3 February

Yesterday was Imbolc and this really should have been yesterday’s post. Forgive me please for being a day behind. It is the celebration of the beginning of spring. If, like me, you are still surrounded by snow and ice and the thermometer only occasionally goes above zero, you could be forgiven for thinking that rather than a day late I am a month or so early. But stop and look around, there are signs of the birth of spring already showing.

From where I sit, looking out over our courtyard I can see the beginnings of catkins on the twisted hazel and the pussy willow. The mint has already burst out and is taking over the container it shares with the parsley. Under the snow, where it has begun to melt I can see the tips of the snowdrops pushing through the earth. Even the winter light is starting to change.

Celebration of Imbolc is a celebration of trust. In days gone by people had to trust that the earth will continue to provide crops, that animals would survive winters, that pregnancies would bring forth healthy children. It is a time of uncertainty, the winter is coming to a close but as yet, there is no proof that the spring and summer will be forthcoming. The cycle is starting again, the circle turning but the outcome is unknown.

In her book The Rituals of Celebration, Judith Meredith describes a beautiful ritual to celebrate Imbolc and honour the birth of spring. The full ritual is quite long so I have included here just the Blessing Ribbons and adapted. However, if you are interested in Pagan rituals and celebrations her book is well worth reading.

Each person brings two brightly coloured ribbons and one natural object, this could be a stone, a leaf, a seedpod, a shell, a feather, something not made by man. Decide on the intention of the blessings, blessings for oneself, for others, for the earth and so on.

Each person writes a blessing in marker pen on their ribbon. A blessing that they would be delighted to receive. Perhaps on a blue ribbon a blessing for clean waters, on a green ribbon a blessing for bountiful growth, on a red ribbon a blessing for warmth and sunshine. When wording the blessing write it from a positive point of view.

Stand in a circle and exchange ribbons passing one to the person on your left and the other to the person on your right. Decide which blessing you wish to keep for yourself and ground it by tying it to your natural object. The other blessing is for the earth and all its inhabitants. You could burn them and let the smoke rise up towards the sky. You could tie them to a tree or a gate. The choice is yours.

Begin the new cycle of the year with joy and uplifting blessings and celebration.

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