Friday, February 3, 2012


Imbolc, like all the Quarter Days, Lesser and Greater, is when the sun reaches a certain position in the sky.  These Feast days, or Fire Festivals, aren't calendar days.  They aren't marked by human clocks. 

I've taken a kind of scolding tone with the Pagan community over this.**  It's not that I have problem with different paths and traditions, but I do think people should understand the basis of these events before you depart from them.  Modern Pagans are in reality celebrating in sync with the thieving Catholic Church.

Samhain, the greatest of the Quarter days, and the Druidic New Year, occurs when the sun reaches 15 degrees of Scorpio.  It's twin, Bealtaine, is when the sun reaches 15 degrees of Taurus.  These are the dimensional doorways of the Galaxy, and the times when the veil between the worlds of the living and the dead, and the living and they "not yet born to the living", is the thinnest.

Samhain is the ancestor of our Halloween, and Bealtaine of May Day.  In modern Irish they are also the month names for November and May, respectively.

Imbolc, the Feast of First Milk, occurring when the first of the lambs-- really the "preemies" of the flock-- would be born (also called the Feast of Candles, or Feast of Full Belly-- pregnant ewes) and provide some fresh milk, occurs when the sun reaches 15 degrees of Aquarius.  Back in "days of auld" when this would be the coldest, bleakest part of the year, these new lambs would be especially welcome.

Imbolc is one of the lesser quarter days, with Lughnassadh the weakest.  In fact, some scholars and Celtic Reconstructionists will argue that Lughnassad was not even marked until the later Anglo-Saxon invasion of the British Isles.  (Many will argue that the solstices and equinoxes were not marked by the pastoral Celts either, and that, again, these were grafted onto the modern Pagan calendar because of the agricultural Saxon calendar.)

The Druids marked a day from sunset to sunset.  This is one of the reasons that these Feasts are marked as "Eves" as in All Hallows Eve, or Halloween.  Their New Year was Samhain as well, because they saw that as the sunset of the year.  The slaughtering and thinning of the herds would have taken place in the last half of what is now October, with a week long feast over Samhain, 

Then, just as there is a dark night after sunset, the year itself would be in twilight until Yule, or the Winter Solstice, when the sun is reborn.  Many natural witches, and I am one of them, do not practice magick between Samhain and Yule.

Tonight, at sunset, is the true Imbolc this year.  Celebrate with a bit of milk and a white candle.  Send warm thoughts to all that might shivering, in the cold of the land or the cold of the heart, and be thankful for all the abundance and blessings that surround you.  Cast an eye to spring and what seeds you might plant this summer.

Know that spring is coming, and that all will be renewed again.

Lady Rae

**(Two Samhain's ago I wrote letters to the major publishers of Pagan and Witchcraft almanacs: Llewellyn, We'Moon, and Witches Almanac.  Only one responded, Dikki Jo-Mullen from the Almanac.  I have to admit, since Elizabeth Pepper died I've been less and less please with the Almanac, but after receiving a letter telling me that "there are many ways to calculate Samhain" without listing what these alleged other calculations are, I've decided to stop purchasing the almanac.)

1 comment:

  1. I always feel sort of guilty that I don't celebrate any of the pagan holidays..but like I always say..I don't like organized religion even if it's my own.