The morning in the garden is bitterly cold.
These are the days before Imbolc.
We have endured the long sleep and are ready to waken to Imbolc…
Magical days, filled to the brim with anticipation, a sense of urgency too, as the precious days of sleep and hibernation in the gardens comes to a close.
As I walk around the gardens this morning, I become increasingly aware of short time left in which to prune and cut back, clear and prepare, the gardens for Spring and Summer.
Ah, Summer, just the thought of Summer on this cold, white morning of late Winter, comforts the bones.
The days of walking barefoot in the damp grass lie ahead of me.
The promise of a warm Summer makes the cold of the day recoil.
Imbolc heralds Spring here in the West of Ireland.
It is one of the four big Celtic celebrations in Ireland.
Imbolc was also Christianized into Saint Brigid’s Day.
Imbolc is a festival of purification, hence the “Spring Cleaning” and a celebration of the first signs of Spring.
Walking along the paths that wind through the gardens, the colours of an all year round planting scheme are evident.
Here and there are stacked reminders of work to be completed, in this case, wood to be taken up to the barn, to be cut and stacked for the next winter.
As the snow melts on the upper hill of Ballyfermoyle, so the water flows through the ponds to be carried further into the mighty Shannon and beyond into the Atlantic Ocean.
Coming round once more to Imbolc, reminds one of the eternal cycle of renewal and one we are all a part of, though less understood today as by our ancestors of past millennia.
Willows, Birch and Dogwoods fill ground where once only the Rush held sway. This is the new cycle here of regeneration and renewal…a return to a fertile Earth.
And, where clean water flows, so does life!
To the ancients peoples of this sacred isle, the water was life and honoured in such a way.
The starkness of these remaining days are etched with beauty…a rare kind of ethereal beauty that is both proud and alone.
In a garden so welcoming of the sunlight, for this all faces north, each tree receives these low rays with grace.
The old name Imbolc occurs only in the very old literature, as many have forgotten it’s magic as the move towards modernity was embraced…but what is lost?
The Ancient Ways have been suppressed by all invaders and religions, and much dogma of uniformity, without thread of meaning.
For many in the western world this is now Candlemas in non-Gaelic speaking areas.
However there appears to be a revival of many traditions as people seek to understand their tribal ancestry and re-establish the threads of the tapestry to an older time.
And so we rise to Imbolc, as our faces seek out the sun and count the lengthening days.
We strain our necks to peep out onto sunsets, remarking on the time that’s in it.
Rising, from our long darkness, to Imbolc.
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