Hey... You In The Pointy Hat... Don't Forget Imbolc!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

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     I have a confession to make. Since becoming a Pagan/Witch I've done something almost every year that some may find cringe worthy while others would say it's no big deal.  It's unintentional and I get more than annoyed with myself when I do it. Sometimes.... after Winter Solstice.... as the end of winter approaches... I FORGET ABOUT IMBOLC!!!! I know, I know, it's horrible and I'm horrible and my broom flying privileges should be stripped immediately!  I'm a pretty forgetful person in general and Atreya regularly gives herself a slap to the forehead when I tell her of yet another event I've let escape my memory.  This leads to hyper organization, writing long lists, taking ridiculously neat notes and having multiple copies of important documents (the whereabouts of these documents are currently unknown...) because I don't want to forget anything.  

You forgot too? It's OK Bro, you've got a lot going on.

     But I always seem to remember when the other Sabbats are and what our current position is on the wheel. I know when Beltane and Samhain are approaching because those are my favorite sabbats and also my favorite times of year.  The Solstices are easy enough to remember, especially Winter Solstice since we are surrounded by Christmas/Yule decorations at every turn.  I know when the equinoxes are around the corner because I can feel a greater sense of inner balance and balance in the world around me.  Farmer's markets begin to overflow with brightly colored vegetables like corn and tomatoes and guess what that means?  Lughnasadh, the first of the harvest festivals, is quickly approaching. So what's up with Imbolc? Why do we (I say we because I've asked around and apparently I'm not the only witch with this problem) have such trouble remembering that this spoke on the wheel of the year is coming??
     At this time of year, most of us usually have our focus elsewhere.  Getting back into the normal swing of life now that the holidays are over while trying desperately to hang onto to the resolutions some make for the new year.  The kids are back in school, people begin to look each other in the eye again now that memories of the office holiday party are beginning to fade, and we brace ourselves for Mother Nature to do her worst as the harshest winter days are upon us.  There are winter storm warnings, shoveling snow, digging out the car, and extreme temperatures depending on where you reside. As I write this, it is 18 degrees in New York City and at night the low temperature has been around -1 degree. Oh, and don't forget the sniffles.  This is the time of year when bad colds are at their worst and the flu begins to bombard us, leaving many people feeling miserable.  Add seasonal affective disorder (also known as SAD or winter blues) with a dash of cabin fever and this is a recipe for, at the very least, distraction and annoyance.  Great reasons/excuses to forget about Imbolc entirely but also great reasons to remember it.
     At this time of year, it's hard to imagine that spring is just a few weeks away.  Imbolc marks the midpoint between Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox.  Imbolc celebrates the first stirrings of Mother Nature's womb.  The literal translation of Imbolc is "in the womb" or "in the belly" (Oimelc is an alternate name for Imbolc and its translation is "ewe's milk") and this sabbat is also associated with purification and fire.  Animals are born, hibernating animals stir and wake up, buds on trees may be visible and flowers, like the crocus, begin to fight their way to the surface.  This is a time to celebrate new life and new beginnings, even if new life has yet to reveal itself.  

Crocus ain't scared!
     It's also a time to look within and turn your attention to yourself, your home and family.  Resist the temptation to be annoyed at the bitter cold outside and use this time for personal work, introspection and the making of plans for the future (magickal and mundane).  Connecting with nature during the harshest of the winter months can be uncomfortable and dangerous.  Let the cold and snow outside create a natural barrier between yourself and the world outside. This is a time to spend near the hearth, connecting with yourself internally.  During this time of year you can:

  • practice and strengthen your divination skills (tarot, runes, scrying, pendulum etc)
  • perform spells for manifestation and new beginnings 
  • do some journaling 
  • do some dream work and try astral travel
  • explore your shadow self 
  • don't forget the mundane stuff: clean the closets, clear clutter, rearrange furniture etc
  • get a calender and plot out goals you'd like to accomplish in the coming months
  • spend time with family and friends: play board/card games, bake, tell stories by the fire

My witchy partner in crime, Atreya, made a video about Imbolc. For more Imbolc information watch the video below and look for more videos from us in the future.

                                                         Imbolc In Under 2 Minutes 

     There is a simple and quick spell you can do at this time of year.  This spell is for manifestation and new beginnings.  I call it the potted plant spell. The idea for this spell came to me because of my apartment in NYC.  Sometimes spells call for things to be buried.  This is all well and good but when you live in a concrete jungle, finding a spot to bury things isn't always easy.  And, if you do find a place to bury something, you may have to deal with onlookers, dogs digging up your spell or the NYPD may look at you suspiciously and hold you for questioning (What's with the shovel? Why are you digging a hole in Central Park? What's with the 'herbs' in the plastic baggy? etc). So instead of looking for a place outside to bury things why not look inside and bury your spell in a potted plant? For this spell you'll need a potted plant or a pot, some dirt, a plant or seeds, paper and a pen/pencil.   Light some candles, set a magickal mood and spend some time thinking about what you'd like to manifest for yourself.  Maybe find the calender with the goals you wrote out for yourself (discussed above) to use as inspiration. When your ready start writing down your goals, wishes and desires on the paper. You can use a separate, small piece of paper for each wish or write them all on one piece of paper.  When your finished it's time to bury them in the plant. If using a plant that is already potted, use your finger or a spoon to dig a hole in the dirt (get down to at least the halfway point in the dirt).  Place the paper with your goals and wishes inside the hole and cover it with dirt.  As the plant grows envision your goals/wishes growing and manifesting.  
     If your using a new plant or seeds begin in the same way by writing down your wishes and goals.  When you're ready place some dirt in the pot then put the paper with your wishes and goals on top of the dirt. Then, add more dirt along with the plant or seeds.  Place the plant on your altar (if there's enough room and sunlight) and tend to it over the coming months.  As it grows envision your goals manifesting.  When the weather gets warmer you can replant it in your garden. Or, if your a city dweller like me, you can leave it in its pot and allow it to grow and beautify your home. Whenever you look at the plant let it be a reminder of the goals you're working toward. You can also use this plant in the future when burying an item as part of a spell. 

(Side Note: There is no required plant to use for this spell as far as I'm concerned. A plant that appeals to me and will thrive in my neck of the woods may not do the same for you. Find a plant that works for you, your purposes, fits in your space and will survive in your part of the world (especially if you intend to place it outside). I use a spider plant because this plant has a special place in my heart, it's easy to care for/hard to kill and sharing with friends and family is easy (the smaller spider plant babies that grow on the vines can be gently removed from the parent plant and easily rooted in a separate pot). Find a plant that works for you and don't forget some plants/flowers are poisonous to people and fur babies so keep that in mind also.)

                             Guess what else happens on February 2nd?? It's Groundhog Day!!!


     What the blazes does groundhog day have to do with Imbolc you ask?  In the old days in Europe, Imbolc was used for weather divination to see if winter would end early or if it would hold on until March and April. Sound familiar?? In Europe this question was asked of the hedgehog.  If he came out of his burrow and saw his shadow then everyone knew they were in trouble.  The shadow was said to frighten the hedgehog causing him to retreat back to his burrow for another 6 weeks.  If there was no sun in the sky and Mr. Hedgehog did not see his shadow then spring would arrive early.  In the United States we don't have hedgehogs so the groundhog was substituted for this practice. There are a number of ways people perform weather divination but the groundhog method is the most popular although most people aren't aware of its origin or purpose!

     Hello, my name is Amethyst and sometimes I forget Imbolc.  Now that I've come clean I feel much better and I know I'm on the rode to recovery because I remembered Imbolc this year without having to be reminded.  I'm sure I'm not alone and I am contemplating starting a support group. Writing this post reminded me how important this sabbat is and I'm going to make a conscious effort to remember it every year and not allow this to remain the forgotten (or last minute) sabbat.  This time of year is important for Mother Nature and for individual personal growth.  Taking time to focus inward, exploring the darker parts of yourself, studying and setting goals for the future are so important.  As witches and pagans we send a great deal of energy out into the world both for ourselves and others.  Replenishing our stores of energy and focusing on our personal growth are vital to our magickal and mundane growth (and it probably makes holding onto your sanity much easier).  May all your wishes, goals and dreams manifest positively in this world, harming none.  

Blessed Imbolc to you all, 

Sources (books I highly recommend):
Seasons of Witchery: Celebrating The Sabbats With The Garden Witch  by: Ellen Dugan
The Element Encyclopedia of Witchcraft  by: Judika Illes  



Magaly Guerrero said...

Well, it seems you won't forget about The Light this year ;-)

Anonymous said...

The way I remember it is everyone made such a big deal when I was growing up about groundhog day that its always popped in my head around a week ahead of time, so I guess I'm lucky I have an association in my mind. Also Candlemas and the fact Bridget is my patron goddess makes impossible to not remember this day. It would be hard to remember without all this in the back of mind for the last 20 years. :)

EveryWoman said...

I'm still dancing a reel...loved it!

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