Midwinter is a time of quiet activity and contemplation. The new year may be noticeably brightening, but there is much time that must pass before the promise of Spring made by the longer days is fulfilled. To pass the time, crafters focus on their crafts, writers write, planners plan, and dreamers dream.
We rest in the in-breath, the waiting period before the rush of preparations begin. It is a time for inward reflection on where we have been, what we want to bring with us from those places in our past, and where we want to go moving forward.
This seasonal festival is celebrated in a similar way. Those who celebrate Imbolg or Imbolc honor the Goddess Brighid whose many epithets include healing, creation, and transformation. Some celebrate Candlemas, which is a festival of lights commemorating purification and the growing of the bright half of the year. All of them center on the fire at the center of our lives—our hearth fire.
During this time of pandemic, social distancing, working from home, and general isolation, it has been easy to take our hearths for granted. A single flame holding vigil through this liminal time between when we used to gather and when we will finally be able to gather again.
We’ve been in this liminal between space for a full year now. A whole year has passed since we held open in person ritual here at The Prairie Home. We’ve watched from a distance (sometimes not a very far distance) as wildfires burned, as police brutally murdered yet more people of color, as the people protested such violence, as agents of hate used the chaos to pillage and destroy, as alt-right counterprotests culminated in a full coup attempt and storming of the capital, and as the acrimonious politics of our nation threatened the voting process that is the only voice we have left as We The People (flawed as access to the system may be).
And through it all, our hearth fires burned: our single lights representing each of our single lives, sitting alone in seeming darkness. Looking closely at one flame can blind us to what else is around us. If we take a step backwards and widen our perspective, we see that not only are we not alone, for there are many other flames, but we are all connected, held aloft on the arms of a strong and intricate candelabrum. Our hearths alone may feel small and lonely, like a single flame struggling to light up a room, but if we can focus on the connections we have to the other hearths around us, we can truly see the light we cast capable of lighting up the world.
To add to your own celebration, please find Melissa Hill's beautiful prayer for the season on her blog at Patheos.com: Imbolc Prayer to the Heart of Fire.