Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Cross Quarter Dreaming: Imbolc

I am a calendar-loving dream detective. The cycles of the Sun, Moon, and Earth have cued our cyclical celebrations for millennia. Seasonal dreams can describe rituals performed at a given time of year, or our ancestors' associations with the calendar itself.  These dreams can occur on cross quarter days, which have been informed and empowered by rhythmic ritual. This land- and culture-based impulse still arises, and finds an outlet through our dreams. 

I have noticed several associations around the time of Imbolc/Candlemas, which I will describe here to organize my own records, to show a way I work with dreams (or a way they work with me), and to share findings with other dream archeologists and cultural practitioners.  
The Presentation of Jesus at the Temple by Hans Holbein
For many years, I have had dreams about different aspects of the cross quarter day Imbolc. Usually, the dreams describe Imbolc as a gateway to other seasonal pivots. This reminds me of the careful alignment of megalithic monuments. A circle of stones archives a complete template for the cyclical progression of time, with the entrance oriented toward a certain day (or short range of days) on the wheel of the year. The stones rely upon and refer to one another throughout the year, much like how our dreams change with and inform each other throughout the seasons.

The first recorded dream I had about Imbolc occurred on Febraury 2, 2006:

"A black dragon chases me through the water in a cathedral. It is simultaneously Easter and Christmas. A man is using a shell as a pendulum; it is important that I get it back from him, and I do. I am at a Christmas revival, but it is also Easter. I go into a trance and am sweating and nearly hyperventilating. When I open my eyes, I am standing against the wall crucifying myself in the light. There is an Easter egg with money in it."

The dream had an urgency that caused me to research "Easter and Christmas," which sent me to an article about Candlemas, a Christian holiday that commemorates the presentation of Jesus, 40 days after his birth. The celebration takes place on February 2, the same day I had the dream. The article states, "Traditionally, Candlemas had been the last feast day in the Christian year that was dated by reference to Christmas. Subsequent moveable feasts are calculated with reference to Easter."

Six years later, on January 31, 2012, I dreamed:

"A woman has two sons, one born on 'the Christmas Equinox,' and one born on 'the Easter Equinox.' The boys have another brother, too, who was born somewhere between these two special dates. A Celtic cross, they called it, to have two sons, one born on the first Equinox, the other on the second." 

Both dreams involve the image of a cross, in the form of a crucifix and a Celtic cross. (I am thinking of the quadrant of the year, among other associations.) Both use a blend of Christian and pre-Christian symbolism and language to illustrate this time of year. Both suggest the simultaneity, or at least the conjoined nature, of these significant cyclical nodes: Christmas/Winter Soltice, Candlemas/Imbolc, Easter/Vernal Equinox.
image from http://www.drireneblinston.com

On February 2, 2013, I recorded another dream that merges seasonal nodes. This time, the dream connects Imbolc (February 2-ish) and Samhain (October 31-ish), which sit opposite each other on the wheel of the year:

"It is Halloween! I am getting ready, setting out decorations so people know to trick-or-treat at my house. I am buying candy." 

I have also had many visitation dreams at this time. Encounters with the deceased are usually associated with Samhain, when the veil between worlds is at its thinnest. In my experience, a similar window exists around Imbolc. Or perhaps more precisely, a portal exists between Imbolc and Samhain. The Mound of Hostages at the Hill of Tara is aligned to receive the sunrise on both Imbolc and Samhain. The rising Sun's identical position in the sky (from our vantage point) naturally links these two days.

artist unknown
Imbolc has the double meaning of "in the belly," or "ewe's milk." Fertility, reproduction, milk, and the young--all overseen by the goddess Brigid--govern this time of year. Brigid is the goddess/saint opoetry, smithing, medicine, arts and crafts, cattle, and Spring. I love her. She holds the balance of fire and water with her hearth fires and holy wells. On February 5, 2013, I had a clear and simple dream of how many women of Celtic descent are emanations of the goddess Brigid herself. She knows herself through their actions, and vice versa.  

A few days "early," on January 25, 2013, I had a dream that spoke of how megalithic monument Newgrange, in my ancestral homeland of Ireland, may be used on Imbolc. Elders from various traditions have taught me to share these types of dreams with discretion. It is my great desire to collaborate with a circle of tribally-rooted dreamers and historians so that we can corroborate dream archeology with known records and traditions.

Dreams are a natural way to recover "lost" or interrupted ceremonies. Together we can piece together a mosaic of our people's traditions. No matter where we're from on the globe, our ancestors kept ritual time. Cross quarter days are dictated not by culture, but by the motions of the Sun, Moon, and Earth. These cycles unite us as much as dreaming does. 

Lastly, Imbolc is an important time of divination. We can receive omens of the coming year in waking life and in dreams. Even for those who don't keep consistent records, this holiday offers a special occasion to write down our dreams. 

What have your dreams told you about the coming year? Do you know any of your ancestral rituals for this cross quarter day? Have dreams helped inform you? 


  1. That's rally a nice article thank you for sharing it.. it actually clears lots of unknown things about the dreams..
    Dream Enhancer

  2. Thank for the feedback! Glad it was helpful.