The Pagan wheel of the year marks the quarters – the longest and shortest days (solstices) and the days of equal light and darkness (equinoxes). Our wheel also marks the points in between: the midway point from the extreme of light or darkness to the point of balance. Right now, we are getting ready for Imbolc/Candlemas/Brigid’s Day. Imbolc is the halfway point between the winter solstice (the most darkness) and the spring equinox (balanced light and dark, and the first day of spring).
To me, this is a time of dreaming the spring to come. We begin to uncurl from the tight cocoon of winter a little bit and start thinking about how we want to transition into the growing season.
I have never been a big fan of New Year’s Resolutions. In the deeps of winter, our natural inclination is toward dormancy, rest and recovery. Much of living as a witch involves coming into harmony with the prevailing energy around us. It’s much easier to alter the course of a stream by diverting it slightly rather than trying to make the stream run backwards up a hill. Winter is for rest. But spring? Spring is for change.
Now, here’s the thing about humans and change. We need to go slowly, gradually, for change to be healthy and for it to stick. Too often I see people jump off the ledge and try to change everything all at once. Unsurprisingly, this often results in sliding back into our normal patterns. After losing a round with the transformation punching bag, we frequently assume we just can’t change. That isn’t true, of course – we’re incredibly adaptable as a species. But too much change at once is a great way to have an unpleasant Icarus experience.
People are like trees rather than weeds. We grow slowly and we change slowly. We are subject to the environment around us. Maybe we grew a little strangely because we didn’t get enough light or the right kind of nutrients in the soil. When we want to change things, it’s important to remember that even if we introduce more light or add more ‘compost’ to the soil around us, it can take a while for that to show. Maybe the first growing season the leaves are a little greener. Maybe after that the branches fill out. Maybe we begin shifting the direction of our growth. But it takes time.
So here we are, in the dream-space. Not total darkness, not yet balanced. It is in this liminal space that we can start to vision the spring to come.
One of my goals this year involves finding better ways to fill my own well in terms of spirituality. As a community organizer, I spend a lot of time designing and supporting spiritual experiences for my community. I love my Work, but the nature of it means that I am frequently not watering my own tree in my rush to water the forest around me.
I also know that change is a slow thing and that introducing variables to an already-strained schedule is a delicate needle to thread. So, I am dreaming about what a little more light and water looks like for this particular tree.
Would you like to dream with me?
An Imbolc Dreaming Pathworking
For this practice, you will need:
- A piece of paper and something to write with
- A rattle, drum or recording of music that helps you meditate/journey
- A blue or white candle, holder and lighter
- An oil or perfume that feels uplifting to you.I personally love citrus scents for this.
- A comfortable chair or floor cushion
Clean and prepare your altar or working space and lay out your supplies. If you would like to do this exercise in ritual context, cast your circle and welcome in the Powers you work with.
Anoint yourself with the oil or perfume. As the scent hits you, feel the way your body relaxes and opens. Notice the way your emotions shift toward hope and optimism. Sit with this feeling for a few minutes.
Anoint the candle with the same oil and place it in the candleholder.
Draw your awareness to your heart and notice a glow emanating from your heart center. Visualize it as golden like the spring sunlight. With every breath, allow that glow to become a little brighter and to reach even further. When you sense that the glow is strong and stable, light the candle. Notice the way the candle flame feeds and supports the glow around you.
Settle yourself comfortably for your journey. This is different for everyone but try to make sure you can rest your body in comfort without also falling asleep. Rattle, drum or play your recording and follow this pathworking:
Begin in your Place of Power or Safe Space. Know that at any time, you can return to this place in full control of everything that happens.
See a winter pathway through a pine forest appear before you. Hints of sunlight break through the branches to make the snow glitter on the path. Begin to walk that winter path. The snow crunches under your feet and you can see your breath on the cold air. As you walk, the path begins to slope slightly down a hill. You notice that the snow is getting thinner and patches of stone and moss are starting to show through.
The air is warming. You see a robin briefly land on the path before you, then take off again. There’s more birdsong in the air and you can hear the rustle of leaves as squirrels and chipmunks stir in the undergrowth. The snow has given way to damp earth and the first few patches of grass are reaching for the sun.
As you continue down the gentle slope of the path, the forest changes around you. Evergreens give way to deciduous trees, their first leaves growing bright green on the branches. A cherry tree near you is heavy with pale pink flowers. The grass and moss are a rich green in the sunlight.
The path opens out before you, revealing a sunlit field. Soft grasses and clusters of wildflowers sway and nod in the gentle breeze. The sky is blue, the air is warm and full of the sounds of the forest in springtime. The breeze is sweet with the scent of growing trees and spring blossoms.
You notice a large boulder at the center of the field and make your way toward it. As you approach, you see that the top of the boulder tilts toward you slightly. It is perfectly flat and polished to a high sheen – a natural mirror.
When you arrive at the boulder, you gaze into the mirror and smile at your reflection. As your reflection smiles back at you, you notice that it is slightly different than you are right now. It somehow looks happier or healthier. It brings you joy to see yourself feeling so good. Ask your reflection ‘What has changed?’ and listen for the answer.
Ask your reflection ‘What is the first small step I need to take?’ and listen for the answer.
You may ask more questions and speak more with your reflection if it seems like the right thing to do. When you are finished, thank your reflection for sharing its wisdom with you.
Notice a shortcut back to your Place of Power or Safe Space in front of you. Return to that place and then allow your awareness to return to your physical body. Wiggle your fingers and toes, take a deep breath, and whenever you are ready, open your eyes.
Immediately write down what you experienced and learned on your journey. When you have finished writing, ground and center thoroughly.
Look over your journal entry. Evaluate the first small step forward and make it even smaller if you need to. Remember, change works best in small, measured shifts over a long span of time.
Allow the candle to burn down if it is safe to do so or snuff the candle. If you performed this practice within a ritual, close your ritual.
Choose when to begin your first shift. Astrological Imbolc is February 4th for most of the United States. The next full moon is February 9th and the next dark moon is February 23rd. All of these might be good days to begin bringing your dream into reality.
Start preparing for that shift. Gather whatever information and supplies are necessary. Remember, this is a dream for spring, and we are in the phase of preparing the earth – the very first part of planting a seed. Reach out to people for input and insight. Reorganize or redecorate your altar if it would help support your dream. Then, begin.
I wish you a beautiful Imbolc and sweet dreams of the spring to come. If you have any questions or ideas for Imbolc visioning, hit me up in the comments.