Lots to comment on but so little time to actually do it!
Midwinter has made its beautiful presence known this Imbolc and I did not think it was possible but this year has actually carried more meaning than last year did even.
It is so weird to me that I had never gave any thought to Midwinter/Imbolc in the past but after just a little over a year it has quickly become one of my more meaningful High Days of the year.
I never imagined that the High Days that would resonate the most to me would be Lughnassadha, Yule and Imbolc. Even Samhain and Beltane have fallen behind these three, it's certainly been an interesting year for sure.
Last year was the first time I had celebrated Imbolc publicly. I had always known it as Candlemas and aside from doing "witchy things" (I "quote" this because I really didn't know what or why I was doing what I was doing) and lighting a bunch of candles I really felt no connection outside "Ooooh, fire, candles! Yay burning things!" Juvenile to admit, yes.
Last year, my studies through the ADF Dedicant Path and with the Celtic hearth culture I began to know the relevance of the high day. I learned of Brigid's Feast and of the earth warming up to prepare for spring. My mind filled with so many wonderful things that I had never thought of before. Everyone loves spring, but what about that beautiful transition time between Winter and Spring? What about the delicate new beginning of life, the victorious first new growth boldly daring the chance of frost? What about the need for heat in every way? From the sun's heat down to earth, and the earth keeping that heat to move us to spring. The air outside is still cold enough for hearth fires and the need for warmth to get us through this second half of winter, but now we see hope, beauty, warmth, and growth and know that springtime will be here soon and free us from the frozen winter.
I will admit, the Imbolc ritual our grove put on was ultra distracting for me to really feel a strong connection. I greatly admire our Arch Druid who preformed the rite for this special High Day, but there were over 80 people in attendance and as our members were not involved much, the Bards were dispersed and not a big part of this ritual at all. I had to both be a welcoming member/voice for our grove but I was also helpless to the ritual itself. Because of such, I tried to let myself just enjoy what was going on but there were always things here and there that brought me back and took away my focus.
In the middle of the guided Brigid meditation I was really feeling the first real connection of the rite and then I had this overwhelming feeling/heat flash like a flame behind my eyes and I knew that I needed to open them. I would like to say Brigid said something to me, but I heard no words, just felt a natural goose bump instinct to open them. When I did, I saw that one of the plastic planters that I had prepared with soil and taper candles for a ritual decoration had caught on fire. The tall candles had been completely consumed and the plastic holder was going up in flames.
During a meditation to Brigid, with everyone's eyes closed.
As much as I would have loved to finish the meditation, I KNEW, there was a reason I had such an urgent pull to open my eyes. The fire may have initially been a good sign, but it had gotten so out of control that I had been warned about it. So I quietly went and put it out. It was such a strange feeling to feel both sad about missing the meditation but also to feel like Brigid had a more important *mission* for me instead. It is as if a year ago she wanted me to learn and follow her nurturing guidance, and this year she spoke to me as a protector with a warning.
Yet another sign I take that Brigid is pointing me more to the warrior aspects of both herself and myself. I can be welcoming and nurturing to our guests but I am also a protector and I fully believe that Brigid was showing this important path to me.
The ritual itself was beautiful (as they always are) but nothing will stand out like that the fire and that mediation for me.
I preformed my private Imbolc at home with my own shrine and felt the strong sense of connection to the kindred that I had missed in the public ritual. I re-potted flower bulbs, I meditated (both Two Powers and guided meditations), I set up my altar, I purchased and blessed wildflower seeds that will hopefully attract bees, butterflies and hummingbirds this summer, I went on a walk with my family through the wetlands and found ducks, squirrels, and a woodpecker, I have heard the mating calls of bullfrogs outside my window, I have seen the new buds of growth from the meristems of tree branches.
I have FELT Imbolc. Ive felt growth and warmth and hope.
The last thing I will note was my omen for my Imbolc ritual.
I decided since it was a rather quick ritual to draw only one tarot card for Brigid and one virtue token to focus on from the kindred.
Brigid gave me: Strength
The Kindred gave me the virtue: Courage
I feel I would have to be a fool not to see the warrior path in front of me. There is no denying it.
Today in the warmth of a beautiful midwinter sun I went on my first 2 mile run of 2016. My asthma was strong, but I will persevere and get my body back to feeling like the warrior that reflects my mind and heart.