Tuesday, 17 February 2009

The thawing of the Ice

Imbolc took place recently - we usually observe it on February 2nd. It is one of the Celtic Cross-Quarter days, falling between the winter solstice and the spring equinox (12 hours of light/dark). Imbolc or Oimele is the "letting down of the waters", or in the case of Oimele, the "letting down of the milk in the Ewes and Cows" - nearing birthing time. The earth puts forth her springs; the stock put forth their milk.

The celebration of this Quarter-Day has changed over the millenia, what with Calendar changes and shifts in climate, but it's interesting to study the significance of this time in its season. It is a time to honor Brigid. It is a time to take your besom from your hearth and sweep out the settling of winter, and make ready for the coming spring. Have you seen the crocus yet? We've seen the snowdrops blooming and the stalks of crocus and dafs coming up through the snow in our friends' gardens.

We've recently had a full moon on the heel of this changing season. Scot and I were planning a recon. trip to Inverness recently and the world woke up at once from it's winter hibernation and howled up at the moon in one way or another. Our phone kept ringing; the BBC and other television stations were phoning us. Our email inbox became stuffed to the brim with new or continuing communications. We no longer felt quite so isolated in our wee hoosie surrounded by farms fields and forests.

While in Inverness, we went to many hotels and inns to meet with managers and see the interiors first hand, so we have a better idea of where to house our Outlandish Spirits (perhaps you are one?) on the Jamie & Claire Tours. Inspite of computer crashes, packing, and lots of last minute communications, we actually got on the road on time - I did get up at 4:30 to complete everything ...ahem, and we arrived in time to pick up Julia from the train station.

We had the pleasure of Julia's company on the trip north, a true Outlandish Spirit visiting from Georgia. Julia is over here on her life mission as a Pastor, making a big change by applying to be a rural Pastor in Scotland. She'll find out next week if her dream will manifest in this way.
Poor girl had to experience the heavy snow fall as we climbed the high passes in the Cairngorms to get through to Inverness. We had a lovely time getting to know her though, and hope to see her again very soon. She's quite lively (especially for having to get up so early to travel with us). Amazing what a cup of coffee can do! Haste ye back lassie - big hug.

The snow fall has been consistent enough this year that the surrounding hills are brilliantly white and huge looking. Up north, Loch Ness was a soft slate grey, with her banks padded in white and decorated with charcoal grey, green and mauve leafless trees and shrubs. It was also the beginning of the Valentines Day weekend and this added to the northern world waking up from its frozen slumber, so there were lots of people out and about.

We dug Janet, another friend, out of her show filled drive, then watched wee Roe deer grazing in her snowy forest, from her kitchen window. It was like a scene from a Christmas card.

Upon returning to our wee hoose, the long awaited bulbs have finally begun to flower and bring a splash of beauty to our bare earth. Much to our delight, it turns out we DO have snowdrops in our garden. It's a mystery, like a random chocolate assortment, to see what bulbs we have inherited in our new bare-earth plot. I am aware that the garden is very much a metaphor for life. We are all gardeners, gardeners of our own soul. Some things we plant with care and somethings just grow there, perhaps unwanted in our psyche, random seeds of trauma or poor habit that take root. It is a hard process to garden the soul, tearing out the weeds and replacing with habits that serve us better. This is the time of year to do it though, just as the "habits" begin to show their buds again as the Earth turns to Spring. Scot and I live and work from home when we're not giving tours, conducting Handfastings, or doing Fireside Tales and Whisky Tastings. So we get cabin fever by this time of year; the slow season. Today was a day to plant new habits, as we adjust and learn how to be in each others company even more than the average couple. We'll see if it our new plantings take root by the Equinox.

I see there are a couple of new people peering into our site; Jinny and Becca - hello and welcome! Jinny, you have a pretty impressive wish list going on your blog, hope you can make it to Scotland some day!

May Brigid bless all your homes with winter warmth, inspiration, and optimism for the spring!