Friday 1 February 2013

Tarot Blog Hop: Imbolc 2013

Welcome to Alison’s Alembic!   You may have arrived here as a stop on the Tarot Blog Hop from either New Moon Tarot's or Inner Whisper's blog. Or you may have found this through TABI’s Facebook page, or though one of the many wonderful tarot bloggers in the ether... It doesn’t matter – what does matter is that you’re here! 

Imbolc (pronounced i-molk or i-molg), also called Brigid’s Day or St Brighid’s Day), is a Celtic/Gaelic festival marking the end of winter and beginning of spring. As the Celtic year was based on both lunar and solar cycles, the festival would probably have been celebrated on the full moon nearest the midpoint between the Winter Solstice and the Vernal Equinox (so if you’re living in the southern hemisphere, you would have celebrated this on the 1st-2nd August!). 

The name ‘Imbolc’ comes from the old Irish “i mbolg”, meaning “in the belly”, referring to the time of year when sheep and goats are pregnant, carrying their young.   Other etymology includes “oimelc”, meaning “ewe’s milk”, a reference to the onset of lactation in ewes about to give birth. Fire and purification have played important roles in this festival throughout the ages, with celebrations involving hearth fires, bonfires and the lighting of candles to represent the return of light and warmth to the land. It’s also traditionally a time of weather divination, with people watching for serpents or badgers (or groundhogs!) emerging from their winter dens.

Our wrangler for this Imbolc blog, Aisling, asked us “What is in your belly? What do you wish to give birth to, to nurture, during this new season? What is the poet, healer, maker, within you longing to do or become?”  Such good questions...

Wildwood Tarot (Connections)
What’s in my belly, and what I want to carry into this new season, is hope. Hope for a number of things - on a personal level, a local/familial level, and on a global level.  For me, the most potent sign of this time of year is the emergence of the snowdrops – that sight always lifts my heart, and gives me a sense of hope.  One of the first things I do when I move somewhere new is to ensure that I plant snowdrops in the autumn so that I have this to look forward to during those short dark days.  The card in the tarot that symbolizes that hope and optimism is, of course, The Star – the card that’s linked, astrologically, to the sign of Aquarius (which we entered on the 19th January).

Wildwood Tarot (Connections)
Over the past year I’ve been working more and more with the Wildwood Tarot (Mark Ryan-John Matthews-Will Worthington, published by Connections), which connects strongly to the Wheel of the Year. As the deck’s creators start the Journey at Imbolc, it feels appropriate to look at the cards they assign to this festival – the Ancestor (5) and the Pole Star (17). Both cards, then, are linked to beginnings and to the “guidance systems” we have available to us – the Ancestor representing our inner ones, the Pole Star the outer.  In some ways, the Wildwood’s accompanying book’s description of the Pole Star (a symbol of “universal law, spiritual knowledge and power”) is not unlike the way I think about the traditional Hierophant. What brings it back to the traditional meaning of the Star, for me, is the idea of universal knowledge being a web – a very Aquarian concept! 

Haindl Tarot (US Games Systems Inc)
I’ve also been working with the Haindl Tarot recently. One card that keeps coming up for me is the Daughter of Cups, which just so happens to be represented by Brigid. Talk about being hit over the head by the cards!  This really speaks to what it is within me, in my belly, that longs to be born - greater freedom to work creatively and intuitively ...  I have the wisdom I’ve gained from past experience (the Ancestor) and the guiding light with which I can navigate into the future (the Pole Star) to help me with this birth - the birth of hope and optimism, and the reminder not to be so cynical and jaded about the state of the world!  

Thank you for stopping off here on your own journey through this Imbolc Tarot Blog Hop!  Please do come back and read some of my other posts. 

The next stops on the Tarot Blog Hop are - depending on whether you’re moving backwards or forwards through the list – New Moon Tarot and Inner Whispers. The Master List can be found here.


  1. Glad to see the Haindl and Wildwood getting used here - fabulous imagery in both of them. Neither of them easy! But worth it in the end!

    I like what you say about 'the birth of hope and optimism' I could do with some of that myself!

    Ali x

  2. Ooohhhh I know what you mean when the cards knock you on the head like that! I am quite familiar with that:) great post full positivity and hope:)

  3. You triggered a poem in me. Here is it. Thank you.

    Snowdrops For Brighid

    I will plant snowdrops in the autumn
    Brisk breezes kissing my cheeks
    Reminding me of children’s lips
    Sharing joy, ice cream and germs.

    I will plant snowdrops in the autumn
    Small white sentinels to remind me
    Spring is coming. Winter is done.
    Sharing warmth, light and joy.

    Stephanie Arwen Lynch
    February 1, 2013

    1. Arwen, that's beautiful! Thank you for sharing it here x

  4. I love early spring flowers! My two favourites are snowdrops and crocuses, and I also love the bluebells that come up in the woodlands during the later part of season. The snowdrop is a beautiful representation of spring and the flower goes well with your references to hope and new beginnings :)

  5. What a lovely blog, and you're using one of my favourite decks, Haindl. I really love that Brigid card. You know, funnily enough I completely forgot about it and didn't put it out on my altar display. I should go look for it and add it -- better late than never. Hope you had a blessed Imbolc.