I finally got around to doing my Imbolc ritual yesterday. I say ‘finally’ not because it’s about two and a half months late, which it is, but because I had meant to do it several days ago. But what with my sleep schedule being out of whack and me being amazing about procrastination it turned out that instead of being done on Easter Saturday (when celebrating new growth and the lighting of candles would have contrasted nicely with the sombre reflections on the despair the disciples would have felt with Jesus entombed), or on Easter Sunday (when lighting my Imbolc candles would have matched the lighting of the Paschal Candle at Wesley’s Chapel, whose services I had been following during Holy Week), or on Easter Monday (which is a day of religious celebration for some Christian denominations, rather than a holiday in lieu of Easter Sunday as it is here), or on Tuesday (because I spent the whole day waiting for a phone call from the negotiations officer from my union, which didn’t happen until about 6pm. But as all I knew was that he’d phone ‘at some point’ during the day, I didn’t really want to be in the middle of ritual when the phone went), so Wednesday it was. As for why I decided to perform the ritual over the Easter weekend, see above re procrastination. and I really wanted to properly celebrate Imbolc before April got any more underway, so I still had a chance of celebrating Ostara before the end of the month, because then it would be Beltane and I’d be even further behind…
As ever, I used the sabbat-in-a-box kit I got years ago from Pagan Dreams (now alas no longer trading), which focusses on honouring Brigid, along with the lighting of my ritual candles for the upcoming year from the Solas Bhride flame that Melissa sent me in 2016. Not all my ritual candles, as I have yet to reach Melissa’s stage of practice where I have a fairly good idea of what I’ll need each year, but some of them. I did the taper pairs I use for each sabbat, and the votive candles I pour myself each year from all the religion-related candle remains. I also lit a backup votive (a random scented candle I got in a Penhaligon’s goodie bag, which I do not like the smell of, so it’s never going to get burned by accident) from the remains of the original tealight that Melissa sent me, along with a chime candle to sit on my altar and act as a Solas Bhride reservoir for when I need to bless candles at other times.
Last year I only had two votives I’d made myself, but late last year I bought four more votive candle moulds with wick pins so I was able to pour six candles, giving me a decent supply of Solas Bhride Imbolc candles. It’s something I’ve done since 2017, after reading a post by Lucya Starza on her blog about recycling all the ends of candles as an Imbolc celebration. As she says:
The colour will obviously be a mixture of whatever odds and ends of wax went into the melting pot.
If you mix lots of colours, it will tend to merge into a grey colour, but that doesn’t really matter. If ever there was a grey time of year, this is it. We are more than a month past the longest night, but spring isn’t quite here yet. The trees still stand bare and the weather can be bleak, but the darkest time is behind us. A little more light and warmth – symbolised by the candle flame – will soon melt away the greyness.
My first candle was indeed grey, but for the last couple of years they’ve been a dark pinkish-red colour, as my altar tapers were plain red for a while and I hadn’t burned many other colours that year. And as I only had a couple of moulds and kept the candles for burning on special occasions I ended up with a lot of reddish wax for the next year’s pour. And even with six candles made this year I’ve still got enough leftover wax for about six more, although over the last three years the wax has slowly become less red (or at least turned more of a manky shade of red) as I’ve burnt more candles of different colours. I’m hoping eventually to have got through the block of leftover wax I’ve wound up with so that my Imbolc candles are nearly all made up of the previous year’s candles, rather than the previous years’, but that may take another couple turns of the Wheel.
This year was slightly different from previous years – not because I was late, ’cause that certainly ain’t new, but a) because I had knotted my Imbolc sabbat cord on the day this year, so I was able to release that energy into my circle when I needed it, b) because I had created enough self-poured Imbolc candles to be able to burn one continuously this year rather than waiting for ‘grey’ or ‘bleak’ times, and c) because despite having honoured Brigid with this ritual for seven years, it was late last year that she started to become more prominent in my life, making this year’s ritual more… poignant? personal? meaningful? Ok, maybe not meaningful, but more full of meaning? And I certainly had a lot more candles lit this year than I think I’ve ever had before.