The 2nd February is Candlemas, but is also the ancient festival of Imbolc. Here is a meditation for that festival...
Long ago at this season, our people set out on a journey. Our native lands had suffered poor harvests, and there was a famine, and fighting over food. So we gathered our cattle, and our bags of grain, and set off away from the conflict, to find a good soil where we could settle and plant anew.
Now our tribe was weary. For many months we had travelled across a cold and desolate land, following our wise man, who told us the omens were ripe for our departure, as Saturn and Jupiter moved closer to each other, heralding a sea journey. We passed through the wild woods, and from there to the coastal regions, where we saw the sea, blue and clear. There we cut down trees, and made a ship and embarked to find a new land.
A soft wind from the south began to blow, and we sailed as close as we could to the coast. But soon a very strong cold wind - the one called "Northeaster" - blew down. It hit the ship, and since it was impossible to keep the ship headed into the wind, we gave up trying and let it be carried along by the wind. For many days we could not see the sun or the stars, and the wind kept on blowing very hard, and there was a violent storm. Our ship was lifted high in the air and plunged down into the depths. In such danger, our sailors lost their courage; they stumbled and staggered like drunks, and all their skill was useless.
Our children were crying, and we were all afraid, with the rain pounding around us, and the ship heaving in the tempestuous seas. But there was with us our old wise man, who was also a weather worker, and as the storm reached its height, he stood up, and spoke softly to the wind, and the wind and waves diminished, and soon there was a great calm.
So it was that we came into the small bay of the Island that was to be our home, and there we managed to make the ship's boat secure and disembarked on golden sands with waves breaking on the shore around us.
All the tribe disembarked, and climbed upwards, until at last we came to a high place. It was night, and Saturn was slowly been rising in the east. This was the place for us to settle down, and we made a blazing bonfire for thanksgiving to the gods who had brought us here through perils to safely. And from the fire, we lit candles, and passed them around our circle.
Then the wise women stood and intoned this blessing
Blessed is the match consumed in kindling flame.
Blessed is the flame that burns in the secret fastness of the heart.
May the light of the candles we kindle together tonight bring radiance to all who still live in darkness.
Lighting these candles, we create the sacred space of the Festival of freedom; we sanctify the coming-together of our community.
And the following day, we began to build our huts, and till the soil, so that the seeds were ready to plant. Very soon, the land was ready, and the elder of the tribe stood and blessed the soil:
Blessed be the Earth Mother, and all creative hands
Who plant and harvest our fertile lands.
Blessed be the orange carrot and brown cow,
Bless also potato and mushroom, even now
Bless too red ripe tomato and runner bean,
And blessed be parsley and peas so green
And onion and thyme, garlic and bay leaf,
Blessed be the yellow corn, each golden sheaf
And blessed be all that we come to sow
In the good soil, that so richly does bestow.
May all be fed, may all be nourished, and may all be loved.
Now we are settled into this new land and have put down firm roots. And as long as the world exists, there will be a time for planting and a time for harvest. There will always be cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night. And we shall always plant, and while we care for the land, the land will nourish us, and each spring we plant the seed into what seems to be the dead soil, and life is born anew, and the green blade rises once more.
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