How do you cope with menstruation if you're homeless? What does Denmark's new law say about refugees? And how was it that Taiwan's pro-independence opposition finally triumphed over the Kuomintang? These details and more for Fiery Tuesday, our weekly segment on political and societal news from around the world! All this and more for the Pagan News Beagle!
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So this morning, the groundhog said we're going to have an early Spring. Later today, I heard claps of thunder for the first time in months, and the rain washed away all of the salt on my SUV. I started with a new agency a couple weeks ago, and I am now designated as "pre-license", as I am studying to move forward as a real estate broker. Ron even got me a new phone as a congratulations present - just the one I wanted but was holding off until I made more money. (I closed on my first lease with the new company yesterday!)
It has indeed been a whirlwind of preparation and change, which is just how I see the season. All year long, animals like squirrels store up food to get them by through the winter. By the time Winter arrives, a squirrel who did a great job will have the problem of too much of a good thing. They will bury nuts all over the forest, forgetting where many of them are buried. The following Spring, that mistake can become a blessing in disguise - planting unintentional seeds. Preparation and change. I hadn't planned on switching agencies as quickly as I did, but it was time to do so. The groundhog didn't plan on anything other than waking up this morning. El Niño is probably attributing to lots of change, including the storms around here instead of a blizzard. And yes, for people who pay attention to politics, a relatively no-name did a great job in Iowa. (Disclaimer: I am not much into politics, but that doesn't mean I don't pay attention.)
The thing is, the world is in a constant state of change. Some changes are subtle, like the first tiny knobs on a tree branch. Some changes are wildly noticeable, such as the first morning you step outside and see green grass everywhere after months of brown and white. How I handle the changes, big and small, determines where my life will go. It's certainly easier for me to adapt than it is for someone who's starting from nothing, or someone who has more hurdles. I just remind myself I know people personally who were given every opportunity, but because they were not able to adapt to change, they have problems I have a hard time envisioning for myself...
Imbolc is one of my favorite Sabbats. Here in Maine, it may not always seem like there is any sign of spring. But Imbolc helps us to remember that, especially the way that time flies, it will be here before we know it. Deep in the belly of mother earth, the wave of new life prepares and takes root. This time of very early germination reminds us to take some time and focus on the preparation and planning key to starting new endeavors. What do we need to spend our time on, while we are cooped up inside, so we can get a jump on the very first blessings of warmer weather? Because of this “new beginnings” aspect of the Sabbat, I see Imbolc as a very hopeful time....
Minneapolis, Groundhog's Day 2016. It's a snow sky, sunless and white: there's a big blizzard coming.
If you've ever wandered where the song-and-dance routine about the groundhog and his shadow comes from, it's a naturalized American version of some old European folk meteorology.
February 2 marks the mid-point of winter, and supposedly the hibernating animals come out of their hibernacula to reconnoiter. No groundhogs in Europe, so other animals do the job: bears, marmots, hedgehogs.
Traditional weather lore has lots of examples of days whose weather is said to portend what's coming. “If it's sunny on St. Whoozit's Day, the Sun will shine for the next 40 days.” Interestingly, Candlemas Day is the lone example when bad—cloudy—weather portends good weather coming. A cloudy Candlemas predicts only 6 more weeks of winter. (Which brings us, roughly, to the Equinox.) If it's sunny and clear instead, winter will last longer.
The name, Imbolc, comes from “i mbolg,” Old Gaelic for “in the belly.” What fertile seed is beginning to grow down in the belly of your deepest being? What’s shaking and quaking under the rich earth of You? This is the Holy Day for claiming the Light, the Life, the New that longs to grow from you and through you—claiming it, saying yes to it, honoring it with intention and blessing. We’ve been a thought thrumming in the hush of infinity, unnamed desire nestled in the dark swell of winter. It’s delicious riding the wave of infinite potentials, and then there comes a moment to shift out of the void, grab hold of your dream and leap with it into the Real. It’s time to Initiate. Time to place your bet on your own creative power. Time to let the Goddess of Light shine through you. Remember we are layered beings—animal, plant, crystal sleep in the secret strata of bone, blood, brain, aura. Draw on their dreams at this Imbolc Visioning Initiation time.
Miriam Dyak © Mother Tongue Ink 2015
The holiday that is known both by Brighid and by Imbolg has long been a favorite of mine. I adore the thought of all those sleepy little seeds under the surface of the earth getting ready to move upwards towards the sun in the depths of winter. The painting that accompanies this blog post is one from a few years ago that I did of the Goddess Brighid. I have often seen her as a young, joyful woman, bursting forth in flame. I find that I wish to paint her again as my image of her has matured as I have matured.
Why would a Pagan want to talk about pancakes? Pancake day heralds the Christian Lenten fast. Where exactly Lent starts depends on when Easter is going to fall, which in turn depends on the moon because the date comes to us from the traditional Jewish calendar, which is lunar. Granted, most modern Pagans are always up for a bit of seasonal feasting, and pancake day is the kind of tradition we cheerfully borrow. But there is more to the pancake than meets the eye and it’s worth poking about in the whys and wherefores of this little feast, because it has much to tell us about our ancestors who lived closer to the land.
I was at the allotment yesterday. There were leeks to harvest, the last of the Jerusalem artichokes, and there’s still some kale. We’ll be planting potatoes soon. It’s been a mild winter so there’s more growing than usual. The grain harvest was months ago, the fruit you stored at the start of winter will run out, the root vegetables you stored will be running out. Even if you’re freezing and pickling and using all the modern storage methods, the last harvest is diminishing and there’s no sign of any decent new crops yet....