A Heathen Imbolc

A Heathen Imbolc February 1, 2019

It’s a remarkably beautiful day today. The cold that’s gripped the prairie the past few days is fading here, the bright sun melting away our last big snowfall. Everywhere I hear the sound of dripping water, see hints of warming soil. It’s Imbolc.

“But wait,” my readers may say. “You’re a Heathen! Why would you recognize Imbolc at all?”. It’s true, I don’t have an ongoing relationship with any Celtic deities, and even less of a relationship with Wiccan traditions. But it is undeniably Imbolc today, and not to honor that feels wrong.

The Wheel of the Year, in its most basic incarnation, is a celebration of the seasonal cycle that presents itself strongly in the nature spirits of the plains. There’s no mistaking a winter wind for a sweet summer one here. Not only that, it is a language of celebration common to the vast majority of Pagans. As a mother of children unlikely to grow up to be Heathens, or even generic Pagans, it’s important for me to give them the language to connect with others who have had similar experiences. I am also firmly of the opinion that you can never have too many holidays to celebrate!

So here we are on Imbolc, Heathens celebrating the very first stirrings of spring. Want some ideas on how to celebrate a nature-centered, non-culturally specific holiday on February first? Read on!

Offerings of Milk – this is informed by Celtic lore, which generally holds that the Fey and spirits of nature enjoy dairy-based offerings. Milk and butter are perennial favorites, anything else dairy based is probably fair game as well! Leave a bit in a dish outside overnight, and toss it onto the earth afterwards.

Take a Walk – much of the US is unseasonably cold at the moment, but for those of you who are lucky like me, get outside and take a walk! Find the first signs of spring. Is there snowmelt? Are the streams or creeks near you swollen with runoff? Have birds started returning, or new grass sprouting in between the yellowed blades of last year?

A Culturally Specific Spring Ritual – though it’s much to early to be planting seeds here in Nebraska, other parts of the US and the world might have the right weather for a Charming of the Plow Heathen ritual.

Reflect on the Gift of Milk – domesticated mammals that gave milk made survival in much of Europe possible for our ancestors. I’m a bit biased right now as I’m still nursing a little one, but taking the time to pause and reflect on the life-giving miracle that is milk has amazed me. I believe it is a gift from the gods; enabling survival and better nutrition, and also giving a special intimacy between a mother and child.

Celebrate the Returning Light – as we get nearer to the Spring Equinox, the days are growing longer and the sunshine more robust! Making offerings to the Sun or recite a hymn or prayer; the prayer at the end of this post is a good place to start.

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