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A fresh Start


Published in Prediction Magazine - February 1999


   Every year it's the same ritual, scrubbing, cleaning, ridding our homes of the rubbish we have accidentally, stored for too long. Why do we do it? Tradition!

Imbolc, the pagan festival of light celebrated on February 2nd, centred on the rite of fertility and purification within the home.  Called Lupercalia by the Romans who knew this time of year as Februarius mensis, the month of ritual purification.

To celebrate Lupercalia the priests of Pan rampaged through the streets in their goatskin thongs before tearing them off and using them to whip married or betrothed women on the hands to promote fertility. Childbearing was essential for the future generations of strong, healthy children to help work the land. If the land were not fertile, the crops would not be of good enough quality to feed the community in the coming year.

In Northern Europe people would use the Fire festival of Imbolc to burn the burdens of the past year, making way for new life. The Yule bough or wreath was kept until February 2nd when it would be burned with anything else no longer needed and herbs scattered on the fires served the dual purpose of also helping rid livestock of pests.

Nowadays we tend to leave our Spring-cleaning until later in the year in March, April or even May.  Like or loathe it, the fact remains that we all succumb to a massive home-cleansing ritual sooner or later.  But what about ourselves?

Our bodies are also temples in which we live. The body is home to the mind and soul. Perhaps inner cleansing is taken more seriously in modem times as far as medicine and science are concerned but the fun and revelry of the pagan Spring festival cheered people up after the long dark winter.

Every festival included laughter, dancing, food and wine.  Fresh fruit, vegetables and wines, when available, cleansed bodies of toxins and impurities in the same way as they do now; perhaps more so as most of it was eaten raw.

Some Wiccan teaching states that 'we are all born with the tools of the Craft' and, traditionally, all working tools are cleansed and purified before rituals are performed. The same principle applies to the body and some Spiritualist mediums, like ritual magicians, claim they cannot function at their best after a heavy meal so will make appropriate preparations before their work: stifling the mind or meditating and eating only after their work is completed.

Other religious traditions fast at specific times of the year, cleansing the body in a similar way.  The cleansing period, whenever it may be, reminds us that we need self-control and balance in order for our bodies to perform at their best.

Minds become sharper too. Odin received information on the usage of runes while hanging from Yggdrasil, the world tree.  Jesus was also said to have talked with God while fasting in the wilderness.  Such extreme measures are not necessary for most of us however; doctors consider it more important to correct balance of exercise and attitude.

   Spiritual cleansing of mind and spirit is implemented by actions and thoughts and Imbolc/Candlemass is a good time to start doing what needs to be done, such as tying up loose ends neglected through the Winter. First, though, it is necessary to get rid of outdated situations through cleansing before planting the seeds of new projects and seeing your dreams spring to life.

  Practical tips

Mind cleansing; Make lists of things you have started that are not yet complete.  Include all the loose ends you can think of such as unresolved arguments, ignored bills, and groups of which you are no longer an active member. Go through them, one at a time, doing the best you can to write letters, make phone calls, pay outstanding dues, cancel unwanted ties, etc.

Body cleansing; Starvation and deprivation will simply make you unhappy so that you munch on comfort foods. Keep an esoteric diary of everything you do, eat, colours you wear, etc and note how you respond to certain people or situations (you could perhaps include the weather and Moon phases too). After a month, you should begin to see some connections; taking appropriate action is much easier when you really know yourself.

Start drinking lots of water, eat more fresh fruit and vegetables, and add herbs to your food.  Cut back on chocolate, fat and salt; count calories and study the ingredients in what you eat.  Observe your body's actions and reactions, exercise a little more by walking to the shops or wherever when you would normally bus the three stops. Soon you'll feel fitter and become more agile simply through observing and understanding what is going on inside you.

Spirit cleansing; Learn to laugh more, communicate better and relax properly. If someone makes you tired with his/ her constant whinging, ban him from doing so in your company!

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© Lynda Archard