Imbolc is an awakening as winter eyes begin to open, and we can marvel at the magick of Mother Nature. It’s literally the small things that make the difference, the tiny that makes wonderment. It is true that winter is still enveloping each day, but it is bound less tightly, and light shines through the gaps of its grip.
The first of February is a day of possibilities and always brings a little bit of excitement to me. It takes only a stroll to see new growth, to hear the birds reacting to the imminent arrival of spring, which seems to be arriving earlier and earlier. Imbolc is the halfway point of winter and spring, but it is feeling more and more like an end to winter as we experience unseasonably warm temperatures.
The snowdrop is one of those tiny gems and for me one of the most magickal of all plants. Not just because of its now known properties to assist management of Alzheimer’s through its bulb containing alkaloid galantamine, or because of its ancient use as mind-altering and helping cerebral function but because of the sheer mood -lifting qualities it brings just when spotting its tiny white bowed head on such a fragile stem . Bursting through frozen ground, through rubble piles, tangled verges, lining the foot of hedgerows and creating en-masse in swathes across parklands and open woodlands this resilient plant brings with it hope, rebirth and new beginnings - it has a lot to live up to, but never fails to give a sense of positivity at a time of year when this can be lacking.
Positivity is literally ignited with the tradition of lighting candles & bonfires at this time of the year. Fire is the spark of life and there is a magickal power of having the ability to bring light and warmth into the dark days and nights which we take for granted. The Celtic tradition marks Imbolc as a fire festival meaning it uses fire as a central part of the celebration and marking of this time. Candlemas on the 2nd brings this idea into the Christian church as candles are blessed, lit, and taken into parishioners’ homes. Also crossing into the church from more ancient beliefs is the goddess Bridgid, who became known to the church as a saint. Her popularity has grown beyond Gaelic lands, as women particularly honour her and try to experience her magick as she is known amongst many other attributes, as a goddess of fire and hearth and candles and fires are lit in her honour. She is found throughout the Irish landscape and is now honoured as a matron- saint after a long campaign by women in Ireland. She belongs at heart to the Irish people, who make crosses from rushes and leave scraps of fabric out for her on Imbolc Eve for her to bless as she passes by, leaving on them healing properties.
The illumination fire brings is not only literal but also in terms of enlightenment. For me this is the magick and significance of fire at this time of the year, as I lose myself in the flame and wonder on those possibilities that the year ahead will bring and hope that I may be enlightened.
All around us we see new life emerging, from lambing, early nest builders, green shoots, and early bud formations. Regardless of where we are in our life, nature chivvies us into noticing and into being in the moment. If we search we can find magick, we don’t make the magick, it is provided for us if we take the time to notice and be present in it.
Wishing you all a gentle transition towards spring and a kindly farewell to winter. May your intentions come true and the magick of nature inspire you. X