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Midwintering: The Stirring of the Seeds

Danielle Vogel portrait by Talia Migliaccio
portrait of me by Talia Migliaccio

At the cross-quarter between the Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox, we listen for the stirring of the seeds.

Outside, the land is covered by a foot of new snow, but I feel the season's curve. Sap rising. New energies turning over in the dark underground of me.

In Celtic traditions, the 31st of January through the evening of the 4th of February marks the celebration of Imbolc, Imbolg or Brigid's Day. As we cross this midwinter threshold, we enter the time known as the stirring of the seeds. Imbolc -- translating to in the belly.

with/in herbals Midwinter Altar © Danielle Vogel

This month, in the belly of winter, I invite you to sit at your altar and listen. Attune your attention to the not yet visible, but felt. Fortify your imagination for the creative work to come. Gather seeds.

Some things on my altar: Snow and milk. A single egg. A fountain pen, uncapped and full of walnut ink. A feather to honor the coming winds of spring. Honey for the swarm. White flowers. A single lit taper. A knife to cut the cord, when the time comes. A photo of myself in utero. Seeds.

And out of frame: the garden dreams. I make a living map of where the new medicinals will grow. This year I'll add Blue Vervain, Marshmallow, Anise Hyssop and Poppy.

. . .

© Danielle Vogel, with/in herbals

And as I feel the same stirrings within myself that I sense in the Cedar, I am reminded of the question—Where is Nature?— asked by 10+ Indigenous leaders in November of 2020.

They write:

"Indigenous peoples speak of our role AS Nature. (Actually, Indigenous languages often don't have a word for Nature, only a name for Earth and our Universe.) As cells and organs of Earth, we strive to fulfill our roles as her caregivers and caretakers. We often describe ourselves as "weavers", strengthening the bonds between all beings."

I continue to refine my attention. To be woven more completely with/in the world. I hold space for my students, my clients. The Plants I live with. The honeybees. And birds. To be a guardian. A weaver of relation. I sit at my altar. I write. I keep Celandine, Chicory, Wild Rose close. I hold myself accountable. I repattern my living.

They continue to say:

"Indigenous cultures often see Earth as going through cycles of continuous transition. We currently find ourselves in a cycle of great decomposition. Like in any process of composting there is discomfort and a knowing that death always brings us into rebirth. Within this great cycle, we all have a role to play. Recognizing and healing all of our own traumas IS healing Earth's traumas, because we are ONE."

© Danielle Vogel, with/in herbals

What is decomposing within you and how you relate to being of the world? Making way for new fertilities, connections and growth. What can you now give your attention to that you couldn't at the start of fall?

I ask myself these questions.

Midwinter offers a convergence of creative currents: the dark reset of winter, a time of rest, incubation and visioning, meeting the just stirring promise of spring's rebirth.

I remember my wish for the world. The living affirmation that I am. I feel the stirring of the seeds and the grief of healing transmute into new ways of being in awe, in relation.