Having nearly reached the end of February, we have become aware that within the Spring theme of renewal is a hidden and often neglected aspect of the goddess.
Many festivals are celebrated during February, including Imbolc, Shrove Tuesday, Valentines Day, Chinese New Year, and the beginning of Lent.
The overt goddess aspect that we work with at Imbolc is the maiden, but is this the only aspect operating at this time?
In the Christian tradition Candlemas is held on February 2nd, it commemorates the purification of the Virgin Mary (after childbirth, according to Jewish law) and the presentation of Christ in the Temple.
Leaving the presentation of Christ aside, let’s consider the Mary aspect.
Here we have the mother who gave birth at midwinter, now being purified at Candlemas. In the pagan tradition, Imbolc sees the maiden spring forth from the crone (transformation), but is this all that is occurring?
Surely a mother aspect co-exists with the crone during the winter season, in order for her give birth at midwinter. Does she then disappear until her re-emergence in the summer season?
Those who use the clear cut maiden-mother-crone wheel, may not have considered this, following the wheel as presented to them. However this winter mother figure occurring in both traditions, (Theotokos) http://blog.theotokos.co.za/?page_id=851 is neither crone, nor maiden; she is in fact a potent, nurturing entity in her own right.
In many traditions the mother figure disappears from the wheel around Mabon/Samhain, making an appearance at Yule to give birth, and then not reappearing until Beltane/Litha. We challenge this sequential division of the goddess cycle. We see all three aspects operating concurrently throughout the year, whilst appreciating that one aspect is more prominent/apt during a particular tide or time of the cycle.
We interact with this neglected aspect of the goddess, who finds some expression not in the pagan wheel, but within Christian mythos notably in the purification of Mary as mother renewed, in order that she can become fruitful again. She has been nurturing the divine Sun child /light of the world since yule, but what has that mother aspect of us been nurturing within our own being?
The solar/land cycle of the pagan year illustrates the importance of the physical sun and its return, we do well to remember our own inner light that waited for renewal in the darkness of winter.
The purification we undergo on a transpersonal level during the ‘Spring Tide’, allows our light to shine forth into the world. This light illuminates not only our path but also sheds a little onto the paths of others.
This purification theme is reflected in the February festivities, on Shrove Tuesday we may be shriven of our sins or mistakes, and made new again. Those who have been shriven/purified are marked as absolved on Ash Wednesday. In addition to this personal absolution, community purification was taken on by the Sin bearer or scape goat, see Jack o’ Lent. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_o%27_Lent
Other festivals with this scape goat theme included lupercalia and here in the UK various local festivals were held, for example.
Although during this time we connect with the god and goddess in their youthful, untried aspects, we should be mindful that within them is contained the potential for the sexually mature Green Man and Queen of Summer, into which they transform later in the cycle. Therefore these transformation points on the wheel can be seen as an emergence of that which already exists within, that then moves beyond to become outwardly manifest.
This aspect of goddess both sexually ripe and maternal, is thus contained within the spring maiden.