I talk a lot about White World and Green World, because to me the world is so completely different during winter months than it is during the months that water is actually liquid at the ambient temperature. Winter, or White World, has always felt like an alien and hostile environment to me. It demands a level of fear and respect that the balmy warmth of Green World does not (if you can’t tell, I’m a native of Green World).
A lot of Pagans claim that they feel disconnected from Imbolc, that they don’t “get” it. In the climate that I live in, late January and early February are the coldest time of year, the absolute nadir. A festival promising the return of the light and celebrating the fires that keep us alive during the coldest times only makes sense to me.
Last night our Protogrove had a splendid Imbolc ritual. It was only our second rite as an official Protogrove, and the first one that was run by our member Barbara. Given that our Protogrove has a lot of interest in both the Norse and the Irish Hearth Cultures, we’ve decided to split the wheel between the quarters (where we do Norse rites) and the cross-quarters (which end up being Celtic). This makes sense from a historical standpoint as well, as there is more evidence of and known history of Norse practices for the solstices and equinoxes, and Celtic ones for the cross-quarters.
This Imbolc was dedicated to Brighid, as many that I’ve attended in the past have been. Brighid is a Gaelic goddess who is a master healer and smith, who possesses power over flames and inspiration. In our rite we offered to Balor to keep him and the Outdwellers at bay and Danu as Earth Mother. Brighid was what we in ADF like to call the “Deity of the Occasion”, our special guest of honor. We read poetry and lit candles, made oaths, sang our inspiration, and made Brighid’s crosses (some of which we offered to her, others that we had blessed with the sacred water to hang as apotropaic amulets in our homes), all in offering to her.
Revering and acknowledging the inner fire when things are coldest and darkest seems like a natural reaction to the cycles of the world. For someone who lives in a climate like mine, it’s a necessary reminder that all is not lost, the sun will rise again, and soon White World will wash away and Green World will show its face again.