Imbolc is also known as Candlemas, a gathering and nurturing of the lights born and kindled at Yuletide. By the light of our new awareness, we are able to view and contemplate ourselves. With a sense of our difference, our otherness, we can peer into the illuminated mirror of our identity to ask the questions: If I am different, then what am I? Who am I? What does this mean?
In between our dawning awareness and our coming out to the world, we come out to ourselves. Imbolc is the Mystery of Naming, the liminal time when we have cast aside many of the things we were taught as true about ourselves and the world but have not yet clothed ourselves in new understanding. It is the sacred skyclad moment of standing naked before the universe and the divine, to see ourselves—and more importantly, to accept ourselves—as we truly are. It is when we articulate and complete the statement “I am…” whatever that may be for us.
This process of self-identification is a Mystery and rite of passage experienced by all young people coming into their adulthood. Still it is a particular part of the Queer Mysteries, in which we accept (if not also embrace) our otherness, our queer identity, by identifying and naming it. As a child, I felt different from other children, especially other boys my age, for years before awakening to my sexual identity, and longer still before I realized that meant that I was gay.
For some, the Mystery of Naming leads directly to the next, but as before some of us shrink back from the truth that we have named, clutching it tightly to us, and retreating to the relative safety of the shadows from before we stepped into the light. We are like seeds, planted deep beneath the earth, waiting to see if we will sprout.