As of sunset last night, it is the Celtic holiday of Imbolc, celebrating the middle of winter, and the coming burst of spring. St Bridget's Day (officially Feb 1 in the Catholic calendar) and Groundhog's Day (today!) are derivatives of this ancient celebration. How will I be celebrating the fertility holiday? By heading to the abudantly lively city of New Orleans for Mardi Gras (also in a way a usurpation of this Celtic holiday, and Saturnalia).
I don't usually talk about my writing and what I'm working on before it's all done, but I will mention that the title of one of a manuscript I'm working on is Imbolc. It's become a very powerful word for me, espcially because it is the celebration of my ultimate namesake (my great-grandmother being the penultimate namesake). The poems come from the year I wrote a poem a day for a year. Looking over and culling through them, I saw how much the time of year effected/inspired what I wrote. So I've edited the manuscript to follow the Celtic Pagan Holiday Cycle. It was also the time of my life where I was learning more about the wide umbrella term for faith systems that can be called in general, "neopagan." For a long time, I thought I was a very liberal Christian. But as I learned about the tenets of neopaganism, and differences from Christianity, I realized that my spiritual belief system was the former and not the latter. So, the editing of the book also coincided with the exploration of my realization that the faith I'd always adhered to was that--to be specific, I call myself a "pantheistic neopagan who observes the Celtic earth-based holidays."
Pantheism is the belief that animal, mineral and plant all contain divinity of some sort.
The Celtic earth-based holiday are pretty familiar to the rest of the world, most of them are celebrated in the major religions, but with different names and under different origin stories. Ostara is Easter. Winter Solstice is Christmas. St Bridget's/ Groundhog Day is Imbolc.
And neopagan -- it's disputable how to define that, even among those who might take the term as a means of describing their faith. But one of my favorite things about it is its liquidity, its anti-dogmaticism. It covers a wide range of "New Age" or very Old Age beliefs (depending on who you ask) and is a very open-ended term. For me it means: a veneration of the earth and its cycles, an acknowledgment in a higher connection between things beyond just what we see (pantheism) and an adherence to the belief that if you are not doing harm, then you can and should do as you will. This is the most radical notion, as it goes against quite a lot of the rules laid out in the 3 major Abrahamic-based monotheistic religions. And it has reverberations on some very polarizing topics. If you want to learn more, the late (somewhere now reborn, for reincarnation is part of the faith, too) Margot Adler wrote a long, comprehensive book on the subject, "Drawing Down the Moon." I am not finished with it, though I love it just the same!
Blessings on Imbolc and...
LAISSEZ LES BONTEMPS ROULEZ!!!
See you when I get back from Mardi Gras, y'all!