The days are beginning to lengthen. It is still cold but buds are forthcoming on the trees. Sap is beginning to rise and the bulbs are pushing through the Earth. Everywhere there are signs of the Earth stirring. Our acceptance of winter is giving way to an urge to move forwards into springtime energy. Now is the time to prepare inwardly for the changes that will come. Plant your ideas and leave them to germinate. Bring your visions and inner understandings out through poetry, song and art. Divination and clairvoyance are potent now as the link with the dark unconscious is still strong.
(Extract from ‘Sacred Earth Celebrations’ by Glennie Kindred, p89, Permanent Publications)
When Does Spring Begin?
Officially, the first day of Spring in 2020 in the UK is on the equinox of 20 March. This is the time of year (as is the autumn equinox) when night and day are the same length. According to the official calendar, the seasons conveniently stretch from solstice to equinox to solstice to equinox. But it has always struck me that by the March equinox, so much new life is already in full bloom and some even past their best – snowdrops, crocuses, early daffs. Is this really the first day of Spring?
An Older Celebration of Spring
There are another 4 celebratory points in the ancient Celtic year which seem to sit a little easier with me. The Celts celebrated Imbolc heralding spring (traditionally 01 Feb) followed by Beltain for summer (traditionally 01 May), Lammas for autumn (traditionally 01 Aug) and Samhain for winter (traditionally 31 Oct). I have given the ‘traditional’ dates when the festivals are usually celebrated but there are solar dates too calculated through the sun / moon phases which are always a little different if you wanted to be absolutely accurate. As we have just passed Imbolc, I felt I wanted to mention this festival now and we can see if spring has really sprung!
I am no expert gardener and I know there are some wonderful winter garden bloomers like Camelia and Daphne, but there is something primal in me which does a quiet thank goodness sigh when I see my first snowdrops on a river bank or daffs and crocuses pushing through the cold soil, or spot a shy hellebore beside the path.
The idea that I may do better with my New Year resolutions if I made them at Imbolc rather than in the depths of winter on 01 January, is at the back of my mind! But spring is the time for gambolling lambs and they are around in March/April, I hear you say! I live in Wales (the land of a lot of sheep) and can confirm that even by Imbolc, there are many lambs in the fields!
And another reason that I Iike to acknowledge Imbolc is because even though the nights are still long and we have much winter weather yet to come, there is this lovely evidence in the new growth that the Earth is stirring and something inside me echoes the words of Christian mystic and theologian, Julian of Norwich: ‘All shall be well, All shall be well, Indeed all shall be well’.
And ways to celebrate Imbolc is to notice and give thanks for the new growth. Think ahead, make plans, start bringing ideas into reality. Clear out the old and make way for the new. Light candles to help the dark recede (02 Feb is the celebration of Candlemass, one of the oldest in the Christian calendar). Finally the life of St Brigid (one of the Patron saints of Ireland) is celebrated at Imbolc and in honour of her, you can make something called Brigid’s Cross – check out this website for more on Brigid and her cross.
Wishing you all a belated Imbolc!