Personal Practice: Imbolc

Imbolc is a holiday generally associated with the coming of the spring, the lactating ewes, germinating seeds, and the waxing year.  It’s a fire-festival honoring the goddess (or saint) Brigid (however you prefer to spell her name), overlapping a little with the simultaneous holiday Candlemas.  Of course, all these things are rooted in the climate and culture of England, where Wicca and modern Neopagan witchcraft were born.  I do not live in England.

I live in the Midwestern United States.  I can’t speak to what the ewes are doing, but there is no germination going on here, no coming spring.  Growing up in Kansas as I did, I’m accustomed to Beltane festivities being interrupted by snowstorms every once in a while: the second of February isn’t the end of winter, it’s her darkest heart.  And, unlike last year, it even feels like it.

Further, I don’t live and die by the agricultural calendar, like my ancestors did.  Nor do I romanticize it in quite the same way as many of my Neopagan peers.  No …. I live and die by the academic calendar, by which measure Imbolc isn’t the beginning or end of anything in particular.  This year it happens, coincidentally, to be the first Saturday of the month and the end of the third week of classes.

So I celebrated small.  Offerings of beer and wine the night before.  That morning, I bolstered my usual weekend offerings with an inordinate amount of candles.  Then, the night of, I made more offerings of wine and mead before I went out drinking with a few close friends.  We celebrated the hope that it might someday again be warm.  I had two bottles left of the Imbolc mead that was bottled last year, made from Pasiphae’s blackberries, and I brought one of them to share.  Those who partook enjoyed it immensely.

Blessed Imbolc to those of my readers who celebrate it.  May your hearth be warm, your beer frothy, and your belly full.

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