Sunday, February 2, 2014

Thus we banish winter

On this, the first fire festival of the year, some alignment of time and energy helixed together, manifesting in my reading a book in which a character described Imbolg as "the kindling in the forest of winter."

Ahhh. Lovely.

Yet, a little strange. Since coincidentally, I was reading the book with the Kindle app, and on the festival of Imbolg.

As I read, a wistful feeling crept over me. I was wishing that I had felt up to attending the St. Brigid's/Candlemas ritual last week at the college where I once worked, instead of being down with a cold. The college was founded by the Catholic order of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, a community of women who are perfectly okay with acknowledging and even celebrating the pagan roots of Christian holidays and who conduct lovely if slightly earnest ceremonies with a touch of mystery.

~ ~ ~

In one ritual, I read elsewhere, she representing the Maiden sweeps deosil around the circle, symbolically brushing away the old and outworn.

Earlier today, again by coincidence, I performed a similar action. On hands and knees, I used a wet cloth to wipe up the accumulation of sand, salt and snowmelt just inside the back door. Juniper, my familiar, sat near me and watched the motion of my hand, circling around and around--every revolution sunwise, or deosil.

~ ~ ~

After the sweeping comes the chanting.

Thus we banish winter,
thus we welcome spring,
say farewell to what is dead
and greet each living thing.
Thus we banish winter,
thus we welcome spring.

I say the words aloud,  to myself. Just as I write this, I say them, for any who are listening to hear.

I am not burning incense, or anything else, yet I smell incense burning.

Strange and strange.

It is a hint of woodsmoke creeping in round the edges of my old window frames from outside on this fine, frosty night.

Or is it?

I need more magic in my life. I choose to think of this phantom whiff of sacred smoke as one more part of this Imbolg ritual I seem to have been participating in all day without even realizing it.

Until just now, as I wrote this.

Welcome, spring. Let the fire in the forest of winter be kindled.


  1. Thank you, I was heartened to hear you speak of the continued traditions at the college you used to work at. I am always very interested in the origins of things and how they developed over ‘time’. It hadn’t always occurred to me, a connection between Imbolg and Candelmas (or Gŵyl Fair y Canhwyllau to me); Imbolg having to do not only with the coming hopes of spring, but too with the goddess Brighid. I expect you knew of the bringing of the doll to represent Brighid round to people’s houses at Imbolg to bless the places? She was meant to visit each person’s house; I really miss these types of things…the people of this country are mostly so separate from one another and isolated, and I find that too bad. This separateness and a latent disbelief is perhaps what gives us the feeling that there isn’t enough magic in our lives. It is all around us, wherever we may be—it’s only our perception that becomes altered and clouded over ‘time’ and the constant wearing away at us by the disbelief that surrounds us. But, ‘The universe is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.’ So I suppose there’s hope for everybody; and certainly for us.

    1. I really find myself feeling the lack of these sorts of folkways or spiritual traditions or seasonal traditions. Like so many American families, my family had very few traditions, and those they had were all centered around children, so they weren't really honored for their deeper value. There is just no real structure there for it in our daily lives or community (besides churchgoing, I suppose) so it is up to each person to make their own tradition, which feels lonely at times.

  2. I wished, also, for some sort of quiet ritual with some mystery, but since I hadn't planned one, I spent the day other ways. I think tomorrow I'll do some very needed sweeping and chant in the spring as I clear. Happy Imbolc.

    1. I hope you feel the spirit of your beloved companion staying close to you as you go about your practice of clearing space for spring. Bright blessings to you.

  3. I remember in Los Angeles how I'd long to develop my Pagan practice. My artist friend came over, took a look at my life and said, you'll pick this up again when you leave LA. And so mote it was... It helped me to observe natural rituals whilst living in the mountains... and now, when I don't have much mountains around, I keep an altar in every room and use them for ritual work from time to time (am not participating in a candle intention ceremony!).

    That's fantastic about your school... it reminds me of the rituals my grandmother practices, despite her intense Catholic devotion, the magic of the land is still recognized.

    Your ceremony is beautiful. May Spring welcome you, too, with wide open green and warm arms!

    1. What a lovely blessing. Your beautiful blog has obviously been readied for the fresh energy of spring, it does my heart good to see all the creations flowering over there from your hands. Happy Imbolg!

  4. Hi Carmine - thanks for the link to the pin the other day. I've been trying to figure out how to email you, but don't see that anywhere, so here I am. What a frisky Coon, chasing a fox! Pasha and a fox family had daily run-ins a few years ago. The family must have had a den RIGHT near becase they were in the garden every day. I would hear Pasha and the fox screaming at each other somewhere in the forest. Pasha would come home annoyed. They bumped into each other daily on the garden path and he would try to nap on his bench and they would go by. By the end of the summer, he was a tad grumpy about the whole thing.

    I do feel him close, but the house is very quiet and I'm in great need of cat cuddles!


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