Imbolc Returns; an everyday-life pondering of what Imbolc means….
Imbolc is the first Pagan Sabbat to fall after the turn of the calendar new year, usually celebrated on 1st and 2nd of February. Personally, I celebrate on 1st February every year with so much excitement.
I always instinctively think of Imbolc as a Spring festival, even though it is smack bang in the middle of winter. It brings to my mind images of snow, stillness, pristine white and clear starry skies. Candle lit rooms and chunky knits, blankets and pets on laps are all perfectly representative of me at Imbolc. Yet still something deep in my bones whispers “Spring”. To those of you who walk the winding paths of the Goddesses with me, you will no doubt hear this whispering too … listen for the song of the Goddess as she stirs … Imbolc returns.
I believe that this whisper of nature comes to us from the very Earth itself, from the spirit of the Goddess who is telling us that she is coming, that she will soon be reborn to lay her feet upon the land again to bring life, colour and warmth all that feels her caress. She is reminding us that although we are in the season of winter, deep in the grasp of the coldest time of the year, the Earth, the seasons and indeed life itself is not stagnant or still. All are ever moving in an inevitable and endless forward motion that not even She can halt. Winter will not endure just as it did not endure last year or any year before. It is moving steadily and constantly towards it’s defeat; the day the first closed green bud creeps out of a branch, the day a ray of glittering winter sun displays a tiny growing snow drop in all its absolute beauty, all magical signs that the reign of the dark cold days is ending.
And if like me, you do thoroughly enjoy the darkening days when they come as the Wheel turns through Autumn and into winter – the festivities, the twinkly lights, the gathering of loved ones, the magic in the air everywhere you turn, the winter scents and delightful tastes and of course dark candle lit nights filled with scary movies and cosy blankets – by the time Imbolc comes around I image you too have things you look forward too with keen anticipation.
So, whilst I usually look at the mystical and ethereal reasons we celebrate a Sabbat, I have a feeling in my mind at the moment that the coming Spring is going to bring me many practical and wellbeing based reasons to be grateful to the Goddess for bringing milder days to us. So it is these I will base my ramblings on, as we have spoken about Imbolc and Brigid previously.
If you are anything like me, in addition to the traditional Imbolc celebrations and symbolisms, you will look for hints of sunny moments and let the corners of your mouth curve into a gentle smile as Imbolc returns, you will crave the feel of the warm rays of the sun on your skin, and the carefree feeling in your soul of long nights spent in gardens, at beaches or wandering through the woods will start to be a yearning deep in your belly. And it is these things that really pick our psychological wellbeing up in the Spring.
- Seeing the sun shining, no matter what the temperature is outside, after long weeks of grey days shrouded in clouds and dullness, seems to me to shine straight into my mind and light up the shadows that creep in and take residence by the end of the dark half of the year. In a mini ritual I will stand and face that sliver of sunlight and close my eyes and let the light fall on my face. A sense of peace always seeps into my very being and in those few moments. That feeling, if only for a second or two, is invaluable to my psychological wellbeing and I would bet if you tried it you would agree.
- In the cold months I miss my garden and generally spending longer periods of time in outdoor spaces. Yes, I still spend a good amount of time outside; this winter we have still been to some brilliant places out exploring mother nature, but lazy hours spent idling by the fire pit, watching the birds and admiring the many and varied blooms of the Goddess, are not realistic without freezing off a finger or two and chattering a few teeth right out of your mouth. So for me, the coming of Spring is the coming of spending more time in my favourite place – outside. The grass is cut, the gazebos go up in the garden, new bulbs and seeds are planted, chairs and tables and parasols are placed, and the outdoor side of life can begin again. But why is that important you ask – it is important because in our favourite place we feel joy, when we feel joy our brains release happy hormones and when are happy our stress lessens, and our worries diminish.
You probably don’t need me to tell you too much about this, it pretty much is what it says on the tin. As Imbolc returns, we get out more, we walk more. Walks along the beach and through the countryside are much more appealing when they don’t involve so many layers of clothing you can’t move your arms, having to undress in the hallway so you only have one wet and muddy room, and then the clean up of said wet and muddy room. It feels like there is more time to be active with more hours of daylight to enjoy. And of course, many of us, including me from time to time (I can’t honesty lay claim to this on a regular basis) eat lighter and healthier meals when the weather is warm and comforting.
Practical Joys of Spring
One of the things I look forward to the most, please prepare to be underwhelmed, is being able to put my laundry on the washing line. Yep, I told you it was an exciting revelation.
There is something about the smell and feel of the Spring and Summer air on the laundry that brings the image into my mind of the Goddess walking the Earth, bringing the plants and woodlands to life, waking the animals and imbuing the air with love and grace.
Every year my partner and I wait for our Hedgehogs to come back to our garden with such excited anticipation. They are such an important part of our Spring, Summer and Autumnal rituals – watching their habits as they wander around our garden, putting out food and water for them, teaching the children about them, and knowing that we are doing our small part in helping this incredible and rapidly declining species continue to be a part of our wildlife. If you have never sat and just watched a Hedgehog on one of it’s wanders, you should definitely add this to your to do list this summer. They are so entertaining and cute; they are a definite part of the magic brought to our household by the Goddess as she wakes the animals from their winter slumbers.
So remember, on 1st February, when Imbolc returns, when you feel like the winter is never going to end, that this is the day we celebrate the coming of the Spring, the coming of lighter days, the coming of warmth and light, and that we celebrate these things because, whether symbolically or as a living Deity, we celebrate the rebirth of the Goddess.
So I think I’ll leave you with those thoughts, perhaps more of a rambling than usual this time, but isn’t that sometimes the point of a blog; to get thoughts and tangents out of your head, clearing some space for your Muses to whisper into, to start growing whatever will come next out of your thoughts.
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Darkest Ginger Blessings