Saturday, February 1, 2014

Celebrating the Seasons - Imbolc

   Today is the Festival of Imbolc in the Celtic calendar and, although hard for us in the frozen north to imagine, the first day of Spring!  It is also the feast day of St. Brigid who is second only to St. Patrick in veneration in Ireland.  The site of her monastery in Kildare is one of the stops on my Threshold Pilgrimage in May.  I thought I would celebrate the Celtic seasons this year by doing a series of posts as each season unfolds.  We begin with Imbolc...

    The Celtic seasons are based on agriculture and tied firmly to the land and animals.  Imbolc is the celebration of the freshening of the ewes who are giving birth at this time. I didn't have to travel too far to photograph the image for this post.  Moonset Farm, a few miles from my home, is owned by Jackie and Mike Gardner.  Jackie was one of the subjects in my book First Person Rural and I love visiting to see what's happening on the farm at any season.

   Imbolc is a time of renewed and focused energy after the resting time of winter.  Although calendar Spring is still weeks away, there is a "stirring in the belly" that is quite palpable.  Soon, here in Maine, the sap will be rising along with the ewes milk and people will be ordering seeds for this year's garden.  Already, despite the cold temperatures, there is a warming of the suns rays.  There is a slight swelling on the tips of the forsythia bush and with it, anticipation for what is to come.  It is a season of infinite hope.

Copyright by Marcy Hall
   I make woven St. Brigid crosses at this time of the year (you can see one in her hand in the illustration on the left).  It is a tradition for children to weave them on February 1st in Ireland and if you would like to try your hand at one, here is a video tutorial. 

 This delightful image by Marcy Hall is the latest in the "Dancing Monks" series over at Abbey of the Arts.  It, along with others in the series, will soon be available for purchase as prints.

   In the meantime, follow this link to read Christine Valters Paintner's post on St. Brigid and Imbolc.  Then, consider ways you can experience the birthing of Spring where you live.

    For more links on Celtic traditions visit my Pinterest board, On A Celtic Path.   After all, St. Patrick's Day isn't far away!  Ceiliuradh a na seasuir! (Celebrate the seasons!)

No comments: