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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Imbolc

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 10 facts about groundhogs

 "It is the Washin' o' the World's Face."

(R. García y Robertson, The Spiral Dance)

 

Our story so far: The Chinese have invaded America and then (for reasons never specified) pulled out again. The East Coast literally walls itself off from the rest of the Continent and becomes a stuck-in-the-head techno-megalopolis.

Meanwhile, the rest of the Continent reverts to tribalism. Foremost among these tribes are the Latter-Day Witches who call themselves "Circle", or "Coven", who through centuries of inbreeding have achieved mastery of the art of direct mind-to-mind communication, what they call lep.

(If you suspect that this has something to do with telepathy, I think you're probably right.)

That's the universe of Marvin Kaye and Parke Godwin's Masters of Solitude series, some of the earliest (late 70s/early 80s) popular literature to be profoundly shaped by the emerging Wiccan movement.

Being, in effect, our children, the people of Circle observe the same Wheel of the Year that we do today. Part of the fun of the novels for pagans lies in extricating the names of the firedays from what 1000 years' worth of linguistic erosion have left of them.

For Circle folk, Eostre/Ostara/Easter is Leddy. (I myself can remember back when, in the early days of American paganism, some folks knew Spring Equinox as Lady Day.) Then comes Belten, Sinjin (< “Saint John['s Day]"), Lams, Milemas ( < Michaelmas), Samman, and Loomin for Yule. (I'm guessing that this latter is probably a worn-down form of illumine, drawn perhaps from Doreen Valiente's quintessential Yule chant Queen of the Moon, Queen of the Sun: "Golden Sun of the Mountains,/Illumine the Land, Light up the World,/Illumine the Seas and the Rivers,/Sorrows be laid, Joy to the World." If so, it's a nicely folkloric touch.)

Their Imbolg/Oimelc/Candlemas is Grannog.

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The Quickening: Imbolc and Related Holidays

We have been in the long dark for the past few months. Cold, snowy weather and the now-ever-present threat of serious disease have kept us inside our homes, bundled in cozy clothes and blankets, sipping our tea or coffee or hot cocoa. We’re expecting yet another snowstorm here in the eastern U.S., more to add to the snow that hasn’t left us from the last one. We yearn to step out into light and warmth, feel soft grass beneath our feet, but not yet. Still, the time of long light will come again. The days are already beginning to gradually unfurl like the fronds of a fern.

 

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Imbolc Invocation: Calling Forth the Guardians

Candlemas, also known as Imbolc, is the highest point between the winter solstice and spring equinox. This festival anticipates the coming of spring with banquets and blessings. Tradition holds that milk must be served, and modern pagans have expanded that to butter cookies, ice cream, cheeses and any related foods. It is an important time to welcome new members of your spiritual circle and new witches into a coven. Candlemas is a heartwarming occasion, but it is still a wintry time, so kindling for the hearth or bonfire should include cedar, pine, juniper and holly along with wreaths of the same to mark the four directions alongside white candles in glass votives. Strong incense such as cedar, nag champa or frankincense will bless the space. The circle leader shall begin the ritual by lighting incense from the fire and begin by facing each direction, saying:

Welcome Guardians of the East, bringing your fresh winds and breath of life. Come to the circle of Imbolc.

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Sabbat of Imbolc: A February Festival

Although February is the shortest calendar month, it holds many rich festivals from several cultures. Celtic Pagans celebrate Imbolc, or Brigid’s Day, as the first sign of spring in the Wheel of the Year. 

Imbolc translates to “in the milk,” which reflects the lambing and calving season that begins around this time. The idea of purification also runs through February festivals such as Purim, Candlemas and Lupercalia. Take the opportunity to start “spring cleaning” a bit earlier than you usually do to help chase away the winter blues. And of course, February holds Valentine’s Day, a now-secular celebration of affection and friendship.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 

 

Over a doobie one festival afternoon, Feri elder Alison Harlow and I are talking holidays.

“I just love Imbolc,” she says wistfully, “when the almond trees bloom.”

All real paganism is local. Allison was a daughter of Califia, through and through.

Me, though, I'm a naturalized Minnesotan. For us, Imbolc is the time of year when we're up to our asses in snow, when the cold between the stars descends to Earth, when night is loud with the gunshot report of cracking trees.

Here in the North Country, we love Imbolc too, but we love it because it means that Winter's halfway over, and that we may just—if we're lucky—have a chance of living to see Spring again.

Truly, all paganism is local.

“Shut the f*ck up,” I tell her, laughing.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Bridey's Spring

Bridey's Spring, n. an early February thaw

 

Well, Winter's back, old Winter.

Oh, it was a glorious little Bridey's Spring here in Paganistan, while it lasted: two days of Sun and snowmelt, puddles of water—actual liquid water!—just in time for Imbolc.

Just a foretaste, and now it's back to the dark house of Winter.

Still, we've had our promise.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

When I think about Imbolc, I often think about hot chocolate. Since dairy is highlighted on the Imbolc menu in some form or another, this could be the perfect time to search out the best hot chocolate in the area. While you’re sipping—and possibly dipping—a cookie in your rich chocolaty cocoa, meditate on where you’ve come since the holidays and where you’d like to continue in the months to come.

I’ve written about Imbolc before for Pagan Square, including a meditative cross-country ski you could take during this time of the year.

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  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    I celebrated Groundhog Day today with a home-baked chocolate chip muffin; from a mix not from scratch, and a glass of coconut milk

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