The excitement of the winter holidays is a thing of the past, and spring is still weeks away. Many early cultures recognized mid-winter as a contemplative time of year. Perhaps that’s one reason the ancient Celts celebrated the holiday known as Imbolc, also spelled Imbolg, on February 2nd. Literally translating to “in the belly," Imbolc was a time to give thanks for the new life that was quickening, though still unseen, beneath the winter snow.
You don’t have to be a Druid to appreciate the sentiment behind this ancient tradition. Anyone can use this quiet time of the year to reprioritize commitments and dedicate themselves to a spiritual path that truly feeds the soul.
- Imbolc is also a time to bless the seeds for the upcoming spring. Think about the “seeds” you want to plant this year, and write down a list of the ways you can nurture them into maturity.
- Candle making is a tradition associated with Imbolc, and later, the Catholic festival of Candlemas. Symbolically, candles do more than provide light for the eyes. They also light the way for the spirit. Contemplate the dark places in your life and how you might illuminate them. Perhaps through more prayer, more meditation, more volunteerism or more self-care.
- Ancient festivals of all types were a chance for communities to make merry together. Host a mid-winter gathering for your closest friends, and open a dialogue about spiritual fulfillment. By sharing their experiences in a non-judgmental atmosphere, friends can help one another understand some of life’s bigger mysteries.
Though not all Imbolc traditions translate to modern life, we can draw inspiration from the spiritual practices of ancient cultures. Find ways to apply the lessons of mid-winter to your modern life, and find what’s waiting to quicken on your path.