Winter goes and Spring comes back. Thus is the wheel of life. What was dead will now come back to life and new life will emerge where things at one time didn’t grow at all. I love the hope, life, and blessings that come with the springtime.
Still, we can’t forget the beauty and magic that Winter brought us, either. Although it might have brought snow, cold, and even death to some of us-without it there would be no Spring!
Every year, I like to have a “Farewell to Winter” ritual. I actually don’t mind winter that much, although I could do without the high heat bills that come with it. I find it very cozy to wrap up in something warm and sit comfortable inside my house with my family safely tucked in around me. I also like the warm soups and casseroles and hot drinks that come with Winter as well. So even though I am glad to see the warmer weather and new life that Spring brings, I like to pay my respects to the old season, too.
Imbolc is considered to be the time between Yule and the Spring Equinox. Consequently, it’s also about the time that we start getting cabin fever. The holiday season is over and Spring hasn’t yet appeared and for some, being stuck in the middle is a little depressing. For that reason, we try to find fun things to do to keep us occupied.
You can perform your own “Farewell to Winter” ritual either with your family or by yourself.
I like to find some noisemakers first. You use drums, bell, whistles, or even pots and pans and big wooden spoons for the little ones. A colored candle (the color can be personal to you) that is tall enough to stick into a pile of snow is ideal. Of course, if you don’t have snow then you might want to use a candle holder. Either way, this ritual is best when performed outside. You’ll also need a bowl.
In the snow, I have every member of my family draw a picture that represents Spring to them. It might be a flower, a bird, a tree, or an animal. Depending on how old the child is, you might not be able to make out what the picture is-but that’s okay!
If you don’t have snow, then don’t fear. You can also draw these images on pieces of paper. That works just as well.
We try to keep the pictures within a large circle. After everyone has drawn theirs, we march around the circle with our noisemakers and chant, “Winter’s going, we’ll see you next year, we welcome the spring as it draws near.” Of course, you can really chant whatever you want to and whatever is easiest for your family to remember.
You then light your candle and place it in the center of the circle. Repeat your chant again and circle round the candle. The flame represents the warmth and sunshine of the Spring that you are welcoming in. Don’t worry, you don’t have to stand outside in the cold until the candle has burnt out. Instead, you can simply fill your bowl with snow and then bring the candle back inside where you can leave it to burn out on its own. If you don’t have snow, then that’s okay, too. Just let it burn.
There is an alternative to this ritual. Some people celebrate the fire ritual of Brighid who is the Irish goddess of home and hearth. During Imbolc, some people like to honor her as the deity responsible for transformation. That really deserves its own blog entry, however, as this ritual normally includes working at your altar. Still, it is a ritual that you can do on your own or with other people, depending on how you want to proceed.
I will miss Winter as it fades away, but I also look forward to Spring as well. There are things that I truly enjoy about the cold weather and I try to keep these in mind-even when my feet are freezing and I have to leave a little extra early in order to clear the frost off of my car. Sometimes, it’s also difficult to remember the good things when my children are beginning me to play outside and it’s just too cold and windy to safely let them out.
Still, there are moments when Winter is truly magical. The first snow storm, the moon glistening off the snow banks like little diamonds, the first taste of snow cream on a blustery day, and the sight of my children’s lopsided snowman from my kitchen window. I shall miss these things, but I will also look forward to the planting of my garden, the songs of the birds as they return to our yard, and the scent of the fresh grass it poke up through the willing soil.
There is always something to look forward to.
Your Warm and Caring “Resident Witch In Charge”