What is Imbolc?
Imbolc (Imbolg)The name Imbolc comes from the Old Irish word Oimelc, "ewe's milk" or "in the belly", 'the time the sheep's milk comes'. This day is also called Candlemas, St Bride's Day, or Brigid's (pronounced BREED) Day. At this stage, the Goddess is changing from Crone to Maiden. It is the Feast of Bride and the celebration of the first signs of Spring. We are successful passing through winter and into the beginning of the agricultural year.
The Celtic Goddess Brigid is the Goddess of Poetry, Healing, Smithcraft, and Midwifery. If you can make it with your hands, Brigid rules it. She is a triple Goddess, so we honor her in all her aspects. This is a time for communing with her and tending the lighting of her sacred flame.
To the Romans, this time of year halfway between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox was the season of the Lupercalia. For them, it was a purification ritual held on February 15. A goat was sacrificed, and its hide made into a scourge for blessings. Half-dressed men ran through the city, waving bits of goat hide at people on the streets. Those who were struck considered themselves fortunate indeed. This is one of the few Roman celebrations that is not associated with a particular temple or deity. Instead, it focuses on the founding of the city of Rome, by twins Romulus and Remus, who were suckled by a she-wolf in a cave known as the "Lupercale."
The ancient Egyptians celebrated this time of year as the Feast of Nut, for her birthday falls on February 2. According to the Book of the Dead, Nut was seen as a mother-figure to the sun god Ra.
This is a time to start planning for the year ahead. What is it that you wish to accomplish by years end? Bride's Fire represents our own illumination and inspiration as much as light and warmth. Imbolc is also known as Feast of Torches, Oimelc, Lupercalia, Feast of Pan, Snowdrop Festival, Feast of the Waxing Light, Brighid's Day, and probably by many other names. Some female Witches follow the old Scandinavian custom of wearing crowns of lit candles, but many more carry tapers during their invocations.
The symbolism of Imbolc:
Awaking from slumber, rebirth of self, brighter warmer days ahead.
Symbols of Imbolc:
White flowers, marigolds, plum blossoms, daffodils, Brigid wheel, Brigid’s cross, candles, grain/seed for blessing, red candle in a cauldron full of earth, doll, Bride’s Bed; the Bride, broom, milk, birchwood, evergreens, homemade besom of dried broom, orange candle anointed in oil can be used to symbolize the renewing energy of the Sun’s rebirth.
Animals of Imbolc:
Firebird, dragon, groundhog, deer, burrowing animals, ewes,
robin, sheep, lamb, other creatures waking from hibernation
Herbs and Flowers of Imbolc:
Angelica, basil, bay, benzoin, celandine, clover, heather, myrrh, all yellow flowers, willow
Foods of Imbolc:
Dairy, spicy foods, raisins, pumpkin, sesame & sunflower seeds, poppyseed bread/cake, honey cake, pancakes, waffles, herbal tea
Incenses and oils of Imbolc:
Jasmine, rosemary, frankincense, cinnamon, neroli, musk, olive, sweet pea, basil, myrrh, wisteria, apricot, carnation
Colors of Imbolc:
Brown, pink, red, orange, white, lavender, pale yellow, silver, green, blue
Stones of Imbolc:
Amethyst, garnet, onyx, turquoise
Activities of Imbolc:
Lighting candles, seeking omens of Spring, storytelling, cleaning house, bonfires, indoor planting, stone collecting, candle kept burning dusk till dawn; hearth re-lighting
Spellworkings of Imbolc:
Cleansing; purification, renewal, creative inspiration, purification, initiation, candle work, house & temple blessings, welcoming Brigid, feast of milk & bread
Deities of Imbolc:
Goddesses- Aradia, Athena, Bast, Blaize, Brigid/Brighid, Ceres, Cerridwen, Demeter, Gaia, Hestia, Venus, Vesta.
Gods- Cernunnos, Eros, Herne, Osiris, Pan.