If Candlemas Day be fair and bright
Winter will take another flight
If Candlemas Day be cold and rain
Winter is gone and shall not come again!
Candlemas Day definitely dawned cold and wet here, with slushy rain turning to snow and back again to rain. Who would have thought it? Last night was clear and cold, the stars brilliant and the gibbous moon bright. So, if the weather omens hold true, Spring is on her way here in the Northwest. (Although I heard that back east, Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow and slipped back into hibernation for another six weeks of winter.)
It’s been my practice for some years to go out searching for signs of Spring on Imbolc (or Candlemas) morning, the Celtic first day of Spring. This morning I didn’t have to go far. In the garden outside my front door, green shoots of daffodils, tulips and snowdrops are several inches high. Healer friend Comfrey has a dozen or more green shoots, all standing at attention, ready to roll. Lovely Lilac’s buds are plump and swelling with juice. And Daphne, planted last April as a memorial shrub, is leafless but flowering! Even Rosemary and Lavender look like they’ve made it through the freezing spell we had around New Year’s.
I love the imagery of Imbolc as the time of quickening, when the milk of ewes is flowing, lambs are born, and the belly of the earth mother begins to swell. My friend Kristen came by yesterday. She is 3 months pregnant, and her belly is barely beginning to show. She is right in tune with the cycles of Gaia — not so surprising for an organic farmer.
The daylight is quickening too — stirring, growing, coming out of hibernation. The sky begins to lighten around 7 AM now and isn’t completely dark until a quarter to 6 in the evening. Two and a half more hours of daylight than we had at Winter Solstice!
My only ritualized ceremony this year was to light three candles on my Brigid altar, and dedicate myself to the service of Her fiery, passionate creativity. I asked Her to help me get past my pattern of always putting my own work last, after I work on projects for other people.
As I drove into town through swirling snow, I saw a flock of wintering swans, stark against the green fields. So fitting for Brigid, She who is called the White Swan. Snow and swans for the Feast of Purification.
While I was in town, I came across Julia Cameron’s new book The Sound of Paper, and brought it home with me. These short, gentle essays on creating an artful life are moving me deeply and I can’t help but think Julia is speaking to me with the voice of Brigid.
“There is room for art in any life we have — any life, no matter how crowded or overstuffed, no matter how arid or empty. We are the “block” we perceive.” Ouch. She’s right.
“Goethe told us, ‘Whatever you think you can do, or believe you can do, begin it, because action has magic, grace and power in it.’ “
And I take action now, as I put Rosamundi (my PowerMac G4) to sleep and move over to the drawing table.