About this time every year, I decide I’ve had enough of winter. Lucky for me, we’re halfway through! Wednesday is the beginning of Imbolc, the ancient Celtic celebration that marks the midway point between winter solstice and spring equinox and the return of the light. It starts the evening of Feb. 1 and goes through the evening of Feb. 2.
For my Celtic ancestors, the beginning of February meant the end of the darkest days of the year and food scarcity; they had survived another winter. The lighter, more abundant half of the year was on its way, and they observed the occasion by celebrating, mostly with fire.
Searching the Internet, I learned the name Imbolc originates from Old Irish. Some say it translates as “ewe’s milk.” Others say it means “in the belly,” referring to pregnant sheep and cows. One source translates it to “in the belly of the mother,” as in Mother Earth. But my personal favorite is “in the belly of the ewe.” It conjures so many moist, murky, goopy visions!
As we head toward the return of the light, I’m feeling a little like the unborn lamb suspended in that slick, dark place but also a little like the pregnant ewe—slow, heavy, and ready to get on with things. Winter has been a season to ponder what I am birthing myself to be, or becoming, and what I want to birth, or create. At this halfway point, I’m eager for labor to begin, but apparently I need more gestation time. The light is returning, I know it is! We’re just not quite there yet.
Panning out from my navel-oriented gaze to the collective, it would appear the proposition of returning light is bleak. So much of what we read, hear about and talk about is either terrifying, disturbing, or both. And while I agree we humans are intertwined in complicated, nuanced and seemingly unfixable messes, my daily experience tells me that most of us are doing our best to try to live in the light. In other words, I still believe in the basic goodness of humanity.
One of the things I do to stay connected to the glimmer is to meditate and ask for guidance. In my recent morning meditations, I’ve received some messages to consider for this time. Perhaps they will resonate with you as well.
Wait for the light. Sometimes it is not yet time to act. Sometimes the wiser thing to do is to pause with curiosity and patience. To hold hope without attachment.
This last part sort of ticked me off because I’ve never liked the word hope. It seemed so weak. That is, until now. After I received the messages, I explored the definition of the word hope and found, “an expectation with confidence that something desired will happen.” I had always thought of hope as more like a wish, but turns out, it is much sturdier than that. It implies probability.
Spring is sure to come, but I’m being guided to stay with winter for a while. To appreciate the pause and meet it with curiosity. What a wonderful energy to be in–curiosity, the precursor to learning. The place where all newborns begin.
Late last Sunday afternoon, my car thermometer registered zero degrees as I drove to deliver food to a grieving friend. I had been tucked in the womb of my cabin all day cooking and talking to my granddaughter on FaceTime, so I hadn’t yet ventured out.
As I turned off my driveway, a mama deer and her two babies walked bravely down the middle of the road toward my car, staring at me through the windshield like they had a question to ask me. Curiosity. A little later, when I passed a park near my friend’s home, I was greeted by a copse of tall, serene evergreens sugared in silvery snow. They felt like wisdom keepers. Pause.
Be curious. Appreciate this season. Wait to give birth and to be born. Expect with confidence that the light will return. I’m grateful to be floating in the belly of the ewe with these Imbolc gifts.
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