Welcome to the first signs of abundance to come, the first milk of the ewes, the stirrings of life beneath the snows! Here in the subtropics of southeast Texas, the winter garden is just sprouting with cabbage, cauliflower, onions and and potatoes, although it did freeze night before last, but so far, all is well. We rarely get the snow that falls farther north, but the damp cold of January does feel like England, and a cup of tea goes down nicely.
This is the time to celebrate Brighid, the Celtic goddess of healing and fertility, or the lovely Ground Hog, weather maven of spring. Cute as the ground hog is, I think I’ll go with Brighid, or St. Bridget as she seems to have morphed into in her Christian guise. Here in Stuart Little-John’s artistic eye, she’s surrounded by what looks to me a sword of great intent, a crook to herd the pregnant sheep, the snow-drops a-blooming, the healing serpent emerging from the newly thawed soil, and a swan who will soon be tending her young. She carries the torch of eternal light while the trees in the distance still sleep. Earth, air, fire, and water, the whole universe, waiting for the sun to arc just a little higher.
Meaning of Imbolc
“‘Imbolc’ or ‘Imbolg,’ the name of this festival in Celtic regions where it originated, means “in the belly” and refers to the season where sheep and goats are carrying their young, the first domesticated mammals to be born in early spring, and therefore are, or will soon be, lactating.
This day marks the end of Winter, and the Lore of the Celts says the last wintery blasts of January are the Cailleach, the Old Hag of Winter, howling her frustration that the new Maiden Goddess is stepping her foot on the land to melt the ice and cause the water, and the milk, to flow.”
Imbolc Tarot Spread
So, “what is ‘in your Belly’?’ at this first hint of springtime?
One good way to see through the cold fog of spring’s early morning and expose what might be growing in the womb of your heart is to set the beautiful images of Tarot down and see what the cards, and you, say may come to birth later in the year.
Here’s my Tarot spread, then, for Imbolc:
1) As it seems: What’s on the surface? How is your belly covered; what are its colors?
2) As you will: Reveal your great desire, the gold beneath your cloak.
3) As you feel: Rub your belly; what do you feel inside?
4) As you move: Should you face the wind, or flow with the current; how should you move?
5) As you are: What is really inside you that longs to see the sun?
Ah, lay them out then, your five cards, in whatever shape you like (a star, flower petals, the face and ears of a ewe, even) and see what is revealed.
Here’s my try at it, using Ciro Marchetti’s Gilded Tarot Royale:
1) As it seems: Eight of cups. Feels like I’m leaving things behind, like the red-garbed fellow facing away from me in the card, leaving his cups, his feelings of old, while the moon seems to rise as the sun sets far along his path.
2) As I will: Another Eight, of Wands this time. Hard wood staffs with crescent metal ends fly across a field filled with…sheep?!! as the sun shines on the far horizon. So, perhaps I, too, wish to take flight, leaving it all behind and moving on to greener pastures.
3) As I feel: The Two of Cups. A lady and man face each other over two golden goblets with a rainbow and a blue planet hanging above the water below, and a fish jumping between the cups. I feel loved, cared for, partnered in my desire to move and change.
4) As you move: King of Wands! A dashing young dark-haired king sits a bit anxiously on his throne–looks like he’s about to jump up. He’s got those same scarlet clothes, only a bit richer looking, than my friend in the Eight of Cups. And he carries one of those wands, like the ones in the Eight of Wands. I think I’ll be facing the wind with this guy. No going with the flow here. He’s going to be taking the lead, and so should I.
5) As I am: Four of Wands. Wands yet again; creation, movement, risk taking, going for it-ness. Ah, but the four is a place of rest and celebration. I have the structure built (four flower-draped wands in a field), my loved ones with me (family stands within the structure) in my new home near the mountains. I am home.
Yep. That sounds about right. Before I finish my creation, I will move, in lots of ways, physically as well as spiritually and emotionally until I and my loved ones find a new home to settle in and grow in.
So, if you are so inclined, do try out this spread and see how it goes for your “belly.”