Today was Imbolc. I used to have problems with how I felt about Imbolc, I don’t really have much to do with Brigid – who’s festival it’s accounted by most modern pagans and as a Wiccan I had issues with Candlemas…but I’m going to write about Candlemas tomorrow.
I only really ‘got’ Imbolc, the beginning return of the spring, when I went to Japan and my Japanese teacher did a cultural lesson on Risshun. Since 2005 my Imbolc ritual has a mixture of spring cleaning in honour of the coming year, throwing soy beans to rid the house of evil, wassailing in a sort of sumbl and eating ehoumaki for luck.
Tomorrow I’ll write a whole lot more on my take on the history and philosophy, tonight I want to share what I do for Imbolc. I like sharing my religion, as I said earlier this evening, I like having friends who want to share it with me.
So today I made sure I finished work early, raced home to put on the rice for the sushi, clear the table and chop vegetables for the sushi, I put prawns under the grill and clams in the steamer and sent Weasel out for white wine. Then it was just a matter of filling the table until the Jellicle got home and M-i-L and FJ came over. We’ve been celebrating Imbolc together now for four years and we all know what we’re doing. Me and my partners, (alas my metamour couldn’t come tonight!), and my friends, this is how the beginning of the year should be.
It was quick and dirty this year, a marking of the turning of the wheel of the year that had to be done to a deadline because of other commitments. Sometimes I feel like that’s a shame, this year I’m ok with it. There are eight festivals, I mark them all and if Imbolc passes a little less than spectacularly one year it won’t the next and Eostre will be pretty good. We sat around the table making sushi and grabbing wine and soy sauce.
When we’d made our ehomaki with seven ingredients (for luck! There are seven lucky gods after all). We nipped out to the front door to throw soy beans out of the house and shout ‘Oni wa soto, fuku wa uchi’ (Demons out, good luck in), then we dashed around to the back to do the same.
These days we have no shame and don’t worry if the neighbours see us.
It really energises the house and feels like the spring is coming in, I didn’t have time to make up a new hanging basket for the front door so that’s a weekend job, also the spring cleaner is a long job this year so not as finished as I would like. It’s the energy of this little rite that I really feel connects me to what Imbolc’s all about, I don’t get the milk’s cheese but this emergence of energy really makes me feel that things are growing out of the dark.
Then it’s back inside to face the lucky direction (north-north-west this year) and nom down the ehomaki in silence. The cold demons of winter have been shaken out of the house and newness is growing, spring is gradually coming – I forgot to light candles this year – it was that sort of a celebration. Often I do do the more wiccan thing of wish candles in combination with the ehomaki.
After the ehomaki we did a quick round of toasts, the first to gods, the second to heroes and the third to boasts and promises, I don’t often do a symbl at Imbolc as it doesn’t always feel right but because it was such a hurried ritual I felt the need to ground in something and a sybl felt right for once.
A hurried little Imbolc ritual but felt nonetheless. Me and my friends celebrating life out of the darkness.