There is a 30 day Pagan journaling challenge for the month of September set up on Instagram and I thought it would be fun to do it – and would get me back into the swing of things as well.
And back into blogging here as I answer the posts. (I’m not much of an Instagram person.)
Today’s question is:
What is my favorite Sabbat? Why?
Yes, you read that right. Imbolc.
Not Autumn Equinox (even though fall is my favorite season) or Samhain or even Yule or Beltaine: Imbolc.
Because I like beginnings, and Imbolc is all about beginnings.
In my personal tradition, it’s the start of spring. (If Yule/Winter Solstice is “Mid-Winter” then it can’t also be the first day of winter. That falls to Samhain (“Summer’s End”) which makes Imbolc the start of spring and Ostara “Mid-Spring” and Beltaine the first of summer and Litha “Mid-Summer. Then the fall harvest season starts with Lugnassadh, then the Autumn Equinox (which really shouldn’t be called Mabon but that’s another story for another time) and finally Samhain, the final harvest.)
So, anyhow, Imbolc is the start of spring. The days are noticeably brighter than they were at Yule (although it’s not exactly any warmer here in Western Pennsylvania).
Still, Imbolc is full of possibility. The days are longer, and there’s a sense that spring, although still hidden, is coming soon.
Imbolc is also a weather marker. Also known as Candlemas, there is a rhyme for it:
“If Candlemas day be sunny and bright
Winter will have another flight.
But if Candlemas day be cloud and rain
Winter has gone and will not come again.”
(Unfortunately I don’t remember the source. I think maybe I read it in a Witch’s Almanac but I’m not sure. Or maybe The Pagan Book of Days.)
There’s a song called “Rolling World” that expresses it perfectly for me:
“All life in the earth begins to unfold as the waxing light is seen.
Each seedling will sprout into its own self to inspire us to be truly free.”
Less than a week until Imbolc.
Imbolc is one of my favorite Sabbats although it was one that I had the hardest time understanding when I was starting out. For some reason I just couldn’t quite grasp what it meant.
Then one year I was working as a temp and was between assignments, when I got a phone call – on Imbolc – about a short-term job, and that was when it clicked.
Imbolc is about beginnings and possibilities and hidden promises.
I am in more or less the same position this year: between jobs. I have an interview later today for a part-time position that is ideally close to home. (A five-minute commute sure beats a sixty minute commute!)
Imbolc, in my own personal tradition (I should name my own personal tradition one of these days…) is the start of spring.
Sure, it doesn’t look like spring, at least, not here in Western Pennsylvania, but, nonetheless, it is the start of spring.
It is halfway between Midwinter Solstice and Spring Equinox, and the hours of daylight are noticeably longer.
And, in the words of one of my favorite Pagan songs, “The Rolling World”
“All life in the earth begins to unfold
As the waxing light is seen.
Each seedling will sprout into its own self,
To inspire us to be truly free.”
So, what do I do for Imbolc?
I keep an eye on the weather. (Imbolc is also known as Candlemas.)
“If Candlemas Day be sunny and bright,
Winter will have another flight.
If Candlemas Day be cloud and rain,
Winter has flown and will not come again.”
And I usually swear at the groundhog and listen to my roommate – who hates winter with a passion rarely seen in a sane individual – threaten to sell raffle tickets to see who gets to shoot him first. (Punxsutawney isn’t that far away from where I live.)
On a more spiritual level, I give thanks for new beginnings and new promises.
I plant seeds. (I’m currently torn between snapdragons, marigolds, tomatoes, or zucchinis.)
And I make rice pudding.
From my Cookbook of Shadows:
Any symbols of the sun or fertility are appropriate for this Sabbat, as are foods that incorporate milk products. (My favorite Imbolc food is rice pudding, as it incorporates fertility symbols, sun symbols, and lots of milk.)
1 cup rice, cooked and drained — wash pan and cook these ingredients:
4 cups of milk — symbolizing the milk of the Goddess
1 cup of sugar — for the sweetness of life
2 eggs, beaten — symbolizing both the sun and new life/fertility
1 tblsp cornstarch — to thicken and bind
1 tsp vanilla — because every recipe has vanilla in it
Add rice and cook (over Brigid’s Fire) stirring until it is like custard.
While stirring in a deosil (clockwise) direction, visualize the things you want to draw into your life. This is also a good coven or family activity, as everyone can take turns stirring it.
May the growing light show you the way to yourself.