Imbolc, also known as Oimelc, is Gaelic for “ewe’s milk” because this is the season when the milk begins to flow in the lambs and sheep. This is the 1st of 3 Spring Festivals (Imbolc, Ostara & Beltane).
Imbolc is closely associated with the Celtic-Irish goddess Brigid. Imbolc is sacred to Brigid because she is a goddess of fire, of poetry, and of healing, all things that go along with the creative powers of the onset of spring. Brigid is a powerful representation of the Maiden Goddess, and she has been almost perfectly preserved for us today by none other than the Roman Catholic Church. Rather than call her demon and risk the displeasure of all Ireland, they canonized Brigid and made her the patron saint of poetry and healing. This appeased the Irish, who at the time probably saw the Catholic saints as being very similar to gods themselves.
Imbolc was adopted by the Catholic Church as Candlemas, which later became known for Groundhog Day: “If Candlemass day be dry and fair, The half o winter’s to come and mair; If Candlemass day be wet and foul, The half o’ winter’s gane at Yule.”
In the deep of winter, when all lies dormant in the ground, it seems that there is no life to be found. But life is never fully vanquished. In the belly of Mother Earth, deep in her womb, there is life! Life waiting to burst forth at the appointed time.
So whether you watch for the groundhog to come out of it’s hole or you put a candle in your window to represent the Eternal Flame of the Maiden Goddess, may all of you have a moment of quiet in which to listen to the silence around you and feel her body beginning to stir.