The word February is born from the Latin word Februarius, from Latin februare meaning to "purify" or "expiate." In ancient Rome, Februarius was the "Month of Purification" and great festivities were held to reestablish the empire's focus on righteous living. February was the month of purification to the Romans because in their early calendar it was the last month of the year, and so considered an appropriate time to get rid of the bad, stale, or unclean in preparation for the new year. In the early days of the Roman lunar calendar, March, as the month when spring takes hold, had been thought of as the first month of the year; and so many holidays in the last half of February centered around the theme of endings, including the Terminalia on the 23rd, honoring Terminus, the God of boundary stones. The 23rd for whatever reason had a ritual significance as the last day of the year, even though the month (mostly) held 28 days
To me, the idea of devoting a month to the process of purification is invigorating. The hustle-bustle of the holidays are left behind - February finally sees many of us getting our first breath of fresh air. And, by this time of year, the pressure of New Year's resolutions is either incorporated itself into healthy habits or dropped by the wayside.
Imbolc is the Sabbat that occurs in February. While Imbolc is centered on the return of the Sun, and the first hopes of spring, it is also a Sabbat of purification after the shut-in life of winter, through the renewing power of the Sun. Imbolc is also seen by many Pagans as one of the periods of renewal. Samhain, Yule, Imbolc, and birthdays are viewed by some as opportunities to begin a new year or cycle. Some embrace all of these occasions as new starts, and some of us feel that one or the other is the most appropriate time to consider a new cycle’s beginning.
For me, February and Imbolc is a time of rededication. The chaos that is the secular holidays has passed, however I’m still riding the need to buckle down for the year, and seriously start working on my goals. So every Imbolc, I dedicate myself to working with one God and one Goddess for the year. Sometimes I promise to spend more time with my Matron and Patron (Sekhmet and Anubis), but other years I dedicate to other deities who have been showing up in my life, or deities that I want to work with for a specific reason.
This February, I ask you all to join me in giving your life a little new year’s purification and dedication. When you celebrate Imbolc, as you light your candles, take a moment to consider who, or what, lights you up. Don’t be afraid to recommit to those things in your life that are important to you, and don’t be afraid of showing or expressing your commitment to that. Tell your partner or family how much you love them, and share your gratitude. Spend some time with your Deities, and share your love and devotion with Them. Find something that lights your own inner candle, and promise yourself that you will honor that light with love, gratitude, and devotion.
With wisdom and empowerment,