Today is Imbolc pronounced ‘im'olk this is the first of 8 Pagan holidays throughout the year called Sabbats. Imbolc is a time to acknowledge the First Spark of Spring, the embedded energies that have been sleeping over the winter. The seeds that are underground acknowledge the returning energy and will begin to convert it to life deep within. Underground and unseen by man they will start to make their way to the surface and break through the soil and begin to bud. Even though it is still the dead of winter and feels like winter in most places, the Sun’s energy has been returning ever since the Winter Solstice (longest night of the year, Yule)
On Imbolc we celebrate the first days of Spring, snowdrops and crocuses begin to appear, things become very spring-like with daffodils, daisies and hyacinths coming early. Animals begin to wake from their winter hibernation. Nights get shorter and days will get longer and it will start to get warmer as winter snow and frost begin to thaw.
We celebrate the rebirth of the Goddess on Imbolc after she sacrificed herself on Yule to give birth to the Sun God. Both the God and Goddess are young, the triple Goddess is in her maiden form and gains strength from the earth, while the Sun God will grow in strength over the coming months.
Imbolc is a Celtic fire festival, where in ancient times most towns and villages would build a ceremonial bonfire. The Goddess Brigid the Goddess of fire, healing and fertility is worshiped on this day. The lighting of fires celebrated the increasing power of the Sun. The Goddess Brigid was so much loved by the Celts that when the Christians were converting Pagans they could not change the holiday of Imbolc so the holiday was reformed and renamed to 'Candlemas’ when candles are lit to remember the purification of the Virgin Mary, and they changed the Goddess Brigid into Saint Brigid.
Imbolc is a fire festival it is the ending of Winter and the beginning of Spring. To celebrate Imbolc, light a fire, it may only be a very small one and make wishes for the coming year into the flames. Burn any leftover evergreens that were decorating your home at Yule. Clean your homes of clutter that was gathered over the Yuletide and get rid of the old and bring in the new. Plant seeds for them to bloom in the Spring and Summer. Use a sage smudge stick to cleanse your home of stale or unwanted negative energies.
It was customary to make a Corn Dolly on Imbolc, this represents the Goddess, who will watch over you and your home throughout Spring and Summer. It is also traditional to make a Brigid Cross or Sun Cross on Imbolc, this is a cross woven traditionally from reeds but can be made with anything such as wheat, straw or paper and put them around your home to bring luck and protection for the coming year. Fill your alter with lit candles and leave them to carefully burn through the day. Add any blooming flowers such as daffodils or daisies and anything yellow, orange, gold or silver to honour the Sun God.
Imbolc is a time of contemplation, to think about the year that has past and the mistakes or successes we have had and what we have learned from them to help us achieve our goals, dreams and ambitions for the coming year. As well as planting seeds to grow in the earth also plant seeds and ideas in your mind to grow and blossom over the coming months.
Have a blessed Imbolc, May the God and Goddess watch over you.