Imbolc is celebrated on the 1st February (Northern Hemisphere)
It’s roots are typically found in ancient Irish traditions. The word Imbolg originates from potentially two words in old Gaelic, ‘I mbolg’ meaning ‘in the belly’ which refers to the pregnancy of ewes, otherwise marking the beginning the lambing season, and possibly the word ‘img-fholc’ which means to wash, or cleanse oneself in a ritual manner, which could be used to symbolically wash away the stresses of the year previous and emerge afresh and new ready to welcome the year with new intentions.
Imbolc marks the beginning of spring and celebrates the reawakening of the earth. It Is known as a cross quarter festival as it sits halfway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. It is one of the 4 Celtic fire festivals and is known as the festival of light. It is a festival that celebrates the lengthening of the day and the promise of warmth and springtime. We can begin to look forward to taking action on the intentions that were set in the new year.
A ritual that has carried on until this day, that most don’t realise its origins, is the annual spring clean! The cleaning of the hearth and home, clearing out the old, letting go of the past. To make room (both physically and spiritually) for new things that are coming your way.
Traditionally at this time we may celebrate by lighting candles, representing the returning light, and any flowers, greenery or seeds available at this time. Sitting by the hearth, feasting, divining and watching for omens that may give indications towards what is instore for the upcoming months as well as visiting wells and leaving offerings.
In the Celtic tradition, the Triple Goddess returns to her Maiden aspect, the virgin. This aspect is often represented by the Goddess Brighid and her energies lie in the realms of inspiration, poetry, divination, the spark of life and keeper of the sacred fire. She preserves tradition through song and poetry which was considered channelled ancestral memory in the Celtic countries. There are many stories and legends from the British Isles where a young maiden (who represents the power of the unconscious and intuition) initiates the young king (who represents the intellect of consciousness) in a deep spiritual, and sexual, experience. This Union sees us connecting our feminine energies of deep inner realms and intuitive guidance with our masculine energy of intellect and the conscious mind so that we can plant the seeds of our desires (goals) and manifest them into reality by using our intellect and conscious mind to put our plans into action.
A myth that has a similar theme at this time of year is Persephone returning from The Underworld (the inner world/subconscious), upon her return, life returns and the earth begins to flourish once again.
Other Goddesses are celebrated at this time such as Freya (Norse), Clotho (Greek), Juno (Roman), Isis (Egyptian) and Minerva (Roman) as they all have corresponding traits to this energy of sexual energy, fertile grounds and imagination, the deep inner subconscious and intuition and fate. Eros (Greek) and Cupid (Roman) were also worshipped at this time for their energy of love and sexuality.
There is a strong association at this time of year with snakes and Kundalini energy. The serpent that rises (up the spine) in sacred and sexual union. The underlying understanding that sexuality and pleasure is a deeply spiritual experience and is a strong fertile and creative force within. The Serpent represents inspiration, aspiration, transformation and healing.
Imbolc energy is that of re-awakening, initiations and inner healing. The solar energy awakens the creative energy within and the lands become increasingly fertile, as does our imagination. We begin again, anew, cleansed of the toxic relationships and situations of the year before and stand in the power of the Maiden’s energy. Full of life, joy and energy, ready to embrace the tasks we set ourselves for the year ahead, planting the seeds and preparing to nurture our dreams into reality. our intent and focus is that of love, pouring the light energy of our heart and harnessing the sexual and fertile energy of abundance into our endeavours.
Ways To Celebrate Imbolc
• Visit Sacred Springs or Wells – honoured as the life-blood of the land. Tend to it by clearing away mess and rubbish from the site, leave offerings such as herbs, incense or burying crystals.
• Create a shrine to a Maiden goddess that resonates with you and leave offerings or do a ritual in honour of your chosen Goddess.
• Create an Imbolc Altar with items that represent the season, typically seeds, bulbs and candles.
• Spring Clean! This process is deeply healing and cleansing at is allows us to reflect on what is no longer needed (both physical and energetically) to allow room for new things to come. This can also apply to relationships (family, friends and work)
• Meditations, poetry and stories, write them, listen to them, read them! Let your mind roam into the realms of imagination and stimulate your creative senses.
• Get Crafty! Create a Brigid’s Cross, a snake stick (serpent or dragon stick are other names), begin to gather seeds and bulbs for your garden or house.
Other Imbolc Associations • Trees - Rowan - - Willow - • Herbs - Heather - - Coltsfoot - - Ginger Root - • Colours - Red - - Orange - - Yellow - - Green - • Essential Oils or Incense - Jasmine - - Rosemary –
- Frankincense - - Cinnamon - • Animals - Deer - - Lambs - - Snakes - • Food - Raisins - - Seeds - - Warm/Spicy Foods -