Last night it rained. In the morning, there was a scent in the air that took a moment or two for me to place… Then suddenly I remembered; it is the smell of soil waking up, coming alive after its long sleep. It is the smell of spring.
Go outside and sniff the air in early February. Grab a handful of soil and hold it up to your nose. Do you smell it? Or just stop and listen. Perhaps you can hear the gentle whispers? Mama Earth is beginning to stir.
All winter, Earth has quietly held the seeds of spring in her soil body; she has coddled them and kept them safe, waiting for the time to sprout. And now spring is almost here and the seeds are stirring, preparing to crack open and grow new life.
The chickadees know spring is on its way; they whistle to each other from every treetop in my neighborhood. My dog knows; she sniffs at the soil with new interest. And the sheep know; they birth their lambs in February, knowing spring will soon arrive.
My Celtic ancestors celebrated Imbolc at the time of lamb birthing. It was their way of honoring the end of winter and the promise of life returning to the land. The early Catholics changed the name of Imbolc to Candlemas. And modern man morphed Imbolc into Groundhog Day. By any name, this time is about honoring the promise of spring.
It has been snowing and snowing here, even more than usual for northern Colorado. And I had begun to worry that winter might decide to never end. But then, on a cold, wet day in February, I suddenly hear the whispers of Mama Earth, and I get a whiff of her soil coming alive. And it feels like I just received a message from a long lost lover. The spring I crave is on its way back to me.
On Winter Solstice, we officially enter into Seed Time in the northern hemisphere.
Winter is the time in Mama Earth’s cycle when she becomes still and appears to be lifeless. But beneath the surface, our earthy mother is very much alive; she is quietly gestating seeds for the new year, loving and holding them safe in the dark. This time of holding in the dark ensures that when spring arrives, the new seeds will be ready to sprout and grow.
What is yearning to come into your life now?
How does the Universe want each of us to sprout and grow in the coming year?
Let’s get still and listen in the darkness…
“Creativity – like human life itself – begins in darkness.”
As the shadows lengthen and the days grow short in early November, many of our European ancestors actually celebrated the start of their year. Depending on which source you believe, this celebration happened on November 1st… OR was celebrated at the time of the new moon in late October or early November. The Celts named their celebration Samhain. In other cultures it is known as the Day of the Dead.
This special time marks the entrance into the dark half of the solar year, when night lasts longer than day in the northern hemisphere. Many still view the Day of the Dead or Samhain as a time to connect with and honor loved ones who have died and crossed over into the place beyond. And with harvest ending at this time of year, it is also the perfect time to acknowledge all the blessings and bounty received in the past year.
Celebrating Samhain does not have to be complicated. Just take a few moments to pause and light a candle in the dark. Send love to those who have passed. Offer thanks for all the good in your life.
In the spirit of Samhain and honoring our Earth, Irish bard John O’Donohue offers you the blessings of elemental earth, air, fire, water and spirit:
“May the nourishment of the earth be yours,
may the clarity of light be yours,
may the fluency of the ocean be yours,
may the protection of the ancestors be yours.
And so may a slow
wind work these words
of love around you,
an invisible cloak
to mind your life.”
~John O’Donohue, Anam Cara