Celebrating Imbolc

Many years ago, I lived on a another hill—one of the seven hills of Bath—and on an Imbolc eve it was raining. It was raining as if the Winter Cailleach had dumped her own bath upon us.

Tomorrow would be Bridghe’s day, but that night before was darkness-filled-with-sound—rain rattled on the roof, sang in short-lived streamlets around my warm, dry home—Brockham End, a home of badgers too—and I hoped they might be dry in their setts.

I lit a candle and talked to the Lady in her aspect of the Welcoming Dark, the safe and protected womb, the welspryng of life. She listened to my hopes, my plans, my dreams, and there in the light of her flame, she blessed the seeds I hoped to grow.

I slept well. And in the morning…
there were wild springs
and ephemeral waterfalls.

Let there be a few dry days and they would all be gone. But let the rain come pouring down and the little falls and rills come rushing, like children on sleds at the first snow.

The wild springs come leaping up in unlikely places—like the one in my kitchen floor. (My landlady had warned me “the kitchen is sometimes damp.” This was four inches deep with a small fountain spouting between two tiles.)

For a wild thing,
this welspryng seemed quite at home
in my kitchen.

How remarkably auspicious!

We sat and laughed together, and I thanked her for coming to visit on Imbolc. And I asked her, too, for a blessing my seeds to help them grow. Then I wondered aloud if she might be happier out of doors, free and with more room to run. And I thanked her again.

A welspryng in my kitchen
on Imbolc
is a wondrous gift.

When I came back an hour later the floor was nearly dry—only a little damp in the cracks. But I could hear her laughing beyond the outside wall. So I went out in the rain and sat on a wet rock beside the strong, swift rivulet she made, and we laughed together until I was as wet as she.

Today, years later, in Washington—another watery name in another wet clime—I again await Imbolc to the music of rain-on-roof and wind-in-tree. I wait, remembering long ago seeds, grown to flower and to fruit, some even grown to trees under which there is shelter.

Tonight, I’ll light another candle in Her honor and again ask a blessing for my hope-filled seeds.

I resolve
that on the morrow’s morn
I shall, however rainy it may be,
plant more seeds,
and leave them to grow
free and wild.

© Copyright 2013 by Jessica Macbeth. All rights reserved.

2 thoughts on “Celebrating Imbolc

    1. Cheryl, Imbolc is Candlemas or St. Lucia’s Day in Christianity. Lights in the darkness. It’s the time when the first seeds germinate under the ground, safe from the winter cold. It’s one of my favorite holy days. I’d love to have a bonfire, but candles have to do in this weather. And for myself, it is like the Maiden’s phase of the moon — a time for thinking about beginnings. If the fall is for harvesting and letting go, and the winter is for dreaming, Imbolc is the first stirring of life sprouting. I also looked up the word wellspring and was delighted to find that it is an actual “source” and I fell in love with the old spelling of it, welspryng.

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