Imbolc Preparations for the 2-February Sabbat/Observance

Imbolc Preparations for the 2-February Sabbat/Observance

Imbolc Preparations

Imbolc Preparatios

The start of the Imbolc festival 2006. Marsden. Huddersfield (courtesy flickr user malcolm)

One of the spokes in the Wheel of the Year approaches. Imbolc, mid-winter Sabbat, is celebrated on February 2nd, which is Thursday.

Imbolc is a celebration of Light and Fire. It’s the Sabbat that recognizes the waning of Winter and the approach of Spring. Strictly speaking, the days have been getting longer since the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year. Throughout January, though, it’s difficult to detect this. The increase in daytime builds slowly. By February, though, sunset is noticeably later.

Additionally, the sun is out more! Climate change (and less winter in general) aside, we start to see a shift in weather patterns. There are more nice days than gloomy as Imbolc rules.


Christians recognize Imbolc as Candlemas, and/or the Feast of St. Blaise. Candlemas, the blessing of the candles used in the local church for the coming year, was the initial compromise between the Celtic holy day and worship of the White Christ. The crossover is typical of many Christian observances. Still, some folks didn’t want even that much of a connection to pre-Christian paganism. So, the church attached observance of a saint’s feast day to the celebration. St. Blaise is the patron saint of illnesses related to the throat.

In addition to blessing the candles, Catholics come to church to get their throats blessed. Usually, this blessing is done by a priest or deacon. The priest holds two candles in an “X”, placing the candles around the necks of the faithful. He then pronounces a blessing. So, we get the candle observance in, but filters enough to make those uncomfortable with the old ways happy.

Over time, however, it was clear that Imbolc observances dominated recognition of St. Blaise, so the church made a change. February 2nd became the celebration of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple. That makes the Christian observance a Big Deal. Well, a bigger deal than a saint’s feast day. Blaise got bumped to 3-February.

Celebrating Imbolc

The easiest way to observe Candlemas/Imbolc is to light candles! Welcome the Sun! Acknowledge that Winter is passing and Spring is on its way!

I’m working on a solitary observance this week (on top of everything else going on), so I’ll post more on that tomorrow.


Catholic Cremation rule changes show similarities, differences with paganism

Catholic Cremation rule changes show similarities, differences with paganism

catholic cremation

The “Peace Anvil” in Metairie Cemetery, New Orleans. This is a mausoleum designed with niches to hold cremains. (Infrogmation photo)

Rules for Catholic Cremation

Catholic cremation traditions have been changed by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The Vatican now requires the faithful inter cremains in Catholic cemeteries. The new rules prohibit keeping cremains at home, or scattering the ashes. The rationale behind the new policy is interesting:

“Furthermore, in order to avoid any form of pantheistic or naturalistic or nihilistic misunderstanding, the dispersion of ashes in the air, on the ground, on water or in some other way as well as the conversion of cremated ashes into commemorative objects is not allowed.”

Takeaways on the changes

While this has no real impact on anyone other than practicing Catholics, there are three interesting takeaways for the Wicca:

  • Many Catholics will ignore these rules. Therefore, they’ll look at this as a guideline. If a family keeps Grandpa Joe on the shelf in the living room, they’re not changing this. Same goes for loved ones alive now. We talk about Wicca being a loosely-organized religion. Even though Catholics have more structure, many disregard what the leaders say.
  • Catholics are more pagan than many will admit. Take burial at sea, for example. These days, it usually means scattering ashes water. Spreading cremains around the deceased’s favorite tree in the park, or some other beloved location are common occurrences. The Wicca and other pagan traditions should take note of these acts by Christians and remember that we do have much in common.
  • If Catholics do follow the policies set by The Vatican, this will bring in more money for Catholic cemeteries. In cities like New Orleans, this will be helpful, in terms of historic preservation.

Support family and friends

I’m a big believer in supporting the spiritual choices of friends. If Catholic friends decide to inter their loved ones in a cemetery, I’ll be there. If they want to take them down to the river on Carnival Day, I’m OK with that, too. So, we need to take care of each other.

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