Posted by: Zane Maser | February 9, 2012

GROWING LIGHT: IMBOLC

 

For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, already a week ago now, on February 2, the ancient Celtic festival of Imbolc occurred. Once celebrated as a holy day, it is the halfway marker between those great seasonal turning points of our Winter Solstice and the upcoming Spring Equinox. “Imbolc” (pronounced Im-olc) is one of the four “cross-quarter days” referenced in Irish mythology (as well as Beltane, Lughnasadh, and Samhain).1

Signifying the annual end of the “Dark Time” for the ancient Celts, it comes at the midpoint of the darkest quarter of the year. For them, as an agrarian culture, it was spring’s commencement and the lengthening days of light. “Imbolc” derives from the Old Irish imbolg “in the belly,” which refers to the pregnancy of ewes and the onset of lactation. New life is soon to arrive with the birth of the spring lambs!

Imagine the Wheel of the Year with its eight major festivals, which includes the two Solstices and two Equinoxes, spacing out the year in regular intervals, as the light and life of the Earth’s seasons wax and wane in birth, growth, decline, and death. What we are celebrating in the Northern Hemisphere, those in the Southern Hemisphere offset and balance us with the opposite expression. Consider also that there are eight phases of the Moon, the New Moon phase being associated with the Winter Solstice (or Yule), while Imbolc corresponds to the Waxing Crescent phase.

Amidst life’s great uncertainties and constant novelties are the regularity and certainty of the season’s annual rhythms and the sacred festivals and rituals celebrated for millennia. We can feel with assurance that Divine Arms, whether as God or as Mother Goddess, underpin and unfold life according to a Greater Plan, year-by-year, decade-by-decade, throughout the centuries.

In the Christian faith, “Candlemas” (from the Irish “feast day of Mary of the Candles”) is celebrated on the day of Imbolc, February 2. Later referred to as the “feast of purification of the Virgin,” it relates to Mary’s visitation to the Temple in Jerusalem in order to purify herself, a tradition in keeping with the Jewish law that it took forty days of cleansing after giving birth to a son, in her case, to Jesus, called the “light of the world.” In the British Isles, Candlemas was associated with the blessing and lighting of candles, amongst other traditions, which included feasting and caroling, as additional ways to celebrate the return of the increasing light of the spring Sun and the promise of new beginnings. Hearth and home, fire and purification are other central aspects of this festival of lights.

The snowdrop, appearing as the first flower of spring, is also
known as “Purification flowers” or “Candlemas bells.”

Yet another traditional part of Imbolc includes weather “prognostication,” an old custom that dates back to Europe generally and Scotland specifically wherein snakes and badgers gave clues to how long winter might last by appearing (or not) from their winter dens. The threads of this custom can be recognized as the basis of our annual “Groundhog Day” whose date is also February 2. The groundhog (really a marmot) is our Americanized version of weather prognostication—if the groundhog emerges from its cozy burrow on a cloudy day and fails to see its shadow, as the folklore goes, then spring will arrive early; conversely, on a sunny day the groundhog will behold its shadow, return to its burrow, and endure an additional six more weeks of wintery weather.

Within the meaning of these festivals and traditions are the archetypal motifs of the passing of darkness into the next phase of increasing light, thus signaling a time to cleanse and purify—a release of the past and the outgrown—in preparation for welcoming fresh, new life. This can be done in a variety of ways. Others have suggested such conscious rituals as opening wide the windows to allow clean, vitalizing air to remove staleness; lighting incense and carrying it throughout one’s home to cleanse the innards; bless and light candles; invite friends and family to celebrate a special meal; take a leisurely walk in nature to sense and connect with the awakening life of plants and animals or spring clean in the garden; and renew one’s vows to keep on keeping on the chosen spiritual Path.

In retrospect, I am happy to say I brought Imbolc down to Earth in beginning a physical regime of inner cleansing and purification. On that day, we started to use Cellfood®, a liquid nutritional supplement that is composed of dissolved oxygen, trace minerals, plant-source amino acids, and enzymes. Dr. David S. Dyer describes it as “vital cellular nutrition for the New Millennium.” Cellfood® is a house cleaner for the body, because it initiates a detoxification process that will eliminate old, accumulated wastes and toxins. It does its purifying and healing work at deep cellular levels, helping the body’s cells, tissues, and organs to return to a profound level of wellness and also strengthens the body’s overall energy or vital “chi.”2

So far so good in our new beginning in homage to Imbolc and in lightening the inner toxic load! Vast improvements are shining upon us! Now it’s time to get our hands in the soil and prepare for the joy of spring’s arrival.

It’s not too late to celebrate your own ritual or form of Imbolc. In what ways can you cleanse and purify, inwardly or outwardly? How would you like to start fresh? How can you shine up your own life as you bask in the seasonal growing light? Are there ways you can make your life more luminous?
 


 


Related Posts:

• A Visual Celebration of Winter

• Spiritual Lighting at the Solstice (one of the annual, spiritual Festivals
      of Light)

• Winter Solstice

• The Lily-Work (Easter is another of the annual Festivals of Light)

• Manifested Splendour (another piece on Easter)

• Easter Thoughts by White Eagle

• Quiet Spring

• The Wesak Festival Of Lord Buddha (Wesak is another of the annual       Festivals of Light)

• Remembrance Day

• Are You Getting Your Vitamin D?


Endnotes:

1. Most of the data for Imbolc came from Wikipedia.

2. Dr. David S. Dyer. 2000 (Second Edition). Cellfood® Vital Cellular Nutrition for the New Millennium. Feedback Books, Inc.


Text © by Zane Maser, 2012. Candle photo © by Zane Maser, 2012. Photos of snowdrops and the Wheel of the Year diagram are from WikiCommons. All rights reserved worldwide.

Protected by Copyscape Web Copyright Protection

My editorial guru and technological wizard is Chris Maser, my delightful husband.


If you are interested in an astrological consultation and/or a specific question answered by a horary chart, please visit SunnyCat© Astrology.



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