01 February 2011

Groundhog Day

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1 February 2011. Winter continues to be comfortable here, although the mosquitoes seem to be at their worst now.
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Groundhog Day (aka, Imbolc) is tomorrow. It has no significance here, but in the high latitudes of the temperate zone in Celtic Europe it was always one of the “cross-quarter” days related to the marking of the vegetative season’s birth and death. It is not really midway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox, although it is close. But it is rather almost exactly between Halloween (Samhain), when the grasses and leaves have stopped growing, and May Day (Beltane), when the green world is re-born. Thus, Imbolc was the half-way point in the calendar of the ancient herders; if you still have half of the fodder left that you put up in the autumn then your animals will eat well until Beltane. August 1 or 2 (aka, Lughnasadh to the Irish or Lammas to Anglo-Saxons) marks the opposite cross-quarter day when the greening season is half-way through. These holidays were also celebrated elsewhere in temperate Europe.
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In America, this time of year is Groundhog Day, marking sort of a half-way point of the long winter. And then there is the wonderful film “Groundhog Day” (1993) starring Bill Murray, a film which celebrates changing and rebirth, and which is highly praised by many philosophers and religious thinkers.
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“Oh, Wind! If winter comes
Can Spring be far behind?”
-- P.B. Shelley
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-Zenwind.
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