Ever so gently, the world stirs.
New bird songs are in the air.
Ice recedes from the riversides.
The sun feels hotter upon the skin.
The soul smiles in response longer days.
It is Candlemas; Imbolc to those with Celtic pasts ... the ancient Feast Day of Brighid, Goddess of Poets, Healers and Smiths. She lives deep within old memory, her presence woven this day into whirligig crosses of straw and rushes; hung by the door for protection.
I revel in the richness of this time, the kick-off to the sensual perfecta: Imbolc, Lupercalia (Valentine's Day) and Spring Equinox. As the earth thaws and awakens, so do the bodies that inhabit the planet. Imbolc is the time of foreplay. The great tease. The taste of spring in the midst of winter. She dares us to trust in summer's return.
People once lit candles to give thanks for the sun's return on what was considered the first day of spring. At sundown I will strike a match and burn the once-aromatic Solstice evergreen that symbolized life in winter's dark. I will find moments to place my bare feet on the still-cold earth. And I will take a jar of pesto from the freezer. Made from last season's crop of fresh basil, tonight I'll dollop the taste of summer onto pasta.
Any one whose ancestors came from Europe can lay claim to Celtic influence. On a day when the country awaits word on Pennsylvania's Punxsutawney Phil and his shadow, I prefer to mingle with the Goddess ... to follow the dictates of olden times ... "Go down on your knees, do homage, and let blessed Brigid enter the house."