I got up at my usual time, about an hour before light.
The floors were cold as I padded through the house on bare feet.
I lit a candle to guide me downstairs to the woodstove that would usually carry a little warmth from the full rounds loaded in before bed, but not at Imbolc.
At Imbolc, I needed the stove to get cold so I could clean it out and start over, honoring the deep themes of purification that this season offers.
Kneeling in front of this beloved and necessary wintertime companion, I shovel soft mounds of ash into a metal bucket.
I dip a little newspaper into some water and then dry ash to scour and clean the glass door of the stove.
I ponder how the things we “purify” away, like mounds of ash, can still be useful in other quantities or applications. And the ways my daily tasks are often my deepest rituals.
Once the belly of the stove is scraped clean, I touch it. I move my bare hand across this usually-molten landscape, feeling the chalky firebricks and the residual grit from a million fires.
Then I lay a few sticks of dry pine and tuck in wadded newspaper. I light it with one wooden match.
As the little fire catches, so does the day.
It dawns, electrified by a whipping snow storm, roaring like a thousand lions riding a thousand steam engines.
It’s hard to grasp the tenderness of this moment because of the intensity of the storm, but the smallness of this first fire reminds me.
As the pine turns to coal, I add pinches of fragrant herbs gifted to me by a treasured friend. The smoke, an offering to the newness of the day and the season, travels sweetly up the chimney only to be yanked and blown in every direction the minute it meets the air.
That is just so Imbolc.
Then, I build the fire as usual, adding oak and locust, wood from robust trees; the best firewood for a day like this.
A day (and more importantly a season) that, storm or not, requires robustness.
Curious, I went outside into the opal dawn and whipping snow.
The wind chased all around me, shooting snow up my white woolen poncho and taking my breath. I let it, relishing the exhilaration, knowing it was teaching me, teaching my body what Imbolc really means.
This weather helped me feel “what I’m made of”, what I can withstand and endure; what I can survive.
It showed me my strength. As Imbolc tends to do.
Grateful, I slipped back into the house. The woodstove pushing heat into the room, oak and locust glowing like dragon eggs behind the glass door.
Hot coffee and blank journal waiting, I settled in, warmed up, and plotted the day.
love & Imbolc
PS: I took this photo in the moment described above.