Imbolc and Altar Tending
Under the blanket of Winter we nestle, sleeping the sleep of the unborn, the sleep of the seed. All is contained within us- all possibilities, all growth, all knowing. This is the time after the Great Dark but before the Bursting Forth. This is the time of the Quickening. It is a time for dreaming. The light grows. Shadows take form as the darkness recedes. Resting still in the cauldron of birth, we close two eyes and open our third. Our dream vision is active, we have enough light now to see.
For many, this is a difficult time of year. It is cold and dreary. The winter continues, yet we long for the days of warmth and sun. Even though it is cold and dark, we can now begin to actually feel the days lengthen. The promise of the Winter Solstice is starting to be real. We still sit in the Darkness, yet we can feel the spark being lit.
This is a time of tending, of getting ready for the coming Summer- the time of work and play. It is a good time of year to ask ourselves what needs tending in our lives, both around us and inside us. Tending- maintenance work- doesn’t get a lot of attention in many modern lives. Often it doesn’t feel exciting or new, but maintenance work is a necessary part of life. Tending is enlivening and can be the core of a spiritual practice. Tending can be the core of a life well lived.
One of the many things I always tend at this time of year is my altars. Altars need regular tending. Altar tending can be done in many ways, though a good way to do it includes three steps:
Clearing, Reconsecrating, and Offering
Clearing- Physically clean the altar and the area, as well as clear the altar energetically. Energetic clearing can be done with the smoke of burning herbs, by sprinkling water, with a rattle, or many other ways. Clearing the energy helps the energy keep moving and flowing. The energy around an altar (or anywhere) can get stuck. Clearing your altar space is a way to connect with your altar and keep the energy moving the way you want it to.
Reconsecration- Call in the Holy to bless the space. You can say a pray, sing a song, ring a bell, or any other enactment that helps you connect and call in Goddess, the Holy, or whoever you are calling in to bless the space. Who is your altar dedicated to? What is the purpose of the altar? The answers to these questions can help you know how to reconsecrate the space.
Offering-Leave an offering for the deity you have invoked, or for the Spirits of the place. (If your altar is in nature, you want to make sure that your offering is biodegradable.) Think about who you are leaving the offering for. What would they like? Listen to your intuition and leave an offering that is truly a gift for that space.
Tending is a life practice- tending to our physical space, our tools, our belongings, tending to our relationships, our connection with other humans and with other beings, tending to our connection with the world around us, tending to our work in life, sharpening our skills and knowledge- all tending can be a spiritual practice. The daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly maintenance of our lives is so important. As we prepare for the activity of spring and summer, take stock of what you want to tend- now and throughout the year to come. Dedicate yourself to continued maintenance in your life, to continue enlivening your life through tending.