One of my favorite writers on Witchcraft is probably Ellen Dugan. Granted, I haven’t read a huge variety of authors on this topic, but with those that I have read so far, Ellen has a great sense of humor and her writing style really mimics my own, so I can relate to everything she says. She also seems very down-to-earth, which I love.
I have her book Seasons of Witchery on my Kindle, and so every time another sabbat comes around, I read about it in this book. The first thing that caught my attention about her Imbolc chapter is that it is a time to really focus on personal powers and intuitive gifts. It makes me wish that I could have had another extra ounces of space in my backpack so I could have brought my Tarot cards to this country. My deck was the main divination tool that I was working with in the months leading up to my departure, and I wanted to bring them badly. However, the set was quite heavy, and my mom started rooting around in my backpack, wondering “What the heck is in here?” and so I decided that I had to leave them behind in my table dedicated to Witchcraft. That table is simultaneously really important and terrifyingly unguarded, and unfortunately I left my room in shambles when I had to leave, so there is a pretty good chance that my mom will open one of those drawers and see some crazy books and stuff. Ideally not. But perhaps it would lead to conversation.
Eh, still. Ideally not.
Anyway, despite reading up on Ellen Dugan’s interpretation of Imbolc (and yes, I know it’s just one interpretation), I’m still not feeling too informed about it. I know it’s a sabbat of light and preparation for spring, marked by the goddess Brigid of the hearth and home, by red and white candles symbolizing fire and snow, and by Lammas corn dollies all dressed up in bridal attire, but I’m not entirely sure still what exactly it all means, you know? I understand that it’s important that spring is coming, and I know that weather divination had its importance in the past also, but Imbolc doesn’t seem to have the vital themes that the other main sabbats do. Like, Samhain is all about the spirit world becoming close to the living world, and Beltane is about fertility and the beginning of the warmest months, and Lammas is about the harvest. But Imbolc, what are you?
Additionally, there is no real parallel celebration in popular culture right now. Samhain has Halloween, which essentially kept most of the traditions of Samhain, and Yule has Christmas, which, again, kept much of the Pagan symbolism and tradition, and Ostara is Easter and even Beltane’s got May Day and the maypole and whatnot. But Imbolc has become…what? Groundhog’s Day? Valentine’s Day? A combination of both?
I guess what I’m going to use this sabbat for is, of course, celebrating the proximity of springtime, and lighting candles and everything. I’ll probably try to eat some festive foods, and I would even like to do some Imbolc cleaning. I have never really worked with the concept of Brigid, so I have never grown an attachment to her, but the traditions including her seem pretty cool, so I might leave an offering or some cloth to bless. (I want to reiterate quickly that I do not actually believe in Pagan deities, but I do enjoy honoring traditions associated with them and celebrating them as conceptualized understandings of different aspects of the Universe.) Even though this is a major sabbat, I think my Yule ritual was a lot more close to my heart, so I’ll also use this time to evaluate my progress on my Yule goals (spoiler: they haven’t exactly been that great). Thankfully, the weather right now is a little milder than usual, so I’m enjoying the extra motivation coming from this and using it to get off my butt and actually do some of the things I’ve been wanting to do–basically, yoga and exercise.
I definitely accept that this Imbolc is not going to be groundbreaking for me, but this marks about a year since I really started looking into Witchcraft. I don’t count that time as starting my “year and a day” of study that most Witches strive to endure before describing themselves as a Witch, but I think it doesn’t matter if that time is included or not. For me, a year and a day is not really enough to get to the bottom of my own philosophy or to decide what the best path is for me. I think this journey is going to take me a long time, but it’s not hurting anybody, and I’m willing to go the extra mile to find something that makes me happy.
Blessed Imbolc, everyone.