Since the first time I visited Tea & Tarot in spring of 2021, my first impressions were of a positive vibe and a wonderful community that Heather and the team have built and supported. That community continues to develop, and one of my favorite aspects of it is the community altar in the shop's apothecary.
The first time I participated in the community altar was at Samhain, by contributing a poem in honor of my late father. Then, for Yule, Victoria and I led the development of the decorations for that season's altar.
This morning, we came in early to clear the old altar decorations away and create the Imbolc altar.
"I love that we decorate this for each season," Victoria said just now as we snapped a few photos of our Imbolc altar.
I couldn't agree more.
What is Imbolc?
Imbolc, which occurs in early February (same timing as Candlemas or Groundhog Day) is a celebration of the mid-point of winter. While the earth has been moving steadily closer to the sun since Yuletide, it starts to become demonstrably noticeable around early February.
In agrarian history, humans used this time of the year as a signal to start preparing fields. They would turn the earth, sow seeds, and ready their farms for the upcoming growing season.
There are a number of deities associated with Imbolc. For me, I always think of Brigid, the Celtic goddess of wells and fertility.
Imbolc is a celebration of new life. It's a celebration of light and fire. It's a celebration of the promise of all the earth gives us. This season invites us to prepare for the coming spring season, express gratitude for the natural resources we use (and unfortunately, overuse) every day. It's an invitation to light a candle and start anew.
Why a community altar?
There are many reasons to have a community altar. I keep my own altar at home, as does Victoria (and my goodness, hers is gorgeous, and in fact, she makes travel altars and I have one of those, too!). It's not a strange thing for a shop such as Tea & Tarot to have an altar, but there's something special about a community altar.
Visitors are welcome to add elements, to visit the altar, to take in the décor and think or meditate about the season.
Not everyone wishes to have a home altar, either. Or perhaps not everyone has the resources or space to create a home altar. By creating this altar space, we aim to create a cornerstone for the local community. If you're local, we invite you to come by, visit our apothecary, and spend some moments with our altar.
For this season, we are focused on light and bright. You can see in the photos how we conjure these ideas into the space.
Imbolc was the first sabbat (one of the eight holidays of the Wheel of the Year) that I celebrated as a witch back in 2017. It will always be a special season for me, because it was also the first time that I connected magick and writing.
I'm honored to, five years later, be a part of a community as welcoming as Tea & Tarot. I'm even more honored to get to participate in decorating the community altar, and, as the shop's Sage & Scribe, it's my deepest honor of all to invite you to enjoy our community altar space dedicated to Imbolc and the increase of light.
Whether you are local and can visit our altars in person, or you enjoy the space virtually through this blog or on our social media accounts, have a bright and light season filled with hope.