A New Year Begins At Imbolc

A New Year Begins At Imbolc

Happy New Year!

You might think I am late but it depends when you decide a new year starts. The Celts started their new year at Samhain (our Halloween). The Romans chose their Saturnalia celebrations to mark one sort of new year. We’ve also recently celebrated Chinese new year (year of the black water rabbit, in case you weren’t sure) and now we have just celebrated Imbolc, Candlemas and St Bridget’s Day, all of which herald new beginnings. I stepped into the garden on the 1st of Feb to hear a wren trilling his heart out and to find a clump of snowdrops at the end of the garden under some of the apple trees. There’s been sweet violets blooming shyly in the front garden for at least a couple of months, sheltered from the cold in a raised bed overshadowed by taller, denser plants. Winter is receding but knowing the British climate, we’ll have snow later this month. But the light is returning, several minutes every day and the bird song has changed from contact calls (“Are you there? Did you survive? Hey, I survived too!”) to the first of the spring songs.

I did some clearing of old files a few days ago, mostly to keep myself from thinking about the insoluble problems my country faces right now. There’s a big bag of paper to be disposed of securely; old bank statements, medical letters and the like. But among the paperwork I found a printed-out email from my friend Dr Jean Raffa, from Feb 2012, about a dream I’d had. It reminded me first how long I have been working on my inner life, and especially concentrating on dreams, and at first it made me feel disappointed in myself that I seem to have made so little progress. I have had now over ten years of almost unremitting depression. Deep, deep depression that might lift a tiny bit for a week or two, only to be plunged back in, either by outside circumstances or by absolutely nothing. That feeling of sliding inexorably into the black pit is possibly one of the worst feelings possible. In this time I’ve dealt with major illnesses, surgery, serious bereavements and the chaos that follows in their wake, and the acquisition of a handful of chronic conditions that all include constant pain, low mood and little hope, plus the diagnosis of being autistic (which has taken time to process – it really makes sense of so many other things). With all that is the grind of ordinary life – cooking, cleaning, shopping, rinse and repeat. I have been so tired it sometimes feels like I need to rest constantly yet at least one of my chronic conditions is worsened by inactivity. I’ve walked this tightrope between too much and too little, and I have fallen off repeatedly.

I said that at first it made me disappointed in my lack of progress in this essential soul work, but over the following few days, I found I felt more proud that I have persisted. I have a brooch my dear friend Gill gave me, that says, “Still I rise,” and I wear it often, usually without realising its truth that is embedded in my every day. I have persisted. I am still here, I still get up in the mornings and face the day. Sure, I sometimes go back to bed later but that’s understandable. I show up.

About twenty years ago, my husband went for an interview to be minister to some villages somewhere south of us. One of the factors that had interested us was the place had a holy well, a wellspring that had healing powers recorded for many hundreds of years. We both felt that renewing the connection between that spring and the church was something that we felt was important. But the job wasn’t right and that was that; we went somewhere else entirely. I kept that spring in my heart, tucked away in a quiet corner, wishing that it might one day be recognised and rejoiced in by more than occasional pilgrims, and for the connection between earth-based spirituality and the core of Christianity to be renewed in that place. The other day, in one of those random coincidences, I saw a series of photos from the village with the spring that gave me a real lift: the local ministers holding a beautiful service for Candlemas, including mentions of St Bridget, at the spring. Lots of smiling people in the sunshine, participating in a gentle rite that connected them with both the past and the present, rejoicing in the clear bright sparkling water. The things that are meant to happen (I hate that phrase) find their way. Life, uh, finds a way. We’d tapped into something deep and old in our resonance with that spring, but it wasn’t us who did it. But it’s happening and while it’s twenty years later, I must believe that it is in its own right time.

I must believe that my own soul work is in its own right time, that I am not slow or pathetic or stupid for being stuck working at what sometimes feels like the same old same old for more than a decade. About 18 months ago, I began to receive help on this journey (not something I want to explain further) and sometimes it has felt as if I am walking through that dark wood of Dante’s, but sometimes I get glimmers of hope that something, something very different to what I might have expected, is taking shape. The last few days it has felt like there is more happening, as if the first gleams of light at sunrise are turning the grey garden to brighter colours. I didn’t want to let my long silence here go on without writing something; I have felt often so lonely, so excluded from the vibrant conversations I sometimes witness my online friends participating in, because I have not had the energy to respond, to comment or to reach out to the many friends I have here in this non-physical sphere. Friends who have new books out, new projects, exciting discussions; I feel some mild guilt I have not been able to support them better or indeed, at all.

So I say again: happy new year. I hold a tender bud of hope; let not the frosts blight it.

13 thoughts on “A New Year Begins At Imbolc

  1. Very well put Viv. I keep coming back to this: the journey begin and ends from within, and accepting what is. Sounds trite I know, and seemingly impossible at times, but the more often I can remember this baseline, the less I struggle.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Happy New Year to you too sweetheart.
    Here in Pennsylvania we just got the news from a rodent named Punxsutawney Phil that we’re going to have another six weeks of winter. But, what the heck.
    All I will say each day is “Still I rise.”

    Good to hear from you again and look forward to future writings!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey, good to see you too.
      In Britain there is a goddess often known as the winter hag, her name is the Cailleach, who comes out on Imbolc too, and if the weather is cold we can expect the winter to be almost over because she goes in and cannot gather more firewood; if pleasant, longer, as she then uses the day to gather more firewood for keeping her home warm. According to that, winter still have a good while yet to go, like you.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Yes, Happy New Year. It’s just so rare to encounter a piece of writing that can sear one’s heart with its vulnerable truth. Thank you for sharing, Vivian. It feels good to reconnect, after such a long absence — but goodness… I haven’t picked up my personal blog writing space for 8 years now. So yes, it was good to sit with your words a bit…. and allow them to invoke an image of our sharing heart truths… over that proverbial cup of tea. Be well, my friend. As in … “and all shall be well….. and all manner of thing shall be well.” — Janell

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  4. So beautiful and deeply moving. I’m so sorry that you’ve been through such a difficult, challenging, ‘dark night of the soul’ I want to add, time, these past ten years. I can’t even begin to imagine the strength and courage you had to find in order to write this post, let alone manage your close bereavements too.

    I feel most fortunate in visiting your blog today as your honesty and openness renews spring in my own heart. I’ve lit a candle for you here in my home and my heart. Hold tight to that bud of hope, that bud of love and the help that’s arrived. Love and light, Deborah

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Happy New Year, Viv. I’m so sorry for your myriad struggles, and so glad to hear you’ve found help that provides a glimmer of hope. It’s good to reconnect with your honest and unique voice, but I completely understand your absence. I’ve been pulling back too. As you know, my dreamwork has brought me so many insights and affirmations that I can’t recommend it enough. (Thank you for the mention and link.) Yet I’ve realized that doing inner work solo is simply not enough. I need other voices and perspectives. I believe we all do. So I too have found another source of help that is bringing a renewal of energy and taking me to exciting new places. Still we rise. May the new year and this newest phase of your life be lighter and brighter for you in every way. Jeanie

    Liked by 1 person

    • I was too tired to reply yesterday evening.
      The thing about finding help in this area is that it almost always costs money and many of us simply don’t have any. It’s why I have always struggled, because I’ve never wanted to do it alone, but there’s never been the funds for help and I didn’t want to be *that* person, using the expertise and time of friends who themselves probably need the money too. Unless I can reciprocate in some way, I just couldn’t do it. Not to mention not being able to travel (I live a long way from any easy access to experts) as well as do the work (just too much in terms of £ and energy expenditure). But the pandemic altered something when it brought Zoom and other such arenas, so it’s become possible.
      One day at a time, though, as I’ve woken this morning feeling like a truck reversed over me several times!
      I still have your newest book The Soul’s Twins, sitting waiting to be read (and reviewed) so hopefully this year it will be the time.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Hi Viv, a very HAPPY NEW YEAR to you too, it is quite some time since I have read any of your posts, very probably because I’m a lazy 75 year old farty pants, who has too many distractions in his life like home maintenance, reading books, the tv, this Samsung smart phone etc etc etc., but I’m glad you posted this little spiritual Zen update, you could never ever be described as slow?-unlikely, pathetic?-certainly not & stupid?-shouldn’t be in your vocabulary, the words you put on the pages of your posts convince me of that. You have been carrying a burden for such a long time and it makes you weary, all people of a certain age carry within them the residue of the triumphs, trials & tribulations we have or others have put ourselves through as we’ve aged, we learn through time by trial & error which boxset of woes needs to end up in the dustbin and not to be recycled, it will always be a work in progress but it can be fun separating the dross from the gold. Always be good to yourself, you deserve it. Kind Regards, Robin Horne.

    Liked by 1 person

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