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Sunday, February 6

Super ImBowlc: USA's Pagan Ritual

Here's the reason why the Super Bowl seems to be such a religious experience: It falls in time with the Spring Ritual of Imbolc.Interestingly, Super Bowl 39 is 3 x 13.


Two Pagans:

Imbolc, (pronounced "IM-bulk" or "EM-bowlk"), also called Oimealg, ("IM-mol'g), by the Druids, is the festival of the lactating sheep. It is derived from the Gaelic word "oimelc" which means "ewes milk".

Tektonics writes:

The god Tammuz was known as a Sumerian god of fertility and of new life [ImT, 28] earlier than 3000 B.C. [Lang.TI, 2-3]. He was indeed known by two of the names above: he was called a shepherd -- but that was only because he literally was a shepherd [ImT, 29]. His specific charge was the production of lambs and ewe's milk. Of course we would note that in a pastoral ancient society, it would be no surprise for any leading figure (political, religious, or whatever) to be called a "shepherd" -- but in this case, the parallel isn't even there, because the title is literal!

From Belief.net:

The Pagans, of course, have an answer. On Feb. 2, while the rest of us go through the motions of watching Phil, many Pagans celebrate the feast of Imbolc. (Some Wiccan sects celebrate it as early as Jan. 29, while others wait till Feb. 3.) Imbolc is the ancient holiday wherein one forgot winter’s doldrums and looked forward to spring and renewal. Irish druids considered Imbolc the “festival of lactating sheep,” because this was the time of year when the local livestock had just given birth and were producing the milk of life.

The Super Bowl is perfectly suited to be our national Imbolc, a midwinter hurrah looking forward to Spring. It has this same tendency to turn toward the sun--the game is always played in destinations we visit on winter vacations--and anticipates the transition of the seasons--the end of the NFL’s winter run, with baseball's pitchers and catchers due at spring training a spare few weeks later.

Super Sunday has also taken on other basic features of a proper midwinter holiday. Imbolc, sources say, means "in the belly," a reference to fecundity, and its other connotation is particularly apt on Super Sunday, the day in which more food is consumed than on any other except Thanksgiving. One can readily imagine Fat Bastard surveying a halftime-sized bucket of guacamole and a mountain of Buffalo Wings and invoking Imbolc: "Get in my belly!"

Like Christmas, Super Bowl time is a balm for commercial interests. Just as retailers make half their money at Yuletide, one lucky network makes back some of the $300 million they claim they lost on televising the NFL regular-season schedule.

The hitch here is that Imbolc includes--nay, revolves around--women. You know: the 50 percent of the population that, apart from the eye-candy waving pom-poms on the sidelines, generally (female sports fans, grant me that 'generally') feels excluded on Super Sunday. Imbolc honors the Celtic goddess Brighid, as well as all virgin and maiden goddesses. It’s the celebration of the Bride, the fertility of spring to come. According to Celtic lore, Brighid’s pet snake anticipated Punxsutawney Phil and slithered out from Mother Earth to check on the weather. Traditionally, women led the Imbolc celebration.

This need not be the end of the question, however. You women need only grab the Bowl by the horns! Ladies, Super Sunday should be your day. Indeed, Imbolc is full of rituals that will help Super Sunday achieve its full potential as our national midwinter pagan festival.

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