This holiday is especially sacred to the Celtic Fire Goddess, Brigid, patron of smithcraft, healing, midwifery, and poetry. A festival of the hearth and home, and a celebration of the lengthening days and the early signs of spring.
Celebrations often involved divination, candles or a bonfire. Fire and purification were an important part of the Festival and Sabbat. The lighting of candles or fires represented the return of warmth and the increasing power of the Sun over the coming months.
The festival of the Maiden, from February 1st to March 21st, her season to prepare for growth and renewal.
Another name for this holiday is Oimelc, meaning milk of ewes since it is also the traditional lambing season in the old world. 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. The original word Imbolg means ‘in the belly’. All is pregnant and expectant – and only just visible if at all, like the gentle curve of a ‘just-showing’ pregnancy. It is the promise of renewal, of hidden potential, of earth awakening and life-force stirring.
Here is hope. We welcome the growth of the returning light and witness Life’s insatiable appetite for rebirth.
It is time to let go of the past and to look to the future, clearing out the old, making both outer and inner space for new beginnings. This can be done in numerous ways, from spring cleaning your home to clearing the mind and heart to allow inspiration to enter for the new cycle.
(‘Spring cleaning was originally a nature ritual’ – Doreen Valiente).
It’s a good time for wish-making or making a dedication.
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.
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, Light Green, Brown.
Stones of Imbolc:
Amethyst, Bloodstone, Garnet, Ruby, Onyx, Turquoise.
Brighid’s Crosses; fashioned from wheat stalks, 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.
Make a Brigid Cross
Brigid Crosses are traditionally made from reeds but can be made from several alternatives so long as they are pliable. Here in Glastonbury we have often used willow which grows plentifully on the Somerset Levels and also because of its symbolism. It needs a long soaking and is perhaps not the easiest to work with but makes a wonderful cross. Go for a walk, see what you can find in the hedgerows and on the river banks, use straws or even cut long strips of paper.
Begin by bending your reeds and hooking them into each other as in the first figure and follow the diagram. When it is the size you want it to be you will need to tie the four ends, the four quarters – with string, thread, ribbon etc. Decorate the completed cross with ribbons and swan feathers if you have them – whatever is meaningful for you.
Wish to learn more information about all the Sabbats?
or perhaps explore rituals and magick?
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