Groundhog’s day is coming! No, not the Bill Murray movie AGAIN (the movie seems to return almost as much as Groundhog’s Day does in it). February 2 is the celebration of Imbolc, Candlemas and Groundhog’s Day. The underlying theme of each of these festivals in the beginning of February is the coming of spring, renewal and hope.
Groundhog Day is derived from earlier celebrations held on February 2, dates variously known as Brigid’s Night in Ireland (festival of the Celtic goddess of poetry, birth, weddings, smithcraft, and healing), Oimelc/Imbolc/Imbolg in Scotland, and Candlemas in England. Ancient celebration were often associated with divination. At Imbolc (which means “in the belly”; Oimelc refers to milk; both terms are said to connect to the animals known to give birth at this time: sheep), when it was still very much winter in the Northern lands, this was naturally a time to divine the return of warmth and growth.
“The transition of Candlemas and other ancient celebrations to Groundhog Day dates back to the time of the Roman conquest of Northern Europe: the Christian celebration of Candlemas was associated with songs like this one:
If Candlemas be fair and bright
Come, winter, have another flight
If Candlemas brings clouds and rain,
Go, winter, and come not again.
This practice of divining the weather on this day spread to Germany, and was brought to this country by some of its first German settlers, also known as Pennsylvania Dutch: hence the location of the most famous groundhog. Also, the groundhog (also known affectionately as a woodchuck) was not the original prototypical weather-divining creature: in Europe it was a hedgehog. But early American settlers were nothing if not adaptable, and so the local creature most closely resembling a hedgehog was chosen for this ritual. Like hedgehogs, groundhogs are no-nonsense, practical animals; the same can be said for bears and badgers, who were also associated with weather divination in European folklore. If a groundhog sees his shadow on the 2nd, some inner sense tells him it’s not spring yet (does he feel the chill in the air most clear winter days have? or is the sunny day from an early thaw, which often presages a return to wintry weather?) –and he hightails it back to his burrow. Likewise, humans observe midwinter as a milestone, a moment which is on the cusp of change, between the harsh, cold winds of winter and the fragrant, sensual breezes of spring.” (Quoted from “You Call It Groundhog Day, We Call It Imbolc” http://www.witchvox.com/va/dt_va.html?a=usma&c=holidays&id=2635)
So, now we know where Groundhog’s Day came from, let’s talk a bit about the qualities of this special little creature.
Groundhog Spirit Medicine-
Groundhog Spirit Medicine – Many Avenues, Boundaries, Speaking Your Truth, Meditation, Trance, Dreams, Death without Dying, Metabolism/Diet
The groundhog is known for its digging and tunneling abilities. It creates a burrow underground with many tunnels, entrances and exits. If Groundhog appears as a totem it could mean it’s time to delve into a new area of interest (and you have many to choose from). Since a groundhog takes two years to fully mature, it may indicate that your project may take two years of intensive study, digging, and building. Groundhog teaches tenacity and how to burrow within any area to fully engage in its experience. The symbolism of the many tunnels highlights the many avenues we have available to us in life… we need to have options… know that you can create and have options in your life, know that things change ~ be ready, resilient and resourceful… like the groundhog ready to pop up out of its many entrances.
Groundhog also teaches us about the need for boundaries. While groundhogs are generally not very territorial, the will not allow others in their tunnel. For anyone with a Groundhog totem, it is important to give definite signals to your boundaries. It can also be giving you fair warning that you have overstepped someone boundaries. It is best to resolve the situation with respect and from the heart.
The groundhog spends about four to six months in hibernation. During this time, they slow there metabolism and achieve a state of unconsciousness. When awake, the groundhog each a diet rich in greens and veggies. Groundhog could be letting you know that you need to pay attention to your diet and metabolism. Be aware of how your diet influences your natural bodies cycles and to make dietary adjustments to balance the workings of your body.
Groundhogs are very vocal in their ideas and opinions… chirping, barking and squealing loudly to let everyone know just what they have to say. Take the lesson from this furry little creature … to speak your truth, to be unafraid to speak up for yourself, your needs and your beliefs … whenever necessary, loud and clear if needed!
According to the “Animal Speak” dictionary by Ted Andrews, the groundhog as a totem means “mystery of death without dying–trance–dreams.” Groundhogs do true in which they achieve a state of unconsciousness until awakening in late winter/early spring. This is why they symbolize ‘death without dying’. In some societies this deep state of meditation is used as part of initiation rituals symbolizing death and rebirth.
When groundhog shows up as a totem, it may be time to explore deeper altered states of consciousness and lucid dreaming. You are being asked to explore altered states of consciousness deeper. The answers are within you – however you just have not dug deep enough to find the root of it.
For more about the Festival of Imbolc and some ways to celebrate, check out our older blog post here..
Take an example from Groundhog and catch a few more z’s until it’s time to come out of your burrow and see if spring is coming …
Until next time –