Candlemas/Imbolc is, traditionally, focused on the anxieties of winter, and can be seen as sort of a plea-bargaining to the forces of nature to hurry up out of the winter harshness and prepare for the "renewal" that spring is said to give. Mundanely, this holiday has become the quirky folkloric Groundhog's Day - the day that the groundhog emerges from his winter hibernation to see whether or not he can see his shadow. If he sees his shadow, he goes back into his hole for six more weeks (until Spring Equinox) because seeing his shadow (i.e., the weather was sunny that day) is said to be an omen that more bad winter weather will follow. An old folklore rhyme goes, "If Candlemas Day be fair and bright, Winter will have another flight; if Candlemas Day be shower and rain, Winter is gone and will not come again."

Of course, we in California, are not subjected to the extremes of weather that occur elsewhere nor, given our modern existence, do we have a life/death stake in the havoc a long winter could cause for crops. Still, "winter doldrums" are not an uncommon affliction this time of year, even for the most hearty of night worshippers. Whatever the cause of them - whether the doldrums come from the relatively drab weather or an overhang from having to deal with the neurotic psyches of the masses "celebrating" the winter consumer holiday or a lack of adequate UV light (a modern scientific theory) or some other reason - getting these "blues" seems to be a common human affliction throughout the ages. This rite confronts dark and dismal winter energies and is meant to
combat these doldrums.

Materials Needed:

- A paper and pen for sigil-making
- A black candle

The Rite:

1. Choose a relatively recent memory from this winter when you were feeling down, whether it was just a free-floating angst kind of down or caused by external stimuli. This represents your hibernation.

2. Make a sigil to conquer your hibernation. Suggested wording could include: "I will to conquer (name specific anxiety you have had)" or "It is my will to eradicate debilitating thoughts." Instead of making a sigil, you could alternately draw your "hibernation" or anxiety as a pictorial representation to banish. Charge sigil or picture.

3. The participants sit in a circle and simulate hibernation by curling up into a ball or sitting with their heads down. The rite leader lights the black candle. Holding the paper over the flame, he/she visualizes the self coming out of the winter wasteland of thought. Burn paper with candle flame, saying:

"I have come out of this winter, intact. I do not see my shadow!"

Once the paper is burned, banish by laughter and let the laughter blow out the candle.

4. Stand up and pass unlit candle to the next participant on the right. The participant will repeat step #3 and pass the candle on afterwards to the right. Note: as each participant finishes burning their paper, they do not return to the hibernation pose but rather they stand up, alert.

5. Once all participants have eradicated their hibernation, the candle should be allowed to burn completely down or destroy it in fire.

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