I mentioned recently to some friends that, as a Pagan, I'm preparing to celebrate Imbolc. One of my friends replied, "Really? Your sheep are lactating?" My response is that "lactating sheep" is an old way of describing a complicated process that also means "return of the light," "beginning of the end of Winter," "an inspiring time when we begin to throw off the lethargy and hibernation of Winter and concern ourselves with Spring, and new growth, and our own commitments to new life."
I am an old woman with a broken-and-held-together-with-titanium-screws-and-plates ankle, and there are five inches of snow and ice on the ground. But I am going out tomorrow afternoon, yaktrax on my boots, cane in hand, deep grounding accomplished, and I am going to bring pots and potting soil in from the shed. I am going to do that because Wednesday is Imbolc and I will be damned if I will allow it to come and go without starting some seeds. I know, I know deep in my muscles, and joints, and broken bones, I know that, however bitter the weather may be just now, I know that, in a few weeks, the Sun will begin to warm the ground and to coax green shoots from inside their thick bulbs and hard-as-glass seed-shells. And, more than almost anything, I want to be a part of that process, to partake of that metamorphosis, to find myself enmeshed in what is going on in my tiny garden, in my landbase, in the Potomac watershed, inside Columbia's district. I want to be as wick as the land, to keep on dancing the dance of the seasons.
One of the delights, for me, of being a Witch is the opportunity that the 8 major Sabbats (not to mention the Dark Moons and the Full Moons) give me to orient myself within the Wheel of the Year. The events of my own life can be fortuitous or calamitous; I can be engaged and fulfilled by my work or terrified that the economy is about to come crashing down on my head. I can be proud of my accomplishments on the treadmill or concerned that I am aging too fast. (Like Whitman, I say, "Do I contradict myself? Very well then, I contradict myself. (I am large, I contain multitudes".)) I can be coasting or struggling, but, still, the Sabbats ARE. And each one calls to me, in the midst of my pleasure or my struggle, and reminds me to pay attention to the forces of the planet, to the Wheel of the Year, to what is always available to me as a With.
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 . . . ."