|("La Ghirlandata"; by: Dante Gabriel Rossetti, c. 1873)|
It is the beginning of February. Mid-point of the dark half of the year, to many it marks the celebration of Imbolc. According to the Wiccan Wheel of the Year, it is known as a cross-quarter day, and falls between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. Symbolically, Imbolc is a fertility celebration to many as Ewe's are heavy with their first offspring of the year. It also acts as a kind of "heads up" as Spring is just around the corner, along with the planting season. The plough is a prominent traditional symbol as Imbolc marks the beginning of ploughing season.
Different cultures and belief systems hold deep reverance to any one of a number of deities at this time. From Brighid (St. Brigid to Christians), to Athena, to Gaia ~ all Virgin maiden Goddesses. I most frequently acknowledge Gaia, as the Earth has such a deep impact on our lives in so many ways. After all, we live on her surface, and we live off of what she provides for us. I searched around for a good image to represent the maiden Goddesses collectively. I think the above painting of Rossetti's does the job.
Lupercalia is another February celebration, falling towards the middle of the month. It is/was most commonly observed by the Romans. Unlike Imbolc, observers didn't associate it with any one particular God. It centers on the founding of Rome by Romulus and Remus. The name Lupercalia comes from the name of the cave (the Lupercale) where the twins were suckled by a she-wolf. During the celebration, a goat was sacrificed. A scourge (whip) was then made from the hide. Men would run through the city clad only in a thong, and they would whack people with a piece of the goats hide. Those 'whacked' would think of themselves as fortunate. Paints an interesting mental image, no? lol
No matter how you are celebrating mid-winter (creating corn dollies and acorn wands, or lighting some candles), I wish everyone a lovely mid-winter. Happy Imbolc, Candlemas, St. Bridget's Day, and Lupercus, to all of you!
|(By: Bela Pallik; couldn't locate a title, or year it was painted)|
|(Gaia statue; Besom (witch's broom); Galanthus Imbolc, a daylily linked to the Imbolc celebration ("snowdrops")|
|(Candle ring, typically worn for Candlemas)|
|(Imbolc foods ~ Top: Herbal tea, Breads; Middle: Pumpkin seeds, Raisins, Sunflower seeds; Bottom: Spiced wine)|
|(Imbolc Stones ~ Top, left to right: Bloodstone, Turquoise; Middle: Amethyst, Ruby; Bottom: Garnet, Onyx)|
|(Imbolc Herbs ~ Starting at the top: Heather, Myrrh, Celandine, Blackberry)|
|(Celtic Cross of St. Brigid; known as the Goddess Brighid to Pagans)|