Imbolc – the full belly of the sheep. Here in Wales there are more sheep than people. Now there are knubby small lambs out in the cold. Traditionally this was the time when, as the days lengthened, candles were no longer required by farm servants to tend the stock. Imbolc in Wales is “Gwyl Fair y Canhwyllau” or Mary’s festival of the candles. It is well known that Mary is a Christian subversion of the Goddess. So this is the Goddess’s festival of candles. A time of the year’s turning from the darkness of winter toward the returning light of spring – a festival of purification and rededication.
Early this morning I opened all of the windows to the spring. There was a clear blue sky and a hoar frost. Birds sang, snowdrops nodded and crocuses glowed. Steam rose through the cold air as I cleaned and purified my house and my self.
Later as I drove to the shops I noticed the vibrant green of Alexanders emerging in the hedgerows and the half moon high in the eastern sky. I bought unopened daffodils and arranged the green spears in a glass vase on the piano, looking forward to their yellow trumpets of joy in the days to come
Tonight I gather up the remnants of yuletide greenery from around the house – some branches of Bay, sprigs of Rosemary, fir cones and pomanders (you see I am a bit of a slut!) I light a fire and burn them together with the ends of the red candles of winter – making way for the spring. The scent is one glorious farewell to the dark days.
Now at last I light the pristine white candles, ignite the sage incense, and greet the Goddess anew.