The Wheel of the Year turns to Imbolc on February 2.
If it is warm and sunny on this day, it will be cold for six more weeks. If it is cold and cloudy on this day, it will be cold for six more weeks.
Lambing season starts in February.
A shepherd’s hut is a tiny house on wheels.
At Imbolc, the shepherd is the trusted servant of the sheep. The lamb lies in the belly of the Great Mother. It emerges into darkness.
Shepherds wait in their tiny houses, they shiver and they stoke the fire.
They keep vigil with the ewes. They usher the lamb out into the cold.
Many cultures kill and eat a lamb in the spring. Easter happens near Ostara, when the sun shines merciless over the thawing ground.
Imbolc happens in darkness.
At the monastery, we would sing “Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world. Have mercy on us.”
I learned to read music in the monastery’s chapel. There was incense. There were robes and panels carved in curlicues, the edges tipped in gold. Jesus, Mary, and the saints always looked melancholy in their halos.
In the chapel, Christ presided.
Mary had a secret chapel of her own, outside. The Summer Chapel. The Fathers and the Brothers never prayed there.
My brother could take place in the rituals behind the screens, but I could not, because I was a girl.
The monks loved me when I was a little girl. In a kind and fatherly way.
When I was a girl, I loved girlish things. When I became a woman, I had to put the girlish things away.
When I realized I was gay, I tried to find another church that would accept me. Tolerance is not acceptance.
The other Christians who would tolerate the gays had forgotten about Mary.
Mary was the reason I remained a Catholic for so long. Mary, and the monastery, and the monks, and the singing, and the incense.
The Goddess was there when Gilgamesh wrote the laws. She was there on the hill when Jesus died. She was there when Miriam set her brother in the river and made sure the Pharoah’s daughter found him. She was there when Muhammed met the angel. She will be there after every church and mosque and temple fades to dust.
Pagans do not have a concept of original sin. They do not believe in the Christian God of Evil.
I swore my life to the Goddess in 1996. Once or twice since then I’ve tried to go to Easter Service in a Catholic Church, but each time they sing about God’s love, I cry. They say His love is unconditional, and I believed them. They were lying.
I tried and failed to say confession, because I could not feel sorry for my sins. Sins of impurity, they called them.
When I realized my sins were not real sins, I had to leave the Church.
When I was a girl, I loved a girlish God, who loved me as I was. When I became a woman, I had to put away the Catholic things.
All winter, I lay dreaming in the darkness. The Goddess held me in her belly. At Imbolc, I begin to stir. Soon, I will have to leave the warm, dark place. I will have to move into the light – the merciless, cold light.