Celebrating Imbolc

I’ve collected ideas for Imbolc over time.  This year, in a stroke of synchronicity, it felt right to make vision boards around this time, and that’s perfect for planting the seeds of what we want to “grow” the rest of the year, so I will be doing that this weekend with an awesome witchy friend.

Other ideas below…have a blessed Imbolc!

 

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  • Also called:Candlemas, Oimelc, Brigid’s Day; merged with Lupercalia/Valentines Day
  • dates:February 2, early February
  • colors: white, red
  • tools: candles, seeds, Brigid wheel, milk
  • energy: conception, initiation, inspiration
  • goddesses: Brigid, Maiden
  • gods: Groundhog, other creatures emerging from hibernation; young Sun
  • rituals: creative inspiration, purification, initiation, candle work, house & temple blessings
  • customs: lighting candles, seeking omens of Spring, cleaning house, welcoming Brigid

By February, most of us are tired of the cold, snowy season. Imbolc reminds us that spring is coming soon, and that we only have a few more weeks of winter to go. The sun gets a little brighter, the earth gets a little warmer, and we know that life is quickening within the soil.

Imbolc is a time of magical energy related to the feminine aspect of the goddess, of new beginnings, and of fire. It’s also a good time to focus on divination and increasing your own magical gifts and abilities. Take advantage of these concepts, and plan your workings accordingly. Because of its proximity to Valentine’s Day, Imbolc also tends to be a time when people start exploring love magic — if you do, be sure to read up on it first!

Imbolc is the festival of the lactating sheep. It is derived from the Gaelic word “oimelc” which means “ewes milk”. Herd animals have either given birth to the first offspring of the year or their wombs are swollen and the milk of life is flowing into their teats and udders. It is the time of Blessing of the seeds and consecration of agricultural tools. It marks the center point of the dark half of the year. It is the festival of the Maiden, for from this day to March 21st, it is her season to prepare for growth and renewal. Brighid’s snake emerges from the womb of the Earth Mother to test the weather, (the origin of Ground Hog Day), and in many places the first Crocus flowers began to spring forth from the frozen earth.

The Maiden is honored, as the Bride, on this Sabbat. Straw Brideo’gas (corn dollies) are created from oat or wheat straw and placed in baskets with white flower bedding. Young girls then carry the Brideo’gas door to door, and gifts are bestowed upon the image from each household. Afterwards at the traditional feast, the older women make special acorn wands for the dollies to hold, and in the morning the ashes in the hearth are examined to see if the magic wands left marks as a good omen. Brighid’s Crosses are fashioned from wheat stalks and exchanged as symbols of protection and prosperity in the coming year. Home hearth fires are put out and re-lit, and a besom is place by the front door to symbolize sweeping out the old and welcoming the new. Candles are lit and placed in each room of the house to honor the re-birth of the Sun.

Another traditional symbol of Imbolc is the plough. In some areas, this is the first day of ploughing in preparation of the first planting of crops. A decorated plough is dragged from door to door, with costumed children following asking for food, drinks, or money. Should they be refused, the household is paid back by having its front garden ploughed up. In other areas, the plough is decorated and then Whiskey, the “water of life” is poured over it. Pieces of cheese and bread are left by the plough and in the newly turned furrows as offerings to the nature spirits. It is considered taboo to cut or pick plants during this time.

Deities of Imbolc:
All Virgin/Maiden Goddesses, Brighid, Aradia, Athena, Inanna, Gaia, and Februa, and Gods of Love and Fertility, Aengus Og, Eros, and Februus.

Symbolism of Imbolc:
Purity, Growth and Re-Newal, The Re-Union of the Goddess and the God, Fertility, and dispensing of the old and making way for the new.

Symbols of Imbolc:
Brideo’gas, Besoms, White Flowers, Candle Wheels, Brighid’s Crosses, Priapic Wands (acorn-tipped), and Ploughs.

Herbs of Imbolc:
Angelica, Basil, Bay Laurel, Blackberry, Celandine, Coltsfoot, Heather, Iris, Myrrh, Tansy, Violets, and all white or yellow flowers.

Foods of Imbolc:
Pumpkin seeds, Sunflower seeds, Poppyseed Cakes, muffins, scones, and breads, all dairy products, Peppers, Onions, Garlic, Raisins, Spiced Wines and Herbal Teas.

Incense of Imbolc:
Basil, Bay, Wisteria, Cinnamon, Violet, Vanilla, Myrrh

Colors of Imbolc:
White, Pink, Red, Yellow, Green, Brown.

Stones of Imbolc:
Amethyst, Bloodstone, Garnet, Ruby, Onyx, Turquoise.

Activities of Imbolc:
Candle Lighting, Stone Gatherings, Snow Hiking and Searching for Signs of Spring, Making of Brideo’gas and Bride’s Beds, Making Priapic Wands, Decorating Ploughs, Feasting, and Bon Fires may be lit – and Vision Boards!

Ideas for Imbolc:
Place a lighted candle in each and every window of the house, beginning at sundown on Candlemas Eve (February 1) , allowing them to continue burning until sunrise.

Hold a candle-making party and then bless all the candles you’ll be using for the whole year.

This is one of the traditional times for initiations and rededications into the Craft.

Take a hike and Search for Signs of Spring.

Perform rites of spiritual cleansing and purification.

Make a potpourri for Imbolc by taking a piece of fabric, filling with dried leaves, pine cones, and fruit peels. Tie with a ribbon.

 

Imbolc candle activities:
Gather a white candle for each window of your home. Empower each candle with a goal that you would like to accomplish before the next Imbolc Sabbat. Place each candle in a fire safe holder. Put a candle in each window of your home, lighting each candle as you go. Leave the candles burning until they are gone.

Clean and cleanse your home:
Take some time during the week before Imbolc to clean your home. Go through your belongings. If there are things you no longer need, donate them to charity or give them to a family that you know could use the items.

This is a good time to cleanse the home of negativity. One of the easiest ways to do this is by burning sage incense in each room of your home. You could also take a broom and sweep the negative energy from your home.

Start an herb garden: Herb garden kits can be found at stores. Pick up a couple of these kits before the Sabbat. Spend some time on Imbolc planting an indoor herb garden. One of the potted seeds can be placed on the altar for decoration.

Solitary Imbolc rituals: Remember to honor the Goddess by doing a solitary Imbolc ritual. There are many rituals available online. If you don’t want to use a ritual from a web page or book, you can create your own ritual.

 

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