Sunday 30 January 2022

Lunchtime Rituals: Celebrating Imbolc with Food & Drink

In our busy modern world it isn't always possible to celebrate the Pagan Wheel of the Year festivals with large ceremonies. The dates they fall on are often mid-week, when many of us are working, and some are solitary practitioners sharing our lives with people who don't follow our spiritual path. I'm going to offer ideas for lunchtime rituals that people can do on their own, pretty much wherever they are, discretely.

Imbolc starts on February 1 and lasts until the next day, but can be celebrated on any day around that time. It's a festival for the first stirrings of spring and was traditionally also a celebration of the lambing season. Now, few of us work on farms, but we can consider where our food and drink - particularly milk - come from. It is also a good time to think about what we want to bring into being for ourselves in the year ahead. That can be lifestyle goals, new projects, career or learning plans, intentions relating to health, or desires regarding family.

All you need for this lunchtime ritual for Imbolc is your lunch - well, something to drink and something to eat. You could go with the theme of Imbolc being related to sheep and lambs by having a glass of sheep's milk and some sheep's cheese, but that isn't essential. Any milky drink and any dairy-related food would do. If you don't eat dairy products then pick a plant-based alternative. 

Find somewhere to enjoy your meal where you won't be disturbed. Somewhere outdoors like a park, garden or country-side spot where you can feel in touch with the season is ideal. If that's not possible, try to sit by a window in natural light, but even an otherwise unoccupied table in your workplace canteen will do. 

Before you start, take a few slow, deep breaths in and out and relax. Visualise a circle of light surrounding you and protecting you. You don't have to move or gesture to do this, just imagine it happening. Then look at the drink and food in front of you. Think about where it came from: the animals or plants at its origin; how the ingredients were produced or processed; the people involved such as farmers; how it was transported; any shops, cafes or restaurants in which it was sold; and the people who prepared and served whatever is in front of you. Thank them silently with a thought. 

Think about the past; how things might have been done differently then. Consider that this time of year was often one of hardship when the weather was harsh and fresh food in short supply. The first sip of ewe's milk of the season might have been very welcome then. Thank your ancestors for their hard work and achievements. 

When you've done that, have your lunch by eating and drinking slowly and mindfully. Savour each sip and chew each mouthful of food carefully. Appreciate it fully - the flavours, textures and anything else. When you have finished, give your lunch thanks for nourishing you. 

Sit for a while afterwards and think about your own hopes for the years ahead. What are your aims? What are you planning? What are your dreams? Make a wish, silently in your thoughts. Ask any deities you honour, or the universe, to grant your desire. Thank them.

Visualise the circle of light around you opening up. Your ritual is over. Dispose of any waste from your lunch responsibly.

I hope you enjoyed that. Although it was written as a discrete, solitary ritual, you could incorporate it in a larger Imbolc rite if you wanted to.

I wrote more about Imbolc in the Wheel of the Year at the Moon Books Blog:

Here are some other things you can do for Imbolc:

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