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Merry Imbolc!

Its the start of February, and the start of spring in the pagan calendar - and what a moon there was to bring it in, amazing!

February can be dull and miserable, it is generally cold and dark, winter is in full swing, but luckily spring isn’t far away. The celebration to recognise this is the festival or sabbat of Imbolc, which is observed on February 1st or 2nd in the northern hemisphere, and August 1st or 2nd in the southern hemisphere. These dates fall approximately halfway between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox.

Originally a Celtic festival, Imbolc is an important sabbat for pagans, people who live a life in tune with nature and who are aware of what is going on in the natural world, season to season. The sabbat is enjoyed to recognise the coming of spring as a time of rebirth and of new beginnings and to sense the earth waking up after the long winter rest. It is a time to encourage heat and light, in February daylight hours are increasing and the weather will be getting warmer soon, the lighting of bonfires outdoors for example celebrates the increasing light and heat of the Sun over the coming months and the life that it will bring.

Through history, Imbolc has been one of the most important celebrations of the year. A positive start to each new farming season was vital, so by acknowledging this festival, value was put on focusing ahead to good crops and successful harvest. As the winter supplies of stored food got low, Imbolc rituals were performed to harness natural energy and to salute the deities that would ensure good weather and plentiful food until the harvest in the summer months when the sabbat of Lammas is celebrated to give thanks. It is thought that good weather at Imbolc is predictive of a fair summer, whereas bad weather at the sabbat means a longer winter - incidentally, Groundhog Day in the US is celebrated at the same time.

Spring is also a time for purification and cleanliness. By removing old, dead and worn out things from the home, the path was laid for spring to enter the home or land and produce new life; the concept of spring cleaning is thought to stem from Imbolc. This is a ritual that everyone can perform in their own home! There are other simple things we can all do to honour the coming of spring, why not plant a seed in a pot on your windowsill, by bringing nature inside there is a connection to the season. Another thing to try is lighting a candle in a window and leave it to burn down thus symbolising the light and heat of Imbolc (safety first – obviously do not leave a candle burning unattended).

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