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.
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.
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 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).
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;
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!