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Plant Your “Seeds of Potential”—Pagan Rituals for Imbolc.
“You can cut all the flowers, but you cannot keep Spring from coming.” ~ Pablo Neruda
The Pagan festival of Imbolc (February 1 and 2) is the second of the Great Sabbaths in a witch’s year and concludes the “dead time”—the season between October 31 and February 1.
“Dead time” sounds ominous, but, really, it is resting time—when one wouldn’t normally perform a whole lot of magic but enjoy the darkest of months for introspection and contemplation.
By February 1, we are so done with resting and encounter a natural urge to begin anew, just as the Earth is stirring with fertility.
Imbolc is a lunar, feminine festival. It’s intuitive, initiatory, and inspired. We receive the urge to be creative, to access our wisdom, and potentialize our dreams with action.
Lunar magic appropriate for this particular Imbolc (just past the full moon on January 28) surrounds the waning Mother Moon—manifestation, harvesting, gratitude, and serving others. During this time, we can see the influence of the Maiden and Mother archetypes, parts of the Triple Goddess, at play.
Just as the ancients celebrated the birthing of lambs and “first milk,” we can also follow the natural outward-spiraling energy experienced by Earth Mother, celebrate the growing light within ourselves, and in the world around us.
Unless we are growing our own food, we may not be as connected today to the importance of lengthening days or warming weather, but it was a hopeful and joyful time for our ancestors, for they were running low on stores in their larder. This was an opportunity to sprout new seeds for fresh meals and an end to hunger.
What kind of hunger is gnawing at my bones?
(This is a poignant question to ask at Imbolc.)
A new fire is born inside us at Imbolc; we can now transform what may have been regret or sorrow into new beginnings.
We can shed inner baggage through the symbolic act of clearing closets or cluttered rooms. Make room for new breath, new ideas. Feel the spaciousness within. We can also honor our ancestors through song and dance. The spiral dance is especially potent at this time.
If anyone is into working with their besom broom, they may want to head into the woods with a small bucket of milk—yes, everyone does this, you won’t look strange at all! Dip the broom into the bucket, bless the Earth by energetically sprinkling milk to the four directions, invoking healing for the planet. A willow broom would be perfect as willow is sacred to Imbolc. (Try oat milk if you’re vegan.)
This can be followed up by an alfresco meditation.
Planting Seeds of Potential
The human mind understands symbolism; we work with it every day. It is the way of the healer and the shaman, the woodland witch, and any one of us really because we are all magical.
To plant symbolic seeds of our own potential, we can simply plant a small or large pot of herbs indoors and place them in a sunny window. Before filling the pot with soil, place a written intention at the bottom. It can be for something we wish to awaken within ourselves. Plant an herb such as thyme, rosemary, sage or basil, or a combination.
Take a small taper—a beeswax candle is best for non-toxicity—and using a sharp knife or pin, carve a word into it, such as gratitude or love, or another word that has meaning at this time. Stand it up in the soil to one side of the pot. Light the candle daily until the seeds sprout, and longer if it does not interfere with the growing plants.
This “fire” will combust our intention and magnetize our potential in the coming months.
We can feast on our potential when using the herbs with our meals. By the time Spring Equinox rolls around, we’ll have fully engaged with this energy.
Although Brigid, the Triple Goddess, is traditionally called upon at Imbolc, here are a few more deities we can work with:
Aphrodite (Greek), Bast (Egyptian), Ceridwen (Celtic), Ceres (Roman), Gaia (Greek), Vesta (Roman), Venus (Roman), Pan (Greek).
One can call upon their archetypal energy or align with them to assist us in our magic. There is not a hard and fast rule about who to work with for the hedgewitch—it all about the connection. If one wishes to call upon another more familiar god or goddess, do so with confidence.
Moonstone is my favorite stone for Imbolc (rebirth and transitions), but one can also work with Carnelian for fertility, Amethyst for protection, and Labradorite for emerging energies.
Our south of the equator neighbors will celebrate Lughnasadh or Lammas, the first harvest festival on the opposite side of the Wheel of the Year. It’s a connection with Demeter, the Greek goddess of the harvest, grain, and fertility. Although the focus is on harvest instead of planting, the theme of fertility still runs through.
Imbolc blessings, wild ones!
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