One of my resolutions this year is to get back to nature more, having been doing a lot of studying and working over the past few years I haven’t made enough time to get outside, tend my garden and allotment, and listen to things growing. As part of this I wanted to learn more about the ancient year markers now known as Celtic or pagan festivals in the UK, and today is Imbolc.
Without going into a lot of detail, because I’m not an expert and there are many, many web pages and books you can refer to, Imbolc is the celebration of the first signs of spring, the first shoots and the return of the sun as a growing force in our land. As a gardener I’ve always been aware that February is early spring, when I can get excited about sowing seeds, cut down the old, dead growth from last year (left through the winter as shelter and food for insects, animals and birds) and welcome the new leaves and shoots showing.
So today I’ve been out looking at what’s going on in the garden, evergreens that were cut back a little too late last year are now recovering and shooting, daffodils are getting ready to flower and roses are shooting too. I know we could still see harsh, wintery weather return as late as April but for now these signs of life are enough. These nettles are the perfect stage to pick and eat as nutrient rich greens and there are some dandelions elsewhere for salads. Cultivated perennial herbs like tarragon and mint are shooting again and one of my cats has already expressed her approval by having a “mint moment” – it’s the same lamiaceae family as catnip and there must be some common aromatic elements as she was definitely getting something out of it.
I’ve picked a couple of other rituals for today almost at random from internet posts and at dusk will be switching on every light in the house for a short time to mark the return of light to our world before enjoying a macaroni cheese for dinner. Imbolc also marks calving time so celebrating dairy foods is appropriate. I’m sure lots of other people will be doing lots of other things, but, as I know from the kind of work I do, sometimes it doesn’t matter so much what you do but that you do it – and with intent and a glad heart. Enjoy the signs of spring!