[Cover Photo: a late January ice storm sets the birch branches sparkling in the early morning light]
Imbolc, commonly celebrated on February 2nd, marks the halfway point of the winter season. The light begins to grow and faint stirrings of life can be detected in the bleak landscape. Imbolc is a Cross-Quarter Day, one of four Major Sabbats in paganism, and is also a Fire Festival, noted for the use of light, typically candles or bonfires, in its rituals. As with most pagan celebrations, the early Christians coopted the holiday, terming it “Candlemas”, a day to honor the purification or “churching” of the Virgin Mary after giving birth. Candles are still brought to Catholic, Lutheran, Anglican and Episcopal churches on this date to be blessed for use in the coming year.