Embrace Groundhog Day As Your Spiritual Coach!

Side view of groundhog on a sunny day

What’s the real history of Groundhog’s Day and how can you use it to brighten up your winter days?

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 six 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 friends and family if you’re so inclined.

What’s the real origin of Groundhog’s Day?

In ancient times, when people lived in sync 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 six 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!

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. It also was known as the Christian holy day of Candlemas or the Feast of the Purification of the Virgin.

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 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.

2) Do some early spring cleaning, 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. Then, do some inner purging. 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. 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) Take a healing bath

In addition to Brighid’s deep connection to fire, there are also sacred wells dedicated to her all over Ireland.

So, consider channeling her healing energy with a luscious, watery “well” of your own. Add some bath oils scented with lavender, chamomile, or frankincense for maximum relaxation, and let the rest of that internal baggage just flow down the drain.

4) 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. 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 open-ended, 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.

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 holy day, Imbolc, or Brighid’s Day, of the Christian Candlemas, and Groundhog’s Day!

Enjoy playing with them all and practicing some seasonal magic with your newfound wisdom.

Connect with Deborah Roth on The Wellness Universe and walk away feeling better!

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