Celebrating the Celtic Festivals – Imbolc by Heather Walley

At Newbold one of our traditions is to celebrate the ancient Celtic festivals throughout the year in order to honour our essential connection to the land and the rhythm of the seasons. We feel it is important to acknowledge the cycles of nature and how they are connected to the growing of our food and to give gratitude to the earth for the abundance we enjoy. This helps us to feel connected to the rhythms of life, each other and the importance of keeping in balance with the natural world that sustains us.

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Lighting our Imbolc candle and blessing our seeds.

The first of these festivals is Imbolc, traditionally celebrated around the 1st February, it literally means “in the belly” and marks the end of winter’s reign and the first stirrings in the belly of the earth of the energy of new growth. It is about celebrating the light returning, which we symbolise by lighting our white Imbolc candle,  and the first stirrings of new life in the soil and in the plants. We use this time to plant our first seeds and bless their growth for the coming season.

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Planting the first spinach seeds of the season in the greenhouse.

Imbolc is traditionally the great festival and honouring of Brigid (Brighid, Bride, Brigit), so loved as a pagan Goddess that her worship was woven into the Christian church as St Bridget, and the festival is also known as Candlemas. She is a Goddess of healing, poetry and smith craft; also of fire, the sun and the hearth. She brings fertility to the land and its people. One of her symbols is the snowdrop, the first flowers of Spring offering hope and new life after the harshness of winter, which have here found their way inside to bless one of our polytunnels!

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Snowdrops in the polytunnel.

Imbolc is a Fire Festival, so we gather round the fire after our seed planting to ask for a blessing on our land and on each other, and to share poems, stories and music. This is usually followed by a delicious meal in the dining room in honour of our wonderful volunteers!

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Playing music round the fire.

Brigid’s Cross. This is a traditional fire wheel symbol – used to decorate the hearth as a symbol of protection, here being blessed along with our seeds.

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Brigid’s cross and seeds.

More pictures of our celebration can be found on our Facebook Page.

heather_rockHeather Walley has been a resident member of the Newbold Community for over 5 years and before that, lived on the Isle of Erraid as a member of the Findhorn Foundation community there. As well as being an artist, she is a certified Esalen Massage practitioner, teacher and enthusiastic horsewoman!

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