Imbolc or Candlemas is the height or depth of the Phlegmatic season celebrated on the 1st of February. It is when we become really sure the light is returning. Since midwinter we have gained another hour of daylight at each end of the day. We celebrate the white and the green, seasonal flowers of the goddess, now the first shoots of green emerge from the ground. Deck your altar with white and green flowers, snowdrops if they grow abundantly nearby and white and green candles. Sacred candles are blessed on Imbolc and given to women to take home.
After midwinter solstice excesses, we are ready to buckle down into our work with the awareness that the sap is rising; slowly and inexorably we are moving towards growth, expansion and blossoming after the contraction and sinking of winter, where all the energy was internal, hidden and potential. Now we begin to see the light flickering at the end of the tunnel and hope is reborn.
Hope is a quality we need in these trouble times, where the darkness seems to grow darker and denser. However, just like the first shoots of plant life, slivers of light appear, as the equal and opposite forces of light emerge from the smoke and mirrors.
Light is a quality of Imbolc. As healers and seekers after truth we seek out the light like shoots unfurling, sensing their way through the cold, hard earth, their photo-sensitive cells move towards the sunlight. We too, working through the cold darkness of ignorance and hate keep our weather eye on the sun, on the light, on hope and love and peace and healing. The darkness can put obstacles in our way, but like those light seeking plant cells, we move on, bypass, duck and dive and follow the light.
Traditionally, Candlemas was a time of initiations. These can be done in a group or individually.
I see initiation is a personal statement of commitment to a path, rather than a hierarchical bestowing of powers.
Before your altar, or in your sacred space-which may be outdoors, by a tree, under the starlight meditate on this new stage in your life and commit to actions for your benefit and that of others. In groups, these may be spoken out aloud or written down and placed in a sacred vessel. Imbolc is traditionally when people join or leave covens, so new members can be sworn in now.
Imbolc represents the high point of the Phlegmatic season, when the weather is coldest and wettest. After Imbolc we slowly move towards the Spring Equinox and Spring. Gaia, in her wisdom gives us the herbs for Imbolc just as we need them.
Cowslip is used emotionally for all blocks to progress: general feelings of stuckness, darkness, hopelessness and negativity. Cowslip’s lightness and yellow sun-heart qualities lift the spirits, open and expand the heart, give hope. Cowslip is used after loss and bereavement, for the depression and disillusionment that can follow. Use it when you are disappointed and dispirited and feel the task ahead is too much, the obstacles too great, your resources too limited. Myself, I get an energy boost just seeing pictures of cowslip – the bright yellow petals, the subtle green of the leaves and stalk. Take as a tea, sweetened if you wish, or put it in your pillow or place the dried flowers close to your heart and breathe in the yellow warmth of the sun. Keep cowslip close if you are working in the front-line, whether protesting or fire-fighting. Burn-out starts in the emotional body: tend yourself, rest, take space to play, and remember all actions and words should come from the heart to keep the energy clear, neutral and uncontaminated. In recent days we have seen reactions of goodwill all over the world, people standing up for justice and kindness. Sometimes when we are in the thick of a struggle, it is hard to remember the goodness of most of humanity, that the things which unite us are stronger than the things which divide us. Take a few minute to brew up some cowslip tea and sit quietly counting your blessings… a problem is never solved at the level it is created only love can win over hate. Change yourself and you change the world.
Also in the picture is Cleavers a herb of the Moon and fiery Nettle. Cleavers gives us stillness, a pause between action, for the ending of one phase and the planning or committing to the next one. Working on the lymphatic system, it removes blockages and gets things flowing again.
Then Chickweed a herb of the Moon which cools and moistens the body, especially when overheated and irritated.
The tiny star shaped flowers show us there is strength in numbers. Chickweed is one of the first salad greens and makes a delicious pesto, it also as its name suggests is early green food for chickens. To me there is an innocence and clarity about Chickweed, just what we need as we come out of winter’s darkness.
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GREEK ISLAND SUMMER SCHOOL MAY/JUNE & SEPTEMBER
This year I will be teaching 2 weeks in May/June and 1 in September:
We have had quite a few bookings already so email to reserve a spot here:
May 25-June 1st: Moon Goddess Magic
June 1st-June 8th Astrology, Herbs and Health
September 7th-14th Astrology, Karma & Destiny.
15% discount on course fee if two courses are taken together.
Details of my courses here
Joanna is offering:
June 8th-15th Discovering Astrology
August 31st-Sept. 1st Astrology in Action (intermediate)
September 14th-21st Tarot and Astrology
Details of Joanna’s course and general info about Greek Island Summer School here
New Moon Feb. 1st 05h46 (12 Aquarius 20)
Full Moon Feb. 16th 16h56 (28 Leo 0)
New Moon March 2nd 17h35 (12 Pisces 7)
Full Moon March 18th 7h18 (27 Virgo 40)