Imbolc and Me

A bit after my birthday last year I found out that my birthday is the day after one of the Wiccan (or pagan if you prefer) holidays. Like, directly after.

On February 2nd Imbolc comes around right before the also celebrated February 3rd that is my Birthday 😀

From what I can gather from the occasionally broken fount of knowledge that is Google, Imbolc is a holiday that celebrates Brigid the Light giver.

The idea is that in February, though things are still cold (in the UK and US/Canada areas at least), but that usually around February you can see signs of life, you can feel a bit of warmth in the breeze…

So Imbolc (pronounced Im-bol-ik for the most part) Or Saint Brigid’s day celebrates Brigid the Light Bringer as the bringer of spring. It is also a hearth and home celebration, in many cases a celebration that they had made it through another winter and is usually celebrated with hearth fires (turn up your heating system maybe?), special foods (*le gasp* We are not used to such an idea!)

Imbolc is traditionally a time of weather indication, and the old tradition of watching to see if serpents or badgers came from their winter dens is perhaps a precursor to the North American Groundhog Day.

A myth for the holiday is that Imbolc is the day the Cailleach — the hag of Gaelic tradition — gathers her firewood for the rest of the winter. Legend has it that if she intends to make the winter last a good while longer, she will make sure the weather on Imbolc is bright and sunny, so she can gather plenty of firewood. Therefore, people are generally relieved if Imbolc is a day of foul weather, as it means the Cailleach is asleep and winter is almost over. This, I find, is quite a bit more reassuring than the redundant Groundhog winter-indicator… x number of weeks until winter ends vs x number of weeks before spring begins hmm? Really? Great. Thanks for that.

Mr. Groundhog, what's it like being the annual weatherman? Not great? Work one day a year? Yeah, thanks.

One folk tradition that continues in both Christian and Pagan homes on St. Brigid’s Day (or Imbolc) is that of the Brigid’s Bed. The girls and young, unmarried, women of the household or village create a corn dolly to represent Brigid, called the Brideog (“little Brigid” or “young Brigid”), adorning it with ribbons and baubles like shells or stones. They make a bed for the Brideog to lie in. On St. Brigid’s Eve (January 31), the girls and young women gather together in one house to stay up all night with the Brideog, and are later visited by all the young men of the community who must ask permission to enter the home, and then treat them and the corn dolly with respect.

Brigid is said to walk the earth on Imbolc eve. Before going to bed, each member of the household may leave a piece of clothing or strip of cloth outside for Brigid to bless. The head of the household will smother the fire and rake the ashes smooth. In the morning, they look for some kind of mark on the ashes, a sign that Brigid has passed that way in the night or morning. The clothes or strips of cloth are brought inside, and believed to now have powers of healing and protection.

This seems to me a bit like an uncluttered Christmas… It’s just that you’re getting your clothes or whatever else you leave out blessed, and made a bit more special if you celebrate the holiday.

Copied from Wikipedia (XD Wiccapedia hahaa… I’m so funny :P), here are the festivals that are practiced.

Celtic Reconstructionist

Like other Reconstructionist traditions, Celtic Reconstructionists place emphasis on historical accuracy and cultural preservation. They base their Imbolc celebrations on traditional lore and customs derived from the historically documented medieval Irish texts, attempting to employ research into the older beliefs of the polytheistic Celts. They usually celebrate the festival when the first stirrings of spring are felt, or on the full moon that falls closest to this time. Many use traditional songs and rites from sources such as The Silver Bough and The Carmina Gadelica. It is especially a time of honoring the Goddess Brigid, and many of her dedicants choose this time of year for rituals to her.

Wicca

Main article: Wheel of the Year

Wiccans celebrate a variation of Imbolc as one of four “fire festivals”, which make up half of the eight holidays (or “sabbats”), of the wheel of the year. Imbolc is defined as a cross-quarter day, midway between the winter solstice (Yule) and the spring equinox (Ostara). The precise astrological midpoint in the Northern hemisphere is when the sun reaches fifteen degrees of Aquarius. In the Southern hemisphere, if celebrated as the beginning of local Spring, the date is the midpoint of Leo. Sometimes the festival is referred to as “Brigid”. Among Dianic Wiccans, Imbolc (also referred to as “Candlemas”) is the traditional time for initiations.

In Wicca, Imbolc is commonly associated with the goddess Brigid, and hence the Wiccan Goddess, and as such it is sometimes viewed as a “women’s festival” with specific rites only for female members of a coven.

Saint Brigid's Cross

Imbolc is usually celebrated on February 2nd in the Northern Hemisphere or the 1st of August in the Southern Hemisphere. I have also heard it being celebrated on the 1st of February, but more sources claim it on the 2nd.

So there’s a burst of Pagan information for you 😀 Just thought it’s be fun to share that with you… It;s also interesting to me that I should be hoping that the day before my birthday is a horrible day out, so that the hag won’t go out to collect wood 😛

Figured I’d post this a couple of days before my Birthday, and a couple of days before this holiday so that if you want to even think on this holiday/celebration/bit of awesomness, you would be able to have the option. I think it’s interesting, but as much as I’m nnot liking my roommates, I’m not going to put ashes around to see if Brigid visited.

For more Wiccan/Pagan holidays, go HERE (general info) or HERE (shows 7/8 of the eight wiccan holidays)

The Light That Stole the Show, an Inflatable No-No

Belated for Christmas, or really holiday time in general, but figured I’d get this out there.

When I was home for the holidays during Xmas 2011, a great deal of my walking at night with Lexy was aimed towards talking about various things, making fun of dog and what we imagine dog would say with his ever-changing imaginary voice, and, since it was that time of year, looking at what lights and what kind of effort our neighbours and distant neighbourhood neighbours had put up for the season.

There were houses that looked like Holiday Cheer had reached its drunken limit and threw up on their lawn. Sometimes that holiday cheer ended up on parts of their houses, too.

There were houses that had a concentration of brightness, of lights that would zig-zag and bundle itself into a concentrated portion of the house. These houses would attract your attention even as you didn’t want to burn your eyes looking directly at it. “Isn’t that a nice house–BRIGHT!DON’TLOOKATTHEDOOR!BRIGHT!–and they even decorated…”

There were colour themed houses. My sister and I looked at two houses side by side, one with orange/red and yellow lights concentrated around the entrance, and the house directly next to it spread out in sprawled squiggles in blue and green. The contrasts in the double houses–the huge buildings cut in half to house two separate families– were especially amusing when we saw done in the calm chilly blue-white lights on one half and furious and fiery red lights on the other.

There are also the inflatable things… I’m not terribly fond of these things, for a number of reasons that are beside the fact that they look mostly stupid. They aren’t new anymore, so there are a lot of houses where even the Holiday Cheer couldn’t get drunk all over their lawn–there’s no room to. If you have a front lawn that isn’t particularly large, you shouldn’t be trying to fit three of the gigantic inflatable things… I also don’t like that they use up so much energy just having air pumped into them, and if they’re punctured, most people throw then out–more garbage, thanks…

Some are amusing, and when they first came out I thought hat they were held upright due to the sheer amount of awesome that had been pumped into their creation.

Some of them MOVED. Some of them had songs that went with their movements.

On walks, Lexy and I would occasionally stop for a bit to appreciate the blow up dolls things on people’s lawns.

This year, we had another reason to stop and stare. And smile. Sadly didn’t get around to going back at night, but here’s a picture of what we saw:

You can't help but look at it, can you?

If this had been taken at night, I have no doubt that it would be even more… spectacular…

Lexy has mentioned that she saw a Rudolf blow up thingy, equally unfortunately lit.

Also, Santa seems to be in a skirt 😛

There are a number of things that come to mind when I look at this picture…

It’s staring at me. 

I just hope that children who walk past won’t see it later as the one-eyed demon that ruined Christmas anything abnormal, and will be too focused on the light that’s staring into their souls how awesome and blown up that Christmas decoration is.

Though, I’d like to think that the people who own this house didn’t keep it up when if they noticed the unfortunate light. I think know my parents would have noticed, and would have laughed long and hard before taking it down.

I hope that they notice it next year if they choose to put it up…

Have to say though, that was the most memorable Christmas display (seems like the wrong word to use for some reason) from this past year.

Happy belated holidays to all, and in honor of my Wiccan friend, a very belated Merry Samhain and Yule.

BONUS: Samhain is pronounced Seh-my-ah (not sam-hain as I’d once thought) and always occurs on October 31st for the Northern Hemisphere.

For 2011, Yule falls/fell on December 22nd above the equator, and June 21 below, and 2012 Yule will happen December 21st.

FOR MORE INFORMATION ON WHEN WICCAN HOLIDAY ARE in year 2012: http://www.holidays.net/calendars/religions/dates2012-wiccan.htm