Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Celebrating the beginning of Spring

Over the last few days I have been celebrating Imbolc, the Celtic festival of the beginnings of Spring, at the wonderful Wildways in Shropshire http://wildwaysontheborle.co.uk/ with White Horse Camps http://whitehorsecamps.moonfruit.com/# a community of like-minded druid folk.

The lawn at Wildways

 Snowdrops at Wildways

Imbolc is the very beginning of Spring, when the returning light begins to call forth new growth from the earth.  The first flowers of the year, the snowdrops, poke their delicate heads from the frosty ground to delight us with their gentle beauty.  The forest floor is beginning to turn green as the ground-level plants need to get in their growth before the trees come into leaf and shade out the plants beneath them.  Catkins on hazel trees are starting to come into flower in sunny spots.  Birds are singing and claiming their territories in preparation for nesting.  The sheep are beginning to lamb starting in the sheltered south and progressing up the country as a tide of new life.

Imbolc is the festival of the Celtic Goddess and Christian saint Brigid.  She is particularly associated with poetry, smithcraft and healing.  At the camp we honoured her by sharing poetry and song in our camp Eistedfodd.  We crafted images from clay and carved wands from wood.  I had taken a piece of hawthorn from my woods to carve into a wand, to act as an aid to focus energy in ritual and magical work.  We experienced the healing peace of meditation and ritual infused with the presence of Brigid standing round a candle-lit sacred pool hearing the voices of priestesses singing and reciting words of beauty and deep power.  I dedicated my intent to learn the ways of the herbwife at Brigid's sacred fire.

The three-fold aspect of Brigid

 The hawthorn wand I carved

During the camp I drew a card from the Druid Animal Oracle  http://www.philipcarr-gomm.com/phill_books/druid-animal-oracle/ The card I drew was the Bee, which has the meaning of community, celebration and organisation.  This was very appropriate for the occasion of celebrating with my druid community.   Words from the Animal Oracle book that particularly spoke to me are "The bee tells us we can live together in harmony, however impossible this may sometimes seem.  By being at one with the natural world, by paying homage to the sun, by centering our lives around Spirit or the Goddess, we can work together in community".  The bee also brings the gift of honey, a wonderful substance filled with healing power used in many herbal remedies.  

The Bee from the Druid Animal Oracle

I hope all who read this also find inspiration and healing as the returning light brings forth new life.


  1. I really appreciate your perspective, particularly as, on this side of the pond, our Imbolc brought a foot of snow with the temp at -15 F last night. I am so glad someone is having spring. For me, Imbolc is a time to dream with seed catalogs.

    1. Hi Steve, we are fortunate in our temperate climate here. Enjoy the Spring when it comes to you xx

  2. Loved it, thank you Anne - do you do Handfastings?

    1. Hi Mick, I have done handfastings in the past, though usually for people I know personally. I am happy to consider doing one if asked, depending on my availability.

  3. Hi Anne, Is there any relevance to using Hawthorn as a wand, or did you just decide that this wood be your wood of choice?

  4. Hawthorn is my herbal ally for the year, chosen intuitively. We were set a task in January to make a hawthorn wand so I chose to do this at the wand-making workshop at the camp. To me it is a very magical tree. I will see what qualities it brings to the wand when I use it.

    A useful reference I found to the qualities of different woods for wands is http://www.dragonoak.com/Magical-Wood-Properties.html