A silver apple falls.
There, amongst the branches, the mother sits.
Weaver of dreams against the weft of the wood,
Insight falls like gentle rain on a moon-bathed garden.
– Song to Hecate, by Alison Jones
Now we make ready for the great festival of Imbolc, sometimes called Candlemas or Brigid. In many places, the dates that roughly correspond to Feb. 1 through the 3rd are celebrated because they are the midpoint between the darkest night at Yule and the perfect balance of light and dark that comes at Ostara – Spring Equinox. This has been subsumed by modern culture into the weather divination event, “Groundhog Day.”
All around us, Life is stirring in Her sleep, preparing to rise again. The days are noticeably longer.
This year, so far, true Winter has not come to our woods in North Carolina. We have had a few cold nights and chilly days, but no snow, only a little early morning ice, and no prolonged freeze to cleanse the energies and put firmly to sleep those who need to rest in the dark part of the year.
So now, woodpeckers are hammering their seductive territorial calls. The white-throated sparrow is singing her songs of awakening. While some of the fiercest Winter weather may yet visit, the tips of our shrubs and trees are blushing with returning sap and my daffodils are beginning to open. Throughout the northern lands, the first lambs are being born (hence the name Imbolc, which comes from oimelc, the ewe’s milk of the nursing mothers).
We of the Old Ways see Imbolc as a traditional time for dedication, or beginning a new path of initiation and spiritual study. The commitment that students of the Craft make to “a year and a day” traditionally begins at this time. It is a time for purification, recharging and blessing our magical tools, and, if you are inclined, “Pagan lent.”
At Imbolc, we honor the great mystery of the Triple Goddess, as She changes now from the Dark Mother and Crone who has accompanied us since Samhain, into the Maiden once more.
Thus, on this last day of January, as on all final days of each month, we honor the Great Goddess Hecate, Goddess of Witches, She who guards the crossroads. It is Hecate, Goddess of the Night, who teaches us the ancient Mysteries.
The last day of each month is sacred to Her, but especially this one, being the moment of Her transformation, as the Crone transforms into the Maiden. Hecate, the Ancient One, who has faithfully, lovingly guided us in the darkest nights of the year with Her torch now reveals beloved Brigid of the Sacred Flames.
What transformation are you in the process of creating or becoming?
Take some time today, to consider your own awakenings. Use this time before Imbolc to consider what you wish to give your attention to, over the next year and a day. A new skill? A new way of being a healer or Priest/ess for Gaia and Her children? Has a special God or Goddess called you to learn, worship, and serve?
All that was old becomes new again. Listen now with all your heart as you, too, are charged and changed. Let yourself be guided to what is next for your soul’s journey.