Wait, Pause, Not Quite Yet!

Have you seen the little green fingers of plants starting to push their way up, from mysterious underground hideouts? Or buds at the tips of stick-like stalks, that otherwise look like kindling? I want to warn them, “Wait! go back to sleep, like the groundhog always does. We’re not ready yet!”.

This week marks the midway point between the winter solstice and spring equinox. The Celts call this the beginning of spring, or Imbolc. Amazing cracklings and sproutings are happening beneath our feet, and most won’t be visible to our eyes for about six more weeks.

Here is an excerpt from Larry’s Miller’s poem about this season:

The earth says
Keep still
Stay put & listen to the roar of silence
Hold on and root deep for treasure
Feel the sap rising through your bones
Wait & see what happens.

This season is also known as Candlemas, a time when we still need that encouragement of fire and candlelight in our homes, to reassure our hearts and minds that we have not been forgotten by then sun. These dark, short days are a time to tend to the inner fire, building confidence in ourselves through introspection.

These holidays are all gateways to the return of the sun (in the northern hemisphere). The gateway is just the entrance, like crossing through the Peace Arch entry to Canada. We must endure more challenges, but we can take heart in the promises made by those little green fingers, who can awaken our sense of awe at nature’s resilience – and our own.

This waiting is always hard for me. I am caught off guard at this time of year to hear of so many folks jetting off to Hawaii or Mexico. Half of me wishes I’d had the foresight to escape myself, while the other half grows heartier, with more time for introspection, deep inward cleaning, and clarification about the year ahead.

Imbolc is marked on the Roman calendar that we use, and often coincides with Chinese New Year. Some traditions are similar between all of these holidays. Here some simple ways to acknowledge and celebrate each of them:

Here some simple ways to acknowledge and celebrate each of them:

Make a fire, indoors or out.
Create a Brigid doll in the Celtic tradition, from straw. She can be simply dressed, and adorned with flowers as they appear along the season.
Light candles.
Deep clean the house and make noise by clanging pots and pans.
Wear red.
Offer gifts in red envelopes.
Light fireworks or fire crackers.
Gather with friends.
Join with others in the snow, and make joyful noise to drive old man winter out.

Here’s a traditional song:Old man winter, it’s time to go!

Take with you these piles of snow!

Melt, snow, melt!

Spring will soon return!

A flame, a fire, all the warmth it brings,

melt the snow, cold be gone, welcome back the spring!

One last suggestion for marking this turn of time’s wheel: spend quiet time alone, journaling, and contemplating your wishes for the year ahead. Consider when you’d like to bud, blossom and fruit. Please don’t hurry. Maybe just wait!