Imbolc or Imbolg (/ɪˈmɒlɡ/ i-MOLG), also called (Saint) Brigid’s Day (Irish: Lá Fhéile Bríde, Scottish Gaelic: Là Fhèill Brìghde, Manx: Laa’l Breeshey), is a Gaelic traditional festival marking the beginning of spring. It is held on 1 February, or about halfway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox.
I have come to desire more ceremony and ritual, and to practice reverence. Community is one of my core values, and it is important to me to gather with people I love to celebrate life in ceremony. I value the opportunity to focus intention and engage in spiritual practice. I am learning.
Yesterday we held an Imbolc ceremony, setting intention for the year and calling in a blessing for the water, the seeds, and the people. I am coming to a deep love of gathering in prayer and song; years of negative reaction to organized religion have given way to a love for the many ways in which humans express faith.
There are strong pagan themes in our local community, and I am appreciating the connection that is offered between humans as we experience our place in nature. Biodynamics lecturer Dennis Klocek speaks of guidance by the Elementals and the Spirits of Time Rotation. Farming is at the whims of these larger forces, governed by the earth, air, fire and water. Movement through time and space under the pressure of gravity is the canvas and frame upon which the universe is painted.
As we return to celebration and ceremony, the equinoxes, solstices and cross-quarters offer a backbone around which to build the flesh of ritual. I am delighted to encounter so many teachers and knowers of ceremony, and to learn a practice from their gentle offerings. As we share this journey through life, there is great strength in ceremony and the sharing of community. It is essential.
As a human, and as a grower of food and medicine, it is important for me to be aware of my intentions. When I work with love and care, I create order and beauty. When I operate in haste and stress, my work is sloppy. This is one of the hardest lessons for me because I tend to want to rush through tasks so I can check them off the list and get on to the next. I am learning to be deliberative in my process, but it is perhaps my most difficult lesson.
If I am able to be aware of my intentions, then I can hold them up against my core values. The opportunity for using my values as a mirror to reflect and analyze a given action provides a backstop of core being. Life is a journey of duality, existing in the shades of grey. To hold opposing concepts in tandem is to recognize the truth of the world, though it is uncomfortable in uncertainty. We crave binary “us and them” truths, but life is not often so simple.
Balance is the key for understanding; it is when I am off-balance that I react with judgement and emotion. I am learning to evaluate my reactions by keying into the emotions that have been evoked. It is a slow, excruciating process that provides insights into the areas in which I need work. My strongest reactions come in areas where I feel shame or inadequacy. As I learn to recognize these emotions, it gives me the ability to step into them and say “I don’t have the answer to this”, or “I’m sorry, I did not make a good choice in that action”, rather than responding with emotion and blame.
As a student of human interaction, I am always seeking to evolve the ways in which I relate with others. I have been drawing a great deal of insight from the work of Brene´ Brown around self-definition, core values and engaging with uncertainty. Woven with this reading is the work of James Redfield including the Celestine Prophecy and his later books. I am also picking up the work of Steven Pressfield including Do the Work, and Turning Pro. I am grateful for the many people who have shared lessons and opportunities for learning. As human evolution continues, we learn to deepen a process that holds space for gathering response, honing the instinct of reaction into the tool of clear purpose. With love, we lift each other up so that each may serve a higher potential. Forward goes the journey, and may the rest of winter be kind to you!
Casey O’Neill co-operates HappyDay Farms, a micro-diversified farm in northern Mendocino County, California. His family raises two acres of Sun&Earth and DEMPure Certified vegetables, poultry and medical cannabis in a small-farm setting while working towards sustainability. He is stoked about sharing food, medicine and cultivation techniques with others. He is passionate about representing small farmers and works to support Mendocino County policy-makers in crafting sensible regulations. You can find his radio show on podcast at HappyDay Farms - Farm and Reefer Report on iTunes or Soundcloud.