I’m finding myself thinking more and more about our lives in modern Western Culture. With an emphasis on consuming, filling our time with activities, convenience, striving to better ourselves and increasing our status and wealth I find myself needing more and more ritual in my life to find balance and meaning.
Imbolc (also known as Candlemas, or Brigid’s Day) honours the Goddess slowly turning the Wheel of the Year back to spring. It’s a wonderful time of year for me. There is a real sense of ‘I’ve done it!’. I feel I have survived the darkest part of the year, have drawn on all I need from within to nourish me and can look to the earth again for stirrings of life. Imbolc brings promises of potential and birth as snowdrops and other spring flowers push their way through the soil, looking for sun and warmth.
An ancient fire festival, it is traditional to burn candles in honour of the brightness of the sun and the visibly longer days. When it was vital for our survival, we revered the sacredness of fire, particularly the hearth fire. Now we can flick a switch or turn a thermostat for instant heat, we rarely give thanks for the simple pleasures in life.
In the past, women would check their food stores on Imbolc to be certain that they’re only halfway through their winter provisions. Again, we can get everything we want from a supermarket 365 days a year. Good planning, housekeeping and preservation of seasonal produce is no longer needed or deemed important.
One way in which we can get in touch with this time of year is to create a simple meal from vegetables that have stored the sunshine for us. Roasted carrots, parsnips, red onions and leeks makes a colourful and enticing meal. A bowl of creamy onion soup is the perfect winter dish to support our immune system with its antibacterial and cleansing properties.
If you are fortunate enough to have an open fire, burn a few old yule greens and think of anything in the past year you wish you had done differently. Write or draw it on a piece of paper and throw it onto the fire, releasing all regret and letting go of any negative feeling. With Spring comes the opportunity to being afresh, but first you need to clear out anything that no longer serves you.
Make or decorate candles that can be burned during seasonal celebrations throughout the year. Feel the connection between your own tiny light and the larger light of the world as you watch the flames reach and glow. We will all sit next to the fire this evening and allow the comforting scent of beeswax to warm in our hands while we decorate candles.
Another activity we will be doing with Little Miss Green is to make a rainstick – they serve as a reminder that the coming showers of spring will wash away the last remains of winter.
Our favourite ritual is to create ‘seeds’ to plant. On small pieces of paper we all write some goals we would like to achieve during the upcoming year. We plant our ‘seeds’ in a small pot of earth and scatter them into the ground later in the year along with some wildflower seeds.
On a more practical note, it’s a great time of year to make way for the new on a material level. Have a good declutter and clear out. Sort your attic, cupboards, garage and wardrobes, ready for a spring clean later in the year.