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Imbolc 2023: "Nobody plans to fail. They just fail to plan."

Updated: Aug 7, 2023

It's time to get organised, pragmatic, and down-to-earth . . . Planner addicts and Bullet Journal devotees - this is YOUR Sabbat on the Great Wheel of the Year!! Plan your trip to Kikki K! And visit your favourite stationery supplier on Etsy to stock up on washi tape, pens, and gorgeous stickers. It's time for planners, trackers, timelines, charts, and editorial calendars!

Imbolc altar in the snow, celebrating the Earth awakening for another year.

Imbolc - the 3rd Sabbat on the Great Wheel of the Year

As sung in 'Turn! Turn! Turn!' by The Byrds, back in 1965 (based on the Book of Ecclesiastes 3:1-8) there is a time, a season, for everything in life. A time to be born. A time to die. A time to plant. A time to reap. The Great Wheel of the Year brings us into alignment with this simple but profound truth.

Today, the Great Wheel of the Year is turning yet again.

We traditionally celebrate the High Holy Day of Imbolc on 1 August, here in the Southern Hemisphere. Astronomically, though, Imbolc is actually celebrated on 8 August, this year.

Celebrating the eight Sabbats of the Great Wheel is one of the most powerful ways we can come into alignment with the rhythmic cycles of the Earth and the Sun. And as we connect with this steady, predictable rhythm, we find ourselves anchoring in the deeper rhythm of our own lives. We find ourselves embodying an awareness of how Life constantly creates and recreates itself ... and, therefore, how we can, too.

As High Priestess Phyllis Curott teaches, the perpetual, cyclic movement of the Great Wheel reminds us that true transformation and personal growth is found within a patient, organic pace, not within "the impulsive, random flick of a magic wand."

Rather than thinking of the High Holy Days as 'single-day' events of ritual and celebration, I invite you to think of them as whole seasons, and to see the Great Wheel as a powerful ally and teacher. Let's live in accord with its wisdom and its teachings of the seasons, rather than striving against them ...

This can be tricky at times, considering that people in the Southern Hemisphere often work against the Great Wheel, celebrating everything "backwards" by adhering instead to a calendar created for the Northern Hemisphere.

For example, in October, at Beltane when Life is rushing into this realm, our stores will be filled with symbols of death and the Otherworld - ie: Halloween/Samhain goodies.

And at Summer Solstice, the height of our energetic power in the South when we should be powering ahead with our goals and dreams, most people will be making New Year Resolutions, trying to engage Samhain's deep, divinatory work of inspiration for the year ahead!

How willing are we to connect with the actual flow of Life, as opposed to some artificial calendar we're told to follow from another hemisphere???

As the Great Wheel turns, we're now at the third Sabbat, Imbolc.

Let's recap a little, first.

At Samhain, when the veils between the realms were at their thinnest, we not only brought in our third and final harvest for the year, we also sought the inspired guidance of the Otherworld for our year ahead via divination. Remember, Samhain is the Pagan New Year.

At Yule (or Winter Solstice), with the dying of the light of the old Sun, we identified those aspects of our own Light that needed to die, too. Yule invites us to consider the habits, fears, beliefs, conditioned patterns, relationships, addictions, and worn-out stories that need to be released, if we are to move forward into the more empowered, authentic Life that we envision for ourselves. As the Dark Moon phase of the whole year, Yule is our chance to let it all go, with the full energetic support of Life itself!

Also, in this nourishing darkness, we are given the opportunity to reclaim those parts of ourselves that we previously denied, rejected, or abandoned - our Restless Dead.

Yule is also when the fragile new Sun is reborn, heralding a new Light into the world. So, too, are we invited to birth new aspects of our Light into the world, unencumbered by all we have released with the dying Light of the old Sun. And, in this rich darkness of the year, we hold and protect the tender visions that we received at Samhain, like seeds waiting in the rich, dark, loamy soil of the Earth. This is not a frightening darkness. It is the darkness of the womb, the darkness of the Earth ... nurturing, caring, protective. In this time, we can dream into the seeds we've received.

And now we arrive at Imbolc!

Imbolc is an early spring/late winter festival. The new Sun is growing in strength, and the days are beginning to grow longer. While winter is still going strong, there are signs that spring is now on its way. New life is definitely stirring within the Earth . . . and within us.

It's time for the inspired visions that we received via our divinations at Samhain to cross the threshold from the Otherworld into this physical realm of form and time. Whether we dreamed of something practical like a metaphorical kitchen garden with a herb spiral, a cottage garden filled with gorgeous flowers, or a creative garden filled with Wood Giants (like the one in Copenhagen, pictured above), our precious new seeds are ready to begin germinating.

Before we begin, let's imagine that we're standing before a garden bed. Is there ample room for planting new seeds, alongside some well-tended perennials? Is it a beautiful 'clean canvas' we can create with? Or has our garden bed (our life) been majorly neglected? Is it completely overgrown with random, old plants and copious weeds? Has grass started creeping into the garden bed? If so, we need to stop. We need to attend to Yule's work of releasing and "weeding" before going any further.

Honestly, if we don't want something to take up space in our new garden (ie: in the new Life we've envisioned for ourselves), then we need to weed it out before we get any further into Imbolc. Weeds tend to claim all the available space and the fertility of the soil for themselves. They'll strangle and shade out our tiny, fragile new seeds.

Worse, weeds will demand our time, energy, and focus to deal with them ... precious resources that would be better spent tending the plants that we're actually trying to grow over the coming year!

Gulp! What was I thinking?? I can't do this!!

Have you ever had that feeling? You've dared to allow yourself to dream into a higher vision of your own life; to claim the path that you know is yours . . . and then found yourself wondering what on earth you were thinking??

"How could I possibly set up and run my own cake decorating business?? I don't understand the first thing about how to keep the books and how to do all that financial stuff! Oh, my goodness. It's gonna be impossible for me to start a business! Who am I kidding to think I can do this??"

Woah, woah, woah. Before you throw your hands in the air and give up on the goals and aspirations you've been draming into since Samhain, Imbolc invites you to take a deep breath, and consider how you could actually, tangibly address any of the glitches that are arising for you, now.

Imbolc is a very practical Sabbat. It's not so much an emotional or psychotherapeutic season, so much as a "hands-on, let's-get-down-to-it" season.

Imbolc is a very practical Sabbat.

It's not so much an emotional or psychotherapeutic season, so much as a "hands-on, let's-get-down-to-it" season. Imbolc is grounded, realistic, and pragmatic.

  • How can you prove yourself to yourself?

  • What tools or courses do you need to buy?

  • What skills do you need to develop?

  • Who do you need to hire or employ, in order to get the work done?

If we look at the example above, Imbolc could ask us to consider many possibilities, such as:

  • Do you need to buy MYOB (a business management platform)?

  • Do you need to take a short course in bookkeeping?

  • Do you simply need to employ a bookkeeper to take care of that part of the business for you?

What is the most practical, tangible, grounded solution you can come up with?

Welcome to Imbolc - the Waxing Crescent phase of the whole year.

"Nobody plans to fail. They just fail to plan." - Anonymous

Planner addicts and Bullet Journal ("BuJo") devotees, this is YOUR Sabbat!! Plan your trip to Kikki K! Buy a dotgrid journal from PaperBlanks. And visit your favourite scrapbooking store or stationery supplier on Etsy to stock up on washi tape, pens, and gorgeous stickers! It's time for planners, trackers, timelines, charts, and editorial calendars!

Books Read Bujo Tracker

At Imbolc, we're encouraged to get organised and carefully plan for the year ahead. This can be a fun and creative process! (If you're curious to learn more about Bullet Journalling, there are oodles of videos on YouTube.)

It's time to spring clean our homes and lives. It's time to take stock of what we'll need for the year ahead. It's time to write our SMART goals (ie: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timely); to create our trackers (like this BuJo Book Tracker on the right); to set our timelines; and to set up accounts with organisation apps, like Trello or ToDoist.

As Warren Buffett once said, "An idiot with a plan can beat a genius without a plan."

So, let's plan! (For those of us who are interested in numerology, can you hear 4's presence??)

This is the time of the year when I swear I can hear Jack Canfield's voice in my ear, urging me forward. In particular, I remember his advice to get all our ducks in a row before attempting a new project. "You want to save the world, but you can't find a pen to take a few notes???" Good point, Jack.

He would advise all of us to grab a pen and paper, and then walk through our homes from the front door to the back. Take a note of anything and everything that grabs your attention. A torn screen door you've been meaning to fix, but haven't quite got around to yet. That ugly vase from Great-Aunt Petunia that you really hate. The carpet that needs to be steam cleaned. The box of old belongings you keep forgetting to take to Vinnies. The pile of your children's precious artwork that you've been wanting to frame and display. Write it all down. Now attend to it!!

Kind of like weeds, these unfinished projects will drain your attention, focus, and energy. So, just deal with them. Now, before the real work of the year gets into the swing of things!

Sand running through a glass hour glass.

With that done, let's look around and take stock of our available resources. One of our most precious resources, of course, is time. Let's realistically allocate the time we'll need each week to follow through on our commitments. Do we need to set the alarm an hour earlier each morning, or can we give up an hour or two each day of scrolling aimlessly through social media? Can we dedicate Sunday afternoon to our new goals?

The more mindfulness and awareness we can bring to this process, the better. If we over-extend ourselves by planting too many seeds (or by allowing weeds or random seeds to just blow into our garden), we are potentially jeopardising the whole crop!

Saturn/4 reminds us that we can do, be, and have anything if we’re prepared to work for it … but we can’t do it all. Not simultaneously, anyway. In other words:

What are you prepared to give up, in order to get where you want to go?

(Ouch! This is something I've personally struggled with!!)

We'd best make these decisions while we're still in this initial planning stage.

Traditional gardening tools laid out neatly.

Are you fully equipped to achieve your goals?

Next, it's time to clean and sharpen our gardening tools. And while we're looking at our tools, do we have all the tools we'll need over the coming months? If not, let's organise that now so we won't have to break our stride in the middle of the project, perhaps causing us to lose ground; or to miss out on exciting opportunities.

Seriously, how can we best set ourselves up for success from the very beginning?

For example, what tools or resources might we need if our goal is to:

  • Lose 40 kgs? (eg: A new sports bra or running shoes? A Personal Trainer to plan our workouts and coach us? An indoor bicycle? A gym membership? A new recipe book with healthy recipes? Recommendations for a chiro, podiatrist, or dietitian? A fitness app to monitor our progress and inspire us, like Strava, 8fit, or Blogilates?)

  • Start writing a weekly blog? (eg: An editorial calendar? A writer's app like Scrivener? A domain name? A writing coach? SEO tools, like Woorank or Ahrefs? A design tool to create custom, beautiful images, like Canva? A new scanner? A notepad to collect 'Seeds & Bits', ie: ideas for topics you might want to write about? A mini tripod and stand, if also creating a video blog?)

  • Record an album with our band? (eg: A new distortion pedal for the guitar, like the JHS Smiley Fuzz or the Big Muff? An Audio Interface, like the Focusrite Scarlett? A mic for the kick drum, like the AKG D112? Music recording software, like Ableton Live? Someone to master our tracks?)

Having access to the right tools helps to guarantee our success. Having said that, we certainly don't want the lack of a tool to become a barrier to progress, nor for it to serve as a convenient excuse not to get going on our goals. So, over the next six weeks, during Imbolc season, let's brainstorm the tools and resources we may need and HOW we can assure access to them. Let's do our research. We could ask our friends for suggestions & recommendations; research it online; and/or seek the advice of those professionally "in the know".

What do we need to buy or hire? What can we borrow from friends? Is there a group we can join that shares resources (like a pottery group that shares a kiln)?

There may even be a lending library of some sort that we can join? For example, here in the Blue Mountains, we have Toolo, a Tool Lending Library for creatives, artists, makers, and gardeners. For a small cost, members can borrow an extraordinary range of tools and equipment, alleviating the prohibitive need to purchase everything ourselves. For example, Toolo provides access to everything from music amplifiers to digital cameras, a light box, pottery kilns, sewing machines, overlockers, lawn mowers, angle grinders, artist's bristle brushes, and a hot glue gun! What a great resource! Do you have something similar in your community??

By the time we reach Ostara (ie: 23 September, 2023), we need to be ready and rearing to go. It's time to gather our new tools together!

As we sow, so shall we reap.

As well as planning and preparing our proverbial garden bed, and gathering our necessary tools, we need to carefully get our new seeds started. It's time to put out our own tentative roots and shoots, in the direction of our dreams.

Remember, though ... each seed is something that we're committing our time, energy, and resources to for the rest of this year. We need to be considered and deliberate with this whole process.

Whether we're talking about real or metaphoric seeds, that which is new is vulnerable until it gains in strength. We need to plant them, tend them, and protect them, like a hot house protects new seedlings, until they're strong enough to be 'sun hardened' and transplanted. And we need to trust in the energy of Imbolc, that our new seeds will be held safe through this initial, vulnerable period of emergence.

Technically, seeds need to be started 4 to 6 weeks before the date of the last frost each year. They (WE!) need to be given enough time to germinate and grow to full transplant size by Ostara. Let's get planting! And let's bring our curiosity, respect, patience, and trust to the process. As much as we may know we are ready for the changes and dreams we are initiating, this process can feel frightening at times. Let's be gentle with ourselves.

A little sprouting acorn, in a forest.

So, how are you feeling about Imbolc's work? Excited?? I know I am. I love the energy and enthusiasm of this phase! The sense of potential being realised!

I feel awed and inspired by the knowledge that even the mightiest oak tree was once a tiny acorn.

Some of us may be feeling daunted, though, by everything we'll need to organise and plan before we even begin planting? And some of us may find ourselves resisting the whole process, for some reason! If so, perhaps it'd be helpful to seek the support of someone like a kinesiologist to help remove any energetic blockages preventing us from moving forward? (If you're looking for a recommendation, I've personally been working with a wonderful kinesiologist named Vicki Cook. If you'd like her contact details, let me know.)

May we plant our seeds with care and great devotion. Remember, what we plant at Imbolc, and then water with our love, energy, time, and dedication over the coming seasons, is what we will ultimately begin to harvest at Lughnasadh next February.

As the old adage reminds us, as we sow, so shall we reap.

Blessed be, beautiful people. Blessed Imbolc!!

Peace Juliette xo

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