This is traditionally the beginning of Spring for Pagans and Heathens in the northern hemisphere, so even if you are neither, I send greetings and blessings. The old seasonal celebrations were lunar-governed rather than stifled by the Mathematical, Church-influenced Gregorian calendar that we adhere to these days; thus the real Imbolc should fall on the New Moon next Monday the eighth of February.
Slightly puzzling was the appearance of Snowdrops before the end of December, one of the markers of Imbolc, reminding us that our planet is in dynamic flux, for sure. Mankind has always been trying to mould the Earth to his way; I guess he’s slowly succeeding. Is winter on its way out? No snow in Sweden until December… No snow in Britain these days either, except for the odd flurry.
For the Vikings, such a time must have been very welcome after the awesome power of the winter finally began to relent; certainly I felt some of that relief with my old boat Free still struggling to survive her icy grip. A series of storms have played havoc with the tarpaulin that I covered her with before leaving Sweden last October. My dear friend Kjell-Arne sent me a salutary reminder of the Nordic winter with a photograph of the damage after the most recent storm cut a swathe through Borka.
Once again I am reminded of my April return to Scandinavia and hope that poor old Free can survive the remainder of the season; so, in a strange way, I send her Imbolc greetings too, coupled with a prayer to Odin for protection:
“It isn’t long now my old friend, until I will be with you again.”
Free is never far from my thoughts in absence although I rarely mention the fact to my friends during my ramblings from hostel to hostel, and country to country. Since the Yuletide, this old heathen has graced Liverpool, London, Kent and Lille in France. Now she finds herself boat-sitting again for James and Tara back on the River Thames while they jet off to foreign places for a well deserved holiday.
On the water again, flirting with Old Father Thames at Wraysbury; a repeat of last year and a welcome break from the stunted hostel lifestyle, where sleep is intermittent at best and non-existent at worse! Ah well, I chose this life so the rough always comes with the smooth…
Let’s not wish winter away too early, folks. The glory of the British seasons are what makes old Albion so unique. There’s nothing I like better than sitting around Bilbo, my old wood-burner listening to the rain rattling against the roof whilst munching hot muffins…
Not forgetting, of course, a lovely cup of tea!