The eve of Imbolc began with an overwhelming need to de-clutter my desk—the surface and every item in every drawer was screaming for attention. I spend quite a lot of time at my desk magical, creative space, so it has a tendency to amass several projects at once. But the message I was getting loud and clear from Brigid (fiery Celtic goddess and patroness of poets) was to FOCUS and clear the energy where I create. I took Brigid’s advice and went through everything with the hairsplitting discernment of a neat-freaky Virgo. At the end of it all, there were unexpected treasures.
The first was a birthday card my mom had given me on my 21st birthday with a handwritten note expressing her sage and loving wisdom:
If I have been blessed to have even a small part in helping you to become the fine lady you are today, then my purpose for being a mother has been realized. Though you are a woman now, I hope I can still be of help to you. I always knew I could count on my mom. Though she wasn’t perfect, she always loved me and seemed to know what to do when life was too big for me. I hope I can be like that for you…May you attain all that you’ve worked for. Learn good lessons from life. Don’t let them make you hard; let them make you sure. Sure of who you are, what you want, and where you’re going. Love with all my heart, Mom
Those words serve me even better at 41 now that mom is on the other side. I’m sure I will read them many times as the years pass.
The second gift of Imbolc was a binder full of college essays and poems that reminded me of why I majored in English Lit and how much it shaped me as a writer and as a person. I questioned why I’ve toted them around for 20 years and seriously considered tossing them in File 13…but I didn’t. It’s a body of work that represents who I was at that time in my life and what mattered most to me. I tucked them safely away for another review, perhaps in my next decade, or whenever I have a massive attack of self-doubt.
The third and final gift was a gorgeous, spring-like day that shattered the winter doldrums and pulled me out into the woods. Along with my husband and faithful canine, I explored a trail that runs alongside the ruins of an antebellum canal. We were the trail’s only visitors. The air was incredibly still for swampland—no humming, buzzing, or squawking. Nothing was blooming just yet, but there was that distinct feeling one gets at Imbolc…of life on the verge of pushing its way through the topsoil.
I pressed my hand against a lovely cypress, one of my favorites as both treehugger and aromatherapist. Cypress has the ability to draw off excess fluid, making it ideal for cases of edema and inflammation caused by acute injury. I believe it works in a similar fashion on the emotional level as well. A cypress doesn’t shy away from pain and heartache. Lean against one, and it whispers, “Lay it on me, sister. I can handle whatever you can dish. My roots are much older and deeper than your sorrows.” So this, too, was part of the last blessing that Brigid had bestowed—a chance to be amongst the kindest of trees and feel the earth on the cusp of awakening.
I’ve had years when I wasn’t quite sure what to do with Imbolc, particularly when I wasn’t partaking in a group ritual. I didn’t plan anything specific this year, either, other than simply being open to Brigid’s presence and whatever I was instinctually drawn toward. By clearing away what was no longer needed, I received clarity and support from the uncovered gems of my past. By exploring a new trail, I reconnected with the gentle tree and water spirits of this land. They led me back into the rhythm of the ever-turning Wheel, readying myself to welcome the energy and quickening of Spring. For these simple gifts and all blessings, I am most grateful.
© 2016 Jennifer R. Miller