I was asked to do a monthly article based upon my wisdom of plants. It seems only fitting for those who don’t know me to explain my strong connection with the land. Every morning I get up, go outside with my cup of coffee, and have my daily meditation and ritual with the land. I absorb the energy, sounds, and feeling that manifests around me. I whimsically joked at the title of this column and what started out as a joke became the name. I feel, however, that it puts a limit to the plants, shrubs, and trees that are also reflected and we use, so don’t let the title fool you.
When we think of February, and Imbolc, most of us think of the tender pale shoots starting to reach toward the sun from the seeds that have rested in the ground, feeling the pulse to quicken them so we can see the signs of renewed life. Our ancestors also honored what would sustain them in those months. Take the potato: regardless of the ground being hard and cold, if the root cellars had been used up, if you had the hunger and determination, you could usually dig up potatoes that were left in the ground or the pigs would. In a Celtic heritage, some of the traditional dishes were based upon just that, like sausage and potatoes. Pigs and potatoes have a very strong influence in February. The all-giving pig teaches us to have patience, learn through sacrifice, and mirror their abundance as the white sow in the early spring. The potato teaches a similar lesson. You can eat the potato now or sacrifice a little longer and have the abundance of many from the one.
Divination with potatoes was also common. Your fortune was based by the number of eyes in the potato: one eye meant troubles, and to wait and learn from your mistakes. Two eyes meant rewards, surprises, and good luck. Three meant friends and positive partnerships. Four meant New beginnings. Five meant travel, changes, and moving forward. Six meant love and deep feelings of the heart. Seven meant wealth and breakthroughs towards your achievements and rewards. Eight meant sadness and that you need to let go of things that don’t feel right or suit you anymore. Nine meant new energy, happiness, and the easy release of things outgrown. Ten meant that you are growing, to take care and enjoy the work because a great harvest is assured.
Potatoes magickally represent the moon and earth and are female/yin. When you look at the goddesses associated with this time of year and the plants and animals, it makes perfect sense. Cerridwen, for example, can represent the goddess in her crone aspect as a milk white sow which consumes the dead and transports them into the soil to the underworld to await rebirth.
In summary, think of yourself like the potato at this time of year. Enduring the cold, emerging from deep within, to grow and reach out towards the warmth again with new eyes to see, the promise of life, through your stability, you continue on.