Imbolc, that Celtic holiday marking the very beginnings of the new life of spring, always seems to be among the more popular and awaited seasonal celebrations. Perhaps this is because we, especially here in New England, are more than ready for an end to winter by February whereas other seasonal celebrations usher in the itchy heat of summer or the chill of fall and winter. This year, our winter has been kinder than usual, so maybe that’s why Imbolc brought contemplations of new ways of thinking of how to celebrate this moment of the year rather than simply a longing for a warm breeze.
This Imbolc, I’ve decided to mine my soul for wildness. By “wildness” I don’t mean going beyond society’s mores or walking away from domesticity, but rather being one’s true self in the same way that a mushroom coming up through the soil will always be a mushroom and an elephant will always seek a watering hole because that’s what elephants do.
Spring is a particularly good time to look for that essentialness – who you really are – because this is the time in nature when the plant shoots and newly-birthed beasts are most purely themselves. On a walk I take most days, I pass a twisted tree – it looks as if a hand had grabbed the top of the tree and started twisting the trunk round and round. I’ve been told that this tree is really several trees that came to grow round one another. While they are stronger together and the form is beautiful, the infinite possibilities of “treeness” that each seedling was during the spring it was born have been narrowed down to the twisted shape by the elements. And just so are we also changed and molded by our experiences, sometimes in ways that may be good but are still more limiting than they might have been otherwise.
As long as we don’t blow over in the wind, what does it matter who we started out being? Sometimes if we do not remember who we most truly are, it is far too easy to be a tree that is pretending to be a rock or a river. We may be naturally strong and sheltering and giving of seeds, but still act as if we are hard and unmovable or always moving downstream and never taking root.
When we go back to our seedling selves, perhaps by remembering what and who we loved as a child or what our earliest aspirations were or what creative work we always found ourselves doing, we come back to that birth instant of infinite possibility. We gain a new perspective that can take away, even if just for a moment, those limitations on ourselves that come with disappointment and others’ expectations and assumptions, especially about who we should be and what we should do, and our own weariness. If we can become adept at going back to ourselves as we were at our beginnings, could we not go even farther back, as a species and remake ourselves to be the compassionate, peace-loving, creative, respectful people we are in our greatest visions? Perhaps the coming of spring each year is a reminder from Nature that there really is no reason why, if She can begin anew every year, we cannot also.