Imbolc and Blue Moon: You’ve probably never heard of these Wicca festivals. Here’s why
Strong, heady smell of incense sticks and aroma oils emerge from the Triple Moon Goddess temple in Mahim, Mumbai. There’s an idol kept in the centre, adorned with flowers and the walls are painted with images of Goddess Kali, Durga and Gautam Buddha. It is the first Wiccan temple in India , dedicated to Wicca, a modern religion and a pagan belief system that originated in Ireland.
On January 31, Wiccans in Mumbai will celebrate the rare Blue Moon, which will kick off week-long festivities, including the annual Imbolc festival (celebrated on Feb 1). “As part of the Blue Moon festival, we have organised a meditation session and we will recite a few verses to invoke the energy of Moon Goddess. On this day, people who belong to water signs (Cancer, Scorpio and Pieces) will have stronger than usual intuition. Their natural instincts will be heightened,” says Angel Serrao, curator of The Wiccan Shop, which is attached to the temple. Wiccans end their meditation by consuming fruits and fruit juices for grounding and shielding.
On February 1, the Imbolc festival is celebrated across the world. It’s the Wiccan festival of New Year, where candles are lit and onset of spring is celebrated. This major festival is held to honour Brighid, the Goddess of Earth. Wiccans will gather with family, friends and the community for purification of self, home and business. A purification ceremony will be held and Wiccans will then end the ritual by consuming milk and cookies, followed by an Oracle Card reading.
The Wicca religion originated in the 20th century based on nature worship, something that has been practised for centuries. It took root among the Celts who lived in and around Great Britain. They celebrate the Earth and believe that all living beings have a spirit.
These pagan nature worship systems were followed by people in secrecy as it was necessary during the European dominance of the Roman Catholic Church. Today, Wicca is a growing religion.
Myth vs reality
Serrao estimates that there are over 10,000 Wiccans in Mumbai. “Some practice the religion openly, while many prefer to follow it in hiding because there’s a myth that we are Satan worshippers or anit-Christ,” he says adding, “But in reality, we are nature loving people. We cause no harm and believe in the philosophy, ‘Do what you will, but harm none’.”
As a testimony to his claims, Serrao says that Wiccans apologise to plants before they pluck a flower or believe in reducing the use of electricity to save the planet. The religion is often misunderstood because it is often confused with Satanism. However, Serrao says that the religion preaches peace and nature loving.
So, how did this myth become so widely accepted? “People relate us to practising witchcraft because we use wands and cauldrons. But the wand is used only to cast out spells and the cauldron is to make tea or essential oils,” he clarifies.
So, do they not believe in magic? “Of course we do. Whatever we say is magic.”
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