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Using the Tarot for Sabbats and Esbats: Imbolc

This article was written by Barbara Moore
posted under Pagan

After all the wonderful indulgences of the holiday season, many of us start the new year by making resolutions. We assess the past year and look ahead. We set goals for ourselves. And sometimes our enthusiasm wanes and our good intentions falter. However, we do have tools at our disposal to help us define our goals, to create effective plans, and to maintain our focus. The Tarot is one of these tools.

Many people use the cards for divination. But we can take our divination deeper. We can use it to nurture our spirituality and our connection with the divine. Whatever spiritual path you follow, you can adopt or adapt practices from other paths. Christine Jette's Tarot for All Seasons contains spreads and rituals that can enhance anyone’s spiritual walk. The "all seasons" in the title refers to the Esbats (the twelve to thirteen Full Moons of each year) and the Sabbats (solar holidays, including the equinoxes and solstices). Whether or not you believe these times have spiritual significance, you can use the framework to develop a sort of spiritual course for yourself throughout the year. Each Sabbat represents different aspects of life. For example, Samhain (October 31) is a time for endings, releasing old behaviors and thoughts, and seeking inner wisdom. Lammas (August 1) represents the harvest, a time of reaping the rewards of your work throughout the year. And Imbolc (February 2) is a time to gather strength and direction in preparation of the energy of spring.

The Imbolc Spread
So, a month after we make our New Year’s resolutions, it is a good idea to set up a kind of checkup for ourselves to see how we are progressing. The energy of Imbolc is ideal for this. Here we will share with you Jette's spread for Imbolc from Tarot for All Seasons. About Imbolc, she writes:

"Imbolc is a season of rest and introspection, preparing us for the creative fire of spring. The frantic pace of the outside world assumes less importance. During the quiet beauty of a snowy evening, we have the time for meditation and ritual, contemplation and planning. As the sun grows stronger every day, Imbolc reminds us that everything is born, dies, and is born again of the Mother. Because we are open to new ways of understanding, nature's barren time gives us the freedom to begin a process of deep healing."
Imbolc is known as Candlemas, the Festival of Lights, and the Feast of Brighid (or Brid, Brigit, Brigid). Jette provides a spread for this holiday that you may find useful in either checking your progress on your resolutions or thinking about your plans for spring. This spread is from Tarot for All Seasons (p. 70).

Brid's Wheel (see page 27)
  • Position 1: Strength: This card shows where you are strong. If you don't like this card, it may be because it describes a painful life experience that has made you strong—or will make you strong if you directly face the issue.
  • Position 2: Heart’s Desire: Your deepest desire. What do you really want? This card may surprise you. Do you dare to speak of your secret dreams?
  • Position 3: Healer: What needs to be healed if you are to be strong? Note whether or not there is a relationship between position one and this card. Does this card describe a situation give you advice about a situation?
  • Position 4: Creative Inspiration: When healing energy is released, creative inspiration is the result. What are you inspired to do? What creative activity fires you up?
  • Position 5: Making Plans: Based on the creative information of position four, what plans can you now make? Look for the relationships between cards three, four, and five. Healing energy produces a creative spark that needs planning to become real.
  • Position 6: New Growth: What is the promise of spring that lies just beneath the snow? By knowing where you are strong and focusing on your heart’s desire, healing releases a creative fire that offers new beginnings. What is your promise of spring?
Augmenting a Reading
Tarot can be helpful in forming a plan to achieve your goals. Select a card to represent your goal and lay it down. Shuffle the remaining cards. Lay one card across your goal card. This card shows the most challenging obstacle to reaching your goal. Lay a card on either side of the crossed cards. These represent strengths that you can draw on to support success. Lay a card on top of the crossed cards. This represents how your life will change as you move toward your goal.

Barbara MooreBarbara Moore
In the early 1990s, at a party, someone put a tarot deck in Barbara's hands; she's held on tightly ever since. Tarot provides just enough structure so that we don't get lost as we explore the mysteries, plumb our dark corners, and locate our North...  Read more

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