If you observe an annual round of festivals–say, as a Christian, or Jew, or Moslem–you already know the value of this practice. If not, and if you want to try out such an annual round, check out the eight festivals that I observe as part of Tefistry. These are based on Celtic and other European traditions (quite appropriate for me, since my ancestry is European and I have studied modern Druidism for several years). To some degree, these festivals can be added to, or merged with, the ones you already observe. I have sketched out liturgies for my Tefist round of eight festivals, and you can find these here on the Tefistry.com website: Click on the Tefistry page > download Tefist Paths to Nature > go to p.138. Note that these festivals are partly traditional, partly my own creation.
These festivals serve many purposes; here are two. First, they give us an opportunity, at least once a year, to re-connect with each step of our experience: the stages of human life, from conception to death and beyond; the grand progression of nature’s seasons, following our leader, the Sun; the agricultural cycle, from dormancy, to planting, to tending, to harvest; and the big picture, the Processes and Products of Perception. Second, this round of festivals serves as an “engine” of integration. It ties all the separate themes together, repeats them every year, and gives us ample opportunity to worship: to share in Gladness, Gratitude, Good Will, and Good Works–such that Harmony may prevail in our lives and throughout Tef. The returning, and returning, and returning of the great cycles, year after year after year, draws out the circularity of the annual round into a grand spiral of time and change, giving our lives comfort and joy.
Today we are approaching one of these eight festivals: Imbolc. In Tefistry, four of the festivals honor tradition, retaining their old Gaelic names, Imbolc, Beltane, Lughnasa, Samhuinn, while the other four, to honor their astronomical ties, are named Winter Solstice, Vernal Equinox, Summer Solstice, and Autumnal Equinox. Imbolc (pronounced “Im’-molk”) is customarily observed on February 1 or 2 (in the Northern Hemisphere), though I usually wait until February 4, to avoid confusion with Ground Hog Day. (For more background, look at the Imbolc entry in Wikipedia.) In my Imbolc liturgy (p.145, as referenced above), there are three main themes: Signs of the Season (the earliest signs of Spring, the waning signs of Winter); Creativity in all its forms (culminating the Gestation that began with Inception at Winter Solstice) and also highlighting Birth, Motherhood, and Midwifery among humans; and recollection of the Celtic goddess Bride (Brigit, Brighid), the “Exalted One” whose neopagan worship is still alive today. Although I do not worship any of the old deities, I do honor the memory of Bride, who is so tightly tied to Imbolc and helps to balance the feminine/masculine dimension of the annual round.
You may need to adapt Imbolc and the Tefist round of festivals to the specific place you inhabit and to the needs of yourself and your social circle. This is exactly what you should do. And remember, as you are celebrating the grand themes of Imbolc, thousands of others around the world are also celebrating Imbolc at this very time. Enjoy!
May Harmony Prevail: Love Thy Tef!