Imbolc

First thoughts on Imbolc (aka Imbolg, Oimelc) – Stirrings

It is a Greater Sabbat usually celebrated between 1st–3rd February (in the northern hemisphere).  It is the first of three Spring Festivals, the others being Ostara and Beltane.

New shoots breaking through

Imbolc is said to mean in the belly or ewe’s milk, referring to this being the time when the first lambs are born.  Also, the first flowers and crops have pushed through the ground, both being a tangible sign that the year is turning, and Nature is responding to the extra warmth and light that is beginning to be seen and felt at this time of the year.

Sheep and Lambs

The male God as the Sun stands in the North East of the Wheel of the Year, still within the Cone of Darkness/Winter, but facing the East and his strengthening energy and power.  The Goddess is shifting from her Crone aspect to that of the Maiden/Mother.  It is said that if the Cailleach Bheur wants to make the winter longer, she ensures the weather on Imbolc is bright and sunny, so she can gather plenty of firewood.  If the weather on Imbolc is bad, it means the Cailleach is asleep and winter is almost over.

Are you ready to let go of the dark?  Do you feel the pull of proceeding?  Which signs of growth are visible in your life?  What is being set now that will bring you joy and sustain you later in the year?

Second thoughts on Imbolc – Brighid (Bridget)

Some folk, including Hebrideans, say the Cailleach battles with Brighid to end Winter and bring the Spring.   Brighid is patron of Birth, Pregnancy, the Home/Hearth, Domestic and Dairy activities, Smith-craft, Healing and Poetry/Inspiration, a most able, versatile and intelligent woman! 

The Goddess Brighid
The Three-Fold Fire of Brighid
Fire in the forge that shapes and tempers
Fire in the cauldron that nourishes and heals
Fire in the head that incites and inspires

She is a Triple Goddess, sometimes depicted as Maiden, Mother, Crone, but more often as three types of Nurturer (Mother): with a Baby, sheaf of Grain and with a bowl of Food or a Scroll (knowledge).  Brighid, as the Goddess has given birth to the God, who is growing in strength each day.

Made as a Corn Dolly, she was dressed by the women and paraded about the houses before being laid in her marriage bed, next to her Consort depicted by a phallic acorn tipped wand to bring Fertility back to the land.  Christianity ’removed’ her consort when she became St Brigit. After years of successive Popes trying and failing to stop parades with lit candles in Rome at this time, they suggested that everyone enter churches so the priests could bless the candles leading to the festival of Candlemas (Presentation of Christ in the Temple). 

Showing a handmade Corn Doll of the Goddess Brighid
Brighid as a Corn Doll

What is awakening within you?  In your life what needs to be carefully nurtured?  Is your home ready for the new life of spring?  Where do your talents lie, and will you use them?

Third thoughts on Imbolc – Things to do

This is a time of preparation and cleansing, of acknowledging the return of the God, the Light and Life-giving energy of the Sun. We all know about spring cleaning; this is the time for it! 

A house blessing to accompany Imbolc Cleaning and Cleansing:
'May Brigid bless the house wherein you dwell.
Bless every fireside, every wall and door.
Bless every heart that beats beneath its roof.
Bless every hand that toils to bring it joy.
Bless every foot that walks its portals through.
May Brigid bless the house that shelters you.'
~ Trad. (OBOD)

Other Imbolc actions include;

  • Bake Bride’s (Brighid’s) Bannock and share with family/friends
  • Candle Divination
  • Cleanse Tools, Space, Self
  • Leave Food and Drink out for Brighid/Goddess
  • Light a white Candle, asking for Brighid’s Blessing for your home and family, move from room to room with it, then leave it to burn out
  • Make a Corn Dolly
  • Make Brighid’s Cross (Solar Wheel made of straw, willow or wool) for Protection and Blessing and hang in your home
  • Make Dream Pillow
  • Place a White Cloth on a bush overnight (31st Jan) for Brighid to pass over and Bless, which can then be used to cover anyone who is unwell
  • Plan your Garden, Plant Seeds and Tidy your Garden
  • Sow Seeds of New Projects or Ideas and Make Plans
  • Spring Clean/De-clutter your house, mind, behaviour
  • Walk in garden or woods, see the land begin to come back to life and give thanks
  • Watch the Sun travel the sky, rising higher and longer each day
brighid's Cross
Brighid’s Cross

Which will you do?   Which will you avoid?  What else appeals to you?

Associations for Imbolc to include or represent in your sacred space or workings include;
Animals: Bull, Cow, Sheep
Colours: White, Yellow, Light Green, Red
Crystals: Amethyst, Turquoise, Bloodstone
Deities: Athene, Brighid (Brid, Bride, Brigit); Bres, Dagda
Environment: Springs, Wells; Milky Way
Foods: Bread, Cheese, Butter, Milk (Bread Puddings and creamy Soups)
Herbs: Angelica, Basil, Bay, Cinnamon, Heather, Rosemary, Vervain
Incense: Lavender, Myrrh, Vanilla, Violet
Resin: Benzoin, Myrrh
Stones: Citrine, Heliodor, Lodestone, Quartz Clear, Quartz Rose,
Symbols: Acorns, Pinecones, Corn Dollies, Brighid’s Cross, New Flowers, Brooms, Ploughs, Candles, Light
Time: Pre-Dawn
Tree: Ash, Hazel
Magickal Actions include:

Awakening
Cleansing
Crafts
Craftsmanship
Fertility
Fire
Fresh Ideas/Actions
Healing
Hearth/Home
Hope
Inspiration
Memory
Midwifery
Poetry
Preparation
Protection
Smithing
Sovereignty

May the Blessings of Imbolc be Yours!

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