The weather was fantastic this morning! Sunny, clear, and mild (gale force winds having finally abated)! I discovered little shoots making their green appearance in the gardens, and since we weren’t here in spring last year their genus remains a delightful mystery. The earth is truly ripe with expectancy! Even the air smells new.

I feel the approach of Imbolc, and with it, the beginnings of spring!

(for the nerds in the house)
The etymology of Imbolc has fairly conclusively been tied to the word for milk (Hamp,106). The etymology in Sanas Cormaic (ca. 900) made this out to be oímelc, “sheep’s milk”, butEric Hamp has argued – successfully I think – that the (complicated) etymology should be *uts-molgo- < *ommolg so that oimelc is a misunderstood spelling for *ommolg. *Molgo- in turn likely comes from the Proto-Indo-European root *Hmelǵ- which meant “to cleanse”, and which is very close to *melg-the root for “milk.” Ultimately, Hamp derives Imbolc from a root meaning both “milk” and “purification” (111). Hamp mentions instances in Irish literature where milk is a cure for poison darts(2) ,where it is poured into the battlefield furrows of Eremon(3), and the odd detail from the story of Suibhne, where he drinks milk from a hole made in manure—the original implication being that milk would purify even dung!

I am definitely feeling the season of purification and renewal approach.  In fact, during the winter I’ve been incubating beautiful ideas and dreams…. about my relationship, my life, my academic and professional goals, and my family.  Last year I felt adrift.  I had forgotten myself, or at least was incredibly unsure of who my Self was here in Ireland.  That’s getting better, and you know why?  Because I remember that I have to just be mySelf.

It sounds so simple, and silly even.  How could I, someone who has dedicated so many years to self-discovery and exploration, forget such an elemental concept?  That there is no Self like mySelf, and that my only task and highest aim is to fully be that unique, quirky, silly, strange Self.  It’s easy.  Any type of change can knock us off course and upset our balance.  The important thing isn’t to be perfect but to keep going.  To be gentle with ourselves when we fall and offer ourselves the gift of grace.  At least….that’s what I’m doing.

So, a milk bath may be in my near future.  I need to purify this holy vessel.  I *am* the Beloved, and this year is gonna ROCK!

(2)
And many early Irish magical charms use butter as a curative agent; cf. Carney, “A Collection of Irish Charms”.
(3)
Eremon is the mythical first Milesian—i.e. human—king of Ireland; his name is thought to derive from the sameorigin as Aryaman/Airyaman, the Indo-Iranian embodiment of “Aryan-ness”, i.e. nobility and the ruling class.

*Hamp, Eric. “Imbolc, Óimelc”. Studia Celtica. 14/15 (1979-80), 106-113

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