Imbolc is celebrated roughly when winter begins to turn to spring. Traditionally it also marked the successful survival of the harsh winter months and the beginning of the agricultural season. The returning sun is welcomed and the Celtic goddess Brigid is honored.
Traditional Lore/Activities 🕯️
Each candle within a household should be lit, if only for a moment, to honor the sun’s return.
If there is still snow on the ground one should draw an image of the sun in it.
Foods Associated with Imbolc 🥐
Sour cream and other dairy dishes.
Foods containing peppers, onions, leeks, shallots, garlic, and chives.
The Wheel of the Year is an annual cycle of seasonal festivals, observed by many modern Pagans. It consists of either four or eight festivals: either the solstices and equinoxes, known as the “quarter days”, or the four midpoints between, known as the “cross quarter days”.
The festivals celebrated by differing sects of modern Paganism can vary considerably in name and date. Observing the cycle of the seasons has been important to many people, both ancient and modern, and many contemporary Pagan festivals are based to varying degrees on folk traditions.
In many traditions of modern Pagan cosmology, all things are considered to be cyclical, with time as a perpetual cycle of growth and retreat tied to the Sun’s annual death and rebirth.
Yule/Winter Solstice: a festival observed by the historical Germanic peoples, later undergoing Christian reformulation resulting in the now better-known Christmastide. A celebration the beginning of longer days, as this is the shortest day of the year in terms of sunlight.
Imbolc: the first cross-quarter day following Midwinter this day falls on the first of February and traditionally marks the first stirrings of spring. It is time for purification and spring cleaning in anticipation of the year’s new life.
For Celtic pagans, the festival is dedicated to the goddess Brigid, daughter of The Dagda and one of the Tuatha Dé Danann.
Among witches reclaiming tradition, this is the time for pledges and dedications for the coming year.
Ostara/Spring Equinox: from this point on, days are longer than the nights. Many mythologies, regard this as the time of rebirth or return for vegetation gods and celebrate the spring equinox as a time of great fertility.
Germanic pagans dedicate the holiday to their fertility goddess, Ostara. She is notably associated with the symbols of the hare and egg. Her Teutonic name may be etymological ancestor of the words east and Easter.
Beltrane: traditionally the first day of summer in Ireland, in Rome the earliest celebrations appeared in pre-Christian times with the festival of Flora, the Roman goddess of flowers, and the Walpurgis Night celebrations of the Germanic countries.
Since the Christianization of Europe, a more secular version of the festival has continued in Europe and America. In this form, it is well known for maypole dancing and the crowning of the Queen of the May.
Litha/Summer Solstice: one of the four solar holidays, and is considered the turning point at which summer reaches its height and the sun shines longest.
Luchnassad/Lammas: It is marked the holiday by baking a figure of the god in bread and eating it, to symbolize the sanctity and importance of the harvest. Celebrations vary, as not all Pagans are Wiccans.
The name Lammas (contraction of loaf mass) implies it is an agrarian-based festival and feast of thanksgiving for grain and bread, which symbolizes the first fruits of the harvest. Christian festivals may incorporate elements from the Pagan Ritual.
Mabon/Autumn Equinox: a Pagan ritual of thanksgiving for the fruits of the earth and a recognition of the need to share them to secure the blessings of the Goddess and the God during the coming winter months. The name Mabon was coined by Aidan Kelly around 1970 as a reference to Mabon ap Modron, a character from Welsh mythology. Among the sabbats, it is the second of the three Pagan harvest festivals, preceded by Lammas / Lughnasadh and followed by Samhain.
Samhain: considered by some as a time to celebrate the lives of those who have passed on, and it often involves paying respect to ancestors, family members, elders of the faith, friends, pets, and other loved ones who have died. In some rituals the spirits of the departed are invited to attend the festivities. It is seen as a festival of darkness, which is balanced at the opposite point of the wheel by the festival of Beltane, which is celebrated as a festival of light and fertility.
Imbolc is upon us! Here’s a handy reference guide of witchy business to get up to.
For me, Imbolc is a great time to celebrate the warmer months coming soon and the return of the sun. Anything with solar or fiery correspondences works well for me around Imbolc, as well as anything having to do with keeping a happy home or inspiring creativity and the arts, since Brigid works with poets and artists often.
Sometimes pagan jams are a bit too folksy or ambient for a gathering. I feel you. I love my ambient folk as much as the next witch but as your prepping the food, gathering the herbs, or post rit as the circle opens and it’s time to just hang skyclad with your coven in the hot tub after your group bathing ritual. You want something that hits a wider variety of musical tastes.
I made this list with the idea that I could listen to it on the lead up to a Sabbat to get pumped and then as the party track list for while we’re doing the stuff before and after circle. Each track is themed for the Sabbat and I tried to hit as many genres as I could.
That said, I can’t know all music. what else belongs on this playlist?
Imbolc/Candlemas (February 2nd in the Northern Hemisphere) is a Gaelic festival to celebrate the first signs of spring. This sabbat is the perfect time for introspection and setting goals as we prepare for the upcoming season. Here is a tarot spread to incorporate into your Imbolc celebration! Enjoy~
1. Seed - What seeds do I need to plant this season?
2. Purification - What needs to be cleared away in order to grow this seed?
3. Spark - What can I do to nurture this seed?
4. Flame - What is the ultimate outcome of the seeds I’ve planted?
Imbolc, the Sabbat marking the halfway point between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Solstice, is a quiet celebration for cleansing and nurturing the soul. Prepare this bath on Imbolc after sunset for a restorative bit of magic (and coincidentally softer skin).
1 cup whole powdered milk
½ cup honey
1/3 cup coconut oil
large pieces of lemon peel
lavender essential oil
clary sage essential oil
Light several white candles while drawing a warm bath. Slowly add the powdered milk, and swirl the water until dissolved. Then add the honey, coconut oil, and lemon peels. Drop in the essential oils in equal amounts.
Upon entering the bath, take a few minutes to center yourself in the water. Think about what issues from the previous calendar year are lingering around in your life that you would like to expel in the months going forward. Visualize the purifying energy of the white, restorative water flowing through your body and preparing you for the year ahead. If you wish for a simple protection measure after leaving the bath, rub a little extra coconut oil onto your skin.