February 2 - Cross-quarter day, Earth festival,
The year’s first fire festival

If Candlemas day be fair and bright,

Winter will have another flight.

If Candlemas day clouds and rain,

Winter is gone, and will not come again.

- E. Holden

I am a very seasonal person. I feel the rhythms of the year deep within my being and reflect it in my routine. For me winter is a quiet, introspective time. I sleep more, eat more, and exercise less. When the season turns cold, Like a bear, I withdraw from the world to spend the greater part of the season wrapped in the quiet comfort of my home.

Imbolc marks a seasonal shift. I feel it as a gentle stirring. The growing light signals my mind and body that the time of rest is over, now there is work to be done. I shake off winter's blues and come awake. Energy for action courses through my body as creative thoughts fill my mind. And I once again become inspired.

Click here for some Imbolc Inspired Recipes

Imbolc, also known as Candlemas, is held on February 2nd, halfway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox making it a cross-quarter day on the wheel of the year calendar. Imbolc celebrates the waking of nature as Imbolc means ‘in the belly’ which referred to the pregnant ewes who were about to birth their lambs replenishing the food stores that were depleted from the barren winter months.

Imbolc is an earth festival celebrating the return of life to the world for not only are the daylight hours noticeably growing longer but now nature is waking as many of the animals are pregnant and their udder are filling with milk marking the return of nature's bounty and the end of a long dark winter.

Imbolc marks a time of renewal. The earth is waking. Spring is returning and life all around us is beginning to stir as the land begins to warm. Tentative shoots have risen from the ground with the promise of blossoms soon to come.

Imbolc was once a time to honor Cernunnos, the great protector of the forests and the life-giving goddess, Brigid of the Tuatha de Danaan.

Light is returning to the world. Long ago it was customary to build a bonfire atop a hill to encourage the returning light. This morning I light a candle and with whispered words, with my breath, with intention held in my mind, I welcome the light and open my heart to nature's energy. She responds by pouring new life into my processes. Plans that at the dark of winter were only dreams, now take shape.

The life-giving goddess, Brigid of the Tuatha de Danaan.

She is known by many names: Bride, Bridey, Brighid, Brigit, Briggidda, Brigantia,and Breet. She is the traditional patroness of healing, poetry, and smithcraft. She is a female solar deity associated with rivers, and wells and has the attributes of inner healing, vital energy, light, inspiration, and all of the skills associated with fire. She is known as The Mistress of the Mantle representing the sister, or virgin aspect of the Great Goddess. She is the Goddess of physicians and healing, of divination and prophecy and in an older incarnation she was Breo-saighead, or fiery arrow, with the attributes of punishment and divine justice. There are three rivers named for her, the Brigit, the Braint, and the Brent in Ireland, Wales, and England respectively. She is associated with the cow and the beginning of spring. She survived Christendom by becoming a saint, the patron saint of smiths, poets and healers. Sir James Frazer wrote of St. Brigid in the Golden Bough, "An old heathen goddess of fertility, disguised in a threadbare Christian cloak."

Light is returning to the world and with it winter relinquishes its cold hold. Spring is coming. The portents are reflected all around me. This morning I celebrate by lighting candles. Later I will walk my land and observe the new life waking. Gratitude, and with it happiness, has taken up residence again in my chest. I can breathe deeper. I can smile harder. I can laugh longer now with the promise of spring in the air.