Wednesday, February 2, 2011

You say "Groundhog Day," I say "Imbolc"

In the U.S., today is popularly known as Groundhog Day.* I've always enjoyed this day--not just because it's the day before my birthday (can you believe I'm gonna be 39 AGAIN??) but also because this is the time of year in the Northern Hemisphere where you really notice the growing light.

Our Celtic ancestors throughout Europe recognized this day as the half-way point between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. The name "Imbolc" comes from the Gaelic "Oimelc," meaning "ewe's milk." This is because ewes were nursing their recently-born babies, and was considered a first sign of spring. When Christianity took hold in Ireland, Imbolc was transformed into Saint Brigid's Feast Day. Some Christians celebrate February 2nd as "Candlemas," the Feast of Purification of the Virgin Mary.

Romans celebrated Lupercalia at this time of year. Egyptians celebrated the Feast of Nut.

As someone who follows the Earth-based Wheel of the Year, I take many lessons from this celebration. Purification is one theme--some begin spring cleaning on this day. I see this day as a celebration of the Mother-Daughter bond, a la a feminist version of The Myth of Persephone. This is also a good day--if you are an artist--to celebrate your craft.

I will be celebrating by lighting a candle and meditating on my writing. I hope to gain insights on how to handle the fact that I don't actually have all that much time to write, because of the way my life is right now. I will also meditate on how to be both a better daughter and a better mother.

Happy early spring!

* It's also my friend Kathy's birthday :-)