RITUAL AND CEREMONY
Stirrings during hibernation
In a time of darkness, we look to the coming light. And, we watch nature for guidance as we cleanse ourselves and our homes in order to release the energies which no longer serve and emerge into the purification of renewal.
The inner work and hibernation during winter offers conscious witness to the omens of nature and what is foretold of Spring to come.
Over centuries in many civilizations across the globe, people have clung to hope of what’s to come; real or imagined, religious or secular, and beyond.
Lore: What’s in store?
Imbolc is the first of 4 fire-ceremonies aligned with the cycles of nature. Celebrated around the world on or near the first of February in the Northern Hemisphere (NH) and first of August in the Southern Hemisphere (SH), this stop on the wheel of the year invites us to recognize, though still cold, the days are growing and nature, the earth and her inhabitants are prepping for Spring.
Imbolc has been translated as, “the womb of Earth” or “in the belly” , indicating a moment in the year where the first rumblings of Spring take place; where Mother Earth is pregnant with life to be renewed and reborn.
Alternatively, Imbolc has gone by names such as Ewemolc, for the lactating animals as signs of rebirth; St. Brigid, the Goddess of Fire, healing, virginity, poetry and power; and Candlelamas, a celebration of the presentation of Jesus at the Temple of Jerusalem.
Across time, space, and nature; these celebrations share common practices honoring the light and what is on the horizon.
The Natural Effect
The Earth begins to quicken, and beneath our feet there are rumbles of life being reborn into existence. Mother Earth is pregnant with life; with renewal and hope. Hibernation is coming to a close, and animals, and nature instinctively make space for what is to come.
This includes humans, however all too often we are disconnected from these precious moments in nature to begin to shed layers that no longer serve our path moving forward. As we cleanse ourselves of these layers, we make space to step into something new.
The fire within is the light spark to creation. We too are pregnant with ideas and projects for the coming Spring. We burn the mental, spiritual, physical, and emotional debris from our lives, our presence. After, we are invited to bathe, as water offers purification and healing. We are renewed.
Agriculturally, the land and animals begin to provide and share their bounty as we cultivate the seeds we will plant for Spring. Sometimes called “lambing season” animals begin to have babies, and thus an offering of milk, butter, cheese, and wool; generally a good omen for the growing season.
This is an honoring offered to celebrate the space between Yule and Ostara (NH) with the promise of renewal, and arrival of hidden potential – a resurgence of energy, of the Earth’s awakening and rumblings of life. The resurgence of seeds and bulbs is celebrated as the fertility of Earth awakens from a winter sleep.
We are meant to learn from our plant and animal kin how to proceed toward the equinox and what preparations can be made at Imbolc and which must wait.
Ripening for renewal
As may be expected during a fire ceremony, we lean toward light and fire to transition us through one half of winter to the other.
Many traditions use candles, bonfires, blessings or intentions, and altars to ask for her guidance and to welcome the transition of seasons, to cleanse the stale energy and step into renewal and rebirth.
Light honors the increasing light, and candlelit ceremonies are practiced to bless the fields and animals for a fruitful start to the growing season. Farmers may choose to bless their gardening tools at this time to ensure productivity.
Imbolc serves as a pause to set intentions, of making wishes, and taking decisions. Ritual and ceremony, individually or collectively, invites a clearing of the past and a renewal for the future.
Some rituals engage elemental practices using water and earth to bless a community. Commonly, passing a touch stone, an earth elemental submerged in a water elemental between a small group, beacon a renewed sense of harmony through the collective.
Introspection breeds actions
As we transition through winter, we rest in power in early February to honor the beginning movements and rumblings beneath our very soles (souls). We move from our hibernation and introspection into action. We’ve had our rest, nature is in movement and thus we begin to transition from rest to gradual activity.