Original Artwork © Wendy Andrew, 2008
Quick, what's the holiday I know the least about? If you said Midsummer, well, yes you'd be right. I can't even really pronounce Lughnasadh. But Imbolc is right up there.
Some holidays are easily translated from ancient Pagan times to modern times. Samhain, Yule, Ostara and Beltaine all have commonalities with other holidays that we can draw upon. The Harvest holidays we can pretty easily equate to other aspects of our lives. But what do we do with Imbolc? In looking it up, I find that Imbolc is a cross-quarter day, when we're midway between the winter solstice and the vernal equinox. What does that mean for me? Mostly it means I ought to be adding compost to my flowerbeds.
It's even more fun explaining this to a preschooler. Those of you who read this column regularly will already know of my unfortunate habit of trying to produce college-worthy lectures explaining the intricacies of the universe to my three year old. Those of you with children will already know the outcome - waning interest followed by dismissal. If I keep talking, it better be to the baby or the cat, because the small child is not listening.
So I pondered how to tackle Imbolc this year. I read a lot of stuff on the Internet. Fun, huh? Because we all know the Internet's never wrong! I did find a lot of interesting things, actually. For instance, Imbolc has some connections with Groundhog Day. Foul weather late in January meant a fair spring. Useful for farmers, or for those of us with delusions of competence in gardening. I have www.Weather.com, though, and while the appeal of learning natural ways to predict the weather has its appeal, I also kinda like to watch a real-time satellite feed of the storm system that's making its way towards me. I think the time for my level of weather prognostication has passed.
So I turned to the fire prophecy and divination aspect of the holiday. If it was a time for telling the weather, maybe we could get a read on the storm systems in our lives. I got out my cards, did some shuffling, and found I didn't like what I got. Hard work ahead. Stop being delusional. You might have a long wait ahead of you before you get what you want. Ummm ... couldn't this particular groundhog go back into his den and try again in a few hours? It doesn't work like that, unfortunately. I reluctantly put away the cards, thinking I would get them out again on the 2nd proper and maybe get a little more clarification; ask a more pointed question. Give the divination a chance to simmer, to marinate. Like ribs.
I sat down with myself to have a thoughtful conversation. What could I possibly do with this holiday that would involve the kids? To my surprise, my self answered. I returned to my initial instinct about the holiday - the flowerbeds. Of course! I would have my son help me work in the garden, spreading compost (the manure free pile, anyway), planting seeds, observing what was starting to emerge from the ground. Some seeds will go out immediately - alyssum, violas, nasturtiums, and a few wildflowers that like the cold. The rest would go under my grow lights or be tucked into my gardening bag.
It's all set out now. I got my son his own little set of gardening tools, and I taught him a Seed Blessing Song. Since I'm neither a musician nor a poet, I used Johnny Nash's "I Can See Clearly Now." It's upbeat, it's about weather, and the child loves it. I looks forward to Imbolc now, a day when I can take my child out into the garden, sing a little song, plant some little seeds, and work a little magic. Maybe we're not so different from our religious ancestors after all.
About the Author: Julie Cox is a new pagan writer and artist who lives with her two young children and husband in Texas. She carries degrees in both Art and Religion. To see more of Julie's artwork go to Shopping and Art gallery on our main menu.