Imbolc is an ancient Celtic festival celebrating the impending arrival of spring. Held the first week of February, Imbolc honors Brighid, the goddess of poetry, healing, and smithcraft. Traditionally, celebrants light bonfires, perform divination and ritually melt ice to hasten the winter thaw.
Last thursday, my Ecosa classmates and I conducted a modern-day Imbolc in our studio with food, art, music and dance. Our celebration recognized not only the changing of the season, but the reemergence of an eco-centric paradigm, one that accepts nature as our ally. The Ecosa studio space – an old mechanic’s garage off an alley – was transformed into a walkable fabric spiral, with sculpture around the perimeter and a central gathering space of shadow dance, live drumming and projections.
I believe events like Imbolc are a critical to build community and foster a sense of joy in the midst of the daunting tasks we now face. Since the last ice age, humans have enjoyed a favorable planetary climate for settlement and population growth, and it has allowed us to thrive. But over time, we have become frozen in another sense: humans are alienated from natural rhythms, detached from the pattern language of the ecosphere. This alienation has brought us to our present planetary crisis, where we must finally face the hard choice between ecosystemic disaster and a radical restructuring of our society.
In its own small way, Ecosa’s celebration of Imbolc was intended to thaw the paralyzing human-centeredness that pervades our lifestyle. As a collective, we can feel something struggling beneath our dancing feet, a bud stirring to life from the dead sticks over our heads. A new season is upon us; the ice is melting. Let’s usher in the spring.