The month of February is often looked upon as being the worst of the winter months as far as the weather is concerned. It does however have several high spots by way of ancient festivals, many of which are associated with new beginnings and all of which we can still celebrate in our own individual ways today.
The Celtic fetsival of Imbolc was always celebrated with the birth of the first lamb, which heralded a much welcomed event for our ancestors especially when they were still in the grips of a harsh winter. For today's Pagans the commemoration of this occasion normally runs from sunset on the 1st, to sunset on the 2nd february. It is a time when the return of the Goddess in her maiden form is celebrated and is often associated with the Irish Celtic Goddess Bride (Bridget), the patron of healing, smiths and poets.
In your celebrations drink white wine, elerflower cordial or milk and eat white meats or treat yourself to a creamy sweet treat. Reinvent the Maiden aspect of yourself by doing something that makes you feel young and acknowledge Bride by writing poetry or indulging in craft work.
We are of course all familiar with the romantic St Valentine's Day on the 14th February, but less is known about the following day which marked the ancient Roman festival of Lupercalia.
To the Romans the month of February was named after the Latin word 'februa' meaning 'purification' and on the 15th February that is exactly what the festival of Lupercalia entailed. Here the lusty priests of the Goat footed God, Pan, would run around the streets whipping maidens with their goat skin thongs in order that they might become both purified and fertile.
If you feel the need to celebrate this festival then please be at liberty to do so as you wish, although a public display of goatskin thong thrashing is probably not the way to go!
In the Christian calendar, the beginning of the period of Lent normally falls during February, a time associated with resistance from pleasure until Easter Sunday. If therefore you intend to adhere to a period of abstinance during this time, the tempting delights of pancakes with the most sumptuous of fillings is a must on Shrove Tuesday.
Deep within the earth She sleeps,
Dreaming dreams of her awakening.
Deep within the earth She calls,
The snowdrops from their slumber.
Deep within the earth She breathes,
The frosted breath of morning.
Deep within our soul She lights
The spark which sets us free.
(From 'Mrs Darley's Pagan Whispers' )