Back in the days before electric lights, the Gregorian calendar and the 9-5, Mon-Fri working week, we measured time by the seasons. Naturally, this meant that key points were celebrated or marked at different times, depending on your location and climate.
Where we live, we still have four clear seasons and we’re just a few days away from Imbolc (pronounced Im’ol in Old Irish; im’olg/im’olk/imbolk by seemingly everyone else). The name translates as ‘in the belly’ - those bellies belonging to pregnant ewes - and this is an old festival, adopted and adapted by modern pagans and earth-loving people of many types. Traditionally celebrated across February 1st to 2nd, it marks the midpoint between (our) Winter and Spring, with a focus on light, fertility and new beginnings.
Personally, I’m not quite there yet. I’m still at the ‘eat all the food, crawl into a cave full of cushions and blankets, fall asleep’ stage (my own version of ‘in the belly’?). Perhaps because my attempts to do just that have been so successfully thwarted by…*gestures vaguely at mad world*.
It’s always a bit like this for me at this point of the year; I often have to deal with SAD and by now I’m trudging through mental mud. This year, despite copious amounts of actual mud, I’m feeling pretty good, just not quite ready to celebrate a turning.
My favourite seasonal change is Summer to Autumn. I’m a Summer Person who loves the long days. It’s the season that feels most full of life to me and even though I’m possibly the whitest person you’d ever meet, I love the sun. But I also love those occasional days, usually mid-August, when the feel of the land shifts. I’m guessing it’s a wind change, just for a couple of days, when something old and wise blows up from the South. It’s a postcard from Autumn, saying she’s on her way and I can feel the ‘personality change’ in the air.
Right now, I can only feel Winter. I’ve been caught before by a mild day tempting me into the garden, making me eager to start digging, clearing and planting, only to be hit with a torrential storm or some Beast from the East wiping out my efforts. Older and wiser, I resist until March except to tend hedges that need sorting out before birds start to build nests.
Still, the snowdrops are starting to poke through. There’s an actual primrose flowering in a sheltered spot in the front garden. I’m staying in my cave for a while yet, but the view is certainly starting to transform. New beginnings indeed.