31 January 2020
Tulsi at this snowy Imbolc
The first snow of the year came at last to the mountains of North Carolina today, just in time for Imbolc! Also known as Candlemas, Imbolc is the seasonal marker at the halfway point between Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox.
Gazing out the window in wonder at the huge snowflakes falling, I stopped to admire once again my tulsi "houseplant." Also known as holy basil (Ocimum tenuiflorum), she is one of my herbal beloveds. I have a whole stash of holy basil pesto in my freezer, tincture in my cupboard, and dried leaves for infusion. This is the first year I discovered that I could bring one of my pots of tulsi in from my porch, and enjoy her all winter long!
This tulsi plant has loved basking in the south window throughout the winter. And I've loved having her close at hand through the cold season! As part of my bedtime ritual on these long winter's nights, I pick a sprig of her flowers and leaves to tuck under my pillow or eye mask for sweet and peaceful dreams.
More about Imbolc . . .
While we are past the longest nights of the year, Imbolc is still a time when the natural world is pulled inward. The energies of the plants are concentrated in the roots, animals in hibernation and the landscape is open and bare. Food supplies from last fall's harvest are getting low. This time of year, we are naturally drawn to pay attention to our basic sustenance needs including food, warmth, shelter and safety.
In earth-based cultures, this is also the time when animals begin to give birth and milk begins to flow again. In that way, Imbolc can be a pivot point when we begin to move from a place of scarcity towards a place of growth. As part of our Imbolc celebrations at Earthaven Ecovillage, we tend our sacred spaces and also bless the animals on the land. Soon the chickens will begin laying more eggs as the days lengthen.
In the Celtic traditions, Imbolc is often associated with candles and with white clothing or dresses. It is a time to celebrate Brigit, also known as Bridgit or Bride (pronounced Breed). In our modern world, we associate the word "bride" and the color white with weddings, with making a commitment to another person. My personal theory is that in ancient times, at the women-only temples devoted to Bridgid, this time of year may have been a time when women made commitments to themselves, even to marry themselves.
This year, I invite you to take time for self reflection and pause to focus on your self-care. How have those needs shifted in the past year? Notice which aspects of your own self care need tending. You may even want to carve out commitment to yourself for the year.
How are you in your heart, body and soul. dear sister? What are you longing for this year? When you take time to reflect, which of your self-care needs feel met? Are your needs satisfied – for rest, safety, respect, valuing, contribution, love, clarity, and divine connection? What parts of your self-care need tending or attention? Ask yourself, how could you support yourself in tending those needs, as you might your best friend . . .