Imbolc in the Southern Hemisphere

by Jenwytch

Posted on July 20, 2010 by Jenwytch at The Other Side. This article is also in the July 2010 edition of the “Axis Mundi”.

Imbolc is a cross-quarter day midway between the winter solstice (Yule) and the spring equinox (Ostara) and is the celebration of the banishing of winter, the imminent arrival of Spring and the stirring of new life in the earth. Imbolc recognizes the maiden aspect of the triple goddess – the fresh, the young, the naïve, the new – and is strongly connected with the Goddess Brigid. It is associated with and also known as the festivals of Oimelc, Imbolg, Imbolic (Irish), Candlemas (British), Feast of Torches, Lupercalia (Italian/Latin), Brigid’s Day, and Brigantia (Scottish).

Here in the southern hemisphere, in 21st century Australia, we are far removed from the climate and rural lifestyles of the people of ancient Europe where this festival, and others that make up the Wheel Of The Year, originated.

Due to the 6 month offset of the seasons between the northern and southern hemispheres many Australian Pagans prefer to celebrate Imbolc when it is seasonally appropriate here, on August 1st or 2nd, instead of on the traditional northern hemisphere date of February 2nd. Although the majority of modern day Aussie Pagans live in cities or the suburbs we can still look to our backyard gardens, public suburban parks or the National Parks and bushland reserves scattered all around us to see evidence of the cycle of the seasons relevant to this time of year.

Colours commonly associated with Imbolc are white, lavender, green, blue and gold. At lmbolc, the Australian forests are bright with the colour yellow, with many species of Acacia trees coming into full flower. Until fairly recently, the 1st of August was “Wattle Day” in Australia (it has since been moved to the 1st of September). In some climates, like southern Australia and New Zealand, snow and frosts prevail throughout winter, and white snowdrops and crocuses are among the first delicate harbingers of spring. Other flowers associated with this festival are the violet and lavender. In Australia the native violet and other mauve or purple flowers, such as the Black-eyed Susan, which are in bloom around this time of year, can be thought of as the flowers of Imbolc.

My personal “Imbolc flower”, although not native, is Lavender, simply because I planted an abundance of Lavender plants in my garden some years ago and they all thrived and continued to flower profusely. Each Imbolc I have decorated my altar with bunches of Lavender from my garden.

In general, Imbolc is a time for planting seeds and to recognize one’s duty to nurture inner seeds of growth as well as the physical seeds of the earth; to consider personal goals and dreams, and to embrace inspiration. It is common to bless and burn candles of inspiration at Imbolc rituals. You can approach situations and people with open eyes and open heart, and coupled with planning, this fresh approach to life can inspire your every moment to be happier and more energetic.

This article also appears in the Axis Mundi.

References:
http://www.mythinglinks.org/Wheel~SouthernYear.html
http://www.akashawitchcraft.net (website no longer available)
http://www.lucycavendish.com (original Imbolg page no longer available)