Emerging Into Light
The Celtic festival of Imbolc celebrates the return of Spring from underground--and the Soul to renewed life.
By Mara Freeman
Once again, it is time to welcome in the early Spring and the festival of Bride, or Brigid, the Goddess who brings Light and Life to the land. The ancient Celts called it Imbolc, the time when the new lambs were born, the Earth is beginning to thaw, and new, impossibly fragile-looking green shoots start to emerge through the bare soil.
This miraculous emergence into light is one of the major themes of the holiday. An old Scottish rhyme tells us that this is the time when Bride emerges from the Earth, just as in the Greek myth, enacted at this time of year as part of the Eleusinian mysteries, the goddess Persephone came out of the underworld and Spring returned once more.
These myths are not only about the return of Spring to the land, but also the return of the Soul--traditionally depicted as feminine--from its dwelling in the obscurity of the subconscious mind. In the western world, we tend to get so caught up in material pursuits that the soul is forgotten most of the time - even though we never feel truly at home to ourselves without that connection. At the dawn of the modern age, a poet wrote that "affairs are now soul size." His words are even more true today: with the escalating crises in the world from wars to global warming, now is the time to fully awaken into what each of us has been called to do during our time on Earth, to emerge into a life that catches fire from the soul-flame within each of us.
When humanity listens to the voice of the soul, rather than being seduced by the astral glamour of consumer-driven culture, then the Soul of the World, the Anima Mundi, will also emerge, like Bride or Persephone, from deep within the Earth where it has been hidden, and its long estrangement from the human race will be over. This is the true meaning behind the Quest for the Holy Grail, a symbol of the Divine Feminine that was withdrawn from the world when our insatiable desire for dominance turned it into the Wasteland. For the Grail to be found, for the Wasteland to be restored to the Courts of Joy, we must learn to become co-creators in partnership with all the Living Intelligences of our planet: human, animal, faery or Devic.
The Festival of Bride is also known as Candlemas, for it is marked by the lighting of candles to brighten the long February nights. This also gives us an opportunity to rekindle our own inner flame upon the shrine of the soul. So light your own candle this season, and as you do so, see this tiny flame as a spark of the One Light that shines through all the worlds. Then sense your own inner flame within your heart and know that you, too, are a spark of the Divine. Breathe in the peace of this knowledge, and listen to your soul telling you how to fully awaken into Light in the emerging year.