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The Witches' Table of the Year: Candlemas and Imbolc

Happy winter to the northern hemisphere and spring to the southern hemisphere. Up here on the north side of the globe, we're moving into spring with a wary eye to climate change and an even warier eye toward culture change.

The complications of the world will inevitably land at our doorstep. Our ancestors created holidays for that reason: the world will carry on, and we must take time for joy and grief and honor the passage of time and our place within it. To do that, we must pause for simple joys and gratitudes: food on our table. This grandparent lets you know how gross it gets when an animal gives birth; the casual conversation with a cashier gives you a hint of human contact on an otherwise dreary day.

The more complicated the world gets, the more people try to layer in their personal beliefs and stigmas as a limitation on others. So it becomes more important to simplify when possible (and that's not always.)

Image of a Boy and a Girl Standing at a Table Looking at a Book with Pictures of Butterlies. Butterfly Nets Hang on the Wall to the Right of the Little Girl.

Keeping it simple is probably one of the things I am the absolute worst at - as Nikki can attest.

To that end, we present our latest creative endeavor: the Witches' Table.

While Nikki and I even eat very differently, her with keto and me with Meditteranean, we find ways to connect food with family, joy, creativity, expression, and sometimes simple grounding. We also see the connection of the table itself as an important symbol to use about witchcraft, Paganism, occultism, and community.

When Emperor Norton Pagan Social could meet in person (putting out energy that we will be able to resume once again, that all those miracles will arrive!), we all gathered around a table at my favorite coffee shop in San Francisco. We sometimes engaged in trickery to get people away from that particular table, but often enough, people who had been there to study or hang out joined our motley but merry group. Everyone who showed up had a slightly different practice, approach to divination, and energy.

The majority that came honored the laws of hospitality and courtesy. Even though some made each other uncomfortable - Reiki healers and death doulas sometimes can't quite connect - we learned from each other in a relaxed, joyful way that our members celebrate. Our friend Verukah described us as the island of Misfit Toys once, but I think we were and are the island of hidden treasures.

So now we are bringing you the Witches' Table Wheel of the Year. Over time, we may go beyond that - to altars and stoves, fireplaces and firesides, forums and consortiums, and all the places that magick workers may gather for joy, pleasure, and bickering and learning.

For Imbolc or Candlemas, we honor the Goddess Brigid, the lady of smithcraft, poetry, and healing. We honor her flame and relationship to her time's many arts. Because there is also a Catholic saint, Saint Brigid, we consider this an especially auspicious time for families that seek blended faith, syncretism, or honor and respect for having different faiths. Brigid can be a unifier between them.

The Witches Table for Imbolc:

  • Cinnamon or Ginger Tea

  • Whiskey as an offering to the Irish ancestors and fae

  • Heavy cream, clotted cream, black tea

  • Scones

  • Anything involving lamb or cow

  • Hearty winter vegetables: beets, squashes, onions, celery - the things that can grow in a snowy environment

  • Decor: Candles, pine cones, needles, and items that have fallen from trees to the ground (you can dry them and use them as loose incense later)

Conversation Topics and Activities for Imbolc/Candlemas

  • Reading favorite passages of poetry, perhaps from WB Yeats

  • Light candles and tell a story

  • Bring up five imaginary lives you would be curious to live

  • Drop a string or apple peel in boiling water and see if it spells out your true love's initials. You can also use this to get the letter of the ideal company to work for, or the ideal city to live in.

Welcome to the table, believers, non-believers, and curiosity seekers. So long as you honor the laws of hospitality, welcome.

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