Imbolc (pronounced eemolc) is the depest, coldest, and most miserable part of winter. Just at the point when you lose the will to live, you suddenly notice that there are shoots on the trees and things are beginnin to grow again, nature is in the process of renewal. Imbolc is on the 2nd February, also known as Candlemass Day, Brigids Day or Brides Day after the Celtic goddess who later became a Christian saint.. It is one of the four Celtic fire festivals
When I originally shot the pictures for winter, I didn’t really include much element of symbolism other than the dead trees, the symbolism was more about winter itself rather than of Imbolc and the renewal of life from the apparently dead. It is traditional to light every light in the house to honour the rebirth of the sun.
“In most parts of the British Isles, February is a harsh and bitter month. In old Scotland, the month fell in the middle of the period known as Faoilleach, the Wolf-month; it was also known as a’ marbh mhiòs, the Dead-month. But although this season was so cold and drear, small but sturdy signs of new life began to appear: Lambs were born and soft rain brought new grass. Ravens begin to build their nests and larks were said to sing with a clearer voice. “
“As winter progressed, the spirits of the dead went back to their own world and the living went into a deep freeze. The farming cycle began anew with the end of winter, which was marked by the celebration of Imbolc. A rough translation of this word from the Celtic languages approximates the readying of ewes to give birth. The arrival of lambs means that winter is over and life can return, especially to the ground”
Having a rethink about it I decided to reshoot it using more symbolic elements: a white flower to symbolise The new growth and also the milk of the ewes. The candles to symbolise the return of the sun and also the dead trees to symbolise the fact that although spring was coming, life was still very harsh and cold, supplies were running low and life was extremely difficult.
Here are a couple of pics from that shoot.