Really, the groundhog, you say??
We all know the story of Puxacatawny Phil who crawls out of his cozy burrow in Pennsylvania on February 2nd to act as a four-legged weather forecaster. If he sees his shadow, we’ll have 6 more weeks of winter…it might be one of the few times we can all fervently wish for a cloudy, rainy day!
But if you look at the history surrounding Groundhog’s Day, you’ll find all kinds of surprising factoids to plan some fun seasonal festivities with your sweetie, if you’re so inclined.
What’s the real origin of Groundhog’s Day?
In ancient times, when people lived in synch with the cycles of the Earth, they created celebrations to honor the turning of the seasons on the solstices and equinoxes, as well as the four “cross-quarter” holidays which fall halfway between those four seasonal points.
In that earth-centered wheel of the year, February 2nd is one of those cross-quarter days — it’s been six weeks since the Winter Solstice in December and we have another 6 weeks to go before the Spring Equinox in March.
Seeds and bulbs that were planted last Fall are vibrating under the Earth, not quite ready to sprout. In the animal world, that energy of “quickening”, that first tiny flutter of life, was represented by the Gaelic word for this pivotal point, Imbolc, which means “in the belly or in the womb”. It was also known as Oimelc which means “ewe’s milk”. In Europe this was a time when pregnant ewes began to lactate, a sure sign that winter was ending.
In the Celtic tradition, this was also a holy day honoring the Great Triple Goddess, Brighid or Brigit.
She was known as Brigantia in England, Brede or Bride in Scotland, Blaze in France. Her nickname was Biddy and on February 2nd, children went door to door, asking for alms for “old Biddy”, to ensure good fortune for the harvest to come. Interesting how we’ve twisted the association of “old biddy” into something derogatory, isn’t it? She was originally an aspect of the Goddess!
In her aspect of the bride, she awaits the arrival of her youthful Sun God who was born at the Winter Solstice and is now returning to her. Her sacred flame was kept burning at Kildare in Ireland by either 9 or 19 priestesses until as late as 1250 and the site can still be visited today.
Brighid is the Goddess of creative inspiration, poetry, healing and smithcraft. So, if you’re an artist, writer, craftsperson, or healer of the heart, mind or soul, you can call on Brighid to guide and inspire you, especially at this time.
Then, as was the case with many ancient goddess celebrations, the Feast of Brigit “evolved”.
Her festival was so ingrained in the culture that the Christian Church, in an effort to wipe out her pagan ties, re-named the holiday St. Brigit’s day, in honor of a saint who is, in reality, the Goddess.
This was also known as the Christian holy day of Candlemas, the Feast of the Purification of the Virgin, since women were considered to be ritually unclean for 40 days following the birth of a son (even Jesus, apparently) and 80 days after the birth of a daughter. It commemorates the presentation of Jesus at the temple.
Omens were sought on Candlemas day for the new growing season, especially its weather… animals were said to come out of hibernation to provide helpful predictions for the end of winter, which of course, is the origin for our modern Groundhog’s Day.
Now that you have an idea of the rich associations behind this not-so-whimsical holiday, how can you tap into its ancient roots to create some modern-day love magic?
Here are a few ways to embrace the energy of Brighid, Imbolc, and Candlemas (and yes, the groundhog) and all that they represent:
1) Snuggle up in front of the fire (or at least surround yourselves with candles).
Like most ancient Earth-centered celebrations, Imbolc was a fire festival – it was traditional to burn bonfires and candles to coax back the sun and speed up the balmy warmth of spring.
So, do some of that “coaxing” yourselves, and while you’re at it maybe watch the classic 1993 movie “Groundhog’s Day” with Bill Murray and Andie McDowell. Even if you’ve seen it half a dozen times like I have, its story of redemption through the power of love never gets old.
Then make your way to the bedroom for some candlelit love-making!
2) Do some early spring cleaning together, both inner and outer.
In the spirit of purification which is at the foundation of all of these pre-Groundhog Day holy-days, consider clearing out your individual and shared spaces to make way for the new opportunities to come in the Spring.
Literally, clean out the garage or closets or overflowing shelves in the family room. If you’ve got kids, get them involved, too. Tell them it’ll make the groundhogs’ older cousins happy!
Then, take some quiet time together, just the two of you, to reflect on your relationship over the last few months. Write down on little slips of paper all of the icky stuff that you want to release — lingering bits of anger, worry, doubt, unpleasant memories, you name it.
Toss them on the floor with a flourish, sweep them up (to get that cleaning metaphor really going here), and throw them in the fire!
3) Create something together.
Tap into Brighid’s energy of creative inspiration. Write love poems to each other or take an art class together.
She’s also the goddess of smithcraft and while it might be a little tough to find a blacksmith or forge nowadays, you could explore using metal wires to make jewelry or construct pipe cleaner crafts!
And if you’re trying to get pregnant, embrace the “quickening” magic of Imbolc to get things started — head back to the bedroom with the sole intention of creating a new living being together!.
4) Take a healing bath.
So, consider channeling her healing energy with a luscious, water-y “well” of your own. Add some bath oils scented with lavender, chamomile, or frankincense for maximum relaxation. You can also add essential oils of your own, but be sure to use a carrier oil like coconut or olive oil and put them in after you fill the tub.
Or, if you’re up for trying a totally different kind of bath, look for a sound bath, or gong bath, in your area. Basically, it’s a relaxing, meditative experience where you’re immersed in sound waves created by gongs, bells, drums, and chimes. My husband and I were gifted with a private one recently and were completely blissed out!
5) Explore tarot, the I-Ching, runes, or other divination tools to see what’s next.
If the little groundhog can predict what’s ahead for the Spring, so can you. This may be a little far-out for you or your partner, but then again, you’re reading something about Groundhog’s Day love magic!
The famous psychologist Carl Jung studied these ancient tools, believing that the answer to every question lies somewhere around us and we just need open new channels to receive that information.
The idea is to ask general questions: “What do I need to know about…” or “How can we best support each other in the next few months?” You can certainly see a professional intuitive counselor or Tarot reader (make sure you get a recommendation), but don’t be afraid to play with it yourself.
You probably had no idea there was such a rich foundation to the seemingly light-hearted celebration of Groundhog’s Day!
Now, as we approach February 2nd, take some time to notice that the light is with us just a wee bit longer each day. Can you begin to feel a little shift in the air, a difference in the winter stillness.
This is a time of inspiration, drawing in of breath, sitting still and listening, of purification, of prophecy. It is the time of the Celtic holyday, Imbolc or Brighid’s Day, of the Christian Candlemas, and… Groundhog’s Day!
Enjoy playing with them all and practicing some seasonal love magic with your newfound wisdom.
Hi, I’m Deborah Roth, a Spiritual Life and Relationship Coach, and also a Counseling Astrologer and Interfaith Minister. My Master’s thesis was on the power of transformative ritual and I love designing creative, meaningful rituals for individuals and couples to re-energize mind, body and spirit, and enhance their relationships.You can learn more about my work HERE or email me at Deborah@SpiritedLiving.com to schedule an introductory coaching session.