January 31, 2023

The Seeds Are Stirring – Celebrating Imbolc


Can You Feel The Magic?

Blessings to all at Imbolc, the Celtic celebration of the first stirrings of the seeds underground! Nature’s waking up and her year (in the northern hemisphere) is beginning. Imbolc (Gaelic meaning ‘in the belly’), is the halfway point between Yule and Ostara, is celebrated February 1 or 2, and is considered the first day of spring according to the Wheel of the Year. Mama Nature has given these seedlings the nurture they needed during winter’s rest, and now the spark and gentle whisper to coax the seeds into action. Rest time is over; let the growing season begin!

I love the ideal of seeds stirring… and deep down, where no one can see the magic. And it is magic. It is hope. It is love. It is multitudes. It is the limitless potential of the seed. The powerful possibilities housed in that tiny shell. Emerson wrote “The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn.” Now that’s power!

But Imbolc does not guarantee strong growth and fruiting. It is still cold and dark outside and these tender seeds will need tending to succeed. Just as we all do.

We are learning so much nowadays about the miraculous connections under ground! Mycelium networks, tree roots, all literal communications in the underground community. Science is catching up to spiritual wisdom, especially that of the indigenous peoples of the land.

“For a seed to achieve its greatest expression, it must come completely undone. The shell cracks, its insides come out and everything changes. To someone who doesn’t understand growth, it would look like complete destruction.” ― Cynthia Occelli

Every farmer who plants a seed takes a risk. We work through faith that the good deeds we do are to put down roots. The roots are invisible, but they sustain plants that may not give fruit for a while. How lovely is this planting the seeds of love. – Omid Safi

What seeds inside of you are stirring?
What is restless to emerge, to grow?
How are you nurturing them in this fragile stage?
What of yourself do you wish to nudge into light instead of to keep in darkness?

The Promise of Spring.

Imbolc represents faith and hope. Day by day, darkness gives way to light at morning and evening. There is a sense of the eventual coming of spring, yet this can be the bleakest time of the year when we might wonder if spring will ever come.

Imbolc is a solar holyday, based on the position of the earth to the sun. Agricultural communities have always been concerned about the weather, so Imbolc was an important time to predict the weather for the summer.

Nowadays, mainstream media celebrates Groundhog Day and Punxsutawney Phil, modern substitutes for the Cailleach. Germans used badgers to predict the coming weather in much the same way we look to Phil today: according to the tradition, if Phil sees his shadow and returns to his hole, he has predicted six more weeks of winter-like weather. If Phil does not see his shadow, he has predicted an “early spring”. 

In ancient Celtic culture, winter was a time of staying inside and preparing for the coming planting season. Families would sit by the warm hearth and make leather tack and repair metal tools, weave new fibers, cook, tell stories, and sing traditional songs. At Imbolc, families would be assessing their stores in the hopes that they had enough to see them through to spring

What would you like to see as you emerge from the dark into the light?
What do you want to birth into the spring? As we are still in the season of hibernation, now is the time to incubate and gestate these desires.

Brigid, The Triple Goddess.

Imbolc honors the ancient Celtic Fire goddess, Brigid (also Brigit, Brighid and Bride; all are pronounced “breed”), who has three aspects: goddess of Inspiration as muse of poetry, song, art, history – the protectress of all cultural learning; goddess of the Hearth, as nurturer of healing and fertility, family and childbirth; and goddess of the Forge, as patroness of metal smithing, craft (especially weaving and embroidery), and martial arts (justice and law and order).  (Image of the triple goddess Brigid from the Goddess Oracle Card deck, by Amy Sophia Marashinsky, Illustrated by Hrana Janto)

Fire of all kinds is associated with Brigid: the fire of creativity, the protective hearth fire, and her fire wheel – Brigid’s Cross, which heralds her as a Sun Goddess and is found at the hearths of homes as a symbol of protection.  Rather than the huge central bonfire found at the center of other fire festivals, Imbolc was more about the home and each home’s hearth. Every home in the community would have their own fire burning through the night. If that was not possible, candles were lit in every room instead. 

“Some day, after mastering the winds, the waves, the tides, and gravity, we will harness… the energies of love. And then for the second time in the history of the world, humanity will have discovered fire.” — Teilhard de Chardin

What do you want fire to activate or purify in your life?
What are you needing to honor, heal, or forge in your life?

Brigid, The Goddess of Healing.

Brigid is also considered a Water goddess. The waters of Her wells and springs are considered holy and healing.  In Her healing aspect, Brigid is the midwife for birthing women and teacher of herbal and plant medicine as well as the guardian and caretaker of household domestic animals, particularly cows. 

She traveled with two sacred oxen, while the white cow, the white swan, and the white wolf were associated with Her as allies. One of the symbols of healing associated with Brigid is the white wand around which a snake is entwined. (This symbol pre-dates Asclepius, the Healer God of the Greeks whose symbol was a rod with a snake coiled around it!)

Brigid was said to walk on Imbolc Eve, blessing her people with healing.  On Imbolc Eve, leave a shawl or cloak outside so She can bless it as She passes.  In the morning, you’ll find Her dew (or frost!) on the cloak representing healing, which can then be used throughout the year. Fabric bits or strips called clooties are also tied on branches of trees overhanging a Sacred Well or Sacred Spring as prayers to Brigid, a custom that goes on all through the year.

Do you desire some healing? Place a bowl of water (add essential oil if you’d like) and put it on your altar or in a special place. Whenever you feel the need for healing, bless yourself with the water from the bowl.

Pomegranate – Seeds of Potential

The pomegranate is a luscious fruit full of juicy seeds. 

In the traditional Greek myth, Persephone was the daughter of Demeter, goddess of Fertility, Grains, and the Harvest.  

The Maiden and Mother were very close.  One day Persephone was secretly abducted by Hades, god of the Underworld. Demeter was so distraught in her mourning that crops failed in the fields.

Eventually — thanks to Hecate, the Crone of the Crossroads — Persephone returned to her mother. In her rejoicing, Demeter gave the healing power of fertility and growth back to the earth, and the fields flourished.  But Zeus deemed that if Persephone had eaten anything while in the Underworld, she must return there. Persephone ate 6 pomegranate seeds, and so she was doomed to return for 6 months of the year to rule as Queen of the Underworld.  This is how the Greeks explained why we have seasons: for Demeter’s alternating cycle of mourning and rejoicing.

But imagine a different interpretation of this tale, one less patriarchal: suppose Persephone herself – in those magical stirrings of the inner seeds – knew that she would mature from Maiden to Mother.  Then, she might choose to go within – into her unconscious or “underworld” – to reflect on these changes:  what they are, what they mean, what they bring.  She would spend time examining her depths and her dreams.  Once she had completed this self-examining rite of passage, she would “return” a maturing young woman, ready to be Queen of Herself.  (Anyone who has been an adolescent girl can identify with this withdrawal and the moods that accompany it!)

So, to me, the juicy seeds of the pomegranate (which is much like an ovary, yes?) represent seeds of empowerment – not imprisonment. It’s time to change the story.

In the myth, all three Ages of Woman (Maiden, Mother, Crone) support each other.  This happens in our own lives: giving and receiving support, comfort, and encouragement.  (“Crone” – or Elder, Wise Woman — has the same root word as “crown”, and was once a term of respect.)

I have created a series to honor the fruit, seeds, and its stories. The transparent handmade glass pomegranate pendant is filled with the seeds of potential and change that we all hold within, regardless of our age, tiny garnets or sapphires. 

While this is a symbol of empowerment for any age, I believe it is a perfect gift to a young adolescent girl just beginning her Moontime so she can wear her empowerment over her heart or if she doesn’t wear necklaces, hanging in a window.

Do you know such an adolescent/woman who is moving toward independence? Enjoy a 20% discount until the end of February using the code IMBOLC20 in my etsy shop.

Seeds of Intention.

My sistah Melody LeBaron maintains that Imbolc is the best time for setting intentions.  I believe she’s right (although we can set intentions any day of the year, of course!).  Imbolc arrives after a winter rest (although our culture can lure us into a frenzy of holidays).  In my opinion, the lull in activity is delicious.

I think intention is the foundation of all of our hopes, prayers, and dreams.  It is powerful medicine. It is powerful magic. Intentions are the signal that calls in the Universe to support us.  Unseen, yet powerful.  Shivering excitement into reality.  I consider them “energetic nudges”.

What are your intentions for 2023?
Where do you want to focus your energies in order to manifest your intention?
How can you nurture these tender seeds?

I have had a delightful time creating some special Intention Keepers.  Made of vintage and antique salt and pepper shakers, some hold seeded paper where you can write your intention, some hold micro-glass beads or mica flakes to sprinkle your intentions around you. Fairy dust? 

Almost. Spreading the joy? Definitely. (I never understood the reason for keeping my birthday wish to myself.  The more who can support me in realizing my intention, the better!)  You can find a variety of these Intention Keepers in my new etsy shop, A Heretic Heart.

Choose three priorities for your life and focus on them.  Any more than that and you are short-changing the very things which you consider important.  —  Elaine St. James, a pioneer of the voluntary simplicity movement

One of my intentions for 2023 is to grow my business on etsy. Shows are hard work, and I’m considering ways to support my habit without hauling tent, bins, etc. One of those ways is through my etsy shops. I am also expanding my reach to shops/museums that are interested in representing my work (botanical gardens, etc). 

So I am inviting you to visit my etsy shops.  I have 2 now: my original Kate Stockman Designs as well as her young sister A Heretic Heart.  I am excited to open my new shop which focuses on pagan symbols and celebrations and sacred adornments.  I am using mostly vintage sterling necklaces, pendants, ear bobs, bracelets, etc. as components that I reimagine into modern heirlooms. Make yourself a cuppa, settle in a cozy spot, and visit!  Read stories. Enjoy yourself. If you choose to indulge, take a 20% discount on all items at both shops with the check-out code IMBOLC20.  Thank you for supporting my passion!

Personal transformation can and does have global effects. As we go, so goes the world, for the world is us. The revolution that will save the world is ultimately a personal one. — Marianne Williamson

More Seeds for Thought.

Louie Schwartzberg‘s big vision is filming tiny growth that keeps the world connected.
Katherine Genet’s Prayers of the Wildwood offers earth-based prayers that I often use.  Her earth-based stories are transportative. I want to live in the Wildwood!

One of my favorite contemporary artists is Autumn Skye.

Gather Victoria offers a luscious list of offerings, from beautifully compiled videos to delectable, seasonal recipes
How to deseed a pomegranate

from the Irish Times, a Brigit Conference

Happy Lunar New Year! It is the year of the Water Rabbit.

Be well.

Peace AND Prosperity,


Kate Stockman designs to honor Nature and the Self. A self-taught assemblage artist, Kate creates one-of-a-kind assemblage jewelry. She and her husband, a wood turner, live in a little cabin in Saluda, in the western North Carolina mountains.

www.KateStockmanDesigns.com  KateStockmanDesigns.etsy.com 


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