This time of year, brings many observances, but the one I personally observe is Imbolc. Since I am in China I did go out and explore some fairs for Chinese New Year, and Imbolc fell a few days later this year.
There are a lot of temple fairs throughout Beijing during the Chinese New Year Celebrations, so my roommate and I made sure to hit at least a few since we didn’t have to work those two weeks. One of them wasn’t crowded (which was rather shocking, but I think it was because it was so early in the day. This gave us a chance to really play tourist at this temple and take a look at it.
The second one we went to was extremely crowded and the grounds surrounding it were full of people and food stands.
It was actually rather overwhelming and we got lost on our way out. But we did have a chance for some good photo opps, including this one with the decorated tree!
It was freezing, but still fun. When we hit the International Carnival on the last day we went to fairs, I even got an ice cream in the true spirit of a New Englander. I will eat ice cream in any weather!
While this was going on, we managed to find a new apartment thanks to online research and some lovely agents who took us around on their mopeds to look at places. We chose the hutong because the landlord was willing to be paid monthly (rather than every three or every six months) and it was a fairly equal commuting distance for each of us, since we got assigned to jobs across the city from each other. An hour commute or less on public transport is about as good as it gets in a city like Beijing, and I can read on the subway and listen to music.
It is fitting we found a place to live when we did since it was just in time for Imbolc, the first Sabbat I have celebrated in China. Imbolc is when the light starts to return and we see the first signs of spring. The God is beginning to grow and the has transitioned from her time as the Crone to her Maidenhood. We celebrate the returning fertility of the Earth with milk and drink to the Goddess Brigid. As she is a fire goddess, I often light candles for this Sabbat and this year I had a hard time finding appropriate candles (which I think was more because I was running around buying essentials for the apartment and just never came across the candles, rather than them simply not being available). But I’ve always believed in simply working with what I had and that’s what I did.
As it is a time for renewal of energy with the longer days, it is considered a good time to clean and bless a home. Since I am moving into a new apartment, it falls at the perfect time this year. My new roommate is not Wiccan, but she is open to, and interested in, other religions, and had no problem with me using the day to clean our new place and get everything in order. I put on my Pagan Music playlist and we listened to the works of Blackmore’s Night, Emerald Rose, Inkubus Sukkubus, and several other groups/solo artists. Not all of them are explicitly Pagan or New Age (for instance, I don’t think the members of Blackmore’s Night identify as such) but their music and words fit my spiritual needs when it comes to music, so it allowed me to bring a spiritual aspect into my cleaning.
Above are some pictures of our new humble home, now that’s it cleaned and set up the way we want it! I think it will be comfortable now that our stuff is here. It could do with some decorating but all in good time. The setup is a traditional Chinese house, although the kitchen is bigger than I would have expected. Another thing I did not expect is to have to walk through the bathroom to get to the kitchen. I’m not sure that’s true of all hutongs, but it is in ours, and it’s going to be a bit interesting to see how that will work out for us. It’s a good thing we already seem to get along really well and are comfortable with each other, or that could have gotten awkward really fast…
All in all, it’s small and probably not ideal, but we will certainly have an experience living here!