IMBOLC vs AGNI - A Celtic Tradition of Fire
Updated: Jan 28, 2021
IMBOLC -"in, bolg" - in Gaeilge (Irish) this translates to means 'in the belly'.
I've always found it fascinating to learn about the parallels between ancient traditions. It's as if finding synchronicities between the ways of living and thinking which existed in different parts of the world centuries ago in some way proves the underlying similarities between all human beings.
The magic of countless different cultures and belief systems all coming to similar conclusions about the nature of life, death, energy, the natural world and beyond before there were things like the internet to prove their point suggests there are intricate, deeply-woven threads intertwining us all.
In the Celtic tradition, IMBOLC signifies the lighting of the fire which celebrates the stirrings of Spring. This shift back into life after the bleakness of Winter literally meaning ‘in the belly’ ('in bolg' in the Irish language), IMBOLC draws on the FIRE in the belly which drives us forward into brighter days. The legend we learned in school of Brigid's cloak enveloping the land in darkness, only to be removed again to uncover an abundant light-strewn forest of budding potential is a beautiful representation of the victory of light over darkness - a concept which plays an important role in many ancient Vedic scriptures too.
In Yogic & Ayurvedic thought, this very same concept of a 'fire in the belly' is represented by AGNI. The force behind digestion & assimilation; the kindling of the flame of inspiration, momentum and new potential. AGNI is the fire in the navel centre which brings us confidence, personal power & inspiration to move forwards.
Not only this, but AGNI also refers to our ability to take life in. The capacity which we have to take in and experience life on all levels - this means digesting emotions, life experiences and the world, learning the lessons we need from them and releasing the waste products we don't - this is Agni too.
In terms of seasonal shifts, the Summer months are when the majority of us hold a much higher capacity to do this (AGNI is generally higher in the Summer). Winter, on the other hand, is a time of turning inwards, of rest, of healing, of retreat. IMBOLC marks the transition point between these two states of being within nature and in our bodies, and as such requires a drive or stoking of the 'fire in the belly' to make the necessary changes whilst staying balanced.
These two ancient traditions are interwoven by the timeless wisdom they contain - the idea that Fire & Light represent strength, hope, new beginnings & the innate human ability to create & endure, despite all odds. The universal truth that in order for light to occur, we must endure those darker days, moving from darkness into light with the trust that larger forces are at work is a humbling reminder of our smallness - but also our interconnectedness.
What lights you up? What sets the fire going in your belly???
Now more than ever those moments of inspiration & drive are needed. The LIGHT which comes from you following that spark of interest, from allowing your curiosity to win over perceived judgement or opinions of others & allow it to blossom & flourish into the beauty that it is - that is the essence of IMBOLC.
As we move into this next phase of the year in the natural world, & deeper into what on many levels feels like a dampening of spirits within the (unnatural) constructed world around us, this is an invitation to reconnect with the burning flame that keeps you going.
An invitation to do the thing that sparks a fire in your belly. A glint in your eyes. That thing. Do that. More & more & more until the light it creates BECOMES you & that fire can be used to light & heat a thousand other hearths & hearts.
The heart of traditional Yoga practice is in the cultivation & sustenance of this inner AGNI fire. The understanding that each individual spark is the same as the entire brilliant burning blaze - if we just give it the space to expand. IMBOLC reminds us all to keep the fire burning through the difficult transition out of the hibernation of Winter. An invitation to leave what is safe & comfortable to step more fully into yourself.
The purposeful conviction of a burning flame, combined with the lightness & softness of Spring - creates a sustained, effortless momentum. Alert to the quickening of pace as Winter melts into memory, & the promise of connection, warmth & transformation awaits....
Join me Monday-Thursday (Feb1st-4th) for an online exploration of AGNI through practice. 7.15am via Zoom. Booking in 'Online Classes' tab.