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Imbolc 2014

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:

Rice Pudding
(Imbolc)

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.

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Winter Musings 2014

I hear so many people saying that they hate winter, and it makes me a little sad. Winter has a beauty all its own, and so many people seem to be blind to it.

Oh, sure.  I hate brushing snow off of my car, and there are times when driving is hazardous (and so is walking!), and I can do without the subzero wind chill (and the #!^% frozen hot water pipe) but I don’t hate winter.

For one thing, some of the most beautiful scenery comes in winter.

  • A heavy wet snow that clings to the branches and makes the forest look like it’s made of lace
  • An untouched expanse of snow, sparkling in the sunlight as if made of tiny diamonds
  • Big fat fluffy flakes that drift and swirl and make you feel like you’re inside a snow globe

Yes, winter can be deadly:  so can summer.   That’s no reason to hate either season.

I think that one of the reasons that people hate winter is that they have drifted too far from the cycle of the seasons.  (Part of that problem, of course, is modern life. People don’t live as close to nature as they once did.  We now, for the most part, live in more urban areas and few people live within walking distance of where they work.)

What does that have to do with hating winter?    Well, one of the reasons that people don’t like winter is because it’s so hard to get out and about, but that’s the point.

Winter is a time for going within, a time to draw into yourself, to rest, and to restore your soul.  We’re supposed to be less active in the winter.  Nature is resting, preparing for the new growth of spring: we should be doing the same thing.  Our bodies and souls know this.  Even separated from the natural world as we are, part of us senses that now is the time to rest.

But a lot of people aren’t comfortable with that.  Our society pushes “go, go, go, do, do, do” to the point that people don’t know how to be still: people think that they have to be out doing something, even if it’s just window shopping.

And that dichotomy between society’s expectations and the soul’s needs leads to people “hating winter” because they don’t understand the true root of their distress.

Another reason is that less time out in the world also means less time around people.  For an introvert like me, that’s not a problem, but, again, our society seems to be geared toward people not being alone, with the result that people don’t know how to be alone, to the point that unless they are in a relationship with someone they don’t feel like a whole person.

People aren’t comfortable with themselves.  They don’t realize that they need to form a relationship with themselves, so they look outward, to others.  And winter is a time for looking within.

Winter is a dark time, and people are afraid of the dark.  They are afraid to look within.

But the dark isn’t evil, and the truest answers come from within yourself.

So don’t hate winter. Embrace the lessons it offers, and the time that it gives you to learn those lessons.

Oh.   And the best thing about winter?

Hot chocolate.