What is Imbolc and how can we celebrate it?
One of the loveliest festivals of the Celtic year is Imbolc, which is celebrated between January 31 and February 2 – halfway between the winter solstice and spring equinox. It is a celebration of blossoming, where the ground opens up as the beautiful buds come forth, a time of awakening, of cleansing. With this is the symbolism of newness, bringing our ideas to life as the light returns which we can shine upon our ideas from which we have been intuitively nurturing and reflecting upon over the winter months now passing by.
A way to signify this festival is with light, representing the sun’s return and the Fire Goddess Brigid, and we do this by lighting fires where possible. 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 it’s people and is closely linked as such to new born babies and midwives. The is the Triple Goddess but at Imbolc as her Maiden aspect.
Spring brings the stirrings of new life, it is Feile Brighde, the ‘quickening of the year’. Imbolg in it’s original form means ‘in the belly’, just showing it at all, it is the promise of hidden potential, of earth awakening and the turning of the wheel as we move through rebirth.
In the Christian calendar, Imbolc is known as Candlemass, this is when candles are lit for Virgin Mary.
Lighting a fire, also an Imbolc tradition is often accompanied by a gathering, friends and family, at this present time this is difficult, but we are resilient and make the most of other ways of communicating online perhaps and lighting candles and sending our intentions to our loved ones if we cannot be with them right now in person and bringing in some joy.
As we celebrate this period we can let go of the past, look forwards, clearing out the old and with this comes the tradition of spring cleaning, physically clearing our space and with this also creating space both in our environment and releasing through letting go to allow space within ourselves also.
Spring clean your home
Now is the perfect time for a good spring clean of your home, usually undertaken before Imbolc Eve. Get rid of anything that is cluttering up your home and stagnating the energy, and scrub all the surfaces down thoroughly. If you can bear the cold, open all the windows and let some refreshing clean air flow through your home. Making it in to preparation for a celebration is also a great way to tempt kids to tackle their rooms and get rid of toys they don’t want any more!
Welcoming the return of light
At sunset, put the lights on in every room in the house to welcome back the sun.
Easy Imbolc Rituals
Recognising the turning of the wheel, or synching up with the seasons and all that that holds for us as we live on this planet Earth is a wonderful thing to do no matter what your belief system is, we are here and the wheel turns regardless. Let us celebrate in simple ways the beauty of this.
Settings Your Goals With Ribbons
Choose a tree or bush in your garden, or if you don’t have a garden then a large potted plant is also suitable, and tie each ribbon around a branch whilst thinking of something you wish to achieve this year. Be realistic, and don’t wish for anything which will hurt someone else. Focus on yourself, and the positive changes you can make to your own life. Not only will the colours of the ribbons brighten up the grey of winter, they will also remind you of your goals. Leave them in their place, and whenever you reach a goal then untie the corresponding ribbon and thank it.
Water cleansing ritual
Visit a river or stream and have a paddle if it’s not too cold. Alternatively, take your cleansing ritual home and have a nice long bath.
Ideas for your altar
It’s a beautiful time to give your altar also a spring clean and decorate with some or all of the following, a Brigid Cross, white and green candles, snowdrops and swan feathers.