Monday, February 17, 2014
Between Winter and Spring
The day that falls directly between the Winter Solstice and the Vernal (Spring) Equinox is a day of great power. For Celtic Pagans it is Oimelk or Imbolc, when Ewes begin lactation, in later Christian traditions it is the purification of Candles (Candlmass) as well as the Purification of the Virgin. St. Valentine's Day and even Ground Hog's day also echo the recognition that, at this time of year, something is definitely stirring in the winter darkness. For an in depth look at the manifestations of this recognition see here: http://paganwiccan.about.com/od/imbolcfebruary2/p/Imbolc_History.htm and here: http://www.naic.edu/~gibson/cal/ What all these feasts and celebrations share is the recognition that “light” is returning to the world. The nursing Ewes are symbols that life, having emerged from the obscurity of the womb, is now beginning the long rising arc into radiance. The purification of the virgin, a Christian holiday, hearkens back to the Hebrew tradition of a woman's emerging from her postpartum sequester and returning to active life in the community. These notions, and others, point to one simple and powerful natural fact-spring is coming-life stirs and begins to grow. But when exactly does this day come? A little nerddom with our magic. Let us remember what causes seasons. The Earth rotates on its axis at 23.5 degrees to the sun. As we see, the rays of the sun strike the earth's surface most directly on the summer solstice in the Northern Hemisphere (where we live here in TN). On the Winter Solstice they strike most directly in the southern hemisphere and on the Equinoxes they strike evenly in both hemispheres. The cross quarters are those days which fall between equinoxes and solstices. All such cross quarters have celebrations associated with them.