Saturday, January 30, 2016

Imbolc, Disting, Candlemas, Charming of the Plow--Celebrating Labor

Posted by: Jax Garren
"Now I stoop the seeds to scatter,
As from the Creator's fingers...
Rise, O earth; from out thy slumber,
Field of the Creator, rouse thee,
Make the blade arise and flourish.
Let the stalks grow up and lengthen,
That the ears may grow by thousands,
Yet a hundredfold increasing,
By my ploughing and my sowing,
In return for all my labour."
- The Kalevala (Finnish epic and Pagan holy book)

The beginning of February is currently celebrated as Groundhog Day (the inspiration for one of my favorite comedies of all time), but throughout Western history it's been about a lot more than whether Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow. Before the conveniences of modern technology, when society had to follow the seasons as a matter of survival, the coming of spring meant time to plan and plant for the harvest--and the continuing survival of the community. It was a time for blessing tools and preparing ourselves for plowing, a great labor that requires patience to see the results. Women were often celebrated at this time--like Brigid in Ireland who comes on Imbolc to bless houses and the Disir of Scandinavia, like the Norns (Fates) and the valkyries, great female spirits who guide the future.

This holiday season reminds me of writing a book--or any other great endeavor, really, but writing novels is the one that hits home for me! Writing is a lengthy endeavor that requires commitment and patience to see the rewards of your labor. In our modern society of near-instant gratification, it's my opinion that we too often celebrate completion and not the work it takes to get there. For me, the February holiday--no matter what you call it--is a reminder that success comes from work and we should bless the perseverance in day-to-day labor. 

At the turning point of winter, I wish blessings on your great efforts--whatever they may be--and hope for a prosperous "harvest." On February 2, I plan to bless my laptop, notebook, and pens--the tools of my plowing--as a reminder to myself of the work it takes to see success. What great work do you have plans for this year? I'll be happy to include your tools in my blessing if you let me know what they are, and if you do a blessing, I'd appreciate if you'd include me in your thoughts!

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