2nd February, 2018
On TotT, like always, here.
Imbolg 2018 was a great celebration and a lovely way to start the wheel of the year turning again. Out of all the sabbats, Imbolg is one that means a lot to me personally, and I see the day as special (well isn't it not?). I planned on having some friends come over a week in advance so it would give me enough time to plan everything I needed. I really wanted to make this night one to remember~
Imbolg (pronounced 'im-molg') means "in the belly", and refers to the first stirrings of foetal light in the womb of Mother Earth. It is a time between winter - of Yule - and spring - of Ostara; it is the time between the times, and a celebration involving purification, fire - and quite good spirits!
There are a lot of traditions around this time, and incidentally Imbolg has something to do with the origins of spring cleaning: it was originally part of a fertility ritual involving inviting the re-fertilizing properties of the Sun in the cold barren womb of Earth - all that was of the last year was burned, buried or removed in preparation for the birth of the new. Imbolg is a time when the fields should be cleared for the year-to-come's harvests, and the first signs of the quickening year are made apparent.
Lots of luscious greenery and wild foragble edibles are alive at this time. Imbolg is a good time of the year to start identifying types of trees, plants and other things as well, the lack of foliage making many flora more easily identifiable. In Ireland the tradition of having the 'impersonator of the saint' [Brigid] come door to door and be invited in the dwelling lives on and well, and is surely a remnant of a pre-christian tradition.
Enough with the general background!
Check out what we did for our own local Imbolg celebrations~
On the day-of, I woke up around 5 AM and went out into our fields before the crack of dawn and harvested rushes with my boline, singing songs to Brigid. I brought them back to the stead and started to strip their stalks of small branches and leaves, leaving only the hearty major stalk remaining. Eventually I had a nice small pile of these rushes to make Brigid's crosses with.
I also cut up an old pair of jeans into strips or 'clooties', and laid out pens so as to write our wishes, hopes and dreams for the coming year; which will then be tied to a tree at the "fairy house" at the far end of our property. Also visible is a pack of beans (suitable as a reminder of imbolg), with which we will all plant a few in the soil. My previous years' Brigids' cross sits atop the pile of rushes next to a spool of string, and my ornate crescent-moon boline sits sheathed nearby. In the distance is the unlit Brideog ('brideog' means 'little brid').
Here in this picture you can see my good friend Miguel taking part in the age-old tradition of tying a strip of cloth (or a 'clootie') to a tree. He had arrived before everyone else so he was the first one to tie his cloth! I had brought my cauldron out to the 'fairy house' at the far-end of our country property and filled it with water - acting as "Brigid's Well"; where everyone would have to walk out and voyage to, to dip before tying. You can notice to the left a small wattle enclosure - where we would be planting our beans in the moonlight later that night~
Brigid in her Bed, with candles lit and placed on either side. Usually my Brideog is very simple - just the corn doll and wand laid on a blanket with the candles on each side; but since we were having our first coven meeting, I decided to really make it beautiful~ I wrapped the doll in some old decorative cloths made by my great grandma, and placed that in another (more modern) colourful one; necklaces (also 'ancestral') adorn it, and a small crystal sits at the heart of the image. Lemons grow around this time and so I appropriately placed some around the bed, as a seasonal tinge. Incense sticks sit waiting to be lit.
Another wider shot of the Brideog. Note the plants behind it; I had stuffed the back with hay to prop the doll up a bit and used some green tree-branches to hide the ends, as well as make it look nice~ You can really see the full image now.
Great importance was atttached to the burning of last years' crosses. Miguel had mentioned that while it's possible to just "do this in your mind" - that is, symbolically "letting go" and re-making our new year - when we have these materialized manifestations of those things it certainly makes it a lot more alive, palpable and memoriable for everyone involved. A great symbolic gesture - the form is meaningless unless the intent be there! It's time to get rid of the old and in with the new!
Here you can see my Mom and I's crosses. These are not Brigid's crosses, but God's Eyes. Reason we made these instead was that the rushes I had harvested didn't soak long enough to be pliable so we all thought it would be easier to make these instead; and they look as nice and suit the purpose just fine. We started to notice an emerging pattern with how we created ours~
Here our coven members Summer and Rachel tend to the Imbolg fire~ We burned our Yule Log from last year.
Imbolg fires are burning! All hail Brigid!
Brigid in her Bed, with all of our crosses at the foot of it, as to procure the blessings of Brigid upon them before we all left. There was a distinct way of wrapping we all noticed, the men making the crosses by tying the string 'under over under over', while the females all tyed it 'over over over' in the same way; we took note of these already-emerging local 'styles'.
The Imbolg fire now smoulders.
When the night came and the moon rose up - and we all were buzzed enough - we decided to try doing a wheel or cord dance. It was just four people, but we were able to have a man hold one side of the cord and a female another, and like this had all held by the right 'polarity', and had the cords in such a way that it was taught at a point in the centre, and we all danced deosil in the moonlight, practice dancing but still having fun. We started to laugh and had a good time.
When it was time for everyone to depart we made sure everyone took their cross with them, and gave them a dozen eggs each (we have chickens); with thankful goodbyes, smiles and kind departing words I watched as they rode off into the night. Looking back up at the moon, I smiled in the silent relish of a good sabbat.
Merry 2018 Imbolg!
(from left to right) Adam, me, Summer and Rachel all in front of the Brideog