Imbolc – The First Spark of Life

In the past, Imbolc was a sabbat without meaning for me, primarily because many of the books on sabbats only focus on the goddess, Brigid, at this time. Since I don’t follow a Celtic path, the focus on Brigid, amazing goddess that she is, held little meaning for me.  All that changed last year while I was working on an organic farm in mid-February.  It was cold and snow covered the ground.  By all outer appearances the world was still sleepily locked in the grip of winter.  It was at this time that the owners began tapping the maple trees for sap. Although everything seemed cold and lifeless outside, beneath the bark these trees were pulsing with life.

That’s when I discovered the true meaning of Imbolc.  Imbolc is all about potential, the spark of life.  At Imbolc everything is new and nothing has been decided.  It’s the most exciting time of the year to cast spells because, at Imbolc, life is full of endless possibilities.  At New Year I like to create wish lists for the coming year, but at Imbolc I like to do serious planning. It’s at Imbolc that I decide the paths I will pursue throughout the year and where I will spend my precious reserves of energy.  I take the spark of life, so nascent and energetic, and place it into the seeds that I will (literally and metaphysically) plant in the spring.

What really makes Imbolc so powerful, so wonderful, and so special is hope. Everything is just beginning at Imbolc. There are no regrets, yet.  Nothing is spoiled.  I can begin anew each year, just like nature does.  So I take this time between now and Ostara to purify myself, both physically and metaphysically, and to prepare myself for the blooming of spring.  At Imbolc the world is renewed and anything is possible.

My Calendar Ritual

The limbo time between the New Year and the old is one of my favorites.  I get so excited about the New Year.  There’s something magickal about this time of endings and beginnings.  It’s also one of the few times when our modern society stops to formally observe the turning of the Wheel.  Over the years I’ve developed a calendar ritual that helps me shed the unwanted pieces of the old year, while embracing and planning for the opportunities of the new one. 

My New Year’s ritual, which takes place over several days, begins with choosing a new calendar and a new day planner.  I know that sounds incredibly mundane but to me a day planner is more than an appointment book.  My day planner is a year-long record of my thoughts, celebrations,  trials, setbacks, and dreams.  In addition to recording birthdays, anniversaries, and appointments, I also record the first snow fall, spiritual musings, and inspiring quotes.  Am I going to entrust all this valuable information to just any book?  No. I am exacting when it comes to choosing my day planner.  I lean toward planners that were created for Witches.  I like to have all the important lunar and solar information at my finger tips when planning my life.  It’s also important that the imagery and the notations in the planner reflect and inspire my life.  Ditto all of this for my wall calendar.  For the past two years I have chosen the Seasons of the Witch weekly planner and Llewelyn’s Witches’ Calendar for my wall.  Both are possibilities for this year, but I am feeling the urge to try something new.  We’ll see.

On New Year’s Day I take out my new planner and calendar.  I set them side by side with the old calendar and planner.  Then, over a period of about an hour, I meticulously copy all the information from one year to the next.  This is my favorite part about my New Year’s ritual.  As I copy birthday’s and anniversaries I weed through the relationships and information that are no longer pertinent to my life.  I add new birthdays and new anniversaries.  I update addresses and contact information.  I love to highlight these entries with brightly colored stickers and pens.  When all the writing is done I sit back and meditate on the year past and the year to come.  I marvel at the names that have shown up on my calendars for ten, even fifteen years, and feel a sense of contentment.  I also contemplate the names that are left behind and give myself permission to let those relationships go.  Finally I hang my new calendar, admiring it for the wall art that it is, and loving put my day planner away.

My New Year’s ritual has many parts, including spells and the creation of talismans, but my calendar ritual is one of the most loved and long-standing rituals in my life.  Tuesday I’m setting out in search of the perfect calendar for 2010.  Already I’m giddy with excitement.

For those of you who are as picky about your calendars as I, here are some useful resources for Pagan/Wiccan/Witch/Nature-based organizational tools.  Brightest blessings for a New Year!

Llewellyn Worldwide – publishes the Witches’ Calendar and many astrological, magickal, and herbal almanacs.

7th House Publishing – publishes Seasons of the Witch, one of the most complete Pagan planning tools I’ve seen.

Friday Press – publishes Lunaria, a unique calendar and planner that divides the year into 13 lunar months.

Mother Tongue Ink – publishes We’Moon, which features amazing art and writings for and by womyn.

Living In Season – Waverly Fitzgerald publishes calendars and e-books to help you align with the rhythms of nature.