Most Imbolc posts will regale you with the mythos and correspondences behind such a beloved holiday, however today I am in the mood for something different. As I have traversed this path for many years, a leave littered behind my both social and solitary sabbat celebrations of every type of observance. This past two years, with the various challenge stemming from the pandemic, I have spent more time dwelling on past celebrations of Imbolc, one of my favorite sabbats of the year.
Imbolc is a light in the darkness. In my tradition and celebrations. We see Imbolc as that darkest time of the early morning, just before the dimmest rays of the sun begin to brighten the sky. Coming in the agrarian calendar, it is the same, that point in the deep winter, dark and cold, just before the warmth of the sun begins to thaw the chill. Traditional observances for myself are usually times around three in the early morning.
We can learn and study about the sabbats and all magick, yet it is the experiences which teach us the most, are the most magickal, change our lives and leave lasting memories. So, this is a tale of two Imbolcs, one Imbolc 2014 and the other Imbolc 2021. Vastly different celebrations but moving and inspiring each in its own way. My hope here, is to fire your imaginations so that your own celebrations in the future will find equally special places in your lives.
Our Tradition and Grove was still young, but it was full and growing. We had a blooming coven and beloved extended family and friends all invited for the celebration. Due to the nature of our modern lives, we celebrated in early evening, it was still pitch dark (even for Florida) and the night was alight! Imbolcs are always a celebration of light, that evening was no different, candles bedecked all the quarters, flowed across our red and white adorned altar, blazed in the bonfire placed in the middle and circled the wreath of our sacred well. We were a group of about twenty, happy, excited, and ready for magick. This Imbolc, we focused on the Sacred Well of Brigid. It had been blessed and dressed. With the Blessing of Brigid, the good gentles of the masculine nature, joined our Priest for a drink of restoration and refreshment from the sacred well, there was much thanks, honor, a bit of toasting and joviality! Then were called for the good gentles of the feminine nature. Ours was not to drink, like the Goddess, we were to cleanse ourselves within the waters, so that we to might step, young, full of energy and spirit onto the wheel again, renewed. As each sister offered her hands over the candle strewn well, the waters were poured over her hands, with the blessings of our Lady and our own energies. It was moving for all of us. A moment of rejuvenation and supported sisterhood within the circle, as our counterparts had enjoyed their brotherhood before. While it is hard to relay the feelings of the moments on the page, know that it stirred us all, and is a precious memory today. The community, love, magick and blessings were palpable in that circle.
Our small circle had been studying and practicing via zoom classes for some time. We were spread across the states and still reluctant to share larger in person gatherings. Our Priest Lughaith had a special suggestion for this year. An old tradition of Vigil. Usually, we would hold Vigil for in person Yule Celebrations, however it seemed appropriate to vigil for Brigid on this year, which was filled with darkness, uncertainty, and disease. To accomplish this task together we set our altar at the coven stead, adorned with red and white, covered with candles and flowers. We set up our laptop, and connected our group and began ritual, involving our Lady. At the end of ritual, we extended our circles and left everything in place, for the next twenty-four hours at the top of the hour we would meet and give offerings to our Lady at our altar, together through video. Some offerings included beautiful songs, poetry, meditations, foods, wines, precious items, some were memories and dedications of service, all were given freely and with love. The Lughaith and I shared the next twenty-four hours in vigil with Brigid and our group. It was an incredibly stirring and magickal experience.
Our celebrations come in many shapes and sizes, even in time like these we can find deeply moving ways of celebrating and honoring the cycles of the year. May you take inspiration from Brigid, who fires the minds of all who seek her comfort and create a beautiful Imbolc which moves and stirs you.
May the Blessings of Imbolc and Brigid be yours!