Imbolc is one of the eight festivals of the pagan year, and is the one most concerned with new life, returning light and Brighid. Standing halfway between winter Solstice and spring Equinox it of course has a particular calendar date applied to it, 1st February. For some it’s when the first snowdrops flower but we’ve had snowdrops flowering in the garden for weeks, and so I feel it most when the eggs return. They returned yesterday.
Our five chooks are mostly rather mature grand old ladies… they’ve done their time and in other places would have been guests of the kitchen broiler by now. We’ve always felt, however, that they deserve a decent retirement – as we are one day hoping to enjoy if the government permits – and so they gad about and chat to the school children as they pass along the beech hedge that divides the chicken run from the playing fields beyond.
Chickens are photoreactive birds, and start to lay when the amount of daylight hits a certain threshold, continuing until the returning dark year turns off their motors again. Battery hens are kept under bright lamps to unnaturally extend their laying season, wearing them out prematurely in the process. But ours live under the Sun and live by the Sun. Yesterday, something went ping and we had four eggs. Today, another four. Welcome to the new light.
Like the chickens, I feel the welcome return of Sunlight, and perhaps the re-ignition of the Fire in the Head. Despite the generally mild winter we’ve had, I am so thankful for the ending of it. Bring on the spring!
Blessings of Imbolc. And new laid eggs! Yum.