The Contemporary New England Witch

The Contemporary New England Witch
Ms Faith

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Happy Imbolc - Our First Spring Ritual

 Happy Imbolc,

Many Wiccans and Pagans today celebrate this First of Spring Sabbat. Let me start by pointing out an important detail. Imbolc has traditionally been celebrated on the first day of February. That's right, February 1st. You will, no doubt, see a lot of references on the Internet and in some published books that mention the day being celebrated on February 2nd. This date is the Christian holiday of Candlemass. It is one example of the early Christians adopting and trying to change the existing Pagan holidays (holy days) on the Wheel of the Year to reflect a more accepted Christian outlook.

The early Christians took many Sabbats of the Wheel of the Year and turned them into religious Masses, we have Candlemass overtaking  Imbolc, Lughnasadh on August 1st that became Loaf Mass, keeping the original Pagan focus of the grains and breads that came from the field (for the Christians, that came from God) and of course the biggest for some people,Yule, at the winter Solstice which became Christmas, or Christ's Mass.

 There were other Sabbats overtaken by the early Christians which were considered very special religious days but without the word mass in their new names. Such as Pagan Samhain on November 1st, which the Christians changed into a three day event of fasting, prayer and extreme martyrdom and they called on October 31st, All Hallows Eve, the night before the day of All Hallows day on November 1st. All Hallows stood for a day to pray for all the Saints and angels. Then the next day, November 2nd, became all Soul's day, a day to pray for everyone else. This was done to eliminate the Pagan day of the dead, our memorial day, of Samhain.  Another day adopted and overtaken from the Pagans by the early Christians was our Spring ritual at the Vernal or Spring Equinox of Eostra or Ostara. This day was then called Easter and interestingly celebrated the death and resurrection of the Christ. The Pagans saw the "God" of the harvest cut down and dying in the fields at Mabon and Samhain, and being resurrected at the winter solstice at Yule.

Both Pagan and Christian follow a Wheel of the Year. Our follows the Goddess and God as they dance around the Wheel of the Year following the planting, growing and harvesting of the fields, the birth, life and death of the God of the harvest and the Christians follow the birth, life and death of their Christed one. In so many way, we truly celebrate the same concepts, metaphorically. Interestingly, on the Pagan Wheel of the Year, the Goddess appears young, as the Maiden, Matronly as the Mother and Elderly as the Crone, but she does not die in the course of the year as does the God.

Getting back to Imbolc, this is a time when we humans today, who use the Whee of the Year to plant, grow and harvest, metaphorically, changes we wish to create in our lives. During our Sabbat ritual yesterday, I passed out to everyone, a terracotta flower pot. They will bring their pot home and contemplate what they wish to bring into their lives this year. They can decorate the pot anyway they wish. Giving it on the outside some symbolism of what will be growing inside of it and in their lives. Come Ostara in March, we will bring our pots back and fill them with potting soil and plant charged, blessed and empowered seeds from some herbs. We will offer lavender seeds for those who wish to bring in tranquility to their lives, basil seeds for love or money, rosemary for magick and just about any specific magickal goal, parsley for protection and so forth.

If you plan to celebrate today or tomorrow, you might choose to substitute the traditional cakes and ale with fresh milk and cheese, as the term Imbolc is thought to be a Gaelic term that refers to the milk 'In the Belly' of the ewes in the fields that are giving birth and nursing the new lambs in the fields.

I have noticed early signs of Spring already this year. About 3 weeks ago, I saw many Canada geese flying home, this is almost a full month before they normally fly back. My mother, in upstate Vermont, saw red wing black birds in January, when they normally don't appear until March. We have had a very mild winter so far, here in Southern New England  and wands crossed that the mild winter continues.

To celebrate the arrival of Spring, bring fresh spring flowers into your home. You'll find many beautiful flowers in the markets and florists in your town. Eating fresh fruit, fresh baked breads and light meals, chicken, fish, vegetarian dishes are all appropriate this time of year.

Have a Blessed Imbolc and Welcome Spring!

Peace and Happiness

© 2010-2016 Faith M. McCann. Portions of this blog posting may include materials from my book “Enchantments School for the Magickal Arts First Year Magickal Studies.” For more information, see or go to the title of tonight's discussion and click, it will link you to my school's website. Please note that the copying and/or further distribution of this work without express written permission is prohibited. 

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