I woke this morning to the ringing sound of (another) winter storm warning notification on my smartphone. It seems odd that in the midst of snowstorm after snowstorm across the country, we should quietly enter into February with its ancient promises of Spring.
The month of February was named for the Roman Februa festival, which was a time of ritual purification: a time of cleansing after a long and difficult winter.
The ancient Celts lit great bonfires for the festival of Imbolc (on or about February 2) which honored Brigid (something of a Mother Earth figure) and celebrated the lambing and lactation of the ewes.
Imbolc marked that the worst of the threat of winter had passed. Even though it was still too early for produce, the ancients no longer had to rely entirely on what was stored in the larder, as milk and eggs and butter began to return to the land (and their diets).
Many of these ancient celebrations of the seasons and of creation’s bounty have been incorporated into our “modern” religious understandings and practices.
the Candlemas celebration on February 2, when lighted candles replace the ancient bonfires;
the celebration of Groundhog day, which looks to the wisdom of the animals to announce the coming of Spring;
the Christian celebration of the presentation of Jesus in the temple (after the time of purification of Mary after childbirth), which is celebrated on February 2.
Though our supermarkets defy the seasonal logic of food and we perhaps think we no longer need the wisdom of the created world to help us navigate the seasons, still the promise of new life continues its long, slow work of gestation.
Though much of the country is still blanketed with winter weather (with still more to come) and though we may question that Spring is closer today than yesterday … still the days continue to lengthen.
Though the continued brutality of the cold may seem to suck our stamina, still the life-force of all creation continues to rise, unseen, like sap in the trees.
It is a good time to curl up and dream of the new life that will come. February, which among the priests of the ancient Celts was called the Poet’s Moon, is a time for inspiration: when the sacred fire of the Spirit is kindled within us.
I invite you to honor and celebrate these fleeting days in some way that feels natural and pleasurable to you.
Perhaps you could have your own celebration of milk and eggs by baking aChocolate Butter Cake.
Or perhaps you’re more comfortable as the activist than the cook. You might want to celebrate this season by working to protect our milk supply.
If you’re a poet at heart, then perhaps the best way to honor the Poet’s Moon is to write your own.