Yesterday was Imbolc, or alternatively today is Imbolc - it depends who's calendar you are looking in. Either way it's a day to celebrate the turning of the year - Spring is starting to un-wind from the frozen winter earth. The snowdrops are out, the catkins are hanging in the Hazel trees. Traditionally this is a day to 'break the ground' ready for the earliest seeds to be planted - the one's that relish a bit of ice and frost. It began with the kind of blazing sunrise that seems to set the trees on fire and bring every spirit of every living thing loud and lively to the fore, dancing in the winter sun.
We celebrated Imbolc with a little family ritual. It goes like this - Brid (her feminine energy symbolised by a doll made of sticks for the purposes of this endeavour) is the guardian of the land hereabouts and of our house in particular. She is dressed in a beautiful robe and ribbons and she is put to bed (a willow basked made years ago by me with the first willow I had ever grown for myself) with a carved phallus - this is Bres, he is the masculine half of that energy. In the bed with them go offerings from each member of the household. These are usually a 'thing of beauty' that has either been made or found and also a small rolled up piece of paper. On our pieces of paper each of us writes what they would like to bring to birth in the coming spring; our dreams, our ambitions. These things all spend the night in the bed together in front of the heart fire which is kindled afresh for the occasion. In the morning the offerings and the wishings - or more accurately willings - are burned in the fire.
It was incredibly beautiful for me to watch my tall loose-limbed sons bend knee and head to this little ceremony, something we've been doing since they were children but something that has never lost it's magic or it's power to transform. There is no Father Christmas here to give up believing in, only the heart-full acknowledgement of the Spirit That Lives In All Things.
Today the Cailleach's wood gathering was over and the day was full of sprinkley showers of snow which brought the endless preparing of drum skins to a frozen halt while I laughed by the fire inside making drums with a lovely woman from 'not far away'.
When she had gone, drum happily in hand, I took to the fields with my camera.....
May what you wish to bring to birth this spring be yours, and may it be for the good of all of us.