For millennia, the Celts have ritually celebrated Imbolc, anticipating the return of greenery and honoring the goddess Brigid. When Christianity took hold in Ireland, Christians claimed the day, renaming it Candlemas, and christened Brigid, St. Brigit.
In 1887, Imbolc and Candlemas were reincarnated as Groundhog Day. Clymer Freas, the editor of a Punxsutawney PA newspaper, concocted and sold the idea of Punxsutawney Phil to local businessmen, commercializing the day in true capitalistic spirit.
Since then, dragging a winter-weary groundhog from his den to ascertain if he sees his shadow has become a cultural phenom despite the ritual’s success rate being a miserable 34 percent. To add levity, in 1993 Bill Murray contextualized it in farcical romp.
From Imbolc to Candlemas to Groundhog Day, and poof! the magic is gone. Right now, though, methinks we could all use a double dose of magic given what we have been witnessing and enduring.
Imbolc marks the midway point between the Winter Solstice and the Vernal Equinox. We cannot see the action, but stuff is stirring underground in anticipation for the right moment for a shoot to bravely poke its snout above ground. The potential for emergence.
It serves as the perfect metaphor for our situation. With the cavalry arriving in the form of vaccines, the light at the end of the tunnel is gradually growing brighter. Which means it is time to imagine emerging – from the Latin emergere meaning “to rise up” – from our sequestered hutches, poking our snouts out to the larger world, and beginning the work of reconnecting and reengaging.
It would be wise to be prudent. The process might prove to be quite challenging. Concurrent volcanoes have upended the old normal and the amorphous lava is gelling and forming new, untraversed terrain. Eventually, it will require everyone to step into their wanderer or wayfarer archetype and undauntedly brave the new world.
But in the meantime, whether you see your shadow and opt to hunker down a bit longer or plan to step cautiously into and brave the unfolding reality, consider using today to consider your personal path of reemergence and reengagement.
In so doing, conjure up a bit of magic from the days of yore. As Crystal Gale sang in her 1977 hit “We Must Believe in Magic,” “Still we are shipmates bound for tomorrow / And everyone here’s flying blind.”
Happy Imbolc. Happy Candlemas. Happy Groundhog Day.