Imbolc - The Maiden Returns

Post Imbolc Sunrise

    Imbolc Blessings To You All!

The wheel turns, the Crone has finally retreated to her bleak cave to sleep the long sleep and the Maiden has awoken, slowly bringing spring with her, full of fire and energy, new life follows in gleeful wake. The light returns and the land warms at her touch!
The origins and exact date of Imbolc are much debated as it's pronunciation! Some people pronounce the b, others silence it  and say Im-Olc and others say it with a g at the end where the c is ... Im-olg ! Likewise some people celebrate on 1st February, some on 2nd and some paths don't mark it at all.
However you say it and whenever you celebrate- I hope you had a good one! It is often also called Candlemas or Brigid's Day (usually pronounced as Breed - not that any of us were around to know!) The Goddess have given birth to the spring, the maiden or the God depending on your individual path. It is known as a Sabbat of purification where we open up to the light, leaving the dark vestiges of winter behind us, not unlike the practice of lying in before the birth and being 'churched' afterwards to purify the mother - a common event from about the 6th Century until the late 1800's - not too likely for the average woman I'll guess! Perhaps it is a remnant of pre Christian beliefs where a new mother would have been feted Goddess Like, birth seen as sacred and women allowed to rest and spend some precious time with her newborn? Again, only likely for those in the upper echelons of society.

Candlemas

Whatever it's origins, it is a festival of fire. February 1st also happens to be my first born's birthday, so naturally this takes precedence, I still can't believe that gorgeous cuddly little baby boy is 22! We celebrated in true family form - everyone round the table for a bit of a feast, plenty of candles, plenty of laughter and chatter. I did what I usually do and take some time on 2nd to reflect and carry out a simple ceremony or ritual on my own. I had planned a ritual fire in the garden, burning my Yule log to symbolise the death of winter and the Crone, but I took one look at the weather and thought better of it as an early morning activity! Instead I thought I would work with the idea of purification and have a long bath by candlelight. Mercifully there are no photos of this! I lit a couple of scented candles by the side of the bath, and immersed myself in the water, grounding myself and calling in my Goddess. naked like a new born. I envisaged all the negative feelings, fears or thoughts that had crept in through the reflection of the long dark winter months to be washed away, leaving room for my mind and body to embrace the dawn of the Maiden. By candlelight I watched the steam drift and rise, before it escaped, snaking through the open window. I watched the sky lighten and listened to the bird song as they too greeted the new Imbolc morning, tweeting and chattering their way into the light. Yes I was cold and wrinkly, but wow was I clean! 

Imbolc Altar

Later that evening I redressed my altar, this old green vase was one of my Nan's so it felt right to let the Crone energy linger a little to honour my ancestors, who formed part of the line that brought me into the world and also hopefully to leave me with a little wisdom. I intend to add to it from my wanders in the countryside, I have no doubt that I will find things to delight me and to adorn it. I love that picture of the Maiden awakening from her underground slumber, stretching before venturing forth. The weather still wasn't really conducive to a good fire, so instead I rounded up every single votive or altar candle I still had lurking on my dresser, in the drawers or the bathroom and made an indoor fire on my kitchen table. I manged to capture a few quiet minutes for myself and some quiet contemplation without singeing my eyebrows, though I fear my arms may be less hirsute than they were in the morning!
Daffodils Buds Bloomed For Imbolc
This weekend I had a good old spring clean and then headed off to spend some time with some dear friends in the Folkestone Pagan Circle. We met at the stone circle on the beach and watched by a shy Lady Moon peeping through the clouds at us we lit a fire and held a simple lovely ceremony with the waves crashing behind us. I took my Yule long and some branches of my old Christmas tree, dried out for this purpose, an old tradition amongst some beliefs to cast the winter behind us and welcome in the light of Spring. After calling in the elements, spirits, Ancestors, God and Goddess - not my own practise but this is a multi path circle, we talked of what Imbolc meant to us on our diverse paths, sang a little and asked for healing for loved ones around a fire that spoke to us of Pine Woods, poems were read and enjoyed, simple time honoured rituals that bind us all throughout time and throughout the world.

The talk of cleansing and the rituals attached to it lingered with me as I drove home, and this morning I awoke wondering if the traditional spring clean had it's roots in ancient customs. A bit of research has suggested that it dates back to the Jewish customs of the passover, where leavened bread crumbs must be swept form the house in order not to insult God and also Chinese customs where the celebration of the New Year, which falls in late January or early February includes cleaning the house to rid the family of bad luck or misfortunes that they had attracted during the previous year. Funny how all paths and religions seem to have very similar customs! I suspect it dates back even further than that, making way for the coming of spring and the birth of the Maiden, banishing the darkness and the Crone.

Have a Blessed Week and Remember Your Spring Clean! BBxx

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