As I watch the stars of evening, and in the morning open my window toward the east, I shall observe the Ceremonial of quietness of heart, of simplicity, and poise of spirit, that I may keep my soul and the souls of others free from entanglements in the machinery of the day.
— Ceremonials of Common Days, Abbie Graham, 1923
In the feeble Winter’s light, the soul yearns for simplicity. All around, the landscape is bare, and in Nature, life is pared down to its most basic functions. The spectacular Full Moon is on the wane, and we are in what should be the quietest time of year. The days between the rebirth of the Sun at Yule, and the dedication and oath-making of Imbolc remind me of the times when new mothers were kept in confined convalescence.
Naturally, after childbirth a woman needs time to regain her physical strength. In addition, this practice of cloistering was, in part, to protect the vulnerable mother and her newborn from illness. But the wise grandmothers also encouraged this privacy as a healthful chance for the mother and baby to bond with one another, develop a routine, and ease back into the hubbub of daily living. Of course, this luxury was not always available to poorer women, who were needed to return immediately to work at full capacity if the family was to survive. Sadly, they paid a steep price and many women did not survive such pressures.
So I think that this time of Winter’s quiet is a lovely gift, but is also necessary. These days are given so that we can settle after our busy holiday events, re-establish good work and play routines, pay bills, and take stock of our Winter larders, both physical and spiritual.
Like happy, but exhausted new mothers, we can see the first fragile beginnings of the longer days. Yet with the coldest, stormiest days of Winter still ahead, the newborn energy within us needs tending, before it is ready to take on the promises of Imbolc.
Although modern technology enables most of us to avoid being completely homebound, the ancient rhythms of time and ancestor memory encourage us to seek peaceful nesting. And with the Mercury retrograde, this is an ideal opportunity to look back and reflect on where we have been, in order to wisely consider what shape we would like the coming magical year to take.
As we have completed our journey with the Graces (although such a journey is never really finished), over the next several days leading to Imbolc, let us consider ways that we can simplify, nurture, and attune to the turning of the Wheel of the Year.
Buried under Winter’s frozen landscape, the roots that are hidden go deep, and we are nourished by that which is unseen.