I had wanted Yule and the end of the Gregorian year to feel magical and peaceful, but 2021 refused to leave quietly. Nor did hanging my new calendar create an instant reset. In addition to the kind of drama which is typical when the family gathers for holidays and our old house gets snowed on, surging COVID-19 cases, a string of natural disasters related to climate change, and the lack of progress towards justice on any front left me feeling wrung out and not the least bit calm or bright.
Still carrying that heaviness, I began to create the ceremony I will offer for Imbolc, the Neo-Pagan midwinter festival. “Imbolc” is an Irish word that is translated as “in the belly” or “ewe’s milk,” and marks one of the earliest signs of spring: milk coming in for gestating cows and sheep. Imbolc is usually celebrated on February 1st or 2nd, and associated weather divination is believed to be the root of Groundhog Day. Before there was refrigeration and grocers, the middle of winter was a time when food stores might be getting low. Although we can certainly do without it now, the availability of cow and sheep’s milk then could help humans survive the second half of winter. With the flow of milk came hope.
I look around at the pandemic, devastating weather events and wildfires, and system-based injustices, I hear the anguished cries of frustrated and burnt-out activists, and I say, “Let there be hope.”
It is with the intention to restore hope that I am writing the Imbolc ceremony script. While my reach is limited to the number of people my Zoom room will hold, I know whatever work we do there will reverberate out. The ripples of our hopefulness will flow around the world and reignite passion for change. It doesn’t get more magical than that.
Please join us for a virtual Imbolc ceremony on Thursday, February 3rd, 2022, at 7:30pmEST. You will find more details and easy online registration on my ceremonies page. I hope to see you in the Zoom room.