Also known as Candlemas, Imbolc is the seasonal marker at the halfway time between winter solstice and spring equinox. While we are past the longest nights of the year, Imbolc is still a time when the natural world is pulled inward. The energies of the plants are concentrated in the roots, animals in hibernation and the landscape is open and bare.
Traditionally, Imbolc would be a time of uncertainty as supplies of food, firewood, and candles may be growing thin. Today's Groundhog Day predictions are an artifact of divinations done at this time of year–asking, “How much longer will the winter last?” Food supplies from last fall's harvest are getting low. This time of year, we are naturally drawn to pay attention to our basic sustenance needs including food, warmth, shelter and safety.
In earth-based cultures, this is also the time when animals begin to give birth and milk begins to flow again. In that way, Imbolc can be a pivot point when we begin to move from a place of scarcity towards a place of growth. As part of our Imbolc celebrations at Earthaven Ecovillage, we tend our sacred spaces and also bless the animals on the land. Soon the chickens will begin laying more eggs as the days lengthen.
In the Celtic traditions, Imbolc is often associated with candles and with white clothing or dresses. It is a time to celebrate Brigit, also known as Bridgit or Bride (pronounced Breed). In our modern world, we associate the word "bride" and the color white with weddings, with making a commitment to another person.
My personal theory is that in ancient times, at the women-only temples devoted to Bridgid, this time of year may have been a time when women made commitments to themselves, even to marry themselves.
This year, I invite you to take time for self reflection and pause to focus on your self care. How have those needs shifted in the past year? Notice which aspects of your own self care need tending. You may even want to carve out commitment to yourself for the year.
My encouragement to you–while we are still in the midst of winter–is to allow yourself to sink into a place of self care and a slower pace. The last several months have been hard . . . many of us have been on alert, with needs for safety and security rising to the surface.
As women, we have been socialized to put the needs of others before ourselves, often disconnecting from our own needs and desires in the process. You may be feeling depleted or exhausted. Carving out time to focus on our own needs and feelings allows us to live more fully and to thrive in our relationships with ourselves and others.
Want support around reconnecting with your own needs? I’ve got something for you, sister! I invite you to download my free worksheet: It’s Your Time Now!
And remember, like the plants, we’re still in the “roots” time of the year. Give yourself permission to sleep more while the nights are still longer, to rest as the plants do below the ground.
Some traditions even consider Imbolc the beginning of the new year. I like to celebrate lunar Imbolc on the dark moon, which falls on Feb 11 this year. A powerful time to set an intention to take time for self care this year. You are worth it. It’s your time now!