February 2 is Imbolc-a traditional Gaelic-Celtic celebration marking the halfway point between Winter and Spring. Imbolc gets its name from the Irish Gaelic Oimelc which translates to "ewes milk." As the end of winter nears, the sheep are nursing their newborn lambs and signs of light are starting to return to the landscape. Dreams of returning to the garden are starting to be nurtured, and it is the perfect time to give our respects to the Goddess Brighid. Brighid was the patron of poets and bards, as well as healers and magicians. She was especially honored when it came to matters of prophecy and divination.
Brighid has many nuances across the cultures that celebrate this seasonal transition, but she is most commonly revered as the keeper of the Hearth. Associated with light and flame, we are invited to light candles on our alter and reflect on the in between moment we find ourselves in. There are teases of warmth all around, and our attention may easily get swept up in anticipation of what's to come. But there is still a charm to behold in the chilly nights where we can curl up by the fire and take stalk of what insights arose in the Winter.
With the inspiration of Spring to come, and the slow introspection of Winter, now is the perfect time to dig into our creativity and see what arises. Journaling is a great practice to channel the energies of Imbolc. Bridghid is also known as Goddess of the Crossroads, and as we traverse the changing of seasons, the tipping from darkness back to light, journaling can help clarify where we are headed, and how we'll get there.
A stream of consciousness writing sesh can help to get in touch with what we are wanting and feeling at a deep level. Light a candle, set a timer for however long you have (5, 10 or 20 minutes works well) and don't stop writing the entire time! No editing or over thinking, just let it all out. If you want a start point you can choose to focus on a specific question:
How can I start to embody my Winter insights?
As firey energy starts to return to the earth and our bodies, where would it serve me to focus it?
When I look at all my seeds of inspiration, which ones do I choose to nurture and grow?
At the end of your journaling sesh, see if there’s a message that pops out that you want to plant and bring forward with you. Set your intention in one sentence and then using a pin, carve this message into a votive candle and burn it on your altar. When the candle is fully burnt, bury it or throw is away at a crossroads to let the energy flow and be absorbed by the universe! May your wishes be nurtured.
May it be so!
If you are more of a visual person, you can also try making a drawing with your non-dominant hand. This helps exercise the right side of your brain and makes it easier to tap into our subconscious- a realm that also supplies many of the potent images in your dreams.
If you'd like to offer any of these projects on your Imbolc alter, you can lay them out on a green piece of fabric with some candles surrounding it. Bridghid wore a long green cloak which carried with it blessings and powers of healing. It is said that she visits and blesses any piece of fabric that is left for her on Imbolc. This fabric can then be placed somewhere special where you want to bring the energy of vitality and fertility-in your gardens, bedroom, art studio or office.
The more we acknowledge and synchronize with the seasons, the more our body remembers its inherent harmony which bring peace and purpose in all that we do. May Imbolc be yet another opportunity to tune into the wisdoms of Nature and be guided forward with confidence and ease.
Polly Orr is a painter, prancer, and prayer from Salt Spring Island B.C.