Monday, January 24, 2011

Imbolc

We’re over halfway through this winter season. The days are starting to stretch out again and the nights are getting shorter. The Sabbat of Imbolc or Oimelc is drawing near. This day comes about when the Sun is 15 degrees in Aquarius making it the midway point between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. This usually falls on or around February 2nd.  It is the first rite of Spring and it’s also one of my favorites. Oimelc means “ewe’s milk”. The literal translation of Imbolc is “in the womb”. The earth known as Gaia, being pregnant right now is starting to feel the first stirrings of spring. This is called the quickening (the first movements a mother feels in her womb). It is the time of the year when the sheep which are pregnant start to lactate and give milk. This was always a definite sign that spring was around the corner. Other names for this day are Candlemas and Brigit’s Day.
Although this is a day to honor the coming spring, most places in the northern hemisphere still have snow on the ground and it’s bitterly cold outside. Some places may be seeing the first hints of spring such as the return of certain flocks of birds, early buds on trees and the first blades of grass.
Since Imbolc is one of the four fire festivals, my family usually has a small bonfire in honor of the returning warmth. So even in the cold snow we gather around our fire and look forward to the return of spring. During this time it is also our custom to make milk dishes such as custard and ice cream. My daughter has a blast helping us make fresh butter during this time of the year. We then press the butter into little sun molds in honor of the day.
For me, this is a time to rededicate myself to my craft and to the path I have chosen to walk. So whatever your magickal or mundane background ( wiccan, pagan, witchcraft, hoodoo, christian, etc.) this is the time for you to enjoy spending time with your family and friends and looking forward to the bright days ahead. This festival or holiday carries the vibration of hope and it is a time when we all feel optimistic about how the rest of the year will turn out.

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