It's February 1st, which means that in the Northern Hemisphere it's the lovely festival of Imbolc, and in the Southern Hemisphere, the opposite festival of Lammas. (February 2nd is also a traditional date for these festivals). Both are important festivals on the Pagan ‘Wheel of the Year’ - a cycle of eight festivals that mark the changing of the seasons.
Imbolc is a time of quickening, of life beginning to stir again after months of Winter. The fire in Earth's belly is rising, calling buds to swell and seeds to stir below the surface. But the signs are subtle. Here in New Mexico, at least, I need to look closely to be reminded that Spring is not too far away. Trees that at first glance seem dormant are actually pushing forth their first tight leaf buds.
Today the ground is clear, but any day now we'll get our next snow fall. This time last year, there was a blizzard! It's unpredictable, but exciting! Aligned with the Celtic Goddess Brigid, Imbolc is an opportunity to harness Her gifts of creativity, wisdom, poetry and healing. What buds are beginning to push forth, and what seeds are stirring in your own creative life? How can you tap into Nature's energy right now, so tenacious and brave, determined to push through the hard Earth and bring new life?
HOW TO HONOUR IMBOLC
With Brigid being a solar goddess, and the Goddess of the Forge, this is a Fire Festival. It's a great time for some candle magic. Light a new white candle, gaze into the flame, and set your intentions for the coming months. You may also like to make a Brigid's Cross, which represents the solar cycle. These are easy and fun. I found a ‘how to make’ link HERE.
Below is a photo of my attempt this year, still nursing my broken wrist and a cast. I used corn husks, which I soaked for a few minutes then tore into strips, as I still can't drive and get down to the creek where I usually collect my reeds each year. It's a pretty messy job, but it's the energy behind it that counts. As I was making this, I was offering my thanks to Brigid, and focusing on my current creative projects.
Also known as Lughnasadh after the Celtic god Lugh, Lammas is a celebration of the first harvest. Although Summer seems to stretch on forever, Lammas reminds us that the Wheel is turning, and Autumn's golden kiss has begun. The energy of the Sun is warm, golden and generous, calling the fruit and the grain to ripen and to provide an abundant harvest for all. Lammas is the first of the three harvest festivals in the Pagan Wheel of the Year. Some, but not all, of the grain will have begun to ripen. The first loaves are made at this time, and a proportion of the harvest given back to the land. It's a time for expressing gratitude to Mother Earth for the gift of the grain. What seeds that you previously planted are now ready to harvest? Which projects need more nurturing attention?
HOW TO CELEBRATE LAMMAS
My usual Lammas ritual is to bake bread, but if I happen to be away from home or on tour somewhere where I don’t have access to a kitchen, I at least like to celebreate by creating a wondrous feast of food and wine and enjoy the abundance of the season. Ideally, I love to hold this ritual feast outdoors. That way we stay connected to Mother Earth, and can offer some of the food back to Her, in deep gratitude for her generous gift. I also like to source locally supplied seasonal fare. If there is anything in your garden that is ready to harvest, then include that in your banquet. Maybe you can collect some wild blackberries or raspberries? If you choose to bake, you might like to shape the bread into an image of the Goddess, or of the Sun. Or Maybe you’d like to create an altar with piles of golden grain - wheat and oats and barley etc.
If you'd like to learn more about how these two festivals relate to each other, then check out the little info video (with songs!) that I just uploaded to youtube:
I'd love to hear how you're celebrating these sacred festivals this year!
Love and Magic