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Imbolc /Lights (cont)Fat Sheep

If you look around on the Internet there is a lot of misattribution out there connecting this festival with sheep giving birth and stating that Imbolc is about the ewes starting to produce milk. The natural life cycle of sheep means that this would be the time at which early farmers would be separating out those sheep obviously pregnant and giving them more food and special care, ready for lambing around the Vernal Equinox. Most of what has survived as information on this festival comes from Ireland including the name - Imbolc literally means “in the belly”. In our family it has been nicknamed “Fat Sheep Festival”!

The idea of sorting pregnant sheep provides a good metaphor for the kind of energies needed on this day. You could see it as a form of spring cleaning that can apply in a range of areas – thoughts and beliefs, projects and physical objects. Whichever realm you choose to spring clean, sort through it methodically and decide what will bear fruit this year and what can be discarded. Make space, whether it's in your home, your head or in your life, for those things you want to manifest so that they can grow appropriately. And without feeling bad, discard those things that are either holding you back or that you no longer have any need for.

While we're on the subject of useful activities for Imbolc, a nice house blessing ritual is to wait for sunset (if you can) then switch on every light in your house, open all your curtains and cupboards, and let light wash through your house. You can, if you're careful, also light candles too, especially in the windows to throw light out into the world. (If you do this, I’ll reiterate the warning about being careful – candles and curtains don’t mix!)

This time of year is the very beginning of Spring. Blackthorn is associated with this festival as it usually starts blossoming around this time. It's worth taking a side note here to talk about timings. Imbolc, in history, was usually celebrated at the beginning of February. Astrologically, the midpoint between the Winter Solstice and the Vernal Equinox is usually around the 4-5 of February and some pagans celebrate based on observing signs of Spring, so they would wait for the Blackthorn blossom for example, even if it was two weeks late! My own view is that all the eight festivals represent a peak in an ever shifting flow of energy from one state to another. So, around the beginning of February the energy will have made its maximum shift away from Winter Solstice and towards those of Imbolc. But, if either through circumstance or belief, you celebrate a bit either side of the traditional date, then you'll still pick up on most of the energy of the season.  [More]

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