Sundown this Friday, February 1st, marks the start of Imbolc, a Sabbat knowns as Brigid’s Day that lasts through February 2nd. This is precisely the halfway point between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. The harsh, cold winter is starting to give way. The sun sets just a bit later every day.
This is the time to welcome the Celtic Fire Goddess Brigid with a festival to honor the maiden. Imbolc festivals always involve fire ceremonies, and lots of candles.
The maiden is key in Pagan tradition. The triple goddess symbol shows the phases of the moon and also represents phases of life: the child, the maiden and the crone. Imbolc means “ewe’s milk” and also “in the belly of the mother.” At this time of year, the seeds for Spring are sitting in the womb of mother earth, waiting to pop up through the icy ground. This is a time for rebirth, renewal and preparation for the future.
I’m new to learning about Paganism, I was raised Roman Catholic. I am always fascinated by the ways that Christianity uses Pagan traditions. In the church, February 1st is St. Brigit’s Day and February 2nd is Candlemas, when the candles are blessed for ceremonies throughout the year. The Feast of the Virgin Mary is also this time of year; Mary was a maiden, a mother. Pagan tradition involves making Brigid’s Cross out of wheat stalks, which are similar to the crosses made from palms on Palm Sunday, coming up a little bit later in the Spring for Christians.
Today, there are lots of ways you can honor Brigid. You can have a bonfire or light a candle in each room of the house. Sweeping and clearing the dust from the home is customary. Out with the old and in with the new. Cleaning of anysort is a good way to celebrate, even cleansing the body by taking a nice herbal bath.
Decorate your altar or your mantel with signs of early spring like tulips, daffodils, feathers, or anything green and fresh. Of course food is very important, as with any holiday. You can make a nice meal with seasonal items like root vegetables, seeds, hearty starches. Dairy products are also associated with Imboc (I mentioned the “ewe’s milk” earlier). Yogurt, custard, creamy soups or sauces. I personally like dairy, so I plan to make a vegan “cheesy” cauliflower potato soup (here’s the recipe) and maybe some fresh baked bread or warm cinnamon rolls.
I pulled a tarot card, looking for some advice on the week ahead, and up came the Four of Swords. Here, we have a knight resting on an altar, over a sword. When I see this card, I always think of the idiom, “just sleep on it.” Reflect, rejuvenate yourself, rest as much as possible this week. You have a lot to do, and the sword below the knight suggests there is one particular point or situation, where turning off your brain will be beneficial. The three swords above the knight, pointing down means that other things can wait. Hang up your weapons, put down your shield, and take care of yourself. The knight’s hands are in prayer, which means meditate, pray, whatever you want to call it – just clear your mind. This is great for Imbolc weekend!
As you start the work week on Monday, there is a new moon in Aquarius. New moons are a good time to manifest what you want. I just started a new job, so I’ll be performing my own manifestation ritual to focus on letting go of the old version of myself and expanding into my highest potential during this moon phase. You can make moon water for spells and rituals by placing a bowl of salt water outside or by a window where moonlight will reach the bowl. Then, you might have to defrost the water depending on where you live, but it can be used in sprays, baths, gardens, etc. Anywhere you want to spread some magic.
The new moon in Aquarius might have you feeling a little bit lonely. I think that some alone time to recharge your batteries will be needed over the weekend, but don’t carry that reclusivity with you through the week. Brainstorm with people, ask for input, collaborate on problems, reach out to people in your social circle. Open yourself to new experiences. It will be good to think outside of the box this week. Stir the pot, so to speak.
Here are some excellent articles that I read for this blog:
- Celtic Imbolc (Wicca.com)
- New moon in Aquarius (Cafeastrology.com)
- 5 Ways to celebrate Imbolc (belief.net)
A young woman sits on a cold, stone bench. This is a stage card, because it’s drawn to look as though she is sitting on a stage. This means that the point of view of the audience, of other people, affects her position. The water and rocky land behind her suggest that the path is not as easy or direct as it seems, and that emotions are flooding the situation. The moon represents the importance of using intuition, heart and mind during any decision making.
This card appears when I’m avoiding a decision that I don’t want to make. Or I’m not addressing an emotion or a situation that needs to be processed. The swords across the woman’s chest in the card disappear off the page. This means that she is literally missing the point!
Sometimes the woman in the card is choosing to wear a blindfold. However, there are situations where the blindfold is not under her control and there is an element the situation that has not been revealed yet. This could mean that I need to really think about all of the options at hand; there is a struggle happening beneath the surface.
This week, Mercury is doing a dance across the heavens. Mercury is the planet of Hermes, the messenger of the Gods. The actions of Mercury affect our reactions and our ability to communicate. On Thursday, it stops spinning in retrograde and goes direct, making us all better observers. This is a good time to fix previous mistakes that you made during Mercury retrograde. Practice tolerance and open mindedness. Business decisions and financial agreements will be easier to manage.
On Friday, the new moon rises in Sagittarius. Sagittarius is the archer, often represented by a centaur. The arrow of the archer is always pointing upwards because Sagittarius is constantly seeking a higher level of being. Use this energy to expand your consciousness and widen the scope of your dreams. I like to spend the new moon making messy meals or starting projects around the house. During the Sagittarius moon, I will likely be a lot more optimistic about getting things done.
On Wednesday the 12th, communicative Mercury makes a move into spiritual Sagittarius as well. I can tell that this will be the time to take off my two of swords blindfold. My spirit guides will be talking to me. I think that in my case, the result of a decision or new information will be revealed to me, most likely about my career. I’m trying to practice some patience in the meantime. Like the woman in the two of swords, sometimes you need to close your eyes to see your heart. Other times, you need to rip off that blindfold and bust through your own bullshit.
Remember to bury your spent crystals in the Earth under the light of a new moon. I have a broken piece of flourite that I will be laying to rest. This is also a time to make to-do lists and set your intentions.
Here are some excellent sources that I consulted for this blog!
A woman is bound and blindfolded, feeling trapped in a prison of swords. The landscape is stormy and gray, indicative of despair and depression. The comfort and peace of the castle are far away. This card represents self imposed boundaries. The ties are not very tight, the woman could free herself from her prison.
Be careful making big decisions if you’re feeling like the Eight of Swords. Your way of thinking is limited, probably because there is a perspective you haven’t uncovered yet.
This week, scholarly Jupiter enters fiery Sagittarius. This energy will increase your cultural and spiritual awareness. The Eight of Swords symbolizes an intellectual assessment of a situation.You might feel like a victim, for very valid reasons. However, it takes an emotional response to pull yourself out of the victim mentality and take back your power. The energy of Jupiter and Sagittarius will help give you a push. Call on them for confidence.
You are able to create your own opportunities and attract good fortune with your energy. Don’t be like the Eight of Swords; make your own path. It’s time to take back your power!
A clouded had reaches out, offering you a sword representing intelligence. The crown on top of the sword gives you the gift of mental clarity and powerful thoughts. The wreath adorning the crown represents victory and success. This card is your “a-ha!” moment. It also means that you might be entering a situation that is a double edged sword. Or, you might be starting a new adventure that is going to change the way you think.
This week Jupiter trines Chiron. Chiron is a comet, its energy helps you perceive new levels of intellect and Jupiter helps you feel the emotions associated with change. On Tuesday November 6th, temperamental Uranus retrograde enters independent Aries. During retrogrades, we experience slow downs or setbacks in the qualities of the planet. Uranus retrograde means you should probably put your an ego in a time out for awhile because you’ll be seeking some extra attention. Attempts to get special attention will backfire.
The new moon arrives on Wednesday, November 7th in transformational Scorpio. This is a good time to embrace your shadow side. Don’t worry, you will adjust the same way that your eyes adjust to the dark night. Work on shifting the blockages in your life. Be an alchemist. Create new things. Renew your soul before Winter sets in like the landscape of the Ace of Swords.
Use this time to clear out the old ways of thinking that are no longer serving you. Seek truth and justice. Open your mind. Don’t fear the shadows. Be careful not to get swallowed up by your own subconscious. Be smart, but don’t be cold.