Aradia and I actually put up our Imbolc altar almost three weeks ago, as a part of the ritual of “putting Christmas away.”
We kept it simple: white candles, red cloth, and the images of our household gods and spirits.
And then we wondered … what does Imbolc mean, really?
The internet is a strange journal, but at times an effective one. Looking back over my Imbolc posts here on the blog and the “memories” offered up to me by the Book of Faces, it becomes clear that deep depression in January has been a part of my life for at least as long as I was in school. Every year, when I have written anything at all, I have written about the dream of returning warmth, of waiting for Beltane, and the struggle to maintain my practice and relationships despite my internal Abyss.
The weather grows stranger every year and, here in Kansas City, this year’s Imbolc marks a (brief) return to cold, rather than a desperate hope for warmer weather. I have to specify Kansas City, though, because last night Aradia and I watched the weatherman describe the movement of the blizzard currently threatening Kansas, Nebraska, and Iowa, but Missouri as if brushed away by the hand of some local god, leaving KC all but untouched and pounding St. Louis with yet another round of torrential rain. (To whatever KC witch, wizard, magician, or sorcerer is responsible for the repeated deflection of major storms: mad props to you, Mx., and if you’ll agree to meet me in person and talk tech, I’ll buy you dinner and drinks and swear on the River Styx to never reveal your identity.)
This year’s depression, by contrast, has been much, much stronger. It is the warmth of joy that I pray for this Imbolc, not just the warmth of the Sun.
But… still … what does Imbolc mean?
More than any other Sabbat, I see this question asked and tentatively answered around the Pagan circles of the Book of Faces. I particularly like Shauna Aura Knight’s answers about creativity and work (article the first, article the second), which is why I have spent the last two days working on blog posts and this coming HPF’s rituals with particular fervor, and updating my photography portfolio (shameless plug). I intend to spend this afternoon updating this very blog, cleaning up links to dead blogs and making things prettier.
As I light the fires on the altar, I strive to re-light the fires within.