The second of February was Imbolc, which is a celebration of renewal. Traditionally it's associated with pregnant/lactating ewes, and the goddess Brigid. For me though, Imbolc is a kind of festival of dreams.
The idea being that early February is at the heart of winter, and so the earth and a lot of life's force is slumbering away beneath a blanket of blue-white snow. Of course the reality is that in a modern metropolis like Montreal, only the plants and raccoons get to sleep, while the rest of us are expected to press on with the same energy as we would have in summer. And the pristine fields of snow are in fact piled up along the streets or carted out of the city in huge dump-trucks (this blew my mind the first time I saw it).
None the less, I find myself slowing down around this time of year (slowing down from snails pace to near-stop) and paying more attention to dreams and intuition. It's also quite close to my birthday (as well as my mom's birthday and a few others who are close to my heart) so it is an easy time to get introspective. Dreams are a mysterious kettle of fish, not well understood in the land of science. I know that I dream often. Well we all do, I mean to say that I often recall my dreams, at least for the first few moments of wakefulness. I am lazy about keeping a dream journal so even though they are still circling my head in the morning, they usually flit away again by mid-afternoon and sadly, I have no record of them. I find it strange which dreams stay with me through the years, not necessarily the most meaningful ones but generally the ones I had the clearest memories of when waking up. And of course, the ones I noted down as quickly as I could.
I am not well versed in dream-interpretation. While I think there must me a wealth of interesting knowledge tucked away in the secret nooks of our dreaming minds, I am quite skeptical of something that tries to place universal meanings on personal reveries. But like I said... not well versed, so I withhold judgment (mostly). I am intrigued by the concept of premonitions in dreams, although I have not really experienced it. Ok, once, back in my midwifery days, I had a dream that a client was in labor. The dream woke me up and I noted the time (around 3am). The next day, lo and behold, I was called to her birth and I found out that her labor had started around 3am.
One thing I find frustrating about dreams is their tendency towards ordinariness. Sometimes they bring me to fantastic landscapes or allow me to fly or perform other feats of unexpected magic, but often they are merely a slight twist on the everyday. Last night I was a bit luckier than usual however. In bed, before sleep, I was listening to the beginning of Eat Pray Love on audiobook. When I eventually drifted off, I was unsurprisingly transported to Rome. Never having been there in reality, my imagination was free to invent a magical dream-version of the ancient city. I can only remember scraps of the dream, but I do recall approaching the city by boat, in the evening, on an imaginary ocean (Rome is not on the coast in real life). The buildings rose up before me, elastic in my mind. It was a strange and lovely place to visit, I wish I could've taken pictures.
Well, however you choose to celebrate Imbolc (or Candlemas or Groundhog Day), I hope that Queen Mab peeks out from behind the grasshopper-wing shutters of her hazel-nut chariot and sends some juicy dreams your way.
Dreamy reading for the cold winter days:
The BFG by Roald Dahl - all about dreams, snozzcumbers, frobscottles and whizzpoppers.
What are your favorites books for reading this time of year? Or do you have music to help keep away the chill instead?
Images: The imbolc candles with snowdrops I took from this website but I recognize it as an image from the Llewellyn day-planners; Vachel dreaming is from Little Dee from April 2006; and the photo of Rome (Forum and Colosseum) by Stephen Studd, taken from Getty.