Ecology: First Stirrings of Spring

All over the world and for centuries, the first day of February holds special importance. Among those groups who follow an Earth-centered spiritual path, today marks the beginning of Imbolc–Old Irish for “in the belly”.  The ancients marked this day as the day on which the Goddess associated with Earth, fertility, and new life caused the first stirrings of spring to appear:  certain plants and flowers began to peek through the snow covered ground, female sheep began to be sheared and prepared to give birth, for they had babies “in the belly”.

Last year’s fields were burned off (Latin “februum” meaning to purify).  The Romans celebrated a festival known both as the Februatus and the Lupercalia around February 14-15, which was both a festival of purification and fertility.  The festival was so deeply rooted in the hearts of the people that long after the Empire became Christian, Romans were still celebrating the Lupercalia which honored a Goddess and God of purity and fertility.  The Church replaced the festival with the memorial of the martyrdom of St. Valentinus, but to this day, St. Valentine’s day has all the markings of the ancient Februatus and Lupercalia!

Thus we begin our focus on Ecology and how we are working together with or against the Earth Herself and the precious Environment that sustains our lives.  Can we allow this first day of February to call us to some preparation, some purification, and to some new work of fertility on this planet–for the common good?

What if today we were to begin to regard the Earth Herself as a living organism with whom we have a deep and abiding relationship?  What habits of life, what living patterns do we currently engage that work for and against this vital relationship with the Earth? Beginning today, can we take a moment to walk outside, pause a bit, and notice the stirrings of the Lady Herself bringing life back into the full vibration of Spring?  How do we want to live with and for Her, for all our good?

Bob Patrick

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