Tag Archives: Imbolc

The Perpetual Flame

Reform Paganism’s sabbat of Spring Eve, coming halfway between Mid Winter and Mid Spring, draws some of its inspiration from the ancient Gaelic festival of Imbolc, a celebration of the goddess Brigid around the traditional beginning of the season of spring.

Spring Eve calls us to focus our Will upon openness, purification, and resolve. We contemplate the Imbolc tradition in which a representative of the goddess Brigid knocks three times on the closed door of a home, asking to be let in, whereupon the door is opened so the goddess may enter with blessings. We participate in the Imbolc custom of spring cleaning and other forms of purification. In some Reform Pagan traditions, we encourage novices at Imbolc to resolve themselves formally to following their chosen spiritual paths by undergoing rites of dedication and initiation.

The goddess Brigid has also come to be honored through the tending of a perpetual flame, an image that befits the time of year when the flames of candles and hearths are ritually kindled, rising upward to meet the growing warmth and light of the sun. For some Reform Pagans, this drawing together of flame below and flame above—two manifestations of the same elemental substance—evokes Nature’s eternal aspiration: the divinity of the Universe itself reaching inward to touch the divinity within the human spirit, even as the divinity within the human spirit reaches outward to touch the divinity that pervades the entire Universe.

As participation in this bidirectional dance of divinity is the beating heart of Reform Paganism, our religion could be called one of an Imbolc without end: Reform Pagans continually open, purify, and resolve our spirits to the possibility and promise of Pagan Renewal, which is Nature itself aspiring, as much like the rising and falling flames of Imbolc as like each new blade of grass breaking through the melting snow of early spring.

With much love and many bright blessings always,
And particularly on this occasion of Spring Eve,
Your kindred spirits at ReformPagan.org and PaganRenewal.org

In With The New!

The turning of the Wheel of the Year brings us very soon to Imbolc, which Reform Pagans often refer to as the Vernal Passage because, according to ancient Gaelic traditions and our own Reform Pagan liturgical calendar, this sabbat is the passageway into the season of spring.

Though the exact etymology of “Imbolc” is unknown, sources cited in the Wikipedia article on Imbolc explain that the word is thought to derive perhaps from Old Irish for either “in the belly” (referring to the pregnancy of ewes at this time of year) or “to cleanse oneself” (ritualistically, that is) or perhaps from Proto-Celtic for “budding”. Any of these connotations would be apt for a sabbat that many Reform Pagans associate with, on the one hand, purification from the old and, on the other hand, openness and resolve toward the new.

Imbolc also comes at nearly the same time as the celebration of Candlemas, which involves ritualistic blessing and lighting of candles. Coincidentally or not, many Reform Pagans have incorporated candles (typically white, a color that symbolizes, among other things, the clean and pure snow that may be on the ground at this time of year) as an essential element in our celebration of Imbolc.

At ReformPagan.org, we’re excited to announce—at this very appropriate time of Imbolc, no less!—the launch of the Pagan Renewal Network. The Network is still in gestation, just as lambs are in their mothers’ bellies at Imbolc, but our vision for the Nexus is that it would serve as a forum and resource for our community where we can come together to share the transformational light of information and inspiration.

With much love and many bright blessings always,
And particularly on this occasion of the Vernal Passage,
Your team of kindred spirits at ReformPagan.org