Again and again.
Evidently the rotund mammal forsees an early Spring, which is just fine, as today was feeling too much like all the other ones recently. I've been seeing too much of my own shadow recently; so glad the little beastie didn't see his.
Today (and thereabouts), is also, and relatedly so...
- Christian Candlemas (lights in the windows from dusk till dawn), which celebrates the Virgin Mother and the returning of the light at the midway point between dark winter solstice and the vernal equinox. Said by some to have absorbed pagan traditions such as...
- the Gaelic Imbolc or Oimelc, 'in milk' (referring to the coming birth and nursing of spring lambs), is the day of fertile union (midpoint) between the God (winter, personified as male in some cultures) and Goddess (spring). seemingly inextricably linked to...
- St. Brigid's Day or Bride's Day (pronounced 'breed'), which celebrated a maiden goddess (Blessed Virgin). She (Ord Brighideach) is a keeper of sacred fire, the hearth, the 'spark' of life, often represented by candles. In some Scottish stories, she is rescued from the Cailleach (Hag - here, 'he's' a 'she') of winter by her lover Angus. Governess of healing arts and smithcraft, she was also a teacher of martial arts, and patroness of warfare (briga, hence 'brigands'), reflecting the maternal protective function, which is often fiery and ferocious as a She-Bear (a vastly prominent 'great mother' in Europe - think Ursa Major (Callisto), St. Ursula, Berne and Berlin).
- Roman Lupercalia, variously attributed, but sometimes cited as sacred to Venus (whom we 'venerate') and women (whom we should try harder to venerate).
-Groundhog day is thought to be a continuation of these and other folk/pagan traditions, though the connective fabric's a bit threadbare these days.
A poem is often referenced ( from Carmina Gadelica: Hymns and Incantations, Ortha Nan Gaidheal, Volume I., Alexander Carmichael, 1900), as evidence:
"The serpent will come from the hole
On the brown Day of Bride,
Though there should be three feet of snow
On the flat surface of the ground."
or, translated more oddly:
"Early on Bride's morn
The serpent shall come from the hole,
I will not molest the serpent,
Nor will the serpent molest me."
My mother has just phoned me, crying, why she doesn't know. She's thinking about her ailing mother and the early days when Virginia (for real) was a very good parent, before she got bitter; about making changes in her life; about how emotional she is these days. I told her to think about these holidays. Maybe she can try to be a better mother to herself. She replied, "Yes, and be a better mother to you." It's a thing I'm trying to do for myself as well.
"I swear to you, I will, by Candlemas!"*
Swear to me, you will too.
(*James Joyce, from Finnegan's Wake)
Statue of Brigit