As the year begins we have the first pagan holiday of 2017 approaching. This holiday is Imbolc sometimes known as Candlemas. It marks the change of the Crone into the Maiden. It also marks the beginnings of Spring. Depending on your traditions you may bring in other aspects. The Gaelic Goddess Brigid is often associated with the holiday. Brigid was also chritianized into Saint Brigid and marks the patron of Saint Brigid Day (February 1st).
Traditional foods to be eaten at this time include dairy, breads, grains, and vegetables stored from fall such as onions and potatoes. Some may argue that spicy and full bodied foods are preferred.
In our family I prefer a nice stew or Shepard’s pie. Both seem to be adequate dishes to celebrate the season. That and I have a picky modern American family who doesn’t like to try new things like leek soup. Oh and pancakes! Their golden color and shape represent the sun returning it’s warmth for the spring.
As an undercover witch one of my favorite ways to celebrate is to light candles. White for the Goddess, Red or Yellow for the God, and Orange to symbolize the change to come.
Weather divination is also a part of Imbolc. Traditionally you would watch for serpents and badgers emerging from their dens which may explain the North American tradition of Groundhog’s Day.
In Gaelic tradition it is about when Cailleach the divine hag gathers her firewood for the remainder of winter. If winter was to last longer then the weather would be bright and sunny so that she could gather more firewood. If the weather was cloudy and foul it meant that spring was closer because she could not go out to gather more firewood.
In Greek mythology it is the story of Demeter searching for Persephone. It marked the bringing of Light (Persephone) back into the world.
Although traditionally many witches perform some sort of ritual on this day or on the nearest full moon, I prefer small celebrations with the family. I love making pancakes with the kids, lighting candles, burning incense , and cooking a hearty meal for the family.
Rituals aren’t a big part of my being a witch. It can be at times, but for me it’s about reaching mental clarity and with that I like to meditate on the meaning of the holiday and apply it to my life. Imbolc is about new beginnings and self cleansing. Out with the old so to speak. It’s a time to work on making changes for the new year and cleansing all the negativity out of your life.