Imbolc arrives with the first big rains in the island. The sky is grey and cloudy and it’s been pouring all night. May seem insignificant, but for us this rain is the FIRST through all Winter, so it’s quite a change for us.
I would like to send a big HAPPY IMBOLC to all our pagan friends worldwide. We are not too fond on celebrating the “wheel of the year” in a traditional way, mostly because our weather is so different and we cannot relate to a European-style calendar. Right now, the islands are in full bloom because of our soft winter, and it makes no sense to celebrate the beginning of the year with the symbols of a culture that is buried under snow right now. For us, the land sleeps during the summer, when it’s so hot and dry that our landscape becomes desertic – so, we make our celebrations our way and pay little attention to the traditional Imbolc rituals.
In Spain, Imbolc is also the day of the Virgin of Candelaria, patroness of the Canary Islands. The Guanches called her Chaxiraxi, a very common female name here. Chaxiraxi means “mother of the sun” in Guanche language. It is believed that the original statue was found in the year 1400 (almost 100 years before the spanish conquest) by two Guanche sheperds in a ravine in the town of Güimar; they were trying to put their goats inside the cave where they slept, but the goats started behaving crazily and didn’t want to enter the cave; when they approached the cave to find out what happened, they saw the image of the Virgin standing above the cave. At first, they thought it was a living woman; one of the sheperds tried to throw a stone at her to make her move, but his arm was paralyzed; the other, scared, tried to stab her, but ended up stabbing himself. When they finally touched the statue, their wounds and paralyzed limbs healed.
Knowing that there was something supernatural there, the image was taken to the Mencey (King) Acaymo, who built the first chapel for her. That original statue is now lost – it disappeared during a flood in 1826; the great sculptor Fernando Estevez was hired to make the image of Chaxiraxi that you can see in the pics, which was restored in 1972 by Ezequiel De León. It resides in the Basilica of the city of Candelaria, where every year thousands of Canarians visit her and worship her. She is believed to be a specially generous and miraculous virgin and her cult is ever growing. In Santería, Chaxiraxi is closely related to Yemanya, as her history and myth have always been closely related to the sea.