Feb 1 is Imbolc, the gateway into Spring
'Primrose and Robin", John Wainwright, 1864
IMBOLC is the name of the the cross-quarter celebration marking the mid-point of our journey from the Winter Solstice to the Spring Equinox, that happens from February 1 eve into February 2 of each year and has been observed for a long, long, long, time. Imbolc signifies the spark of the light of Spring in the heart of Winter.
This day is also called Candlemas and modern day Groundhog Day originated with German immigrants in Pennsylvania with roots in earlier European folk tradition.
Photo by Chiffe
Contrary to modern consensus, Imbolc is actually considered by the old Pagan agricultural calendar to be the first day of Spring. The word Imbolc means literally "in the belly", or "first milk" in the old Irish Neolithic language, referring to the pregnancy of ewes.
Photo from Healthy Creatures
It's when the door begins to creak open just the tiniest bit, and the first quickening of life is felt. It won't be winter forever!
Though the thaw is still a ways off, there is a renewed hope and fresh breath of life. Tiny green blades of grass and the earliest delicate spring bulbs begin to emerge. The miracle of life is that it always comes back around into renewal.
Art from Sutil
Also known as the Feast of Brigid, it is one of the four major "fire" festivals (quarter days, referred to in Irish mythology. The other three festivals on the old Irish calendar are Beltane, Lughnasadh, and Samhain/ Halloween).
In ancient Irish mythology, Brigid was a fire goddess. Nowadays, her canonization is celebrated with a perpetual flame at her shrine in Kildare, Ireland.
Art from Soffita delle Strenghe
A fire Goddess, Brigid was patroness of poets, seers, and metalsmiths; she was the heart and fire of the hearth that was the center of each home and community. She was invoked for protection in childbirth and agriculture.
St. Bride Carried By Angels, John Duncan, 1913
"As the Muse and protector of the poet-seers, we see the earlier tradition of the Feminine gifts of vision, prophecy, and divination. In her association with fire and metalcrafts, we see her earlier gifts of transformation and alchemy.
Traveling the earlier roots, we find the Goddess Brigid in the story of the Tuatha de Danaan, the Shining Ones who seem the possible source of Tolkien's elven folk and their expertise at magic and metalcrafting, and the Great Goddess Danu."
Brigid or Bride made the leap from a being a long revered and powerful Celtic Goddess into an Irish Saint as Ireland changed from Pagan to Christian. They say that if you scratch the surface of any Christian Irish-person and you will easily find a Pagan. The two have managed to coexist for centuries.
Happy Beginning of Spring!
Paetra Tauchert, Astrologer
Art by Maggie Vandewalle