Welcome from Cassandra, Debi and Caitlin to the festival of Imbolc, beginning on the eve of January 31 in the Northern hemisphere, the first stirring of life after winter, the fire in the belly of the maiden goddess Brigit as she melts the winter snows with her willow wand, marking the return of lighter and warmer days.
These will hopefully come to fruition at Lughnassadh the first grain harvest six months later (now in the southern hemisphere).
Imbolc is the time to awaken passion for life, love, health and joy, the tentative growth of new beginnings psychologically and emotionally, light in the darkness that became Candlemas, the Christian festival celebrated on February 2, the final day of Imbolc.
And as the world opens the cave door after the worst of the pandemic is slowly turning the tide, hope is redoubled for a better more thoughtful and cherished life, even as we still tread warily.
If you doubt or the days of your life are dark, reach across the world to absorb the warmth of the mirror festival. For in the Southern hemisphere, is celebrated at the same time, the Festival of Lughnassadh, in the old traditions the willing offering by the Grain god of his life cut down as the last sheaf, to be made into the first bread of the first harvest, Christianised as the Lammas loaf on August 1.
This willing sacrifice symbolically ensured the continuing growth of the land in the year ahead and that the people and animals would have sufficient to survive the winter until Imbolc.
Wherever you live in the world, the Lammas energies warn there may be necessary sacrifices to make your dreams to bear fruit. If life is unfair, dark and hopeless, extend your hand across the world to the northern festival and let the maiden goddess Brigit, melt your sorrows, letting fears, obstacles and doubts likewise flow away as we seek the almost imperceptible ever earlier daily sunrise.
Though some have suffered much and few been unaffected by the pandemic, we can plant the seeds of new plans to nurture in the months ahead and if they fail to plant again and again until they do take root and flourish. Then with diligence and sheer hard work not miracles, we can savour the fruits of our own well-earned endeavours by the time this point on the Wheel of the ever-turning year is reached six months from now and Imbolc becomes Lughnassadh and Lughnassadh Imbolc.
Though now we take nothing for granted, blessings are all the greater for that uncertainty and a sense as never before we are beginning to understand our fellow humans’ sufferings. We ask for peace in the Ukraine and other areas of conflict and know that we have enough external enemies in fighting this and future pandemics and natural disasters caused by climate change without attacking those we should be working with to rebuild the world.
I have been ill recently and life now is doubly precious, each day a blessing and bonus not to be squandered or wished away. We cannot always hold off the hand of fate but at Imbolc and Lughnassadh, the times of the planting and the reaping, we can make our personal mark on life as best we can and trust the sun will rise again and again to bring another day of promise.
With love, Cassandra xx