Friday Foraging 12: Imbolc edition

Well, the snows have finally arrived in my part of the world, and Winter is biting with full force. Yet, in the midst of the frost and chill, the days are getting longer (the sun won’t set before 5pm again until November!), and there are signs of coming Spring. The snowdrops are blooming, poking their white heads above the snowy blanket, and the willows and hazels are starting to put out catkins. Birds are more noticeable now, singing in the pale dawn and visiting the feeders in the garden. At the point where Winter seems most endless, Imbolc is here, to remind us of the turning of the wheel once again.

The Exploratory Druid writes about connecting to nature and being an Urban Druid, a useful reminder that nature is not just wilderness:

We ARE connected, no matter what. We cannot disengage ourselves from “Nature”. We are also nature! But we can let it slide past us, unaware. My recommendation is not to pine for those weekend hikes, in the big vistas and picturesque views. Simply begin observing wherever you are. Get a bird watching guide and try to identify the common birds around you. While I don’t think everything needs to be labeled by people, it can be very engaging and forces us to look for details might gloss over otherwise. If that doesn’t strike you, there are plant guides as well.

Or take no guide at all. Just pay attention, remember individual trees, bushes, birds in your area and just notice when they change because you actually look at them every day .

Just try to notice things.

The excellent Anima Monday has a deeply thought-provoking post about Animism, what it is and what it isn’t:

The bottom line: animism is the realization that all of life is fundamentally interconnected, and that we only become who we are in relationship with others, whether these others be humans, animals, plant, or even inanimate objects. Working to become aware of this and letting it inform the way WE live our lives could be called ‘practicing animism’, but in fact it shouldn’t be a practice, but the core foundational principle of being human beings.

The Atheopaganism blog looks at the seasonal festival as the Moment of Brightening, the beginning of Spring:

It goes by many names, and that is apt, because how we experience it varies so much by climate. Wiccans call it Imbolc or Brighid, after the Irish goddess and Christian saint; many Atheopagans develop their own names for it–mine is Riverain, the Festival of Water, because February typically marks the heaviest rainfall of the year where I live. True to form, we expect rain for most of the next week.

To me, this Sabbath marks the beginning of Spring–however tenuous, however wild the weather. For the light is definitely returning now, and where I am, daffodils and milk maids have made their appearances.

In Atheopaganism, we encourage people to adapt the “Wheel of the Year” of holidays to specific meanings that are consistent with the rhythms and cycles of the climate where the practitioner lives. So it is fine that my Riverain isn’t the same as someone else’s Brightening, or Imbolc, or Brighid. What is important is that they are gateways into deeper relationship with the Earth. 

Imbolc is always a quiet little festival for me, often celebrated without the formality of ritual. A hearty winter stew, candlelight, and a walk in the snow does me just fine.

How are you celebrating this weekend?

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