Mark Green's Atheopaganism Blog

Living an Earth-Honoring Path Rooted in Science


It interests me that the new dawn in American politics comes at the same time that it has become evident (in the Northern Hemisphere) that the days are lengthening. We are no longer in the darkest of winter; the February Sabbath approaches, and the Sun, though young, is definitely returning.

A member of the Atheopagan Facebook group dubbed the February Sabbath (or, in the Southern Hemisphere, the August one) “Brightening”, and though in my region I celebrate this as Riverain, the Festival of Water, I like that characterization a lot, as it is so universal. And who knows? It might even share a word root with Brighid, the Irish goddess celebrated at this time.

Brightening is a time to gather tools and energy, just as infants do in their rapid acquisition of knowledge and skills. Historically, it was a time when agricultural tools were sharpened and repaired, and plantings planned. Not quite time to break ground yet, as there is still freezing in the near future, but planning and dreaming are definitely in the mix.

So the symbols I see associated with this holiday are the infants/toddler phase of life, planning and tool preparation, rain and all things water. Some of that is consistent with modern Pagan imagery, some of it not: the building of a tiny, cozy cradle for a corn dolly, or a Brighid’s triskele (the original design before the four-pointed Christian cross supplanted it), or hammering out some metal on an anvil are all very appropriate seasonal symbols.

I’ll make a triskele this year, soaking the reeds in rain water first to soften them. I’ll make a corn dolly too: a Rain Baby. I have a small anvil and sledge, and maybe I’ll make her a miniature key for her belt: a key to unlock the future. There is nothing quite like the sound of the ringing of a hammer on an anvil, a magical harbinger of something new being created where once there were only raw materials.

It’s a new day, and a new year’s cycle of the Wheel. My life is going well. As the adults who have thankfully retaken control of my government steadily erode the worst of their predecessors’ policies and turn to actual public service, as the light grows, I find myself feeling an unfamiliar, pleasant sensation that hasn’t been with me for four years: hope.

I wish you the joys of the season, and a returning of the light in your personal world.


  1. “Brightening”. I like that, as I like the images of repairing and sharpening tools and planning the spring’s planting.
    This has always seemed to me to be just a time of waiting, a “dead” time, but the idea of using this time for preparation and planning gives it more meaning for me. Thanks. That helps. I do have things to do, and no time to waste.

  2. I really like the idea of adapting this observance to fit with what is relevant for yourself. I’ve been pondering Imbolc for the last few weeks; researching it and observing what is going on in nature around me. I was thinking if dubbing the observance ‘snowdrop’ or something similar in ode to all the snowdrops that are in bloom right now 🙂

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