Upon my first flush of dedicating myself as a witch, the very first sabbat I celebrated as a solitary practitioner, before I had found my coven, was Imbolc. I had done enough reading of neo-pagan literature after poaching the stacks in my local town library and I was keen to get my Wheel of the Year on. Bright eyed, and very bushy tailed.
It was most of a decade ago now, but I remember the little ceremony well; it involved a small paper clay boat with a ram's head that I had carved and fired, dipped in a golden butter-coloured glaze that seemed to perfectly suit my purposes. In the boat I placed some offerings for the sabbat; there were some white chocolate dipped raspberry licorice bullets, some sprigs of red geranium, and a splash of strawberry port from a berry farm in the south. I 'launched' my boat into my front garden which had been freshly planted with some baby rosemary and sage and protected with moonstone which glimmered in the early morning sunlight. I burned candles and meditated and felt a flicker of something that has stayed with me and returns every August. My practices ever since then have always been as eclectic, and sometimes just as elusive: but the whimsicality and solemnity of the ritual permeates my memory.
The return of Spring is not felt with obvious sign or herald in my home country as it is in other lands. The climate here is Mediterranean and warm most of the time, and the temperatures on a sunny August day could possibly be mistaken for a heatwave in some Northern Hemisphere climes. This year, thankfully, we have received some rain and Winter feels like she has finally 'arrived' after a long, and dark, wait. There is certainly a change to be felt in the air, though. A Quickening. The land stirs beneath my feet with a note of potential that was not there before, and the feelings of dormancy have been banished as the downhill push into warmth begins. Nights will be cold, if not the coldest, of the year, but there is still a sense of 'spring' under the earth and birds begin to be a little bit more noisy than usual. The rains have freshened the landscape and weeds and winter grasses are flourishing with abandon. Very soon, the land will burst forth with every colour of the rainbow as if the rainbow snake of ancient dreaming has pierced some crystal somewhere and has shattered into a million pieces and scattered across the land. The magic will sing again, but until then, we wait. And watch.
Photo credit: Cowslip orchard from Western Australia, retrieved from http://ournomadicways.blogspot.com.au/2011/10/wildflowers-of-wa-part-3.html