemeral as shed skin.
Words are lifted from their page,
carried off and transliterated
into the primal language of combustion.
Surrounding snow melt
trickles toward the wane of flames.
The day's final blaze flares
from mottled afternoon clouds behind me,
and warms my back
like a brief blessing.
© Jenna Weston 2011
These, and many more articles come from our best selling Moon phase planner, and astrological calendar: We'Moon: Gaia Rhythms for Womyn.
Highlights of our desk top date book include information for every day:
Samhain, also known as the Witches New Year, is always held on October 31st. A time when the veil thins. It is believed the barriers that normally hold steadfast between our world and the other world thin, letting us walk with spirits and ancestors long passed.
The shortest day, the longest night, the stars brought closer by the primordial dark. In this moment the ancient stirs in us, illuminating our heart's deepest chambers, renewing our strength to challenge the injustices we were born into, born to stem.
The triumph of light peaks, slides slowly to dissolve. This is the tipping point for everything: democracy, misogyny, racism, climate, freedom. All are on a cliff edge. We've reached the neon-bright entrance to The Great Turning. Change is the only thing that doesn't change. Are we ready?