Friday, February 1, 2013

Imbolc as I Celebrate It

As an Eclectic Witch, I generally have the opportunity to celebrate pretty much whatever holidays I want to.  I choose to celebrate the the eight Sabbats Wiccans do... at least I have since I started being active in the Pagan community, anyway.  Celebrating Sabbats is much like using the word "Pagan" to me... I'm not obligated to do it, but it helps me mesh better with a community and that keeps me spiritually "together."

Today is February 1st, which is when I celebrate Imbolc.  This is a Gaelic-based holiday that marks the beginning of spring, the beginning of milking season, and the Goddess Brighid.  Like many Pagans, I do a lot of little things for this holiday, like making associated crafts (Brighid's beds, Brighid's crosses), blessing candles, and so forth.  But these are more asides... as a queer Pagan, many of the fertility-based stuff that is brought up is irrelevant to my practice, but some of it isn't... largely related to "things I eat."  I celebrate Imbolc as an animal festival, when dairy livestock begin to lactate and give birth.  Sheep are central to the celebration, and usually my central feast is lamb of some kind and some high-quality dairy product and some sort of fruit.  In the past I have knit things with wool, made butter, made cheese, and made candles.

My menu this year is as follows:
  • Veal Brisket (I may share the recipe as a magickal cooking entry... but I haven't written the recipe yet.  Yeah, I'm on top of things.)
  • Cottage Cheese
  • Kefir
  • Roasted Brussels Sprouts
  • Fruit
 My ritual activity is one I'd love to be able to share in extreme detail, but there's a problem... since I got the book "The Path of the Green Man: Gay Men, Wicca, and Living a Magical Life" by Michael Thomas Ford, almost all of my solitary Sabbat rituals have been entirely based on the stories found in there.  And I don't really want to be "that guy" who copies huge swaths of information from a book, so I'll just say I highly recommend this book to queer male Pagans (and any other Pagan who is open to reading from queer perspectives) and give you the bare-bones.

Each of this book's chapters contains a Sabbat story with a central queer character as he makes his way through the wheel of the year.  In the Imbolc story we, of course, meet Brighid, who instructs the central character to re-build a fire his doubts have extinguished by offering those things to the fire.  In return, Brighid gives him the opportunity to pull a positive word from the fire.  So for my ritual I will be building a small fire using sticks that have words representing doubts I have about myself.  Next to the fire there will be a cauldron filled with words of hope... these will be used for a personal divination as the fire is going.

So that's, in a nutshell, Imbolc as I practice it.  It's not a holiday that gets a lot of media attention (like Samhain and Yule), but it's still a nice little observance.