Let’s talk about Imbolc shall we? Also known as Saint Brigid’s day. (Though you may be scratching your head and asking who she is and why to celebrate this day).
Imbolc is a Celtic fire festival celebrating the emerging life in the world around us as well as the Goddess Brigid who represents the fire of creativity, the protective hearth fire and her fire wheel all of which cleanse and purify. Imbolc is a celebration, because for those of us in the mid winter it promises us emergence, growth, renewal and hope and massive cleansing and purification. Imbolc is also the halfway point between Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox and occurs on February 1st. Okay Jenn, what’s that got to do with me?
Well whether you realise it or not your body is connected to the seasons, to the energy underneath you, around you, above you and in you. Imbolc is one of the seasonal changes on the Wheel of the Year. The Wheel of the Year is more than just the seasonal changes from spring to summer to fall to winter. It also encompasses the 8 holidays, or sabbats. Each of these holidays has its own energy and its own place in the cycle that influences. Imbolc brings us the burgeoning Spring energy that feels like a whisper or a possible promise.
I spent a lot of my younger years being raised on a sheep farm in Yorkshire and holy hannah! Imbolc was present with bells on!! Cow’s udders began to engorge with milk, ready for the first births of spring. The sheep would swell and look like fluffy balloons on toothpicks all waiting to lamb (and if you have never hung out with a lamb you are missing out!) Flowers were popping out on the floor of the copse and this was a time when farmers would prepare their fields for the first sowing and fishermen would return to the sea. All preparing and ready to expand and grow.
Imbolc is “Feile Brighde“, the ‘quickening of the year‘. The original word Imbolg means ‘in the belly’. All is pregnant and expectant – and only just visible if at all, like the gentle curve of a ‘just-showing’ pregnancy. It is the promise of renewal, of hidden potential, of earth awakening and life-force stirring. Here is hope. We welcome the growth of the returning light and witness Life’s insatiable appetite for rebirth.
It is time to let go of the past and to look to the future, clearing out the old, making both outer and inner space for new beginnings. This can be done in numerous ways, from spring cleaning your home to clearing the mind and heart to allow inspiration to enter for the new cycle. It’s a good time for wish-making or making a dedication.
Imbolc is traditionally the great festival and honouring of Brigid (Brighid, Bride, Brigit), so loved as a pagan Goddess that her worship was woven into the Christian church as St Bridget. She is a Goddess of healing, poetry and smithcraft. She is a Goddess of Fire, of the Sun and of the Hearth. She brings fertility to the land and its people and is closely connected to midwives and new-born babies. She is the Triple Goddess, but at Imbolc she is in her Maiden aspect. Brigid represented the light half of the year, and the power that will bring people from the dark season of winter into spring, her presence was very important at this time of year.
So how to mark or celebrate this day? Easy. Think about it – fire, hearth, growth, cleansing (not that you have to do all of them by any stretch!)
Gather snowdrops if you have them!
Why? These are the first signs of Spring in the bleak of Winter. Their merry bobbly white heads remind us that all things can grow and flourish even if the conditions feel bleak. So pick a posy of snowdrops and put them on your dining room table and breathe in the promise.
I love this one, especially when doing it with the kids. Each seed you plant represents a hope or dream, and it really doesn’t matter what seeds you plant. I have planted beans in egg cartons and paper towel with the kids. I have put seeds that need longer to develop into small pots to allow them the growing time that they need before going into the ground. The key is intention and celebration
Make a Brigid cross.
These look like a fire wheel when they are woven, they are traditionally made from reeds, but if that isn’t available to you, use something else, straws, hay, pipe cleaners….. If you have no clue what I am talking about, come have a little looksee here. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bq0ci42PnLc
Light a shed ton of candles which represent the the Flame of Brigid and make wishes for your family and friends – the simplest form of candle magic.
Food, glorious food!
Cook a lovely meal, light candles, invite friends and celebrate the days getting longer and all the promises that are burbling in the earth.
In Celtic mythology Brigid was associated with an awakening hibernating serpent which emerged from its lair at Imbolc. Traditionally serpents were associated with creativity and inspiration – the powerful Kundalini energy of the Eastern Mysteries. Paths of earth energy were called serpent paths and at Imbolc they are stirred from their slumber. So stir your body, stretch and offer up in prayer pose what you desire.
Ahhh, but not just any cheese. Eat Ewes milk cheese (and it is very delicious) as this is the beginning of lambing time!
Clean your House! (Seriously)
Start your spring off with a good thorough cleaning, and then follow that up with a spiritual cleansing. (‘Spring cleaning was originally a nature ritual’ – Doreen Valiente). Personally I love putting everything back where it’s meant to be, releasing the stuff that is no longer needed and then washing my floors with an essential oil mix of Rosemary, Geranium, Lemon and Sage. As I wash I invite the energy of cleansing and purification in.
Take a Cleansing Bath or Shower.
Imbolc is known as a time of purification and cleansing. A great way to incorporate this into your magical practice is to take a ritual cleansing bath. The purpose of a ritual cleansing is to not only clean the body, but also to cleanse the mind and soul. It’s a chance to meditate and reflect upon the things you wish to wash away–whether it’s a bad habit, negative feelings, or anything else. Thus, if bathing, pop a container of Epsom Salts in with the essential oils that make you feel cherished and soak. Remember to wash off under the shower with soap afterwards.
If in the shower, mix together sea salt, olive/avocado/sesame oil with the essential oils you love and then scrub yourself and as you do – see it anything that feels murky or mucky or not fitting just drop and disappear down the drain.
If you have crystals around, how often do you work with them? When were they last cleansed? Crystals are part of Earth and they loved to be handled and given a purpose. So here are 7 crystals for Imbolc.
Personally, I put these in a glorious little bag, cleanse them (with sage), bless them and give them the intention of growth, expansion, purification and expansion. I then pop them under my pillow and sleep with them until March 21st (Spring Equinox).
So there we are delicious lovely, rituals that are easy (as ritual shouldn’t be a “To Do”). Wishing you a fantabulous Imbolc and that moment where you tap into your essence and be flooded with Hope, Growth, Expansion, Purification and Planning.