I awoke this morning in the midst of a dream. In it, we were accosted while out walking by a woman who proceeded to question us as if we were expert witnesses or law enforcement consultants on the occult. She said that a monument at a nearby Catholic college (she called it Trinity something-or-other) had been "defaced," with the remnants of candles and offerings (I have the impression of red candles, though I can't recall if that was specified or not), and wanted to know the possible meaning behind it. I immediately launched into a quite complex lecture on the neo-pagan celebration of Imbolc, explaining the meanings and customs of the holiday and assuring her that there was nothing at all "Satanic" or dangerous about it. I remember being surprised when the woman asked me if the holiday was sometimes also called La Fheile Bride, and my response that it was indeed sometimes called that, in Gaelic, by Druid practitioners. I also assured her that the mysterious offerings might have been left in honor of St. Brigit, who celebrates a feast day at this time. I was awakened before I could finish my lecture.
Appropriately, I had this dream on the day in question, as Imbolc was celebrated on February 2nd in the tradition in which I was trained--despite it's being called "February Eve" in the early writings, which would of course technically require a celebration on January 31st. I celebrated the 31st and the 1st on the road, caravaning my mother-in-law home from Florida, and if I had any deity interactions at all it was with Bast, who sent her small minions to play in the landscaping around the hotel we stayed at in north Georgia. (One of them was the loveliest little thing, snowy white with a large patch of silver and black tabby markings on her back like a draped blanket. Her eyes were a pale luminous green, ringed with black liner that extended slightly out from the corners in a very Egyptian fashion; she gazed at me very seriously, and I gazed right back at her in the same way, having a moment. She would not approach closely, and finally broke the spell to run off chasing under a bush with her solid red tabby sibling. Their mother was prowling the courtyard, which featured what was very nearly a ring of large stones; adjacent to this was a tiny church building, complete with narrow stained glass windows, labeled the "Interfaith Meditation Chapel." Apparently my faith was not included, because I found the building locked.)
In any case, it's Imbolc now--or Oimelc or Candlemas or La Fheile Bride or whatever you'd like to call it. I call it the midpoint of winter, halfway between the Winter Solstice and the Vernal Equinox. It's an odd one, to be sure; the high today should again be in the 60s, which carries on the trend of this being an unusually mild winter. I usually like to celebrate it as a turning point, a time when the days are visibly lengthening, when the first faint hints of growing things can be seen, when we know the worst of winter is generally past us and spring looms on the horizon. This year, there's not much of winter to be seen beyond the still-barren trees, but maybe that's cause for celebration in its own right.