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  • Writer's picturelizbutler

Celebrating first awakenings

Even though we’re only part way through, I feel justified in saying how tough this winter has been, especially given, what seems to me, an unusually high number of people facing challenging situations before and around the Christmas period. I faced my own when our house flooded on the winter solstice, as I shared with you in my last blog post. But as we finally stop shivering after another big freeze, the second of the season, we should remember, lighter days and warmer weather are on their way, even if they do still feel like a distant dream.

I actually enjoy the cold dark days of winter for their enticing offer to hunker down, hibernate and rest. And anything cosy makes me very happy, so a combination of snug blankets, a roaring fire and a cup of my favourite tea and I’m immediately in heaven. There really couldn’t be a more perfect setting for one of the most important practices we can embark on at this time of year – to absorb ourselves in deep reflection and ask the question ‘how are we?’, in our bodies, our minds and our hearts. This can lead us to consider how we might shake things up in order to improve how we feel over the coming year.

Perhaps, like me, you were particularly inspired to reflect and ask these questions at the close of last year and this may, as it often does, have led to resolutions. But as we reach the end of January, the new year’s promise of a sparkly fresh start fading, you might be struggling to stick to some of those commitments you made to yourself. If so you’re not alone, research shows that by February, about 80% of those who made New Year’s resolutions have let them fall by the wayside.

One of the most pleasing things about life is how everything is always in motion and how change is our constant companion. If you attune yourself to nature’s cycles, something I have found pleasure in doing to a greater degree since moving to the countryside, you will notice with delight that as soon as one process ends, another takes its place. At this time of year, it’s wonderful to see the first snowdrops signalling a new creative energy rising. Whilst it is important to stop and absorb the present moment, there is always something to look forward to.

And so it is that we might wish to turn our attention towards the Gaelic traditional festival of Imbolc, also called St Brigid’s day, which has long been a celebration of the first beginnings of spring. Taking place between sundown on February 1st and sundown on February 2nd, this special day is associated with pregnancy, in recognition of the lambs that will soon be born, and is a time to honour the fertility goddess, Brigid. This celebration speaks to us of first awakenings and the creeping light beginning to take over from the darkness, and we can mark it by lighting candles to honour the sun’s rebirth. Another chance for reflection, this time we may revisit those resolutions, considering carefully which ones we really do want to birth as fully formed sustainable changes that will serve us throughout the whole year. Out must go those goals we made because we thought we should, now it’s time to honour our true needs and desires. And as we do this, whilst there isn’t much to see yet, we can trust in the birthing process as we sense the first stirrings of new life taking place within us and within the Earth.

So take heart, anyone who has struggled with the dark, the cold and any other difficulties this winter period, on marches time and spring is almost here. Mark this occasion by honouring the creative potential held in this moment; now is your opportunity to rejoice in Nature’s intelligence and celebrate the year’s first awakenings.

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