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Saturday, February 1, 2014

Pagan Festival Shout Out: Februalia/Disting/Imbolc

februaliaFebruary 2 is Februalia. Februus, for whom the month of February is named, was a god associated with both death and purification. Februalia was the time in which one purifies everything spiritually, mentally and physically “spring cleaning” comes from this beginning. The holiday is also associated with Vesta, a hearth goddess because fire is associated with purification and Vesta is the guardian of the flame. In Rome the Februalia was a month-long period of sacrifice and atonement, invovling offerings to the gods, prayer, and sacrifices.


February 2nd is also the Norse holiday called Disting, also known as Ewemeolc. The name Ewemeolc means "ewe's milk" and is named because it is the time of year when ewes gave birth and their milk was available. Common traditions include the blessing of objects/tools (due to the ancient custom of "charming the plough" at this time), beginning new projects, etc. Corresponding to the Celtic Imbolc, this holiday is typically celebrated at the beginning of February.

DSCF1897And of course the most celebrated of the pagan holidays on February 2nd is Imbolc. Imbolc, (pronounced "IM-bulk" or "EM-bowlk"), also called Oimealg, ("IM-mol'g), by the Druids, is the festival of the lactating sheep. It is derived from the Gaelic word "oimelc" which means "ewes milk". Herd animals have either given birth to the first offspring of the year or their wombs are swollen and the milk of life is flowing into their teats and udders. It is the time of Blessing of the seeds and consecration of agricultural tools. It marks the center point of the dark half of the year. It is the festival of the Maiden, for from this day to March 21st, it is her season to prepare for growth and renewal. Brighid's snake emerges from the womb of the Earth Mother to test the weather, (the origin of Ground Hog Day), and in many places the first Crocus flowers began to spring forth from the frozen earth.
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