[As this is the weekend that many Pagans celebrate Imbolc, we are taking a pause from our regular schedule and have invited Erick Dupree to share his thoughts on the seasonal celebration. Dupree is the author of Alone in Her Presence: Meditations on the Goddess and is a co-founder in the Dharma Pagan movement. He teaches heart-centered practices that unite breath to heart, inviting a Tantric relationship with the Goddess. His writing can be found on his own website as well as on the Patheos Pagan Channel.]
We are approaching that time of year, the moment between Winter Solstice and the Vernal Equinox. It is for many Pagans, the birth of spring’s great return from the darkness of winter’s embrace. We celebrate this time as Imbolc, a cross-quarter day within the Wheel of the Year, a time for initiations, a festival of candle-light, and of the Goddess beginning her life-cycle again, ever anew. This is the time to manifest and a time to invite possibilities as we return to light.
From my Philadelphia window, I watch the snow fall blanketing the ground in pure white. It surely doesn’t seem like spring is anywhere in sight, and yet She is there, beneath the snow between slumber and wakefulness, in a place of lucid potential that is Imbolc. This is the time of steadfastness over the dramatic, a gentle shift from the bitter harshness of winter and into the brightness of Spring’s universal promise of renewal. Here in this time called Imbolc, our growth is gradual as the seeds lie hidden deep in the earth.
I have always loved this time of year. Whereas autumn brings for me a sense of melancholy with the decay of life, this lucid dreamlike moment before Springtime has always inspired me. Imbolc represents a time to turn inward, for one more moment, to see the seeds I have planted within my heart at Samhain, winter solstice, and in every dark moon ritual. It is a reminder of the promises I made to myself to regenerate, renew and restore the balance that comes from the fires of commitment needed to foster love, service, justice and peace. Imbolc is for me about the righteousness of possibility that is as fertile as the Earth herself.Here is this great promise, this invitation to transform our hearts and mind into the someone and something that is more than we were the previous season. Over the years, I have come to welcome this work as I welcome new beginnings, because like the maiden, Goddess is the work. Our commitment to that great work, and for each of us it might look different, is not always easeful, but that doesn’t mean it has to be full of dis-ease. Imbolc reminds us that there is always a return to bloom from whence there was death. Always in invitation, but never an obligation.
Imbolc is the maiden; it is its newness that inspires me. In these times of turbulence, as our world spirals, what might it be like to if we approached everything as the Maiden? As this gloriously fertile realm of possibility? Imbolc for me isn’t about dogma or mysteries, or even wisdom traditions, but about the experiences I see reflected back at me through earth, when we invite the possible and banish dis-ease.
Imbolc is that liminal moment now pulsating with possibilities that come when we invite intentional and mindful living and experience each moment fully without fear. The maiden is Love’s warrior, fearless of failure, reminding us that love is stronger than fear. She is action, penetrating the frozen soil to bring blossoms anew.
What might it be like if we immersed ourselves in the potential of love’s great warrior? Imbolc is for the warrior who is too busy doing the work to care that someone may not approve. The warrior asks, “How can I be of service?” “How can I be an agent of change?” “How can I bring the newness of possibility?” The quest is the transformation in how we experience life. It makes life exciting and fresh, and keeps us young and eager to learn.
Imbolc is the eagerness of something great that can inspire at this time of year. When I look out my window I know something is coming. Whether we call upon Earth to rise up and greet us, or invite protection and blessings to our hearth, home, and heart, Imbolc is the moment of conception, the time to rekindle the fires of commitment. As we return to the light of present, what is the promise you make to yourself, for others, and for Goddess?
The time is now, the Maiden is coming, Imbolc is the invitation to that perfectly imperfect magical place that is Love.