Imbolc: Life Springs Eternal

Imbolc (pronounced ee-molk), also known as Candlemas or Brigid’s Day, marks the halfway point between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox.  Celebrated Feb 1-2, it’s sort of the tipping point that reminds us that winter won’t last forever.  The warmth will return, along with the growth of new life, as we turn towards spring.

The word Imbolc means “ewe’s milk”, as this is the time of year many animals are birthing the Spring flocks.  Sheep, goats, etc. are giving birth and need special attention to help ensure safe deliveries.

Saint_Brigid's_cross
St. Brighid’s Cross 

St. Brighit (Brigid, Bride, and various other spellings – pronounced ‘Bree’ or, sometimes,  ‘Bri-jit’) started as a Celtic goddess and, as other Pagan deities have to encourage conversions, became adopted as a Catholic saint.  Between the two faiths, she’s known as a patron of fertility, the arts, poetry, healing, charity, and prophecy.  She is celebrated still, particularly in the British Isles, by crafting an effigy doll or a St. Brigit’s Cross (‘how-to’ in the link) and with the lighting of lamps or candles.  Another tribute to the ever-lengthening days. 

An Imbolc rit my church did one year involved planting a seed in an eggshell and a visualization on the ways we wanted to grow in the coming seasons.  Eggs and freshly planted seeds are also means of celebrating this time-honored Sabbat.  Sometimes we need the reminder that, no matter what is happening in life, new things will continue to emerge.  There’s always room to grow, and learn, and evolve, and improve.

Yesterday, I focused more on the planting of new seeds than anything else.  Now that I’m working outside the home (more steady than freelancing allowed for), I’m saving up to repair the elements of my garden.  I didn’t use it at all last year and the cats have since destroyed the flimsy fence we threw together to section the garden from the yard and it’s become overgrown.  This year, I intend to revive and improve it.  Instead of trying to go big, all at once, I’m keeping it basic and will add to it as I go, as I’m able.

Garden beds
Something like this is what I’m after – will post before/after pics as able!

As a side note, yesterday was also a waxing moon in Taurus.  Today is, as well.  A waxing moon in a fertile sign is always good for planting, transplanting, etc.  Things planted under Taurus are believed to grow sturdy and be productive.  I considered this occurring on a fertile holiday my sign to get seeds started.

At some point, I’ll have to do a series on what I’ve learned about ‘Planting by the Signs’ and how it’s been a tradition in both Europe and Appalachia for centuries (probably millennia).  Only becoming a dying art over the last hundred years, it’s reviving now as another “Old-Time Wisdom” we shouldn’t lose.

Whether you celebrate Imbolc, the more secular Groundhog’s Day, or just treat Feb. 1-2 as ‘another day’, I hope it’s spent with loved ones and enjoyed.  Remember that Spring is just around the corner…in another 6-7 weeks (sorry, Groundhog, it’s always another 6 weeks of winter, technically 🙂 ).

As The Wheel (of the Year) Turns…

It’s officially Winter again, y’all!  Depending on where you live, the weather may have given the impression much sooner.  In my neck of Appalachia, though, it’s been wishy-washy.  Some days were incredibly cold; others, not so much.

Today’s warm enough that a long sleeve shirt or light jacket may be all you need.  The forecast for Christmas day is 55 degrees F.  No White Christmas this year.

There have been many changes at the ol’ homeplace, as I’ve landed a job outside the home, so we’re figuring out our Yule holiday for this year a bit on the fly.  Obviously, I’ll be lighting our Oak Yule log and probably anoint the candles in it with Pine essential oil.  Frankincense and Oakmoss oils are also under consideration.

Christmas_with_the_Yule_Log,_Illustrated_London_News,_23_Dec_1848(If you’ve missed my previous post on Yule, it touches on the almost-universal holiday tradition of lighting candles and the Celtic tree associations…Oak (my personal favorite) represents wisdom, strength, and protection while Pine represents prosperity and good health…planning on a more comprehensive post on those at some point)

I’ll likely make pork for dinner and drink some bourbon or egg nog.  If I can find some gingerbread cookies when I hit the store later (as I ran out of time to make any), that’ll be a plus too.  But, the important thing is being together as a family to celebrate the heralding of the Winter season and all that it represents – a season of:

  • Contentment and contemplation
  • Planning the next year’s “busy seasons” at a more relaxed pace
  • Enjoying the bounty of the previous season’s harvest
  • Slowing down and taking the moment as it is, for what it is

Whether you celebrate Yule, one of the many other Winter holidays, or even none at all, I hope you all have a great time with loved ones and get a chance to relax.

 

For more on Yule traditions, recipes and Celtic tree associations, check out the following links:

Sacred Earth Journeys – Yule Traditions & Symbols

Earth Witchery – The Yule Log

What’s Your Sign – Celtic Meaning of Symbolic Trees & The Ogham

Recipes for a Pagan Soul – Yule

Greenhaven Tradition – Preparing for Yule  (includes detailed info and holiday rits)