As the days grow longer and warmth returns, that which has been frozen begins to thaw and feeling returns to the Earth.
The month of February begins with the ancient festival of Imbolc. Meaning ‘in the belly’, Imbolc marks the first stirring of life in the womb of the Earth. Dedicated to the goddess Bride, it is the first fire festival of the year.
Bride, or Bridie, is the virgin goddess and all brides represent her as they walk towards union with the solar masculine. Hers is the new, soft body of the Earth as the water begins to flow again and the soil becomes the womb, dark, moist and enveloping. As she nurses the seed within, it begins to reach out to her.
As feeling returns we too find ourselves again in a womb, but one of our own making. The life that has contained and sustained us until now becomes the soil from which we must spring
The tree that the Celts associated with the month of February is willow. Known as the Queen of the waters, the willow is the most feminine of trees. Its Celtic name Saile, means to leap or let go, which is why the leap year falls in February. Willow calls upon us to make this leap, but the only way is to release feeling, to grieve for all that has passed and so cut the ties that bind us to the past. As we do so, life changes and we surge ahead.
To go willingly into grief, to learn and develop its ways as a practice for life, is a great gift to ourselves and to our children who then learn not to fear it as we did. Once the practice of active grief is learnt, we can feel our way all the way back to our beginnings seeking out the grief that was held there and releasing it now. Letting go, letting go, letting go. Each time we cut the strings that hold us back and bind us into familiar patterns and self-fulfilling prophecies, we take a leap. We leap into the unknown, into a place where anything is possible and long forbidden dreams can manifest themselves at last.
Ian Siddons Heginworth is an environmental arts therapist, founder of the Devon-based Wild Things community programme and author of Environmental Arts Therapy and the Tree of Life, Spirit’s Rest Books. www.environmentalartstherapy.co.uk