Monday, August 4, 2014

Imbolc in Southern & Northern Hemispheres by Jane Hardwicke Collings

The Southern Hemispheric Imbolc, Candlemas, is traditionally marked on Saturday August 2nd, and astrologically it falls on Friday August 8th this year.

The beginning of Spring!

Spring. At Imbolc (which means Ewe’s Milk), or also known as Candlemas, it is the time of metaphoric rebirth. Astrologically this year it falls on Friday August 8th, which is a gibbous moon, so the lunar energy will add a building to full energy to it, that may feel like extra excitement or extra pressure!

At Imbolc we see, feel and hear the beginning signs of Spring. Winter is over, Spring cometh. It may well still be very cold but the energy has shifted. It is the time we see new growth following the seeming dormancy of Winter. Imbolc is a time of hope, a time filled with the excitement of new possibilities for the future, either brand new possibilities or those we’ve dreamed up, ‘seeded’ over the winter.

Imbolc was traditionally a Celtic Fire Festival dedicated to the Goddess Brigid.

At Imbolc, the seed, held in the dark Earth over the Winter has germinated, it finds it’s way through the Earth’s surface to see the light, to show itself, to grow. Aligning with the Imbolc energy - taking our cues from Nature, we can now ‘see’ the beginnings of our plans and dreams that have been gestating within us over winter.
‘See’ these dreams as ‘seeds’ and see what’s ‘sprouting’ after the months of incubation. 

Spring Spiritual Practice
Ask yourself:
Do my dreams and plans look like they have or will “sprout and grow”?
If they don’t, how do I feel about that?
What do I need to do to nurture the new growth?
Is it time to revisit my plan or dream making or am I getting the ‘dream’ I ‘need’?

As well as a time of new beginnings, Imbolc is a potent time to clear away past disappointments, to let go of old dreams and to step fully into the present, to ‘rebirth’ ourselves. Our ‘dreams’/desires and attachments
reveal a lot about us and their manifestation, or not, is part of this information.

Imbolc is either dream ‘tweeking’ time or dream nurturing time.

Thinking metaphorically, ‘seeing’ your life as a garden, and thinking of ‘weeds’, what can you see peaking it’s head up again? Do you really want to take that through the next growth cycle again? to get bigger and stronger? Or can you ‘nip it in the bud’ so to speak and replace it with the ‘growth’ you want to see happen this cycle?
Time to be the loving gardener at the beginning of the springtime of this next year’s cycle in your life.

Suggested Ceremony for the Imbolc
You can enact this energy ceremonially in a variety of ways.

* Create an Imbolc altar with things around you, both your treasures and gifts from Nature, that remind you of the energy of the beginning of Spring.
* You could literally nurture some seedlings so that you ‘see’ what it takes to nurture new sprouts. You could do this with your children, for quick results you could sprout alfalfa or other beans and perhaps name the sprouts for a new way of being or learning etc eg “as I care for these sprouts I care for the new part of me that will be braver/kinder/tidier/more focussed etc”.
 * Light a candle, call on the energy and power of Imbolc. Write down all your dreams and plans you’ve been “gestating”, see them as sprouts all in a row and now as the loving gardener, cull the sprouts that have less life force, those that ‘look’ less likely to survive and focus your energy on the sprouts that have the best chance over the coming cycle of survival and growth to their full potential. The conditions this coming cycle may suit some “sprouts” over others, bring that awareness into your culling process. That’s what this time gives you - the opportunity to ‘see’ which of your seeds/plans/dreams have the greatest chance of survival so you can let go of the others and nurture and focus on these. Notice any feelings or past issues that come up for you as you choose one ‘sprout’ over another and journal with yourself to find all that represents for you and how that may inhibit or obstruct your path forward nurturing your chosen ‘sprouts’. Let go of the ‘sprouts’ that aren’t going to make it, perhaps they will another time, perhaps not. Their life force, as in the garden, will ‘feed’ the remaining ‘sprouts’. Be ruthless and courageous with the culling of your ‘sprouts’. How many ‘sprouts’ can you manage/nurture this Spring? Maybe 4, maybe 1?  You will know. And remember, you will get this opportunity every year.
* Start your Spring Cleaning, both literal and metaphoric. Empty out the old and make room for the new.
* Emerge from the darker part of the cycle into the building light as the days get longer and the sun gets warmer. It will still be dark early and cold during the weeks ahead but with a slow lengthening of the days. It is as if we slowly emerge from the dark where we have been relying on our inner senses to say “see in the dark”, to feel our way around in the darkness. Think of the metaphoric meaning of this and the opportunity to bring these inner senses out, to bring the skills of clairvoyance, clairaudience and clairsentience into our lives more. Do you know what your ‘access sense’ is? How you receive information?
* Prepare a feast of locally grown seasonal foods and give thanks at your table for all that this new cycle will bring you. Traditional foods of Imbolc include those that represent growth, such as seeds (sesame, sunflower, pumpkin, etc) as well as dairy foods, bread, cake, curry, onions, leeks, garlic honey and herbal teas.
* Herbs and flowers associated with Imbolc include: angelica, basil, bay, benzoin, celandine, heather, myrrh, snowdrop, rowan and all yellow flowers. Perhaps make a wreath of one or some combination of these or use them in your cooking or herbal teas.  Imbolc is the time to visualize life flourishing with abundance, creativity and renewed strength.

The Northern Hemispheric Lammas, Lughnasadh, is traditionally marked on Saturday August 2nd, and astrologically it falls on Thursday August 7th this year

The beginning of Autumn!
Autumn. Lammas or Lughnasadh is the first of the three harvest festivals. At Lammas the fruits of Summer are ready, and its a time to celebrate the bounty of life. Astrologically this year it falls on Thursday August 7th, which is a gibbous moon! So the lunar energy will add the energy of building to full potential to the feelings of the first harvest. You may experience that with adding feelings of building excitement or pressure!

When Lammas comes, Summer is over and Autumn begins. The days still seem long, but they are getting shorter. Holiday time continues but it’s a different feeling, slower. The cycle of the seasons teaches us so much, especially and perhaps most importantly, to be present to what is, for soon enough it will pass, as we continue on the cycle.

Our metaphoric harvest, as well as our literal harvest, needs to sustain us all winter whilst nothing grows and the seeds of the new lay dormant in the Earth, the time of inward reflection and contemplation. The harvest needs to sustain us well into spring when the new shoots will grow. At Lammas, we have the opportunity to assess the fruits of our labour, and see whether our Spring and Summer activities of this year, in the metaphorical garden of ourselves, in fact yielded, and will yield further into autumn, the harvest we wanted and hoped for. Perhaps we need to learn new ‘gardening techniques’, again metaphorically speaking, for a greater, more sustaining harvest next year. The other garden activity for Autumn is pruning and the deciduous trees let go of their leaves. This energy is also present for us as beings of the Earth effected by Her seasons.

The way this all shows up is different for everyone, however there are similarities and they are the feelings that arise in us as the ‘party ends’, the feelings we have as we begin the decent into the darker seasons. Women have his experience first hand every menstrual cycle for weeks 3 and 4. After ovulation, if she has not conceived, a woman’s body prepares to release the unneeded uterine lining and as this happens she feels many feelings.

Mostly they are in the category of what she needs to let go of, or what no longer works in her life. 

Autumn Spiritual Practice
Notice how you feel the energy of this part of the Earth’s season affecting you. Notice what you need to notice, learn what you need to learn, change what you need to change and heal what you need to heal.

That’s the opportunity, that’s the gift.

Journal about what your harvest is, are you happy with that?
Do you need to bring in or gather other things to sustain you for the rest of autumn and up coming winter?

The harvest festivals continue into Autumn. The seeds from these harvests will go back into the Earth, gestate over the Winter, and be what will be reborn in the Spring. This happens literally in the garden and metaphorically in our lives. Perhaps if you’re not happy with the ‘seeds’ your current harvest will create, then you might choose to plant different ‘seeds’ for your new growth cycle next Spring. Make new plans, start new ways so you don’t repeat anything that didn’t work so well from the last cycle.

Autumn is a time for reflection and learning what worked and didn’t work.

This same cycle and opportunity occurs each lunar cycle and menstrual cycle.
So much opportunity!

Suggested Ceremony for the Lammas
A wonderful way to honour this time is to gather your family and friends around a bounty-full cornucopia-like feast and give thanks for all that life brings to you, for the harvests of your efforts and the gifts of the Earth.
A few good things to contemplate and discuss at that feast:
What has your year long growth cycle produced?
What have been the ‘fruits’ of your ‘labour’?
What worked to produce a bounty-full harvest? What didn’t?
You could modify this for your children asking specific questions about the things they have been doing or learning and how they are going with them, or what they have learned from their activities.

Jane Hardwicke Collings

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