The Promise of Imbolc
Possible or Impossible?
One minute, we’re buzzing with hope.
The next minute, things seem so unclear, confusing and uncomfortable.
This is the inner tug-of-war that happens as we enter the season of Imbolc, a Celtic festival honoring the period of time half-way between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox.
We might feel so much possibility in one moment, and then feel as if the possibilities are actually impossible in the next moment.
As author and mythologist Sharon Blackie says:
The Irish word ‘imbolc’ is commonly believed to derive from the Old Irish imbolg, ‘in the belly’, referring to the pregnancy of ewes. A Medieval glossary suggests that the term comes from oimelc, or ‘ewe’s milk’, though this derivation is disputed. Another possible origin is the Old Irish imb-fholc, ‘to wash/cleanse oneself’, referring to a ritual cleansing. It has also been suggested that it derives from a Proto-Indo-European root meaning both ‘milk’ and ‘cleansing’, or the Proto-Celtic embibolgon, ‘budding’. In other words, as so often is the case with Old Irish terms, we don’t know exactly what it means — but all of the possibilities are consistent with what’s going on at the time of year when it’s celebrated.
Imbolc is truly a time of many possibilities, yet also full of unknowns.
The seed beneath the soil is quickening, feeling the potential to burst forth, yet exceptionally uncomfortable as it moves toward cracking open and coming completely undone in order to set roots.
What possibilities are you seeing?
What uncertainties and confusion are you experiencing?
What is the discomfort that you long to move beyond?
Allowing the questions to live within you is a powerful start to feeling more at peace.
Building Endurance for Life’s Discomfort
To endure is to be ‘in’ (en) ‘steadfastness, solidity, firmness’ (dreu-, Proto-Indo-European root of dure).
A specialized sense of the root dreu- is ‘tree,’ so we might say that to endure is to embody the steadfast qualities of a strong tree.
Imbolc marks the beginning of Spring, the promise of light, a time of awakening, and a season of emergence.
Imbolc reminds us to tend the inner firelight to ensure we stay strong and nourished as Winter resists the onset of Lady Spring’s warmth and light.
Much like the acorn beneath the soil longing to become a great Oak tree, our inner Spirit-seed longing for freedom of full expression must crack open, and come undone in order to plant the solid roots that will support our growth.
If we’re to grow strong like a tree, i.e. to endure, we must actively tap into courage and patience to allow the process of becoming to unfold sustainably.
Just as we cannot force the process of a tree’s growth, we cannot rush the Spirit-seed within to crack open and extend its roots.
We cannot rush the sprout to pierce through the surface of the soil to the light of day.
We cannot rush the trunk to form and extend its branches in many directions.
We cannot rush the bud to appear, or pry it open for the blossom to express itself.
We cannot rush the fruit to ripen or the next seeds to be ready to birth new trees.
We must learn to endure, to become steadfast in our commitment.
Only then can we sustain ourselves in wellness and peace when the winds of change rage around us.
Even Nature Needs Help
While we cannot force growth to happen, we can be an active participant and supporter of our growth and unfolding.
Even in Nature, we see smaller, more fragile species being supported by larger, more sturdy and protective ones.
The archetypes in Nature live within every human being.
We can tap into the larger, more steadfast aspects of our being to support the more fragile and tender aspects in becoming stronger.
While the roots of our Spirit-seed seek to take hold beneath the surface and the sprout seeks the light of day, instead of getting caught in the impatience and longing to see the blossoms, we can explore our roots and get to know the tenderness of the sprout that wants to emerge and the blossom that wants to fruit.
In this way, we begin to remember what lives within the seed, why we’re here, and the gifts we bring to this life.
As the Spirit-seed grows toward the sun and the blossom transitions toward ripening fruit, we can tune into the life force rising within and what is most important for its full expression.
In this way, we reconnect to the values and sense of purpose within the seed, understanding what it longs to become.
Only when the tree is ready to offer the fully ripened fruit are we able to see what’s possible. The fruits reveal new nourishment, new aspects of our being, and new ways of expressing.
We can re-envision new possibilities for ourselves and our future that can be developed with these beautiful new fruits.
Within the fruits are new seeds that must be treated with care and respect. These seeds will implant themselves into the Earth, just as new Spirit-seeds will implant themselves into our being.
In this way, we rebirth ourselves into a wiser, more empowered Self.
We must consciously and cyclically embark on the journey of the Soul to Remember, Reconnect, Re-Envision and Rebirth into the fulfillment our Soul is seeking, and be the unique, creative beings we’re here to be.
If you’d like to experience a beautiful, engaging immersion in these stages of growth, and be deeply nourished and supported in the process, check out my Women’s Nature Retreat coming up March 31 to April 3, 2022.
I can’t think of a more nourishing way to embark on the Soul’s journey than stepping into it with the support of Sisterhood and Nature.
May the promise of Imbolc quicken the Spirit-seed within you to grow into alignment with your Soul’s dreams.
P.S. There’s still time to join my Solace program, which is an ongoing membership for women seeking to dive deeper on the Soul’s journey.