I began my journey as a student of yoga in the Ashtanga tradition. I fell in love with the rhythm and intensity of this self-led practice that was meant to be done six days a week, with Saturdays and moon days off. Moon days referred to the full and new moon days of the month, and on these days it was recommended to take a break from asana practice and use the time to attend to other practices. I deeply appreciated this and have long kept the practice of attending to self-care, study, and personal ritual on the days when the moon waxes to full or wanes to new.
This month, January 2018, we have three moon days. Two full moons and a new moon all occurring within one calendar month. The second full moon within one month is known as a Blue Moon, and is rare (hence our popular saying “once in a blue moon”). Blue Moon’s only take place four to five times within a century according to Sarah Faith, creator of the Many Moons Workbook.
Full moon energy can often feel heightened emotionally. I liken them to the energy of high tide, full and watery. As such, they can be a wonderful time to engage in personal practices that help us to tune into deeper wisdom currents and strengthen self-awareness. Full moons are also the perfect time for magic!
In honour of this January Blue Moon, I wanted to share some ideas for personal ritual and seasonal magic with you. In this post you will find an excerpt from an essay I wrote for my Thirteen Moons Circle, an online course I offer for women who love seasonal & lunar wisdom practices, as well as a recipe for an anointing oil, a tarot spread, and some altar suggestions for this Blue Moon period.
The Feast of Imbolc
The Blue Moon of January 2018 will land in the fixed fire sign of Leo and also occurs in alignment with the Celtic festival of Imbolc. This lesser-known fire festival is said to take its name from a Gaelic word that means “in the belly”, a name that celebrated the pregnancy of the ewes that occurred at this time. These pregnancies were a sure sign that the life force had quickened deep in the belly and would bring forth new life with the spring season. In the same way, it is a time when many of us will feel a quickening of our own creative energy deep below the surface. Though the earth will still be held in winter’s cold embrace for a little while longer, a shift has occurred and the great inhale breath of the year is now palpable.
This festival is associated with the Celtic goddess Brigid, a goddess associated with poetry, fertility, smithcraft, healing and the arts. Like the Roman goddess Minerva, the Greek goddess Athena, and the Hindu goddess Saraswati, Brigid is a goddess who was seen as a source of wisdom and knowledge. Many of these goddesses were associated with rivers and streams and were venerated at wells and springs. Here where I live there is often still snow on the ground at the time of Imbolc, but it is just beginning to melt, causing small streams of water to flow down the mountainsides, and natural springs to break through the ice of winter. This awakening of the waters is a sign that I always associate with this quickening time of year and as such you might choose to work with water in your personal ritual during this season.
Another element long associated with Imbolc is of course fire. Like Beltane, Lughnasad, and Samhain, Imbolc is a fire festival that was traditionally celebrated from sundown to sunrise on or near Jan 31st.* While bonfires are common at Beltane and Samhain, the feast of Imbolc placed greater focus on the hearth fire and was often symbolized by the lighting of candles. I love lighting candles during the darker seasons of the year and a very simple way to honour this season could be to light a candle on your altar to symbolize the awakening of your own creative energy within.
*The actual date of the festival was likely a fluid one in early Celtic societies as it had less to do with a date on the calendar and more to do with signs of the season, such as the pregnancy of the ewes or the blooming of the Blackthorn tree.
Blue Moon Anointing Oil Recipe
This recipe is for one ounce of oil to be used for anointing your body prior to doing your full moon ritual practices. When I make anointing oils I like to use higher end carrier oils as a treat. In this blend, I used Camelia Seed oil as it is a lovely clear oil that has little scent and is nourishing to the skin, but you can use any carrier oil you like such as fractionated coconut, sweet almond or grapeseed. The blue colour of this oil comes from the high azulene content in both German Chamomile & Yarrow. German Chamomile is cooling and soothing to the nerves, it is also anti-inflammatory and incredible for the skin. Yarrow is astringent and has a magical protective quality, it is one of my favourite ritual herbs. Black Spruce is energizing and strengthening, a scent that always takes me off to an evergreen forest. Frankincense has a long history of use as a sacred scent and is also a beautiful skin oil. Blend these oils together in a 1 oz roller ball bottle or small dispensing bottle and massage into your chest and pulse points after a ritual bath and before meditation, altar building or any other practice you choose to do at this time.
- 1 oz carrier oil
- 9 drops German Chamomile essential oil
- 9 drops Yarrow essential oil
- 9 drops Black Spruce essential oil
- 9 drops Frankincense essential oil
* I love buying my essential & carrier oils from the Canadian owned and operated distillery Zayat Aroma. I am not an affiliate for this company I just adore their products.
Imbolc 5 Card Tarot Spread
This is a simple tarot spread that can be done on or near the full moon in honour of the Imbolc season. It asks for guidance from The Crone, the spirit of deep winter that is only now passing away, while also asking for clarity as to the desire of The Maiden, the spirit of early spring now beginning to stir deep within us. Finally, you can pull three cards to represent personal tips for creating balance during this time, balance at the level of body, mind and spirit.
Position 1: Wisdom from The Crone. What are the lessons of deep winter that you want to take forward into this new season? What does your inner wisdom teacher want you to remember?
Position 2: Maiden’s Desire. What is stirring within you? What is it that wants to be brought forth and given life?
Positions 3-5: Tools for Balance. Pull one card for each for body, mind & spirit.
Tips for tarot practice: To get the most out of tarot it is important to take your time and not simply do a rushed reading. I like to take a bath and do a bit of yoga or meditation prior to a reading. I always use my journal with a reading and take the time to write down all that comes up for me in the images I see in my cards. Trust your own guidance as much as you take insight from any books you might have on the topic.
*cards shown are the Pagan Otherworlds tarot made by the talented folks at Uusi Design Studios
Imbolc & Blue Moon Altar Suggestions
- a cup or bowl of water, or a chalice to represent sacred wells & water element
- a candle to represent the awakening energy of creativity
- a pot of spring bulbs that can sprout indoors
- light blue, white or violet altar cloths
- arts and crafts that represent your creativity or your creative desires
- your creative intentions and desires written down or visualized in a vision board
- symbols of the season
- images of deities, teachers, or symbols you associate with creativity, the arts, or learning
Have fun celebrating this magical Blue Moon & Imbolc season in the way that feels most true to you, and if you enjoy this type of content and want more be sure to check out my Thirteen Moons Circle page and join the pre-registration list to find out when the circle opens up again for the 2018-2019 journey!