The Element Encyclopedia of Witchcraft: The Complete A-Z for the Entire Magical World - Judika Illes 2005
February Feasts of Purification and New Life
Calendar of Revelry and Sacred Days
The month of February leads to the spring equinox, Earth’s awakening after her long slumber. It is a monumental threshold because, of course, what if Earth doesn’t awake? What if the winter is endless, food-stores run out, and so forth. (This isn’t mere anxiety but may reflect vestigial memories of Ice Ages.)
The spring equinox was understood as the birth of a New Year. This was eventually literalized with formal calendars. Many traditional New Years all over Earth are initiated at the equinox, not least the zodiacal calendar, whose first sign Aries begins on that day. February then is the solar month leading up to the month containing New Year’s Day. Festivals in February are frequently devoted to spiritual and magical preparations for this new cycle.
The very name “February” derives from the Latin for purging and purification. This time period is devoted to crucial magical and spiritual rituals intended to protect Earth, cleanse it of accumulated psychic debris, and encourage the regeneration of fertility.
As the element with the most profound (although dangerous) powers of purification, fire is often featured in these festivals. Candle processions, for instance, are common motifs honoring Brigid, Juno Februa, Oya, and St Agatha. However, masculine fire is balanced by feminine liquid. Many of these feasts honor life-sustaining beverages. All milk ultimately comes from mothers, whether human, bovine or ewe. The February feasts celebrate and seek to protect these mothers.
Among these February festivals are the Anthestheria, Candlemas, Little Candlemas, the Lupercalia, and Imbolc, which possess their own entries; however there are also many other festivals with similar themes at this time.