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Imbolc 2011 -- The Spring Quarter Begins

Posted: 02/ 1/2011 7:28 am

Whatever the ground hog does or doesn't do, we're half-way there. Early February marks the midpoint between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. Spring, that glorious season of renewal, is starting now according to Pagan tradition. Despite the Northern Hemisphere's snow and cold, Pagans celebrate Imbolc and the returning light. Imbolc is a time to consider intentions and tools; it is a time to clarify aim and dedicate one's self for the coming year. Now is the time to consider spring cleaning, to let go of clutter of the physical and mental varieties, and to prepare for the season of growth. Spring cleaning is better done before the warmth of a fresh spring breeze calls us outside.

While still in the dark time, the inner focus can be brought on the year to come. We are poised in a reflective moment, at a time to set aim. Caitlin Matthews offers this Threshold Invocation for the Festival of Imbolc in her Celtic Devotional:

Midwife of Mystery, open the door,
Infant of the Infinite, come you in.
Let there be welcome to the newborn truth,
Let there be welcome to the Spring of the Year.
In cold and darkness you are traveling,
In warmth and brightness you will arrive.
May the blessed time of Imbolc
Kindle the soul of all beings,
Bringing birth to innocence and integrity
From the depths to the heights,
From the heights to the depths,
In the heart of every soul.

The New Year is taking form. Now is the time to nurture intentions, to feed and fuel and retool according to those intentions. Are my tools ready at hand, and honed for the work ahead? What gets in the way of my fullest creative productivity? How can I minimize obstacles, both inner and outer? What help do I need? What simple joys fuel my work?

How can I make sure I dance enough to keep me happy and inspired in the seasons to come? Dancers use a focal point, so that as they spin on the dance floor, they can stay oriented and not lose their balance or spin off in dizziness. Ritual at points on the wheel of the year can serve the same purpose.

It can be a time of affirmation of connection with the divine, of asking for help to overcome fears, to keep on walking each step without turning aside. It can be a time of forging simple aims and tools to cut through the excesses of our lives: the material clutter, the informational clutter, the clutter of excess demands, of websites and applications, of upgrades and learning curves, the clutter of excess stuff and excess wants, anything that gets in the way of hearing Spirit and acting on our own best intentions. Now is a great time to focus intention and check on our tools. Sharpening one's insight can help maintain one's aim in the months to come.

For many this holiday is dedicated to Brigid, the three fold Celtic Goddess of smithcraft, poetry and healing. Hers is a complex and powerful combination of attributes -- the forging of tools, the insight of poetry and the ability to render whole and holy that which has been hurt. Many dedicate themselves to Her each year, both giving and receiving in relationship throughout the year. Offerings are left at Her wells across Ireland, considered to be sources of healing and portals to spiritual realms. Chants are offered to Her: We are shaped in your fire, and cooled in your waters ... Brigid, Brigid we call your name.

For some, this holiday is most closely connected with the agricultural cycle, with the early birthing of lambs and the ewe's milk, and with the planting decisions to be made now, well in advance of the warmer days to come. We can nurture the seeds of intention for the coming year. Letting go and focusing, cleansing and clarifying, are most appropriate activities for this cold part of the spring quarter. Every day is longer, offering more sunlight and the promise of greater warmth to come. Surely, this is reason to celebrate.