After writing about Samhain this year, I discovered that I have never consistently written about the Sacred Moments that I observe here on my blog. I’m going to experiment with using that Samhain blog as the template to revisit all the Festivals until the Autumn Equinox next year. This festival, Imbolc, which I prefer to call The Quickening, is one that I have written about before.
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, 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.
Links at end
I have put links at the bottom of this piece to previous blogs I have written about The Quickening, and also to the other three blogs in the series of eight that I am writing about the Sacred Moments of the year. There are also links to Southen Hemisphere-specific reading and some links to other blogs about Imbolc/The Quickening.
Just a reminder, I’m in the Southern Hemisphere, and I choose to observe the Wheel of the Year in its ‘flipped‘ version from the traditional Northern Hemisphere dates. That means whilst the Northern Hemisphere celebrates Lughnasadh, or Lammas, in the Southern Hemisphere, we are celebrating the Quickening.
The way the Sacred Moments are connected between the Hemispheres is, in my view, Sacred Balance. The Lammas or Lughnasadh Sacred Moment is inherent in my observations for The Quickening and vice versa. This is the case for all the festivals but for me, it is especially true with the solar festivals; the Solstices, and Equinoxes.
Secondly, instead of the traditional dates, I also observe what my friend Dr. Glenys Livingstone calls “the Cosmic Moments”.
I recommend checking out some of the blog posts written by Glenys too.
The Quickening Sacred Moment
The traditional date for Imbolc is August 01st (flipped, Southern Hemisphere). The corresponding festival is Lughnasadh or Lammas.
The actual Moment for the Quickening this year is August 07th, 22:36 EST Australia.
All global times are available at archaeoastronomy.com.
Melbourne / Naarm traditional season.
Thirdly, Naarm has 6 or 7 seasons.
Like Samhain and the Winter Solstice, The Quickening falls in Wombat Season (April-August). September brings the Orchid Season.
Early Spring – Mid July, August
As early as mid-July, MUYAN, Silver Wattle, started to flower, the first of the wattles to do so. It earned the name of ‘Barak’s Wattle’ because when he died at Coranderrk on August 15th 1903, MUYAN was in full golden bloom. Yellow Box also flowered, providing much nectar. Early Nancy was the first of the small food plants to flower, and by late August the MURNONG was budding. People moved slowly towards the lower lands as the spring temperatures rose, there they were able to snare ducks, to catch other kinds of wild-fowl, and, as the season advanced, to get eggs from the nests of all kinds of birds.SEASONAL CALENDARS FOR THE MELBOURNE AREA
Compiled by Dr. Beth Gott of the School of Biological Sciences, Monash University.
The New Moon was on the 29th of June at 12:52.
On the 05th of August, we mark the First Quarter at 9:07 pm.
The next Full Moon is on 12th of August at 11:36 am.
Last Quarter 19th of August at 2:36 pm.
Next New Moon: 27th of August at 6:16 pm.
I mark the Dark Moon as the night before, but again, there are lots of variations as to how people observe the Lunar calendar. Some people don’t consider it a New Moon until you can see the crescent in the sky. I live in Melbourne, and there is frequently cloud cover, so I go with the times.
Observing the Phases of the Moon is part of my devotional practice. I find this practice helps keep me grounded and open to appreciating beauty and moments of awe and wonder. It also helps me move through particularly unpleasant times in my life.
Brief overview/backstory of The Quickening for me
In summary, I consider myself a solitary devotional polytheist. My religious practice has changed and evolved over 45 years since I was first introduced to religious studies.
The Quickening for me starts at the beginning of August. I find my mind starts to turn to it as soon as I see my Snowdrops coming up.
The Quickening is one of my favorite festivals. Snowdrops, Violets, Wattle, Orchids, and Daffodils make their appearance. At this time of year, Melbourne is blessed with warm, sunny, winter days, earlier dawns, and later sunsets. I love the sense of hope and renewal.
In Ireland, lambs are being born,
But what is happening in the world outside here?
Telling the old stories is good, but we need to remember that if we are to honour the season, we need to know what it really is.
Mysterious Ones* of the inside, but also of the tsmr outside, we ask you to remind us of both.
If we then turn away again, back to your sacred flames, it will be knowing what’s going on beyond them.Ceisiwr Serith “A Pagan Ritual Prayer Book”
*Change from Goddess to Mysterious Ones
In the Southern Hemisphere, August 01st is the birthday of all thoroughbreds, and September 01st is National Wattle Day; typically many 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 are Islamic faith days (these dates aren’t tethered to the Gregorian calendar, the Islamic calendar is lunar based). There are a couple of important faith days within the Jewish tradition – again, the Hebrew calendar is not the Gregorian calendar. Within the Christian calendar, the Assumption of Mary is typically celebrated on August 15th.
I like to review Cultural and Religious dates at each festival, which is something I haven’t mentioned in this series of blogs previously.
Of course, another valuable calendar, depending upon which practices / Deities you are aligned with, is the Athenian/Attic calendar.
I try to maintain an awareness of other calendars and festivals precisely because it is exactly that: an exercise in awareness, and mindfulness of other cultures and traditions.
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.
Reflections 2020 & 2021
The Quickening last year (2021)
At The Quickening last year I was recovering from my bilateral mastectomy and DIEP flap reconstruction performed on July 12th. I was just getting mobile again and able to acquaint myself with my new backyard, given that we had moved in June. Life had been busy between moving and getting set up for surgery. I hadn’t had the time to just sit in my backyard and just “be”.
My more intense experience of Pan over the previous six months, combined with the relationship I had been building with the Healers over the last three years, and meditation under a tender Sun lead me to a very new-to-me understanding of Apollo. That fledging connection helped a great deal during chemo.
As an aside, I’ve recently read a couple of great blogs addressing how to sit with aspects of Deities that are uncomfortable or triggering.
- On the Gods Who Trigger You
- Fermented Gods and a Decade of Sober Witchcraft
- Athena, Greek goddess of wisdom and the patriarchy
So that is how I marked the Sacred Moment of The Quickening last year: I sat in my backyard and enjoyed the sunny afternoons. I was enjoying starting to be mobile again post-surgery, but I also knew that I had chemotherapy to deal with. This year, the idea of awakening is resonating with me very powerfully.
The Quickening 2020
COVID-19 restrictions and lockdowns
The theme of lockdowns has continued to play a significant part in my cancer experience, and across my marking of the eight Festivals that I celebrate.
In 2021, we came out of a lockdown on July 27th, but went back into lockdown August 05th. I was discharged from hospital on 19th July, (post surgery on the 12th July), and started chemotherapy on the 19th August.
In 2020, we had left the first lockdown in May, but went back into lockdown July 08th. As someone who was medically at high risk of COVID, I took long service leave from July through until the end of September.
So The Quickening in 2020 was under lockdown, under restrictions, and I was on leave. I struggled to connect with the Sacred Moment that year – and that happens sometimes. And it’s okay. I instead did a kind of review of my spiritual and religious practice, stripping it back to bare bones, discarding ritual that I didn’t feel I was aligned with, and making a significant attempt to remove any appropriative aspects.
The Quickening 2022
At Samhain I was reviewing my sacrifices and the changes in my life. In some ways, given how radically chemotherapy impacted my ability to function, it felt like death.
The Winter Solstice aligned with the themes of rest, recovery, and convalescence.
This Quickening has a deep sense of re-dedication for me. The sense of stirring life and energy in the space that has been devoted to rest and convalescence.
“A Moment for remembering and dedicating one’s self to this Original Flame in you, your belonging here, your particular direct connection..”Dr. Glenys Livingstone “Imbolc thoughts” Pagaian.Org
Observations, prayer, ritual
I’ve been reading blogs and. refreshing my memory on writings from my favourite seasonal books (see links below). Additionally, I have been sitting in meditation with some of the art that really resonate with me for this Sacred Moment (some of which I have shared in this blog). As I have regained capacity, I have been slowly re-integrating the simple tasks that can be taken for granted; the ability to manage your own household.
Bride is the traditional Deity associated with Imbolc, and over the years I have certainly honoured Her in my observation of this Sacred Moment. I have also honoured the Deity I have been in relationship with for nearly 25 years, through exploring Her epithets that align with this Sacred Moment. Over the last three years, I have slowly transitioned from a hard polytheist who was devoted to one specific Deity, to finding myself in relationship with a number of different Deities, much to my bemusement after so long being exclusive.
One of my tasks from the Winter Solstice to this Sacred Moment of The Quickening has been to experiment with the practical logistics of how I can best tend and honour the various Mysterious Ones I am in a relationship with. This has deepened my understanding of Hestia. Her domains of both the private (home/hearth) and public (the State) have intrigued me, and I’m devoting The Quickening to Her this year.
Any other Hestia Devotees? Share your blogs in the comments, I’d love to read them!
Main times The Quickening
This festival is a Cross Quarter or Fire Festival – there are four; Samhain, The Quickening (Imbolc), Beltaine, Lughnasadh (Lammas, also known as the Harvest Festival). These are a counter the to Solar Festivals, also known as the Quarter Festvals of the Solstices and Equinoxes. I also think of the Solar Festivals as being larger, based in our place in the universe, whereas the Cross Quarter Festivals are based in Earth.
For me, the main times I always mark in some way for a festival are sunset on the eve of the festival, sunrise and sunset on the day of the festival, and sunrise the day after the festival. This is especially the case with the Solar Festivals. The Quickening always has an association with the morning light of late Winter days for me, when it is crisp and clear.
Whilst there are always candles through from the Autumn Equinox through to the Spring Equinox, I also associate The Quickening with fresh air. The days are often just warm enough that you can open the house for a few hours and get some fresh airflow, and August in Naarm is breezy.
Candles and incense (fire and air) are part of what I use on my shrines and in my rituals / meditations for the Equinoxes, Samhain, Winter Solstice, and the Quickening.
🔥 be fire smart when using candles, fire, even incense in your rituals.
The only time I don’t use much in the way of candles or fire or burn incense is from either the Spring Equinox or Beltaine (depending upon how early the bushfires start) through until Harvest Festival or Autumn Equinox (again, depending upon fire season).
I often read from Ceisiwr Serith‘s books; both A Book of Pagan Prayer and A Pagan Ritual Prayer Book.
When Spring is truly here at last, may we slide into it unsurprised because of the visions allowed by your inspiring light.Ceisiwr Serith
I’ll revisit various Imbolc blog posts that have resonated with me (some links below).
For that matter – if you have any book recommendations or blog posts that you think I might enjoy – feel free to pop them in the comments.
My other blog posts pertinent to the Quickening
- Imbolc The Quickening Lughnasadh Lammas Sacred Moment Reflection (2018)
- Wattle you be doing on National Wattle Day? (2018)
- Sacred Moments: Solstices, Equinoxes, Festivals, Moon Phases (2018)
My other blog posts in this Sacred Moment series
Other blog posts about Imbolc/The Quickening: a deeper dive
- Imbolc in Southern Hemisphere ~ Lammas in Northern Hemisphere
- Imbolc – Hekate Devotion
- Imbolc/Candlemas February 1-2
- IMBOLC: SOUTHERN HEMISPHERE
- What is Imbolc
- Imbolc Rituals and Traditions
- How to Celebrate Imbolc: The Festival of Brigid
- Imbolc| Order of Bards, Ovates & Druids
- Imbolc In The Reclaiming Tradition
- Imbolc ~ Southern Hemisphere
- Imbolc in the Southern Hemisphere
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:
Australian Druidry: Connecting with the Sacred Landscape by Julie Brett
Dancing the Sacred Wheel: A Journey through the Southern Sabbats by Frances Billinghurst
PaGaian Cosmology by Glenys Livingstone