As winter is drawing to its mid point, and the first signs of spring are appearing, it is time to celebrate Imbolc.
Imbolc is a festival which marks the beginning of spring. It is also known as Brigid’s Day, Groundhog Day and Candlemas. It is one of the eight festivals of the wheel of the year. It was traditionally marked as the beginning of the lambing season. It is a festival of fertility and light where you celebrate the first signs of spring, the start of the agricultural year and the birth of livestock.
Imbolc is midway through winter. We are saying goodbye to the crone months of winter and welcoming the Goddess in her maiden form. Traditionally women would gather to celebrate and welcome the Goddess embodied as Brigid. It is a celebration of the birth of livestock and the milk we are to receive. It is also a time marking mid-winter, and marking that spring is around the corner. It is also a holiday which is centred on the household, and freshening up your home ready for spring.
A traditional symbol of Imbolc is a flame as Imbolc is a fire festival. Other symbols are those relating to the first signs of spring. These include the snowdrop flower, sheep to signify the start of the lambing season, swan feathers and eggs.
Symbolic trees of the festival are rowan and willow. Rowan represents protection and inspiration. Willow is sacred to Brigid and is a tree of dreaming, deep emotions and spring.
Symbolic colours of Imbolc are white and silver for purity, green for new life and orange and red to represent fire.
Brigid is a Celtic goddess of fire, poetry, healing, smith craft and childbirth. She is the triple goddess and in her maiden aspect this time of year, she represents the virgin or sister aspect of the goddess. She marks the changing of the goddess from crone to maiden state. At Imbolc the sun king is reborn as a baby and nurses at Brigid’s breast.
Born at daybreak, in Irish mythology she was the daughter of the father god of Ireland. She left shamrocks and flowers wherever she walked and gave birth to three warrior sons. After many battles, she bought unity to the celts who all agreed with her compassion.
Brigid, is a goddess who brings hope and reminds us that spring is on its way. This hope is celebrated through Imbolc, the festival dedicated to her.
- Make a Brigid doll and a bed for her to lay her in. She will be a token of fertility. A doll made out of straw and lavender, representing the goddess Brigid. These were traditionally made by the men and placed in a bed. Or the doll would be placed next to a fireplace or a candle to attract fertility and fortune to the home.
- Make a Brigid cross which is a small four armed cross sometimes made out of rushes. It is a fire wheel symbol which is seen as a symbol of protection .
- Spring clean your home. Spring cleaning was originally a nature ritual. See A Simple Imbolc House Cleansing Ritual for how to perform a ritual to cleanse your home this Imbolc.
- At sunset light every light in the house, or candles in every room to celebrate the Suns birth
- Visit a river, stream or well. If it is clean and safe splash some over yourself as a symbol of purification. Go with family or friends to make it a group activity.
- Have a cleansing bath ritual. This will not only clean your body, but purify your mind and soul.
- Try a love spell as they are strong at this time of year.
- Plant seeds and start planning what you will grow now winter is starting to pass.
As a solo practicing Wiccan there are different ways you can focus on celebrating Imbolc. Spells of the season can focus on self purification and cleansing. Or you can focus on the fertility aspect , or cast love spells.
If you have yet to set yourself up with an altar, now is a good time to start. You can use a table, but if you don’t have room try a shelf. If you are really short of space you can make yourself a box or basket to be an altar you can put away when not using.
If you have an altar you still may want to use Imbolc as a time to change it. Celebrate the season by using colours such as white and silver, green to represent new life and orange and red for fire. Decorate your altar with swan feathers, spring flowers such as snowdrops, a Brigid cross and green candles. You can use gemstones which are associated with Imbolc such as amethyst, aquamarine, garnet, turquoise or onyx.
The central food for Imbolc is milk and cheese, especially from sheep. This is a time to celebrate the start of the lambing season, and the theme of fertility. Other foods associated with the season are peppers, onions, leeks, shallots and eggs. Herbs of rosemary, frankincense, myrrh, cinnamon and ginger.
Here are some ideas of what you can cook to celebrate Imbolc:
- – Bread or biscuits in the shape of sheep or the Brigid cross
- – Savoury biscuits flavoured with rosemary and sheep cheese
- – Milk and honey rice pudding
- – An omelette with fresh spring herbs
- – Homemade scones to eat with fresh butter or cream
- – Roasted root vegetables
- – Homemade potato soup
- – Rowan berries made into jelly, sauce or wine
I hope you enjoy celebrating this time of year!