"I had no choice but to grow." Caroline Taylor(1)
What triggers such grow? Do the snowdrops really want to emerge now? Is it tough for the ewe feeling the milk ducts swell, her belly large, her gait stiff in a cold snow barren landscape? Sometimes I look at the sharp, dagger determination of the daffodils pre-bloom, forcing their heads above the frost line and want to whisper, 'wait, rest awhile, it'll be easier later'.
But nature knows a call so strong - it has no choice. In the dim winter days of the early year, we too can feel it, a growing within, a longing for more light. Soon the ravens in the trees over the road will begin to build their nests, and the Caillech, the Old Woman of Winter will transform into the fragile but growing Fair Woman of February. Stronger each day, the returning sun is rekindling her fire. She is the bride with a white wand, breathing life into the mouth of the dead Winter and to bring him to open his eyes to the tears and smiles, the sings and the laughter of Spring. (Alexander Carmicheal)
Imbolc is a gateway festival of light and marks a turning, a transition in the seasons. Christians know it a Candlemas Day, a time dedicated to the Virgin Mary and featuring a candlelight procession. For me, it marks a time to shine the light of my awareness within and give space to notice my longings, my need to grow and to then plant the seeds that might see these manifest. And in doing so, I remember another quote I've seen recently that stirred a deep inner knowing...
"Instead of working toward retirement, work toward your ideal lifestyle. There is usually a path to get there in a few years instead of a few decades." James Clear (2)
So, I wish you growth, because there is stagnation is too much stillness. Likewise, all periods of growth must be balanced by time of rest, when the work is alchemised into fresh new beauty. Tis a balancing act, always. The yin and yang - may you know and appreciate both.
Invocation to Brigit at Imbolc
(Brigit is an ancient Celtic goddess, grown into the Christian St Brigid in Ireland, and is the nearest idea we have in ancient Celtic thinking to a Great Mother).
We welcome you, Brigit, on Candlemas Eve,
We pray for your blessing, new life to recieve,
O Mother of Poetry, teach us your art,
That your inspiration may enter each heart.
O Mistress of Magic that stands by the fire
And shapes the bright metal to the form you desire;
O Mother of Smithcraft, please teach us your art,
The the power of changing may enter each heart.
You kindle the springtime to quicken the earth,
From under your mantle the old has new birth,
O Mother of Healing, please teach us your art,
That peace an contentment may enter each heart.
Mara Freeman (3)
(1) This quote is from Caroline Taylor in conversation with Scott Johnson who hosts an affectionate podcast on living a contemplative life through the filter of Ashtanga Yoga. Stillpoints - a podcast with Scott Johnson
(2) Atomic Habits - James Clear
(3) Kindling the Celtic Spririt - Mara Freeman