There’s a lot of information out there about pagan sabbats; the festivals celebrated throughout the year – Imbolc – Spring Equinox – Beltane – Summer Solstice – Lammas – Autumn Equinox – Samhain – Yule – I thought that this year, I would add a few posts about them too.
Imbolc, in the Celtic seasonal calendar marked the beginning of the lambing season and signalled the beginning of Spring and the stirrings of new life. I always feel a joyous lightening of my spirit when I see the snowdrops in my garden poking their heads (usually) above the snow. It’s the promise of renewal, of hidden potential, of earth awakening and life-force stirring. Here is hope. We welcome the growth of the returning light and witness Life’s insatiable appetite for rebirth.
Imbolc is also a time to let go of the past and to look to the future, clearing out the old, making both outer and inner space for new beginnings. This can be done in lots of ways, from spring cleaning your home to clearing the mind and heart to allow inspiration to enter for the new cycle, Doreen Valiente said ‘Spring cleaning was originally a nature ritual‘. I think it’s wonderful how our habits and traditions can be turned back into more spiritual practices and I feel that this time of year works in harmony with wish-making or making a dedication.
Imbolc is traditionally the great festival and honouring of Brigid (Brighid, Bride, Brigit), so loved as a pagan Goddess that her worship was woven into the Christian church as St Bridget. She is a Goddess of healing, poetry and smithcraft. She is a Goddess of Fire, of the Sun and of the Hearth. She brings fertility to the land and its people and is closely connected to midwives and new-born babies. She is the Triple Goddess, but at Imbolc she is in her Maiden aspect.
This time also marks the midpoint of winter, halfway between the shortest day and the spring equinox. Candlemas is a traditional Christian festival that commemorates the ritual purification of Mary forty days after the birth of her son Jesus. On this day, Christians remember the presentation of Jesus Christ in the Temple. Forty days after the birth of a Jewish boy, it was the custom to take him to the temple in Jerusalem to be presented to God by his thankful parents. It was the day of the year when all the candles, that were used in the church during the coming year, were brought into church and a blessing was said over them – so it was the Festival Day (or ‘mass’) of the Candles.
I leave you with a poem by Cicely Mary Barker “Song of The Snowdrop Fairy” which we have used during Imbolc celebrations.
Deep sleeps the winter,
Cold, wet, and grey;
Surely all the world is dead;
Spring is far away.
Wait! The world shall waken;
It is not dead, for lo,
The Fair Maids of February
Stand in the snow!