Instead of a groundhog, consider the Cailleach. In Scotland, Cailleach Bheur was the personification of winter and she ruled the weather from Samhain to Beltane. One of her tricks was to pound the earth with her long wooden staff to make the ground too hard for plants to grow. She especially liked snow, but by the beginning of February her store of wood ran low which meant that it was time to collect fallen tree branches. If the day was bright and sunny she would gather wood and be all set for more cold weather; but if the weather was cloudy and wet she would stay home and work her magic to bring winter to an end. To help remember this forecast, here’s a rhyme based on an old Scottish poem: “If Imbolc be fair, more winter, beware! If Imbolc be gray, spring’s not far away.”

Even though the days are growing longer, the hardest part of winter may lie ahead. While we might be reluctant to leave a cozy warm house, this harsh side of nature has a beauty and magic all its own. This is a time of anticipation when the earth rests and holds its secrets for the splendor of spring. Bundle up the family and go for a walk even it’s just around your neighborhood. Depending on where you live you might find the tops of daffodils poking up through the soil. Life may be hidden, but it is quickening.

If you kept a few sprigs of your Yule tree or wreath, toss it on your Imbolc fire as you say: “Winter be gone, sun grow strong. Let spring stay, this Imbloc day.”

Blessed be as we head toward spring.

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