I grew up in upstate New York, survived the Blizzard of ‘77, and reveled in the winter wonderland of the winters up there. Here in Maryland, on the other hand, gets thrown into a panic at the hint of snowfall even if its just an inch or so.
Oddly, the winters here offer more danger. There’s more ice. Snow you can move out of the way, but ice that patches up on highways or turns to ‘black ice’ that’s tough to see at night makes for harrowing driving.
In contrast to the growth and activity of the spring and summer, winter provides a time of meditation and thought. Like the dark of the moon, the cold, dark nights allow us a time to reflect and ponder goals, to work on strengthening our strengths, and working out weaknesses. Its a time of planning.
February 1st marks the Sabbat of Imbolc (pronounced IM-bolch) that celebrates the time where the ewes start to lactate in anticipation of giving birth. The word Imbolc means ‘in the belly’.
So you might wonder why Americans celebrate Ground Hog’s Day. Its roots are definitely pagan. In ancient Ireland, Ceillreach, the queen of winter, or divine hag, brought the cold. If she wandered out to gather wood for a longer winter, she’d see her shadow and mark a longer season. If she remained indoors, sleeping in her cave, we’d see an early spring.
Of course, back in the ‘good old days’ they used a hedgehog to see if it found its shadow. Here in the states, its a ground hog.
I will be adding more of celebrations and traditions for Imbolc in the next few weeks.