Spring is on its way!
January is nearly over, the days are noticeably a little longer and the first snowdrops are just beginning to peep out of the ground. Imbolc, sometimes called Candlemas, on February 2, is traditionally the first day of spring. So why not get out and celebrate?
Here are some of the Imbolc open rituals, festivals, workshops and events taking place in the UK:
Thursday 28 January; Pagan Federation indoor Imbolc ritual at Conway Hall, Red Lion Square, Holborn, London WC1R 4RL. `Ye Olde Unicorns’ will be facilitating this ritual, and dedicating it to Maureen Brown, Wiccan High Priestess, who passed away five years ago. 7.30pm for 8pm start. Entrance £5 (£4 for members). Bring food and drink to share. No photographs allowed. Visit http://www.pflondon.org/
Saturday 30 January; Big Garden Bird Watch Weekend. This might not be a pagan event, but it seems a very appropriate way to get in touch with nature at this time of year by helping to contribute to the world's biggest bird survey from your own garden. For details, visit http://www.rspb.org.uk/ or call 01767 680551.
Saturday 30 January, druidic-style open ceremony at Avebury stone circle in Wiltshire. All faith paths are welcome. Please bring offerings of music, poetry, flowers, fruit, mead, ale, bread and cakes. Meet at the Red Lion pub, in Avebury, from noon. The ceremony will start at 1.30pm. The car park will be open overnight.
Sunday 31 January, Cross-Quarter day Festival of Imbolc celebration with the Loose Association of Druids in the Hawthorne Grove on Primrose Hill, London NW1 8YH (entrance opposite Rothwell St) from 12.45pm - 1.45pm. Afterwards there will be a social at The Washington Public House, 50 Englands Lane, London NW3 4YD. All are welcome.
Sunday January 31 Anderida Gorsedd open ritual at the Long Man of Wilmington, Sussex. Meet near the car park between 1.30pm and 2pm for a walk up to the chalk hill figure at 2pm. Afterwards back to the Giants Rest pub in Wilmington for a social drink together.
Monday 1 February; Open Imbolc ritual at Joss Bay, Broadstairs, Kent. Gather in the car park above Joss Bay beach, just below the North Foreland Lighthouse. The ritual will take place on the beach unless it rains, in which case it will take place in the Red Lion pub in Ramsgate. The event starts at 7.30pm. All are welcome. Call 01843 228011 for more details.
1 February - 15 March; Scottish Snowdrop Festival. This public event is a chance to enjoy beautiful gardens of snowdrops at various locations in Scotland. For more information, visit http://white.visitscotland.com/white_things_to_see_and_do/events_and_festivals/festival.aspx
Saturday 6 February; Beautiful Bridget - An Imbolc Experience. This workshop runs from 10am to 4pm at The Crystal Dragon, Caversham, Reading, Berkshire. Join with Vicky at the magical time of Imbolc to meet Bride, the patron Goddess of the festival of Imbolc. The workshop involves making Bridie's crosses and learning about her healing nature. It will culminate with a ceremony to honour the Lady of Spring. The cost is £35; concessions available. For more details or to book, call Vicky on 07792 279789 or visit the website http://www.sacredisle.webeden.co.uk/#
Saturday 6 February; Imbolc Fire Festival. This public event is said to be based on a 2,000-year-old Celtic celebration marking the first signs of spring. It features a procession, a fire circus, drama and music. The event Starts at Marsden Station at 6pm and continues in Marsden Village Centre, Marsden, HD7 6DU. Admission is free. For more details, visit http://www.kirklees.gov.uk/events/eventdetails.asp?evID=6179
Saturday 6 & Sunday 7 February; Imbolc - Earth, Health & Mystic Fayre at the Princess Pavilion, Melvill Rd, Falmouth, Cornwall, TR11 4AR. The doors open from 10am until 5pm each day. Admission is £2.50, OAPs get in for £1 and accompanied children under 16 will be admitted free. For more details visit the website http://www.mysticfayre.co.uk/eventsfeb.htm
If you fancy doing your own Imbolc celebration, pagan website Pagan Magic has a library of rituals, spells, recipes and ideas including A Candlemas Rite for One, a recipe for Brigit's Cross Cookies and Imbolc Celebration Activities for Small Children.
The Imbolc Birthday Charm pictured above left is available from Pagan Magic for £9.99. The photograph of snowdrops was taken in my garden last spring.