Today marks the cross-quarter day (halfway point) between Fall Equinox and Winter Solstice in the northern hemisphere. The wheel of the year turns and the entire northern half of the planet enters into the dark part of the year. It is the time of year when the Sun drops lower and lower on the horizon, and the dark of night lasts longer and longer.
Ancient Celtic tribes celebrated Samhain(pronounced sow-in) to mark this auspicious time. According to the Celts and other pagan tribes, the veils between the worlds grow thin at this time of year. That means we can more easily connect with loved ones who have crossed over into the land of the dead. It is the perfect time to honor and celebrate our ancestors.
Celtic Samhain is also about celebrating life. The last of the harvest has been gathered up in our fields and orchards. The natural bounty of Mama Earth will bless and nourish us all winter.
As you enter into the dark half of the year, pause for a moment or two. Offer love and gratitude to Mama Earth for the water, food and shelter she provides. Say a prayer for any loved ones who have moved beyond here and now. Express thanks for everything you have harvested in your life this year.
May the Spirit of peace bring peace to your house this Samhain night and all nights to come.
Today marks the autumnal equinox in the northern hemisphere and spring equinox in the south. The equinox marks a time of transition as we move from one season to the next.
This morning our Sun rose directly in the east and tonight it will set due west. Day and night approach equal length at the equinox as well. This is a time of natural balance.
Take a moment to pause and honor Mother Earth and Father Sky for their sacred dance of light and dark, autumn and spring, yin and yang. Light a candle in the dark and express your gratitude for the abundance of our sacred planet. Bless the energy of life that pulses both without and within you.
“…Wherever we find ourselves on the spectrum, it is the time of balancing the dark and the light. In the Northern hemisphere, as the days get shorter and the outer light recedes, we move inward to kindle our inner light. In the Southern Hemisphere, as the days grow longer, we we move our way back into the world and bring out our inner light to share with the world.
Everything in nature is constantly giving and receiving. This balance is essential, and it is part of the expressive energies of yin and yang that we are re-balancing as a collective…”
An annular solar eclipse happens Sunday Feb. 26 as the moon begins anew in watery Pisces. Radical change and chaos is happening all around us — and no place is that more apparent than in the political arena. Fire is stirring up our inner emotional waters much like molten lava roiling up the sea. Now is the time to slow down and breathe!
Change is coming. Pisces, the powerful dreamer, can help us now. Dream often and dream big. Dream of how you want the world to be. Hold your dream for a beautiful new world close and love it into being.
At the beginning of February, we celebrate a strange and wonderful holiday known as Groundhog Day. We are told that if the prophetic groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, sees his shadow on this day and runs quickly back into his burrow, winter will last at least 6 more weeks.
The idea of waiting and watching for the first inkling of spring is not new. The ancient Celts celebrated Imbolc in early February long before Groundhog Day existed. Celtic stories tell us that the Cailleach—the divine hag Goddess who rules over winter and death—gathers firewood for the rest of the winter on Imbolc. If the Goddess Cailleach wishes to make the winter last a lot longer, she will make sure that the weather on Imbolc is bright and sunny, so she can gather plenty of firewood. But, if Imbolc is a day of foul weather, it means the Cailleach is asleep and winter is almost over.
The Cailleach was worshipped by the Celts as the sacred Earth Mother in her bare winter form. And she is not just a dark and evil hag who arbitrarily decides how long winter will be. The Cailleach is also the Bone Mother who collects the bones of the animals that die in the winter. The Bone Mother is said to sing or pray or sleep over the bones all winter long. She does this out of love, so that the animals will cross over and can return as new life in the spring.
The Celtic tribes lived in the far north where winter is a brutal season. They had to burn huge quantities of wood to keep from freezing every winter. They also had to rely on their own stores of food to get them through the long winter months when no crops could be grown or harvested. There was no corner grocery store to run to if they ran out of bread. Is it any wonder that the Celts were quite focused on the return of spring?
The Celts watched and waited for spring. And they noticed that the ewes began to lactate and prepare for the birth of their lambs in early February. The Celts saw this return of mothers’ milk as reason to celebrate. The flow of milk and the birth of baby lambs meant spring was definitely on its way. The harshness of winter would soon end. The Celts celebrated Imbolc because they understood that their lives depended on the grace of Mama Earth and her seasons.
There is a magic to Imbolc and the early days of February. It is there, running just beneath the surface. Can you feel it? Mama Earth holds the seeds of spring safe for us all winter. As the cold wind blows and the snow piles up, she holds them safe in her soil.
It is February, not quite time for the seeds to sprout. But the days are definitely lengthening. The wheel of the year is slowly turning towards spring and new growth. And beneath the surface of Mama Earth, the seeds are beginning to quietly stir. Spring is stirring in the ground beneath your feet. Listen with your heart. Can you hear the stirring?
Imbolc is traditionally celebrated at the halfway point between winter solstice and spring equinox. In 2017, this halfway point falls on February 3.
Want a simple way to honor Imbolc and the turning of the year towards spring? Light a candle or two tonight, and offer up a simple prayer of gratitude in honor of Mama Earth and the return of spring.