As the annual Brighid Poetry Slam messages out there have probably already high-lighted for us, Imbolc-tide is upon us once more. Depending on your individual faith or path as a Pagan, Imbolc or Oimelc can mean many different things. Those meanings also change depending on matters of where you live and whether you celebrate as a Solitary Pagan or in a Group, and whether your Faith or Path even observes Imbolc or if it’s one of those Holidays that you sometimes go out to a community event for, simply for the Pagan fellowship, or to humor a friend; but for me it has come to be The Festival of Rekindling…
Growing up, and becoming a Witch, in Anchorage,Alaska early February was that time of year where you really started to see and appreciate the returning of the daylight. In late February/Early March you also had the excitement of the approaching Fur Rendezvous, an annual Winter Carnival held in Anchorage. So for the longest time Imbolc was a celebration of the returning light and of the first stirrings of the return of light and life and activity after the mad rush of celebrating the Beloved Living at Yule.
The last few years, though, I have had trouble figuring out what Imboc means to me.
Living in Florida the returning of the light is much less a dramatic or sought after turning of the Wheel, and it’s kind of difficult to get into its associations as celebrating the first signs/stirrings of spring when the citrus harvest is finishing up and the Strawberry harvest is on its way… part of my ongoing journey as I seek to truly understand this strange new sub-tropical world of mine.
Imbolc meaning “In the Belly”; Oimelc meaning “ewe’s milk. Birth, beginnings, creativity, and renewal… those begin to feel closer to the truth of this Sabbat for me. Though I don’t have much, except that of a 1/4 Irish lineage, of a relationship with Brigid whose festival Imbolc is widely honored as, She is the Goddess of Sacred Fires and Sacred Springs. Smithcraft, Arts and Crafts, Poetry, Spirituality, and Healing, Nurturing, Hearthcraft.
These feel, in that deep part of my soul that is touched by the sacred, like the right track…
So before I went to bed this morning (one of the many hazards of an overnight job…) I turned off the computer and the phone, I lit a stick of incense and before I blew out the flame used that stick to light a candle. I sat holding the candle-glass cupped gently in my hands and meditated a bit. I sought, not silence really, but clarity. I let my mind wander over the last few days…
I thought about the New member’s potluck at First Unitarian, how enjoyable it was even though I am clumsy at best at social mixers with large groups of people. I thought about meeting my sponsor/mentor Mary and talking with here about things around church. My mind turned to the words of the Chalice lighting we use at our U.U. Church…
“In the Light of Truth,
In the Warmth of Love,
We gather to seek, to sustain, and to share.”
(and for those of you who are thinking “isn’t the Chalice a tool of water?!” Yes, it is, but there’s more than one way to wield a symbol and a tool! Here is a link about the Unitarian and Unitarian Universalist flaming Chalice)
My mind also thought about how very, very much I enjoyed cooking my variation of Mom’s Classic Greenbeans (a Stewart family Holiday classic!) for the Potluck; and how eager I was to volunteer to help my mentor Mary by volunteering to put together a Jambalaya for the New Orleans themed coffee hour…
I really do love to cook and it feels good to be able to use the skills and knowledge of years of work and study, and my recent schooling, in a productive way. I actually see a lot of my future work in Community Building in the Pagan Community as a way to take those experiences and skills and offer them in Service to others… fundraisers and social events of all sorts!
I am really a hearth-Witch at heart I think, not necessarily limited to my own home; more that I am deeply drawn to and my gifts seem to lay in matters of Hearth and Community building.
Thoughts of the Hearth transition my thoughts from my Witchcraft to my Hellenic Polytheism and naturyally bring to mind Hestia. She who IS the Hearth, and the Hearth Fire, the Sacred light giving, nurturuing, nourishing fire in our homes and lives. Given this long present, but not entirely acknowledged or understood grounding I have in matters of the Hearth, I need to find a way to honor Her especially as I seek to Honor the Theoi Ktesioi, the Gods of the Home, in the coming year on the Noumenia and in my life.
THE THEOI KTESIOI were the gods of house and home. They were led by Zeus protector of the home (Ctesius) and of the family courtyard (Hicesius) along with Hestia, the goddess of the hearth. Hecate and Hermes were also important household gods who protected the gates and entranceways. -from an entry at Theoi.com
Chronologically, my thoughts carried me to the next day and back to thoughts of Witchcraft. Waking up early at 3pm and performing my first, full and formal Witches Circle in…. well, in ages. I remember how wonderful it felt to finally and formally welcome them into my live and works and to share with the Guardians of the Watchtowers in the Blessings of the Lady and Lord. I had not realized how much I missed the immediacy and intimacy of my connection and communion with Them in a full Circle.
Then after Circle there was the mad rush of shopping for and prepping the ingredients for the Jambalaya, then work from 11pm-7am, then rushing home to actually cook the blessed dish, then off to Church to help with the coffee hour and to act as a Greeter.
My thoughts ranged over how much I am enjoying being involved in a community once more, and how eager I am to use my talents, experience, and education in service to that community. Not only First Unitarian, but also the Mystic Grove, which is the Pagan/Heathen Affinity Group at the Church. I am in that tricky stage of getting involved, but trying to not over commit myself or over extend myself… very tough to do for me, and from some of the conversations I’ve had with others at the Church I would guess U.U.’s in general. This congregation, at least, seems to have a lot of that ‘somebody should do something about this’ energy that is so familiar to me…
I had to laugh to myself when someone described a Unitarian Universalist congregation like “herding cats”, how many times had I heard that phrase used to describe Pagan community… many!
I also, oddly enough, thought of the new involvement I have with a table-top role-playing group, getting my geek on and making new friends and reveling in the creativity and imagination of this cherished and long neglected hobby….
So for me the Festival of Rekindling is a time renew and recommit to those things that nurture the self and nurture and reconnect us to the wider world. To take pleasure in our creativity, to explore and contemplate our new beginnings or what we might begin as the Wheel turns. To celebrate the return to life and activity after the period of rest after the Winter Holidays.
As I breathed in my meditations by the light of that candle’s flame, focusing ever so slightly on the out-breath, I imagined breathing onto a charcoal or onto kindling, nurturing the fire with my breath to bring it to fullness and life…
Then after some Still and Sillent meditation, I blew out the candle, and welcomed the light of dawn.
“we extinguish the flame,
But not the light of truth,
The warmth of community,
Or the fire of commitment,
These we carry in our hearts until we are together again.”
May your Hearth and Home be blessed,
May you have food and clothing to warm your body,
May you have good friends to share your blessings with to warm your heart and soul,
May you find beauty and inspiration and creativity in your journey,
And, as always,