- Imbolc means “in milk,” or “in the belly.”
- The Wheel of the Year turns to Imbolc on February 2.
- If it is warm and sunny on this day, it will be cold for six more weeks. If it is cold and cloudy on this day, it will be cold for six more weeks.
- Lambing season starts in February.
- A shepherd’s hut is a tiny house on wheels.
- At Imbolc, the shepherd is the trusted servant of the sheep. The lamb lies in the belly of the Great Mother. It emerges into darkness.
- Shepherds wait in their tiny houses, they shiver and they stoke the fire.
- They keep vigil with the ewes. They usher the lamb out into the cold.
- Many cultures kill and eat a lamb in the spring. Easter happens near Ostara, when the sun shines merciless over the thawing ground.
- Imbolc happens in darkness.
- At the monastery, we would sing “Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world. Have mercy on us.”
Today, the first snow of the winter came whispering down. In cold weather, smells don’t carry as well. Winter brings with it a different kind of beauty made of solitude, clarity, and dreams in the dark. Here’s a moment from warmer days to dream of:
After dark in the park
the feathery larch
smells me her secrets
Three small miracles I saw today because I forced myself outside for a walk:
Two tiny finches circling and twittering around one another, one with a bright splash of orange on the top of its head, and another with a bright splash of yellow in the same spot
Three grey tufted titmice, who used to come to my feeder all the time when I lived closer to woods
A whole little flock of birds I don’t know how to identify, but who may be cedar waxwings: the size of a robin, but with a brilliant side patch of orange and an orange beak.
Also, deer tracks.
Some things keep happening in spite of humanity’s foibles. Even in times of great catastrophe, even in times of war and death and turmoil, the sun rises, the spring comes, the leaves fall, the birds migrate.
sun descends into
the leaves of the maple trees
and sets them aglow
bees and butterflies
still kiss the purple flowers
in the crisp, bright air
sunlight bright and clear
cool air wafts in from the woods
from the rustling green
the wind in the trees
rewards me for walking with
one turkey feather
breeze cooling my sweat
the smell of honeysuckle
the long, slow evening
in the breathless woods
I hear the treetops rustling
and I am at peace
under hazy sun
I break trail over the fresh snow
while the birds twitter
in-breath, the nose burns
out-breath, the nose also burns
but my coat is warm