Last year, I learned that Canadians don’t celebrate with fireworks on new year’s eve. In Scandinavia, fireworks and champagne is the standard new year salute and it is such a natural part of my life that I had not even considered that other western countries might not have this tradition. In truth, I didn’t even know that the fireworks were important to me until their absence turned my new year’s celebration upside-down. It was almost eerie how the evening just passed without any indication that marked the transition from one year to the next. I felt empty and a bit disenchanted to learn that nothing really happens on midnight of January 31, like I kid realizing that Santa does not exist. Again, I was reminded of the primal importance of rituals and now more than ever, the wheel of the year proved a solid foundation on which to center these essential rituals around.
Fireworks on New year`s eve is just a social convention, but the turning of the seasons is not. By mid-January, nature blessed me with the physical change I needed to feel that a new chapter of life had begun: winter arrived and the light came back. A thick layer of white snow now covers the ground, sparkling like a bed of tiny crystals in the sharp winter sun. It is a strong, healthy winter that transforms my afternoon walks into rituals of purification. The snow, the blue sky, and the cool, crisp air cleanses and restores me from the inside out.
Imbolc, the pagan festival of lights, marked the dawning of the new year for me as the snowy, sunny days became as joyful an experience of light as the new year’s fireworks. As part of my new year’s celebration, I like to set an intention for the year ahead: a concept that I can focus my self-development and creative work around. This year’s theme is both a response to the continued global health crisis and a tribute to the return of the light: healing.
The worldwide lockdown has reminded us that we need to work on our mental and emotional health as much as our physical wellbeing. Healthy food and regular exercise can only get us so far, if we don’t nurture and exercise our minds and hearts we’ll be stuck with negative thoughts and feelings that make it impossible to experience peace and joy.
Imbolc and the Healing Journey
Healing is a practice, not a goal. The healing journey will never end because life is a constant struggle for balance (health). Last year I dedicated my spiritual efforts to growth, expansion and success in the material world. A large portion of my practice consisted of discovering, and making, tools, and practicing the art of crafting rituals. It was a year dedicated to the element of earth in every possible way. Like many others who had the chance, I left the city-life behind and immersed myself in a world of grass and flowers, wind and snow, starlit nights and wildlife. While exploring the little glades and grooves near my house I developed a love for trees (more about the power and allure of trees in this post) and everything I saw, heard, smelled and touched in my new surroundings inspired a sense of magic and wonder.
This year I want to turn inward to nurture and explore the emotional and spiritual realms. The quiet, introspective energy of the season and the rekindling of the light of life at Imbolc offers a fitting setting in which to begin a healing journey. Holistic medicine was what initially attracted me to the spiritual life so in a sense I will be revisiting my roots and I am already excited about my plans to work with healing throughout the year. For example, I want to transform my backyard into a healing garden filled with medicinal herbs and healthy vegetables and fruits in the coming spring. I have already begun meditating, and aim to delve deeper into shamanic journey work. You don’t need a backyard to grow a medicinal garden, of course, a windowsill works just fine. Here is a list of simple healing projects inspired by the festival of lights:
- Make your own organic skincare from ingredients like beeswax, shea butter and almond oil.
- Make organic beeswax candles
- Explore shamanic journey work
- Walk in nature
- Grow medicinal herbs
Candle making is a fitting craft for Imbolc and the winter months. I was happy to receive a candle making kit for Christmas and the beeswax included inspired me to finally use this beautiful natural product both for candles and skincare. The soft yellow color and warm honey smell really makes beeswax the perfect ingredient for Imbolc crafts. Candles are incredibly easy to make and it is quite something to meditate in a room lit by your own homemade votives. I hope this text inspired you to be creative and tend to your own healing in 2021.