Stemming from the pagan Celtic tradition, sunset on February 1st until sunset on February 2nd was celebrated as ‘Imbolc’.
It is the second of four fire festivals that mark the beginning of a new season — Samhain/winter, Imbolg/spring, Bealtaine/summer, and Lughnasa/autumn.
Coming halfway between the winter solstice and spring equinox, it marks a turning point in nature. In Gaelic, ‘im bolg’ means ‘in the belly’, and is the perfect metaphor for this time of gestation in nature.
Seeds are germinating in the ground. Buds are appearing on the trees. And lambs are growing in their mother’s wombs, due to be born around the time of the equinox.
It is the perfect time to sew seeds of intention for our own lives. A much better time, I believe, than new year’s day.
January 1st may mark a new year in the Gregorian calendar. But we don’t cross over into a new season on this day. We are still in the depths of winter, steeped in the energy of hibernation, reflection.
While it is the traditional time to set intentions for the upcoming year, I’ve felt for a long time that it is a tad early. A month early, to be precise.
It could be more useful to spend January in reflection. Considering what we could do (not must, or should) in the year ahead. But wait to commit to any decision, or intention, until we move into early February.
The energy of nature will support us better with this timing. In January, we need a great deal of willpower to kickstart ourselves into new habits. But willpower is a battery that can run down quickly — unless you’re a determined Type A personality.
When we move into February, the energy gets lighter and brighter. And when we tune into that, it’s easier to harness it in our own minds and bodies.
Spring puts a bounce in our step. When we align our bodies with the cycles of nature, we can feel a sense of reawakening after the slumbering months of winter.
And as the days and weeks go by, it gets easier to motivate ourselves to go outdoors for a morning or evening walk, a run, or a social gathering (remember those?).
In the coming weeks and months, we’ll prepare the ground and start sowing seeds in our gardens and on our window sills. These seeds will sprout and grow, providing food to nourish our bodies, and flowers to nourish our souls.
What better time than this to sow the seeds for our life changes too?
In a couple of weeks’ time, the Chinese will celebrate their new year. More evidence, if you need it, that February is a more appropriate month to focus your attention on your intention for the next twelve months.
While I do believe any day is a good day to start over, I also believe in harnessing the power of nature when it can help us.
And right now, in nature, we are on the cusp of endings and beginnings. It is a great time to say goodbye to what no longer serves us and make space for something new.
So if you’re feeling any disappointment around the goals you set for yourself back on January 1st, take this opportunity to revisit them.
Now is the time to energize your desires and get ready to give birth to something new in your life.
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