The week before Imbolg, my eight-year old and I got out the plaster bust of the Goddess that we put on the altar every year, and refurbished her. Basically, we chipped away at the plaster crown on her head, because it keeps getting in the way of the crowns that we make for her, and then we sanded the head smooth. Later, I took her out back and sprayed her with a fresh coat of paint. After she dried, I placed her on the altar, swathed her in veils, and placed the candle crown on her head.
On Yule night, with our sleeping bags unrolled in front of the fire, each member of our family threw pine cones and acorns into the fire, each one representing a wish. For Imbolg, we talked about turning wishes into goals. I wrote simple elemental meditations about how the elements can help us achieve our goals by lending us the strengths of nature.
For our cakes and ale, we served navettes and milk. Each of us had a silver chalice containing whole, organic milk. We read something about the Goddess representing love, and when we take in a sip of the milk, we are taking in the love of the Goddess. Then everyone took a little sip. Then we said that when we pour out some of the milk, we are remembering the importance of loving others. (or something like that.)
Each of us poured a little bit of the milk into the bowl of blessed water, which was a small bowl of water containing a generous pinch of salt. After we each poured the milk in, watching how the white milk spread and formed a cloud pattern in the clear water, I set the bowl down.
We went on to read something about taking another sip of the milk and taking the Goddess herself into ourselves. We took our sips of milk, and then read something about pouring out a bit more milk to remember the importance of sharing our gifts with others.
When I picked up the bowl of milk so everyone could pour again, we saw that the milk had formed a perfect spiral in the clear water. My youngest son looked at the bowl of water and milk, and looked at me, his eyes wide, his mouth open. "Wow!", he whispered.
I realize that there is probably a perfectly good, reasonable scientific reason this happened. Maybe as I turned to put the bowl down, I created a mild centrifugal force in the water. Perhaps the salt in the water and the fat in the milk had something to do with it. I don't know. But it seems to me that it doesn't matter. In sacred space, any scientifically explained phenomenon can also be a spiritual miracle.
Anyway, the surprise of seeing the white spiral, and the expression of awe on the child's face, was sweet.
When we poured again, the water turned a cloudy white, and the moment passed. But it's one of those little moments that I will never forget.