Imbolc

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Until last week, I hadn’t even heard of the Pagan festival of Imbolc.

It seems I wasn’t the only one. “Inbulk” my fellow adventurer asks me, “as in “buying in bulk”, stocking up in case we’re snowed in?”.

“No”, I answer, deciding to spell it out letter by letter. This could take a while…

Anyway, Imbolc, February 2nd 2019, will be a day I will never forget. It was the day another little light went on inside me.

I’d been reading about it in my Almanac just a couple of days before, and I’d learned that it was halfway between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. In the Celtic calendar it marked the beginning of the lambing season.

It all made perfect sense. We’re releasing Winter and we’re welcoming Spring. Even if it’s not visible above the ground yet, we can sense that something down below is stirring, like the beginnings of new life.

When I wake up to a clear blue sky, I can feel it, and by the buzz on the seafront that beautiful morning , I think everyone else can too.

It’s happening in nature, so of course, it’s happening in us too.

There’s this little flutter of anticipation and excitement, a sense of coming out of the darkness, renewal, and rebirth.

The festival’s name actually comes from the word “Imbolg”, which means “in the belly”. It refers to being pregnant, where the new life is only just visible, if at all. But we know it’s coming, and that expectancy is as much part of the process as the birth itself.

I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate Imbolc than making our way up Haytor in the fresh powder to catch the sunset. I’ll never forget it.

There’s a thick covering of snow, the sky is a mixture of pinks and blues, and the air is as crisp and fresh as the snow beneath my feet.

In amongst snowball fights, dodging the sledges, hugging a tree or too, and making snow angels, I also have some quiet moments of reflection.

I realise everything looks different. I’ve been to Haytor many times, but I’ve never seen it look like this before. It’s fresh, it’s new, everything looks brighter, including the future. I guess we need the darkness of winter to appreciate the return of the light when it comes in Spring.

Everything in nature is cyclical, but it’s also constantly re-birthing, which means that some things have to die in order for there to be new growth. It’s all just part of the process, and every season plays it’s part.

As I read this Imbolc blessing I think that February may not be too bad after all.

May the life stirring underground stir new dreams within you
May the flames of inspiration and passion be ignited within you.

Happy Imbolc everyone 🙏

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