There are 8 Sabbats (major holidays) in Wiccan practice and, for a long time, Imbolc, celebrated on February 2nd, was the "least meaningful" to me. It's supposed to celebrate the fact that, ever since Yule, the days have been getting longer. But, here along the banks of the lovely Potomac River, early February is deep winter, in a way that Yule can never be. It's cold. Really, frost-spangled, hard, cold. It's dark; one grey day following another following another. The branches of the trees are covered in ice and the idea of crocus or lettuce or spring onions seems a million light years away.
I am sure that, descended as I am from depressed Swedes, I have always had a mild case of SADD. When I was younger and less broke (thanks, George Bush), I used to repair every February to the Caribbean, where there was sunshine, even if my Swedish skin required me to enjoy it hidden in the shade of some palm trees. Now that I am old and impoverished (no, really, thanks, George), I spend my Februaries in DC, a notoriously February-blasted swamp.
A few years ago, I had one of "those" dreams, in which the Goddess Bride, often honored at Imbolc, pulled me aside in her sod-covered cottage on Innishere and stood with her arm around my shoulder, looking out from the snug cottage to the pouring rain. And, ever since, Imbolc has meant more to me. She's the Goddess of blacksmiths and poets, our Bride, and a patroness of all who need inspiration. In the We'Moon Calendar that my beloved DiL gave to me, there's a wonderful discussion of Imbolc:
At [Imbolc], awakening begins and the return of the light seems assured. Energies within the earth, as well as the physical body, begin to gently pulsate as the days lengthen and our hopes turn to spring. Traditionally a time of transformation and initiation, [Imbolc] brings "big dreams" and a raised vibration. Sap rises, trees bud[,] and agricultural people everywhere look to nature for the omens that might tell them whether to plant their crops early or late this year. In our tumultuous time, however, human-caused global climate change has wrought more intense storms and weather conditions, making it difficult to read these simple oracles.
With powerful Pluto having recently entered the physical sign of Capricorn (until 2024), we look forward now to momentous planetary and personal change. The wise woman releases obsolete forms. As old structures crumble, inside and all around us, a mantra can help to stabilize our energies and subdue our fears. Try saying the protective Sanskrit syllables OM AH HUM over and over whenever you feel afraid, and imagine yourself siting safely inside Kali's dance of liberation. Vicki Noble @ Mother Tongue Ink 2008
I love the image of residing safely inside Kali's dance of liberation; it feels oddly like home, oddly like the place where three roads meet, change is possible, poetry can erupt, and molten metal can be honed to a sword's edge. May your preparations for Imbolc bring you to that place, that place where the light grows longer, arrives earlier, remains longer, dances more intently. May you find within yourself that place where you are, indeed, a true daughter of the growing light.
I'm a woman, a Witch, a mother, a grandmother, an eco-feminist, a gardener, a reader, a writer, and a priestess of the Great Mother Earth. Hecate appears in the
Homeric Ode to Demeter, which tells of Hades who caught Persophone
"up reluctant on his golden car and bare her away lamenting. . . . But no one, either of the deathless gods or of mortal men, heard her voice, nor yet the olive-trees bearing rich fruit: only tenderhearted Hecate, bright-coiffed, the daughter of Persaeus, heard the girl from her cave . . . ."