As the seasonal Wheel of the Year turns, it is not too long away before spring arrives. Even before Mid Winter my garden had been preparing itself with a display of early spring flowers.
This time of the year however there can appear to be a degree of false hope as the worse of the winter weather is often still to come. One thing that we do know for certain however is that life is starting to stir again.
Within contemporary witchcraft the first of the two spring festivals is Imbolc (Im-bulk), derived from the Irish Gaelic that means “in the belly” referring to the potential of all life that is in the belly of the Great Mother (Mother Earth), but also the pregnancy of other animals, particularly cattle and sheep, who give birth to their young around this time. An alternative word is Oimelc, meaning “ewe’s milk”. Although here in South Australia the lambs are often born around the autumn equinox to ensure that there is enough Winter grass for them to eat, in other parts of the country, and particularly in New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania, Imbolc heralds the birthing season for lambs.
Within contemporary witchcraft, the Goddess is often considered to be in her Maiden, or youthful aspect, while the God is in his Young Stag aspect. Their innocent reflects the lightness of the energies around them at this time of the year.
Nothing is so beautiful as spring –
When weeds, in wheels, shoot long and lovely and lush;
Thrush’s eggs look like low heavens, and thrush
Through the echoing timber does so rinse and wring
The ear, it strikes lightning to hear him sing;
The glassy pear tree leaves and blooms, they brush
The descending blue; that blue is all in a rush
With richness; the racing lambs too have fair their fling.
George Manley Hopkins (1844-1889)
In the Northern Hemisphere, Imbolc falls around 1st February and is often connected with the Goddess Brighid, or Brid (pronounced “Bree” or “Breeid”), who later become known as Saint Brigit. Spanning both paganism and Christianity, Brighid/Brigit is renown for her healing, and protection, with her sacred shrine still be utilised today in Kildare, County Meath in Ireland.
As a way of marking and honouring Imbolc, I will be holding a special Celebrate Imbolc – The Celtic Festival of Spring at the Riverdell Spiritual Centre on Saturday, 1 August 2020, where participants will not only learn about the historical origins of this Celtic festival, but they will connect with the Maiden Goddess through empowering meditations.
We will also be making our own protective Cros Bride (Brigit’s Cross) that will be empowered through sacred ceremony, and discover how to connect with the healing energies of St Brigit through candles that have been lit from her sacred flame at Kildare.
Tickets are only $50 (plus Eventbrite fees) and are available through this link.
All attendees go in the draw to win a copy of my book In Her Sacred Name: Writings on the Divine Feminine.
Saturday, 1 August 2020 from 11am to 3pm
Location: Riverdell Spiritual Centre, 51 Clifford Road, Hillier SA 5116