There, at the foot of the tree, belonging to no man,
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 let us make ready for the great festival of Imbolc, sometimes named after the beloved Goddess, Brigid, or called by some, Candlemas.
In many places, the dates that roughly correspond to Feb. 1 through the 3rd are celebrated because they are the midpoint, the cross quarter, 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.”
What signs of rebirth are you seeing?
All around us, Life is stirring in Her sleep, preparing to rise again. The days are noticeably longer since the dark of Winter Solstice. Despite the snow and ice in my own backyard, the white-throated sparrow is singing her songs of awakening, and at sunrise today, the call of mourning doves dragged me out of my dreaming sleep.
While some of the fiercest Winter weather may still lie ahead, the tips of some shrubs and trees are blushing with returning sap, cold-hardy sprouts are poking from the earth, and on farms, the first lambs are being born (hence the name Imbolc, which refers to the “ewe’s milk” of the nursing mothers)
The Sabbat of Imbolc
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.
And 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 point of Her transformation and renewal. In a mighty miracle and mystery, the Crone transforms once more to the Maiden.
Hecate, the Ancient One, who has guided us in the darkest nights of the year with Her torch is now revealed as Blessed Brigid of the Sacred Fires.
Hecate and Brigid
Some years ago, a visitor to my blog challenged me about this imagery, and the supposed fallacy of “mixing pantheons.” While it is true that Hecate (Hekate) originated in Greece, She almost certainly traveled with the Romans (who adopted Her) to the British Isles.
Like much of our own present day world that adopts and adapts across lineages, it is unknown how much in the Celtic post-Roman pantheon was “pure.” And there is actually precious little known for certain about Hecate’s earliest origins in Greek culture.
In addition, since the Celtic tribes at one time stretched from Ireland to present-day Turkey, it would be rather surprising if there was NOT a cross-pollination of Deities.
Lastly, as author Miranda Green discusses in The Celtic Worlds, caution is necessary in any discussion of what is “Roman,” much less “Celtic.” Both were a complex amalgam of many other influences and cultures, the separate threads of which have long ago been lost to conquest, to the agenda-laden historians, and to a simple lack of data.
I am passionately against cultural appropriation (and stealing) from fragile living lineages. But otherwise, for those following the new Old Path in these modern times, we have a rich tradition of being called by Gods and Goddesses from many cultures. Why would we expect for Them to remain aloof from each other? Or not overlap together?
What New Beginning Awaits You?
Therefore, I invite you to consider: 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? Deeper devotional practices? A new way of being a healer or Priest/ess for Gaia and Her children? Has a special Divine One called you to worship and serve?
Listen now with all your heart as you, too, are changed. Let yourself be guided to what is next for your soul’s journey.
All that was old becomes new again.