1st February is the pagan celebration of Imbolc. Based on a Celtic tradition, Imbolc was meant to mark the halfway point between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. As the light returns (in the northern hemisphere), we can start to feel it lift our spirits and gloom.
Last week I walked up the famous Tor at Glastonbury (in Somerset, UK). This particular day was so misty and moody, there was no view from the Tor. At times, I could barely see more than a dozen metres or so. In that moment and place, it brought a sense of mystery, even a tingle of anticipation of what lay ahead.
The last time I did this was 2 years ago already(!) during the pandemic. Both times, I enjoyed the rarity of being alone in that sacred place and space. Moments of aloneness can be important treasure – to pause and retreat from the external noise and relentless scurry of modern life. That’s the main reason I went.
But it also struck me how so many struggle in current times with aloneness, sometimes even in the company of others. It’s a disconnection within, that can bring up emotions of feeling cast adrift, sluggish and apathetic, unheld and unheard, maybe even out of control, maybe even fearful of not being able to return. Maybe this is our own experience or we see it in others. Most likely it is a mixture of both at different times in our lives.
From the perspective of Eastern medicine, fear is held in the kidneys; I was reminded recently that so is gentleness. This instantly brought a greater sense of ease in my body. To walk alone in the moments of our lives that feel misty and moody, without clear sight of the way ahead, it may seem like there is not a lot one can’t do; and this may be so. What one can do is to look down at one’s feet and move one, then move another. This is gentle determination and kind resolve. It is not massive action and endurance (which could actually add to overwhelm). The determination is to keep things simple, and to make one tiny movement at a time; the resolve is to say a kind and clear ‘no’ to all the other distractions, disappointments and dramas that would otherwise drain and deplete us.
We can then build on such micro movements and moments with simple, supportive practices and rituals. It’s important that they resonant for you personally, so that you will actually own and embody and use them. Here is another post – ‘3 Words for the Year’ to inspire, guide and support me – for an example of an approach you may wish to give a go for yourself and your own ‘direction of travel’.
When you think about how we learned about life when children and young adults, it’s uncanny how often such qualities as curiosity and determination that we ‘knew’ naturally during those developmental years– when we didn’t know what we didn’t know – become ever more valuable and supportive today.
My belief is we are being asked to step ever more into the unknown, from the history of how things have been, into the mystery of how things could be (and need to be to create a fairer, more connected world). With gentle determination and kind resolve, the unknown soon becomes a far more exciting place of possibility and potential!