When most of us in our mondern, Western world, think of February 2, images of ground hogs often come to mind. We think of the old legend that if the ground hog comes out of its burrow today and sees it's shadow, it will be startled and retreat to it's burrow for an additional six weeks of winter. Well, it really makes little difference if the little guys see their shadows today or not (other than being a fun thing to note), because we are at the height of winter and it will be six weeks until Spring Equinox (the first day of spring) shadow or no shadow.
My ancestors throughout Europe, especially those in the north, honored this day - the half way point between Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox as sacred with the Celts calling it Imbolic.
At Imbolic, like all the nature based sabbats, it is a time to honor the natural world and appreciate her changes. I have been very aware of the changes in our sunshine. At Winter Solstice, when the sun is being born a-new, it hangs low in the southern sky and its light is weak, even at mid-day. Each day over the last weeks, I've noticed our daylight returning later into the afternoon and the sun shines with great strength. Despite our bitter cold today, the sun is shining in all of his glory on our beautiful white snow that sparkles under the sun's kiss.
I am grateful for the bitter cold of the day, for it truly feels like winter with our blanket of snow and near zero temperatures. I hope it will serve as a reminder to many of the precious gifts of winter and how these could lost as our world climate continues to change.
Candles and fire were blessed at this time of year - as they brought light and heat into dark homes and were needed to sustain life. It is wonderous to light a candle and watch its flame dance and ponder what are the "lights" and fires in our own lives that we want to tend and bless on this Imbolic.
Young children were honored at Imbolic for they represent the continuation of all life and they hold the promise of spring. The goddess herself is in her maiden form at this time of year, waiting the bright blooms of spring and baby animals. Our two maidens of our home made "maiden muffins" for our family last night to feast on at breakfast time to bring us time to ponder all the wonders that young children bring into our lives.
And - how cool is this - the moon if full today. So not only do we get the bright, ever-stronger growing sunshine in the day, we get the glow of the moon, reflecting off of our snow and making the world a wonder of bright light mixed with dark blue shadows. As we returned from our women's group last night, I was moved by the night beauty of the season. I was very moved by the metaphor of light and shadow interplaying through the snow and moon.
So warm blessings to all who read this today in the days to come. If you wish, take a moment to ponder the wisdom of the season, learn about Brigid, the goddess of fire and metal crafts who is a guiding teacher at this time and enjoy the beauty of our Earth, cimmitting to care for her in all seasons as the Wheel of the Year keeps turning.