Imbolc is from ancient Irish, literally translating as meaning “in the belly”, with some referring to the festival as Oimelc, “ewe’s milk”, as this is the lambing time.
The ancients believed Imbolc (1st February in the Northern Hemisphere, 1st Aug in the Southern) to be a sacred day in the wheel of the year.
The day is dedicated to the Celtic Mother and fire Goddess Brigid/Brigit.
(My watercolour tribute to Goddess Brigid)
Brigid is overseer of smithcraft, inspiration and healing,
often depicted with fire in her hand and fiery red hair.
Imbolc marks the middle of Winter and holds the promise of Spring. with new shoots beginning to appear from the ground.
Ancient Celtic legend says after giving birth at Yule, the Goddess is awakened from her recovery during the dark days of winter by the lengthening days of light. Many candles are lit to encourage the warming of the earth, to celebrate the return of life and the replenished powers of the sun as the Earth returns to the months of Spring. This is a festival of fires and a traditional time for initiations and healing rituals, spiritual purification and dedication.
Februum is a Latin word meaning purification – hence February being the month of cleansing. The beginning of the winter thaw releases the waters (Brigid is also known as the goddess of holy wells). All that was bound is released and flows again.
Simple ways to celebrate Imbolc:
Thoroughly clean your altar and/or spaces dedicated to your spiritual practice and carry out a self purification focusing on the elements:
Earth – Cleanse your body with a salt scrub or bath.
Air – Purify your thoughts by burning your favourite incense.
Spirit – Purify your spiritual body with a chakra meditation or cleanse and balance. Meditate with any healing crystal in your collection. Citrine, amethyst, honey calcite, selenite or clear quartz will work well for this.
Fire – Bless candles that you will be using for rituals throughout the year. I like to use pure handmade beeswax candles from Rainbows End Creations. Ask Brigid for her blessing and creative inspiration as you do so.
Strengthen your will by stating “I can and I will” as you light a candle or light the fire, thinking about all you wish to achieve in the coming months. If using a candle allow it to burn down rather than blow it out if possible, so leave it somewhere safe on a heatproof surface. A tea light is fine and usually lasts 2 to 4 hours.
Water – Clear your emotions. Practising mindfulness and truly being in the present can help with processing and sitting with any difficult emotions. Here’s a helpful free guided meditation.
Making a crystal elixir is also helpful:
Take a bottle or glass of spring water and leave a crystal dedicated to the purpose of emotional cleansing and future emotional maturity and clarity in it. A polished tumblestone of clear quartz or smoky quartz is ideal (don’t use a crystal with raw edges). Leave it in the bottle or glass for an hour or two or overnight on 31st January or 1st of February to truly work its magick.
- Take a walk out in nature and look for the first signs of Spring.
First Flowers of the Year
- Reflect upon and reaffirm any spiritual vows and commitments you have made to your self improvement and progress. Perhaps you’ll make some new ones, how do you wish to evolve spiritually?
(c) Rachel Fowler-Keene 2017