Today is Imbolc (pronounced I-MOLK), the ancient Celtic celebration that marks the midway point between Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox.
The festival centered around the goddess, Brigid, who was the goddess of healers, poets, childbirth, fire and hearth. Celebrations included all households burning a fire in the hearth overnight, as well as other customs and rituals to welcome the spring and say farewell to winter. With the advent of Christianity, Brigid became St. Brigid, and for Christians, Imbolc became St. Brigid’s Day.
I have an Irish friend who tells me some Irish folk still set out a dish of milk overnight on Imbolc/St. Brigid’s Day to appease the fairies who are as capable of nasty pranks as they are of kind deeds.
I’m fascinated by these ideas–both the concept of a moment in time that holds both darkness and light as well as the notion of magical beings I always viewed as light, airy and whimsical also having a dark side.
It all seems to fit with how I’m feeling right now. Hopeful, yet still raw. Peaceful, yet sometimes angry. Light and airy, but also capable of darkness. It’s like I’m searching for sound footing as I make my way forward on a path that is at the same time incredibly rocky and stunningly beautiful.
Maybe with everything we’ve all been dealing with you feel this way too. And that’s okay. I think the question here–or the invitation–is can we make space for all of it? Can we thrive in both the darkness and the light? Can we see ourselves as the good fairy and the bad fairy and love ourselves as both? Can we embrace all of the feelings, all of the experiences and even all of the people we encounter in our lives?
I believe the answer is yes, but it is certainly not easy. The key is to surrender to the flow. I’m taking a course this winter, and this week’s assignment is to remember a moment in our lives when we experienced a big shift, whether it was something that we felt positive about or negative about at the time. Then we are to meditate on it and record all of the events that have happened as a result of this shift. As we students are describing our events, it has become crystal clear that we are being nudged along the river of life, synchronicity to synchronicity. That everything closed eventually opens and everything open eventually closes. And that when we avoid resisting the flow–when we choose to make space for both the darkness and the light–we grow.
Last year, I celebrated Imbolc with six beautiful women. We danced like fairies in my living room, and we feasted on healthy food and nourishing conversation. This year, I am grateful to be taking a masked walk with a dear friend who may or may not be aware of what Imbolc is. I will savor the quieter moment with the same vigor that I did the party. It’s just a different way to mark the moment that holds both the darkness and the light.