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Imbolc: The Milky Way

The first days of February.

February 2nd, is my birthday. Because of that, I've researched, contemplated and breathed life into this turn of the spiral we call Imbolc. Imbolc is one of 8 seasonal cycles in the on-going dance between earth and sun through space and time.

I love the folklore, the debate, the history and, truthfully, I've chosen to simply use these 8 seasonal points as navigational aids on my life journey in her garden. Reference points for reflection, taking stock and planning the activity for the next turn allowing the garden of life to set the stage. Over time, an accumulative effect begins to manifest when practiced as a way of life. I would also add, I am disinclined to follow rules or prescriptions proclaimed by others. This path finds you about the same time you find it.

An odd phrase comes to mind this year and in some mysterious way, it weaves meaning into my life experience in the realm of the everyday sacred and the 8 seasonal celebrations we practice here at HerbWiseWomen. 

The Milky Way...

The sun and her planets are a small part of the vast Milky Way galaxy. Astronomy tells us we are just one galaxy in an infinite universe. I wondered, "how did Milky Way come to be the name of this galaxy?" When you are looking at the night sky in a really dark place there are so many stars lighting up the night, it does appear as if someone spilt a pitcher of milk across the sky. 

This is a western idea, one that I believe from my life experience is rooted in pastoral living. Cultures that were not pastoral had other beautiful names for what some call the Milky Way. Here are just a few from google...The Backbone of the Sky, Kalahari; the River of Heaven, Chinese; the Silver River, Japanese, Akash Ganga, Indian. And even this is inefficient, as different groups within these places have their own names for the phenomena they see around them. It seems humans do this to make life meaningful. And, it seems, humans are currently in the midst of a major story shift. Realizing we are making the stories and we are the stories will be a focus of this site for the coming year...

Everywhere in the northern latitude, pastoral peoples, many of our ancestors, were connected with the birthing cycle of their animals and the milk flow before the greening of the grass. 

Mother's milk is the saving grace that carries lambs through to the green grass of March. This milk fed the people as well. In ferments and cheeses and a rare dish in the British Isles called Beastings, made with colostrum, the first milk, baked into a custard. 

Hence, milk is associated with this point directly between winter solstice and spring equinox. Milk flooding across the sky, the Milky Way, is rooted in mother's milk as the first food of  peoples around the northern latitudes. A night sky that can be seen as sustenance may have been just the story that kept people going in times past.

In today's world, cultures have moved far from earth, making these simple early roots of traditional living seem remote. Working with animals, earth and solar cycles as navigational aids has brought meaning to my life. 

A cross-quarter celebration/holi-day/time for ritual. Celebrating the return of light and warmth. Taking stock of our resources, monitoring and adjusting as needed. Preparing for the next turn...knowing full well that year after year, decade after decade, century after century at this time of year...the grass gets greener from here on out! Bulbs and buds swell and spring is in her belly! 

May Brigid, triple goddess, mother, maiden, crone, wise woman of poetry, healing and metal craft, come to us at this turn of the spiral. Bless the hearth with mirth and cheer to bring us round this time of year. 


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