Imbolc takes its name from the literal milking of the female sheep or ewes. The date February first (1st) was founded and established on the period when farmers back then expected the coming of milks in their sheep. This was usually within the first two weeks of February. The milk coming from the ewes indicates the forthcoming spring.
An older tradition is that this is when new life begins within trees, and seeds within the Earth, as from this date the children of nature know that whilst it is still winter, from this point the land is warming and spring will soon follow. Imbolg therefore signals the birth of new life.
The Imbolc tradition in Celtic tradition is connected with Brighid, a goddess of the Tuatha De Danann. Brighid is today considered as both a saint in Christianity and a goddess to the old religion. During the first two weeks of February and since winter has not actually come to an end, household fires continue to be illuminated in the day and night time. This symbolizes the tradition and belief of Brighid. In context with Brighid association is also made to Dana, the Goddess for whom Aes Dana took our name.
The first great sabbat of our new age is important to everyone but especially to the Druids of Aes Dana. As we couldn’t all meet up this weekend to celebrate we decided instead to go out into nature and observe the changes ourselves. Some of us took a camera on our quest...but did we find anything?
Franks photo’s: ‘At first I couldn't see any obvious signs of life in the hedgerow. My plans to go deep into our nearest woodland fell down when my van wouldn’t start and daylight hours faded away whilst I waited for the AA to rescue me.
Top left: in desperation I took a photo of flowers but these were obviously planted out and not wild so this wasn’t very pleasing to me.
Bottom left, my first breakthrough, some fresh green nettles.
Finally on the right I found some shoots of daffodils.
Still this was a bit disappointing.
The plant expert in my household is actually the smallest member of our grove who has a fine nose for anything green and tasty, so I unleashed our secret weapon, leaf the rabbit.
It took leaf no time at all to hunt down a sure sign of spring: primrose!!!’
Well done leaf!!!!
Claire took the picture above from a speeding train heading north to Birmingham, and then managed to find a budding tree. This must surely prove that our ancestors knew their habitat perfectly.
Tracey trekked down to Chalton church on the hunt for the first snowdrops...and found some!!!! (4 pics below)
Pictures like these really do capture the moment when Imbolg brought new life to our fair land.
Becky sent us the following pictures starting with the moon over Woodhenge:
We approached the matter of Imbolc in the manner of the Bard, to appreciate and observe, and It has been very rewarding.
You do not always need to gather in circle and perform a ceremony in order to commune with the greater part of ourselves, there are many ways to connect and harmonise with everything that is around us.
The nice thing about the bardic approach is that it leaves behind a record in art or poetry or song that may inspire others and send our story into the future.
If it were not for the story tellers then almost all of our native traditions and the rich wisdom of our ancestors might have been lost to us, yet here we are still observing the old traditions and learning from them how to live more fulfilling lives that are respectful to the world that nurtures us.
Well done to Frank, Leaf, Claire, Tracey and Becky for participating in this grove activity.