Saturday, August 11th 2018
This has been the time of the Sacred Moment of Imbolc / Lughnasadh. Those are the traditional Gaelic names for the festivals, there are many, many others.
As previously mentioned in my post Sacred Moments: Solstices, Equinoxes, Festivals, Moon Phases, I use the Archeoastronomy site to establish the exact moment of the appropriate festivals.
Forgive me for a brief 101 to explain to any readers (if you have read this far – c’mon, click that follow button, you know you want to!)
I personally celebrate eight main festival dates across the course of the year. There are varying calendars used by different pagan practitioners. In my personal practice, I celebrate eight major festivals. I don’t actually use some of the traditional names. The current case in point is the festival (formally) known as Imbolc *grins*
I call it The Quickening.
I did *not* get that from the movie Highlander, although, it’s not a bad match for how I see the festival.
The archaic meaning of the word quick was to be alive (hence “the quick and the dead”). In pregnancy terms, the Quickening is when the mother first feels the moment of the child. It is often compared to the flutterings of a butterfly. To me, that is beautiful, and perfectly summarizes the glory of this particular festival.
A wonderful word weaver and friend, Glenys Livingstone, has a wonderful post on her blog explaining the Sacred Moments of Imbolc and Lammas, which I shared here on the traditional date.
The Quickening is one of my favourite festivals. Snowdrops, Violets, Wattle, Orchids, and Daffodils make their appearance. At this time of year, Melbourne is blessed warm, sunny, winter days, earlier dawns, and later sunsets. I love the sense of hope and renewal.
There are a number of things that happily occur around the same time. In the Southern Hemisphere, August 01st is the birthday of all thoroughbreds, September 01st is National Wattle Day, typically many of the Agricultural Shows are also held somewhere between the Quickening and the Spring Equinox. Another secular holiday is Father’s Day, which we celebrate on the first Sunday in September: in the North, Father’s Day is celebrated in June.
In terms of the Abrahamic faiths, there is Eid ul Adha and the Islamic New Year (these dates aren’t tethered to the Gregorian calendar, the Islamic calendar is lunar based). Within the Christian calendar, the Assumption of Mary is typically celebrated on August 15th, and there is the Jewish New Year and Yom Kippur during September – again, the Hebrew calendar is not the Gregorian calendar.
I try to maintain an awareness around other calendars and festivals precisely because it is exactly that: an exercise in awareness, and a mindfulness of other cultures.
That mindfulness includes significant events: and two globally significant events that occurred across the period of The Quickening that I always commemorate are the 1945 US Bombings of Hiroshima (August 06th), and Nagasaki (August 09th).
“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
Writer and philosopher George Santayana – often attributed to Winston Churchill.
I try to ground myself in what I observe locally, as well as maintaining that larger awareness. All over Australia, Aborigines had their own local yearly calendars. Dr. Beth Gott of the School of Biological Sciences, Monash University has complied a well researched seasonal calendar for Melbourne, and I think it is an appropriate exercise for any pagan to do the same in their own local area.
I’m in the process of naming the Moon cycles on the basis of what I consistently observe local to me. August currently is the Snowdrop Moon. It could be Violet Moon or Wattle Moon too.. but Snowdrop Moon is what resonates for me. The Melbourne Museum considers it Orchid Season, in honour of the Kulin Nation.
This period also marks the anniversary of my mother’s death and her birthday, the birthday of a significant mentor (recently deceased), the anniversary of the death of a dear friend’s brother, the anniversary of my step-father’s death, the birthday of my step-sister (recently deceased).
It’s important to me to honour my Beloved Dead. Through this period, I try to do that by focusing on the hope and legacy they have left behind. That seems to align with the Spirit of the Sacred Moment of The Quickening.
This year however, I was in mourning again. I had to euthanize one of my young cats after a week of illness.
Death, and grief are never easy emotions, but just as The Quickening honours that movement of Spring in the Womb of Winter, there are still the fields that lay fallow and / or barren. We become less if we ignore them and it dishonours the Dark Point of Creation to fail to acknowledge the full cycle of life.
This year, the period around The Quickening fell across the Last Quarter of the Moon, as well as an Eclipse.
There are eight major festivals that I celebrate. The Solstices and Equinoxes are what I consider Cosmic or Celestial Festivals; grand Sacred Moments, and my personal favourites. The Quickening, Beltane, Lughnasadh (which I often refer to as the Harvest Festival), and Samhain are Earth Festivals; rooted in the land and the seasons of Earth.
Again, this is my perception and understanding. It can be very difficult to ground or earth the pagan Wheel of the Year (the Eight Festivals) in Australia. There are all kinds of variations, this is just me sharing mine. Feel free to share your reflections or any links on the festivals that you have particularly enjoyed in the comments section.
How do you celebrate this festival?
Feel free to share in the comments what your favourite rituals are or how you mark this festival (or any of the others I have mentioned in this post if they are more appropriate to your practice). I would love to hear from you!
I personally like to walk a labyrinth and reflect / meditate upon the Sacred Moment. This is something I do regularly, feel free to check out my labyrinth page. This page is under development.
I am in the process of creating art to honour each festival.
I write poetry as an offering to the Deities I honour. My goal is to capture the aspects of Their nature that best align with The Quickening. This is a festival traditionally associated with the deity Brigid, but she is not a Deity that I have relationship with, so whilst I honour Her, I also honour The Mysterious Ones that I do have relationship with.
- donate money to charities that rescue racehorses
- buy food that I particularly associate with this festival (berries, honey, milk, lamb, for example)
- buy flowers for my shrines
- ensure that I get out for walks, and to pay homage to the evidence of the Quickening by appreciating all the stirrings of Spring
What do you do specifically for Imbolc / The Quickening?
Australian Festivals: A Quick Reference Guide
It can be difficult in Australia to find resources that address the Southern Hemisphere or Australia. Here are some starting resources that I myself have:
If you know of others – please pop them in the comments!
Other posts that are relevant to this one: