Today, Candlemas (2nd February) is considered for many the very first day of spring. The 2nd February is traditionally the end of Christmas; it is the midpoint of winter, halfway between the shortest day, the winter solstice (21 Dec) and the Spring Equinox. It is 40 days from Christmas, and mirrors the festival time of St Martins (11 Nov.)February means cleansing and purification, the rituals undertaken before Spring. Today is the Festival Day of the Candles, when all the candles to be used for the whole year would be blessed.
It is a time when Western European farmers may first think about manuring, ploughing and awakening the soil in preparation for the growing season. Indeed on our trip to London last week I saw some ploughed fields around the sandy soils of Cirencester.
Granted, we are still very much in winter, but if you look closely at the trees and bushes around you, you will be able to see the first signs of new growth beginning to form. And it’s easy to notice the increasing amount of light each day. At this time of year the earth (in our hemisphere) is inactive, plants dormant, but within it is the time of greatest crystallisation, when the earth takes in forces raying down from the distant planets; see Agriculture Course Ch. 2. It is a good time to be mindful of those crystallizing forces and the elemental beings that work with them, to bring about the growth of crops for us to harvest later in the year.
At this time the snowdrop, also known as the Candlemas bell, is the first flower to emerge from this apparently dead earth, at the coldest time of year.
“The snowdrop, in purest white array,
First rears her head on Candlemas Day”
The Snowdrop, by Alfred Lord Tennyson
Many, many welcomes,
Ever as of old time,
Coming in the cold time,
Prophet of the gay time,
Prophet of the May time,
Prophet of the roses,
Many, many welcomes,
We may not be ploughing our land quite yet, but the snowdrops are begining to appear, along with the first shoots of daffodils. Tree buds are plumping up. The chickens, geese and ducks are also showing spring like tendencies.. much preening and dancing going on and the cockerels chasing the girls something rotten. No I know, it dosen’t feel like spring at all, and there are many weeks of wintery times before we can feel that it has arrived, but after such a long and harsh winter it is very nice to see signs although small, of life returning to the plants and trees.
This Saturday in the Arch we will have more citrus, blood oranges, bergamot lemons. We will have a few of our own salad bags, leeks, brussel sprouts and hopefully a few greens. Potatoes are plentiful and keeping well. Sausages, pork tenderloin and ribs will feature and a few chickens. Bacon and Gammons next week.