Celebrated on 1st and 2nd of February, Imbolc is the Sabbat or celebration of the first turn of the wheel of the year, where life is reawakening after the cold, dark winter months, getting ready to spring into action! It also marks the halfway point between the winter solstice and the spring equinox.
The meaning of the old Irish word Imbolc or Imbolg literally means ‘In the belly’, drawing parallels to pregnancy; the pregnant earth just before she’s about to give birth - she is preparing, budding and stirring. Statues and amulets of pregnant women are often used on altars at this time of year. Imbolc is also a traditional and cultural celebration to honour the pagan/celtic goddess Brigid, known as the triple goddess but represented in her maiden form. The goddess of fire, sun, hearth and home, healing and rebirth. She is often pictured pregnant or cradling a hare, representing fertility and holding a torch, representing fire. In Wiccan tradition, she has two sisters, also called Brigid, representing three skills of poetry, healing, and crafting. If you have any statues of a triple goddess, this can be used to represent Brigid.
Brigid was the daughter of an Irish slave and Christian father and was later canonised by the Christian church, creating yet another marriage between Paganism and Christianity. The story tells that Brigid first started weaving a cross from rushes on the floor, when called to the bedside of a dying, pagan chieftain. When he asked what she was doing, she told him the story of Jesus, and he converted before he died.
The St Brigid’s Cross was traditionally hung above the entrances to houses, to invoke the help of St Brigid to ward off disease and fire. To celebrate and as an offering, people made Brigid’s crosses, traditionally from rushes, but straw or strong grasses would also be used. A bowl of milk and oats were also sometimes left as an offering.
Modern Day Imbolc
In modern Imbolc celebrations, lighting candles is often seen as a way of inviting positive energy and inspiration into one’s life. A cross, together with a statuette and a white candle will help evoke the creative arts and to celebrate our connection to nature. It is also a time for ‘Spring Cleaning’, in mind, body, soul and also our material world. It is a time to start afresh, letting go of what no longer serves us. Throwing away or donating old clothes, cleaning the home and starting good habits are all ways to incorporate Imbolc in daily life. On this note, we will light a white candle and ask for cleansing, healing and welcoming creativity and good habits. Either aloud, or within your mind, state what you would like to let go of and/or bring into your life! Imagine your words going into the flame and activating upon reaching it. Pass the light around and enjoy the cleansing, renewing energy that it brings.
An Imbolc Blessing
As we welcome in the first waves of Spring, We celebrate our earth and what nature will bring, The seeds we have sewn will begin to grow, As we tend to our garden, to nurture, to know. We make room for the new by letting go of the old, Letting new shoots emerge, a new story told, Let in the love and let in the light, The new year begins and the future is bright. A time for cleansing, healing and good health, Bring us peace and happiness - the source of true wealth! Awaken Mother Earth! Look forward to Spring! And all the delights that the new year will bring!
Blessed be The Pendle Witch