Last week I wanted to write about cycles but my computer had other ideas. So I think I will take up my musing on this most universal of elements within paganism (is that too broad?). It’s a natural time of year to ponder the issue because we are in the midst of the Imbolc season. Yes, I said season. I’m of the opinion that we can tell a lot about a particular festival based upon its mirror image. The counter-point to Imbolc is Lughnassadh, and we know that the Lughna Dubh period (as it was known in Ireland) extended over at least a fortnight (MacNeill, 15-16). But I don’t want to be too scholarly here. I want to speak about experience.
As I mentioned in another post the etymology of Imbolc has been successfully linked to purification. Toward the middle to end of January I was feeling the strong pull toward milk baths and fasting. The snowdrops had blossomed; a first indicator here that the wheel is turning. Snowdrops come first, then daffodils. The delicate petals remind me of Aine and her slender white feet not crushing the flowers as she dances. I bathed myself, I cleaned the house, but I did not fast.
I also gathered reeds to make my new solar wheel. Out in the freshness of the day I sang…. “Brid is come. Brid is welcome. Welcome Brid.” as I pulled the tender new shoots. I don’t like using a blade on them, though whether this is due to tradition I can not recall. I would need to grab my reference source (Ó Catháin) and I just don’t want to. Regardless, there was only pulling. I did not feel the rush to make the wheel this year as I have done previously. The reeds sat on the big table in the kitchen for several days, absorbing the cooking of food, the household conversation, and general minding of domestic tasks. Finally, for no obvious reason I felt it was time so I sat and wove, as my partner cooked. Then the equal armed cross sat, neatly worked and secured, on the big wooden table in the kitchen for several days, absorbing the cooking of the food, the household conversation, and general minding of domestic tasks. Today, it was time. I removed last year’s wheel from above the door and replaced it with the new one. Last year’s talisman was placed on the beam in my Therapy Room next to the one from the year before.
I’m not hung-up on precise observations and observances. It’s a conscious choice I’m making based on my disgust at our ordered-beyond-comprehension-mind-numbing-modern-lifestyles. My aim is to let go and feel the changes. To let my body speak. To give voice to the myriad parts of understanding and knowing that reside within my wonderful organism that aren’t primarily frontal cortex centric. So, Imbolc is here and I’m moving further into spring. The last bit of purification I want to engage my senses in is the fast. My body is ready to detox and ingest some spring tonic! We’ll see how it goes. The nettles are certainly tender! 🙂
MacNeill, Maire. The Festival of Lughnasa. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1962.
Ó Catháin, Séamas. The Festival of Brigit: Celtic Goddess and Holy Woman. Dublin: DBA