Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Darkness and light at Imbolc

Today is Imbolc, or Candlemas (or Groundhog Day if you’re in the US). The midway point between the midwinter solstice and the spring equinox; the moment when with the approach of earliest spring, the growing light begins to be visible. True to that expectation, as I look out of the office window I can still see the Green outside in the lowering, dank dusk. It’s literally only in the last few days that there has still been partial daylight at 5pm. Home by daylight; it’s a treat and a comfort, after winter’s cold darkness.

Various traditional sayings tell us that a sunny Candlemas is a sure sign of another blast of winter weather to come. But today has been grey and damp, and that is supposed to mean spring will now find the way clear. Hurrah! Winter seemed to start horribly early last year and I am thoroughly tired of it now, and itching to see my first daffodil.

I know, rationally as spiritually, that darkness is something we cannot do without. Joan Aiken expressed it beautifully in one of her short stories. A foolish king, thinking the dark is worthless, sells all the darkness in his kingdom for some fancy prize or other, but finds that without it life is a living hell; his courageous daughter and her horse have to steal a seedling of night from the edge of the world to save the kingdom.

I know both literal and metaphoric dark are essential, fundamental, necessary parts of life. Just as death is. I look back on dark times in my own life, and know that these were necessary, too. I look at friends’ and strangers’ troubles and know that although I’ll do what I can to ease them, if I can, still they have to go through the dark too, just as we all have done, all have had to do. The dark is essential for growth – some seeds will not germinate unless they have a spell of dark and cold. The dark is as much a symbol of Goddess and God as the light. And I am not afraid of it.

But I still wince and toil through winter with my head bowed, and right from November onwards there’s always a secret wish in my heart for the next couple of months to pass quickly.

And now the dark is passing, and spring is coming again, as the wheel turns. Blessed be!


miss*R said...

right now.. here, I can not even imagine winter or even autumn.. it is hot, hot, hot!!
I like your take on the dark being necessary for growth.. yes, like that alot!

Imogen said...

It's something I find easy to forget, of course, when I'm IN the dark - metaphoric dark that is, as in unhappiness or loss (no problem with literal dark as i have excellent night vision) - but I've come to see it is true nonetheless...