Imbolc, Brigantia, Candlemas
Traditionally the day when the seasons turns from Winter to Spring, February 2 has been a very busy day in history. I have chosen a photo of a sun at mid-sky and the dried but still fragrant branches of wormwood, artemisia absinthum, for their significance as cleansing herbs for household and body, and their association with Artemis and by extension Brigantia…
“Brigantia”, feast of the Celtic goddess of many things in in what I’ve found of her over the years, fields and fertility, and by extension human creativity, associated with Brigid, Ceres and Artemis, celebrated on this day as she enters the cycle of power as the season turns from fallow to early fruitfulness. It is the original festival of lights, for even though the solstice is six weeks past and the days are noticeably longer, those weeks were some of the most difficult to survive for early humans; at this point spring was inexorably beginning and they could celebrate the beginning of another season of fruitfulness.
“Imbolc”, one of the eight sabats and four main festivals in Wiccan tradition, taken from the Welsh term for ewes beginning milk production, as apparently they do, as do other mammals who have gestated over the long winter months around this time. It is derived from “ewe’s-milk” in Welsh and variously from other Gaelic terms, but I haven’t ever found enough reliable information on others, such as “in the belly” from Old Irish, and it was often said that the weather for the remainder of winter until the equinox could be predicted by this day.
“Candlemas”, the day Mary is purified after the birth of Jesus, and the day Jesus is presented at the temple in Jewish tradition, and also the day that candles are blessed for the year, thus bringing together all the traditions of cleansing, reproduction and birth and the festival of lights after the most difficult part of winter.
And somehow it was adopted for the ever-popular “Groundhog Day”, perhaps we needed some comic relief! Because of regional changes in weather, the celebration may come after February 2.
Perhaps to give us some hope that the harsh Winter
really does have an end,
it signifies the true rebirth of the new season,
and by extension, of the self, since we have survived the darkest hours,
and is a time to celebrate new beginnings.
I leave my holiday lights up until this day.