We like to mark January first as the "start," we've cultured in this expectation to leap into the new year, to reset, begin anew, but then you look outside in the Norther Hemisphere and you see nothing but cement skies, barren trees, and an overall hush of grayness.
In the depth of Winter we force ourselves, against our nature and the rhythm of the world around us, to "spring forth." The very word, Spring: suggests vibrancy, energy, liveliness, yet the environment around and within does not align. The heart of Winter is not the start of anything, it's the well deserved respite, "we're in the season of the under world, the liminal, the dead season," as Melissa put it. But yet, society around us presses in with obligations, expectations, and colossal change, it's like expecting a butterfly to come out when it hasn't fully developed yet.
Intense feelings of guilt are a symptom of seasonal affective disorder, and that guilt is often derived from the expectations society has about our behavior and efforts during the slow season, we're meant to try hard, make big changes, and "snap out of it." But nature gives us another set of tasks, and a more aligned knowing. Nature reminds us to set the pace of our life appropriately.
How well have resolutions ever gone for you? Do the Winter months feel heavier, more challenging? Does everything feel harder? Noticing our body's resistance to the pace of society and the pace of our lives is an important first step in the direction of aligning, we need to see where we can fine tune our own behavior to best support ourselves as we come through the deep months.
One of my favorite Winter activities is "bud spotting" It's this game I play with myself where I look for signs of Spring, and guess what!? I find them every time, the seasons are married to one another in this really beautiful tapestry of acknowledgement. If you pay close enough attention you can always feel the next season coming.
Imbolc, in old Irish. literally means, "in the belly" it's the witnessing of the start of Spring, yet in our modern world we see February first as the depth of Winter, and yet our ancestors knew to see it as the verge of the new, this is where the new year REALLY begins.
Traditionally, Imbolc is a holiday to invite St. Brigid and her magic into our lives. Goddess Brigid is the patron of poetry, fertility, crafts and prophecy, so honoring her is a fun and expressive affair. It's said that she was born with flames atop her head, so you know where this is leading... fire!
Four Ways to Celebrate and play with the natural start of the new year:
1) Spring Cleaning; this one seems so mundane and not very exciting BUT the process of cleaning is actually very powerful and significant. The act of cleaning is an energetic signature that you are ready to remove that which is stagnant, clear space and hold it open for that which is fresh, renewed, and lively.
Don't over do it; Cleaning can feel a lot like punishment, it can feel like procrastination, it can feel overwhelming, so give yourself the grace to just start and set a strong intention with the actions around cleaning, make it efficient and exacting, set a time for yourself and stay the course.
2) Set Fire; fire is a force of purification, of renewal, of transformation. Fire also lights the way in darkness, provides comfort and warmth through the cold, and signifies our own indomitable spirit. If you don't have your own hearth, lighting candles, and burning herbs is an excellent substitution and compliment to a bigger blaze. How cool would it be to host a large public bonfire for the local community where you live?! (#goals)
3) Craft; traditionally, for Imbolc, we craft a small doll in honor of Brigid, a lovely gesture of reverence, an invitation for all that our sweet Goddess embodies. She is the promise of renewal, creativity, and all that Spring brings along. Perhaps crafting a doll doesn't feel authentic or useful, we are after all, living modern lives; consider making a wreath, a vision board, or any other craft that feels aligned with your needs and lifestyle.
4) Write; poetry might not be everyone's modality of self expression, but it has a quality and a power that few can deny. To write a poem is the work of spells, in fact, all writing has that quality. There's a relationship between words and actions, this is an excellent time to get clear on how we use them and where we can become creative, literally and figuratively.
The Wheel of The Year is a study in tradition and alignment with nature, it's an old way to connect our modern lives to the intentional, supportive practices of our wise ancestors. This free course, delivered by Melissa, on YouTube, is a magical introduction to the work of the Wheel and how to begin to understand where it might bolster our modern lives in real and practical ways.