Of all of the eight sabbats, Imbolc (also known as Candlemas) may be the most difficult for modern people to understand. Why do we celebrate the return of spring smack in the middle of winter?
Translating to “ewe’s milk,” Imbolc is the celebration of the very first signs of spring. When ancient farmers noticed that their pregnant sheep were lactating, it was a sure sign that the birth of the new lambs was just around the corner. The sun stays in the sky noticeably longer than it did back at the Winter Solstice, another sure sign of the coming Spring. In a time when families began to starve as the winter cold strangled the production of food, the signs of its icy grip loosening were a very welcome sight.
The themes of Imbolc are the same themes that these ancient agricultural people would have used. At Imbolc we celebrate the returning light, awaken the Goddess that has slept within ourselves and the Earth since Samhain, cleanse ourselves for the coming spring, and seek inspiration for the coming turn of the Wheel. All of this is represented by the day’s most common symbol: candles. Fire lights the way; fire purifies; fire provides the light of inspiration (any UU knows that!).
Fire is also sacred to the Celtic goddess Brigid, the goddess most associated with Imbolc. Brigid rules over inspiration, smithcraft, and all manner of the arts.
Come and light a fire for the sleeping Brigid as she lights a fire to guide your way for the coming year! Our celebration of Imbolc will be early this year: January 21, 2012. The ritual will be a bit more formal than our past few. We will cast a formal circle along with all the other more traditional elements of ritual. Those of you interested in the more witchy side of paganism won’t want to miss this one.
What: CUUPs Imbolc ritual
When: Saturday January 21 at 7:00 pm (Please arrive at 6:30)
Where: OCUUC Sanctuary
Bring: Something to drink from, a potluck dish to share, and a place setting for the feast. Our potluck will be New Year’s themed: bring something traditionally eaten at the New Year for luck and prosperity (or just bring something tasty).
Wear: Light colors, especially white and lavender.
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