Six more weeks ...

The trees are adorned with snow ... again. It's beautiful, but bitterly cold. The pugs rush out to do their business, and rush back in—too cold for snuffling in the undergrowth. And apparently we have more to come. Forget modern technology and weather prediction, turn off the Weather Channel, for Punxsutawney Phil, the Pennsylvania groundhog, has proclaimed six more weeks of winter. For 132 years, the Inner Circle of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club wake Phil from his hibernation. If Phil sees his shadow, we have six more weeks of winter to endure. On February 2, Phil saw his shadow. By my reckoning that takes us into mid-March.
Yet, Phil might be missing something. The beginning of February is special. It marks 40 days after Christmas, the end of Epiphany, and has been celebrated by Christians from ancient times as Candlemas. February 1-2 is halfway between the winter solstice and spring equinox. In Celtic lore it marks Imbolc, the beginning of spring. For the Celts, the start of Imbolc is also the feast of St. Brigid, who, in traditional iconography, holds sacred fire to symbolize protection for the coming year. Since pre-Christian times, at this season, ritual fire was burned at Kildare. St. Brigid and her followers carried on the tradition, Christianizing the pagan ritual. According to the Kildare Tourist Board:
The sacred fire/flame was re-lit in 1993, in the Market Square, Kildare, by Mary Teresa Cullen, the then leader of the Brigidine Sisters, at the opening of a justice and peace conference. The conference, entitled “Brigid: Prophetess, Earthwoman, Peacemaker” was organised by Afri, (Action from Ireland), a justice, peace and human rights organisation, to celebrate the tenth anniversary of its St. Brigid’s Peace Cross Project. Since then, the Brigidine Sisters in Kildare have tended the flame in their centre, Solas Bhride
Such, then, is the season. Snow, light and sacred fire. It seems strange to think of the beginning of spring, when the view from my window is of leaden sky, filled with the snow yet to fall. Still, in our fireplace the logs glow and crackle, warming the kitchen. Sacred fire, perhaps? On cold days such as this it certainly feels so. There is magic in the flames.
So, I will settle with the season. No complaints. Spring is beginning, and so is light and life, and so are new possibilities.
But Phil, six more weeks, come on ... !

Stay warm and well,

+Ab. Andy
St. Brigid icon ...