The Healing Wheel: The Psychology of the Wheel of the Year

Presenting the eight Festivals within an archetypal framework and connecting that framework to personal development and inner transformation.

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Cracking Through the Ice

Several days ago, I had a lovely, lovely moment. Sitting in the arch of a big, picture window, I felt the rays of the sun as more than just a heatless hint of things to come. There was, for the first time, a weight to the rays’ touch and I felt the distinctive crack of the cold ice within - that first inkling that the thaw is on its way. Unsurprisingly, the next day brought plummeting temperatures along with re-found gloves and snow brushes for the car. But the tide had turned. Imbolc had reached out its delicate fingers to tickle 2016 for the first time and there is no pulling back from that.

 

As far as weather goes, it hasn’t been a bad winter. We’ve certainly had worse. The snow shovels, for the most part, have bided their time leaning up against the house and the dogs are sorely disappointed that they have not had the opportunity to carve racing tunnels in the snow with their chases. On other fronts, however, this winter has been the worst yet. We have said goodbye to far too many folks – both personally and globally. So many that, in truth, when the news was announced that Glenn Frey had died last week, my husband, a down-to-earth, practical, self-declared atheist, stopped in his tracks, raised his arms to the Heavens and declared “Enough already!”.  The all too frequent heart-stopping announcements were taking their toll. It may not have been too bad outside, but our insides were feeling quite numb.

 

There is a positive aspect to ice. It solidifies the murky waters. It freezes the turbulence. It creates an illusion of stability. It is far easier and faster to walk across a frozen lake than it is to swim across the fluid waters. But it is a stark journey and you are always aware that there is something of a certain depth just under that thin layer beneath your feet. It can be a bit unnerving.

 

In our emotional life, ice is akin to the shock and denial that accompanies loss and trauma. It is an important stage. It allows us to keep moving in the moment, getting done what needs to get done. I will never forget that immediately after a terrible car accident several years ago – one that was mere inches from taking my life or leaving me seriously incapacitated – once the vehicle had stopped rolling and had come to a stop, I calmly found my glasses, found my phone, and made 3 calls, clearly explaining what had happened and where I was. Once that had been taken care of, my body started to shake and the emotions flooded in. The numbing gift of ice allowed me to do the necessary. The thaw brought a whole other host of experiences. I didn’t think this through or plan it. It just happened that way. One can say the same for frostbite. The numbness experienced in a finger or toe due to exposure to extreme cold is not uncomfortable. It is a kind of nothing – no physical feeling at all. It is when gentle heat is applied and the numbness gives way to sensation that the pain is felt and it can be terrible. The same process occurs on a different scale with any other sort of loss or trauma. Shutdown allows us to survive the moment. Wading through the emotions that erupt after, painful and overwhelming though they may be, allows us to come back to life. It may, in fact, save our lives.

 

To a great extent, we live in a society that does not embrace emotions. To be more specific, we are okay with the emotions that feel good, although even these we tend to prefer be expressed in a reasonable manner. You may receive some odd looks if you exclaim enthusiastically in a restaurant, "This is the BEST Caesar Salad I have EVER had! This just MADE MY DAY!!!" Very definitely, it is the emotions that do not feel very good inside with which our society, generally speaking, is more challenged. But all emotions contain valuable information. If we really want to hear the highs, we have to be willing to listen to the lows and not trap them beneath a thick crust of cool, unflappable ice.

 

Imbolc beckons the increasingly warm sun, inviting the thaw to begin. That which has been frozen starts to ebb and flow once more. This can be beautifully gentle or it can be dangerously fast and furious, but in order for life to spring forth, the movement of flow must occur. This is also true of our emotional life. In order for us to come back to life after pain, grief, or loss, we must crack through the ice and dip our fingers into the cold waters beneath. It may not feel particularly pleasant, but it is undoubtedly cleansing and purifying.

 

Imbolc is associated with Brigid, the Celtic Triple Goddess of healing, smithcraft and inspiration. She has also been honoured from time immemorial at certain wells and springs, the most well-known being the wells at Kildare. The experience of partaking of healing waters to address physical ailments goes back centuries and centuries. But what is it like to open ourselves to healing waters to cleanse emotional and mental ailments? To find the places within that are stuck, blocked or frozen. To access the old pain that creates turbulent eddies. To challenge the rigid, unsupportive thoughts that restrict and limit natural, graceful movement in our lives.

 

There is an unequivocal saying in psychotherapy: The only way to heal it is to feel it. We need to allow our emotional life, the painful feelings as well as the joyful ones, to be a part of our lives. To move to a place of wholeness (which is what healing is all about) means we embrace all parts of ourselves and resolve all experiences of the self – not just the easy to digest and acceptable ones.

 

At this time of Imbolc and with Brigid’s blessing, open yourself to the gradually warming sun. Explore within to find those little corners that may still be frozen. In the nurturing, guiding hands of Brigid, allow a crack to appear in the ice to see the cleansing waters beneath. If tears flow, let them flow. If anger storms, let the waves crash and dissipate. Don’t judge. Don’t label what you are experiencing as “good” or “bad”. Listen to the burbling of your flowing emotions, as you would with a babbling brook. With acceptance and support, eventually the tears slow and the waves calm. What remains is a still, clear pool in which you can see the reflection of your True Self.

 

May the blessings of Imbolc bring purification and healing to your life.

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Tiffany Lazic (BAA, RIHR, RP) is a Registered Psychotherapist and founder of The Hive and Grove Centre for Holistic Wellness. She has developed numerous courses in the psychological application of intuitive tools and is author of The Great Work: Self-Knowledge and Healing Through the Wheel of the Year (Llewellyn, May 2015). "Be both of the Earth and of the Stars."

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