Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Groundhog Day/Candlemas/Imbolc

Groundhog Day is an Astronomical Holiday marking the event when Earth’s orbit around the sun moves between the December Solstices & the March Equinoxes.  It is more or less the midpoint.  There are more specific ways of dividing days to get to the midpoint.  The Ancient Celtic Calendar the year is divided into quarter days (equinoxes & solstices).  The Neopagn Wheel of the Year in cross-quarter days.  The celebration of Candlemas by some Christians as one of the Twelve Great Feasts or Imbolc  in Contemporary Paganism, the time of Blessing of the seeds and consecration of agricultural tools. It marks the center point of the dark half of the year.

 Half your wood and half your hay, you should have on Candlemas Day.”

As for the groundhog, the tradition can be traced to early Christians in Europe, when on Candlemas Day a hedgehog was said to look for his shadow:  If Candlemas Day be fair and bright, winter will have another flight. But if it be dark with clouds and rain, winter is gone and will not come again.”

Immigrants from Great Britain & Germany brought the celebration to North America.  The U.S./Canadian Groundhog Day falls on February 2.  A groundhog is said to forecast the end of winter by looking for his shadow. If it’s sunny and he sees his shadow we are in for six more weeks of winter. But if it is cloudy we can hope for an early spring.
The most famous groundhog is Punxsutawney Phi from Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania.  The National Geographic Society once studied the groundhog and found him right only one out of three years.

Shadow Play: Silhouettes
Tape a large piece of paper to the wall.  Place your object such as a stuffed animal with a good profile sideways next to the paper.  (This is fun with people too!) Darken the room and shine the flashlight or shade-less lamp directing the profile shadowed onto the paper.  Trace the shadow.  Cut out the profile.  Mount it on a contrasting piece of paper.
How to make a Priapic wand (Imbolc) for waking the flowers
a good stick, strong and about 2/3 inch in diameter
an acorn (or pine cone)
colored ribbon
bells
hot glue gun

Strip the bark about 2 inches down the stick. Cut a notch into the tip of the stick & glue the acorn/pine cone to the tip. Wrap the ribbon around the top gluing into place and add the bells to the ends of the ribbons.

Once the wand is dry take it outside for waving over the garden beds sending good hopes for the forthcoming shoots & flowers!

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