Ways to Celebrate Imbolc

Posted by Janet Blades on



In the space between midwinter and the beginning of spring, nature hangs in the balance, the frozen ground has not yet thawed but the darkest part of the year has passed. Exactly between the winter solstice and spring equinox, this pagan sabbat called Imbolc marks the turning point. The word “Imbolc” means “in the belly,” which brings to mind an animal in the belly of the earth, stirring as it slowly awakens from hibernation. This day is a call to light a fire in the belly, to warm and thaw the spaces that were frozen and dormant.

What Is Imbolc?

Imbolc takes place on the first day of February and is one of the four fire festivals on the pagan Wheel of the Year. Winter is the longest night, spring is when the days and nights are in balance again, and Imbolc is positioned directly in between. It is the time the earth and nature are waking up, and we too are beginning to feel inspired and motivated again as we look for signs of the coming spring.

But with the ground still frozen, we are not yet coming out of our caves, not yet putting plans into action. Imbolc is a time to organize before planting seeds and tends to be a quiet and introspective sabbat. This may be a sabbat you choose to spend completely solitary since it is mostly about inner work and personal reflection, recalculating your life trajectory and making sure you’re heading in the direction of where you want to end up.

The Meaning Of Imbolc 

Imbolc is a time of celebrating the spark of new life within us. At this point in our yearly cycle, we begin to see light and snowmelt returning, and Nature starts growing again; we feel it deep inside, too, in an energetic way. Imbolc is about purification, cleansing, and clearing away stagnation that built up over the winter months.

We begin to sense the potential of warmth and light ahead, which makes our inner fire kindle brighter, too.

Though the Imbolc meaning has a lot to do with new beginnings, Imbolc is ultimately a time to clear out the old and welcome the new. Hibernating animals are starting to wake up, and energetically, so are we!

However, Imbolc tradition states that it is also the celebration of the Goddess recovering from giving birth to the New Year’s Sun God, since Imbolc falls six weeks after the Winter Solstice. 

Despite the fact that this Sabbat falls in one of the coldest months of the year, it is a time when the forces of new life are moving across the globe.

Winter struggles to hold on, but Spring is slowly replacing him with warmth. Seeds are sprouting under the frozen land, and the forces of nature are preparing for the young Sun God to begin spreading his light and warmth soon. This is also a time of new beginnings, so plans are being made for the future.

Imbolc is known as a festival that celebrates the Maiden, since this is when the triple goddess goes back from the Crone to the Maiden, and the cycle of life begins again. In this sense, Imbolc can represent both regeneration and reincarnation.

The goddess Brigid is associated with Imbolc, and she was a triple goddess in ancient times. As well as being the Maiden aspect of this festival, she was also the midwife that presided over births and represented domestic craft.

Herbs such as eyebright, lady’s mantle, and dandelion are said to be sacred to this festival because they grow at this time. Imbolc is also a time for purifying hearth and home, so the people would clean their homes with fresh herbs to attract good luck and good health in the upcoming season.

Honour The Goddess Brigid

Also called Brigid’s Day, Imbolc is the sabbat that honors the goddess Brigid, or in some belief systems, Saint Brigit of Kildare. St. Brigit is suspected to be the goddess made into a Christian saint because, during the Christianization of Ireland, the Celtic pagans did not want to give up honoring this beloved goddess. The pagan symbols for the goddess even carried over to the saint, such as Brigid’s cross and fire, which are both ancient symbols of the sun. There is some debate over whether the Candlemas tradition was derived from Brigid worship, nevertheless, candle magick and fire spells are a great way to honor the fire goddess on this day.

Brigid has a long history of being honored as keeper of the hearth and goddess of fertility and childbearing. She represents the essence of inner dawn and spring yet to come, which is her connection to Imbolc. Brigid was invoked to protect the home from fire, bless farmers with fertile and abundant fields, and protect fishermen on the water. In Kildare, where St. Brigit was said to have founded a convent, there is a holy well dedicated to her said to carry healing powers, although it dates back to pagan times and was most likely originally a sacred site for the goddess Brigid where she tended to her eternal flame. She is a goddess of contradictions, known for health and life but also passion and inspiration, so it only makes sense she is connected to both fire and water.

Goddess Brigid’s Chant

Goddess of fire, keeper of flame, bless us as we call your name Brigid 

Brigid’s Cross

Brigid’s Cross is a symbol of the sun and possibly one of the most ancient symbols of this sabbat. Other names it goes by include Celtic Sun Wheel and Solar Cross. Traditionally, a new cross was hung on the front door each year and the old cross was burned to protect the home from fire. Because of the sun connections, you can infuse it with the intention of inviting back the sun as you weave your cross, and of course, welcoming the sun goddess, Brigid, active in her maiden form on Imbolc.

Even though it already has a long history as a protection symbol, it is a good idea to bless your own after you finish crafting it with protection for your home or wherever you choose to put it and remind your cross what you would like it to do for you.

Brigid Corn Doll

The Brigid corn dolly is a doll made from corn and placed into Brigid’s Bed, discussed below. This dolly is part of a tradition that draws fertility and good fortune into the home.

If you made a “Corn Mother” at Lammas, that dolly can be reused to symbolize Brigid.

This dolly should be dressed in white, red and gold and placed into Brigid’s Bed with a priapic wand, discussed below.

Brigid’s Bed

This bed can be made from a wicker basket or wooden or cardboard box and then decorated with paint, ribbon, flowers, herbs, and essential oils. It symbolizes hospitality towards the goddess of the season and should be left near a hearth fire or on your altar.

Brigid’s bed invites this goddess to stay overnight in your home, and in exchange she blesses your family with fertility and healing. Make sure to place a soft blanket at the bottom before placing the priapic wand and dolly into it!

Once the dolly and wand are placed into the bed, you should chant, “Brigid is Come! Brigid is Welcome!” three times.

Priapic Wands

This is a wand made from fruit wood and wrapped in ribbon. A pine cone is attached at the end. This obvious symbolism represents male fertility. This wand is placed into Brigid’s bed with the dolly to complete the fertility symbolism.

Sacred Flame

Most commonly this season’s sacred fire is the hearth fire, which in ancient times was not allowed to go out at night. The hearth fire is sacred to the goddess of the season, Brigid, and symbolizes the growing power of the Sun.

So few of us have a hearth fire or fireplace in the home, so the sacred fire can come in the form of a long lasting candle left burning in a safe place.


Use Divination For Future Plans


Pyromancy and other divination methods involving candles are great ideas to practice on this candle and fire-centric sabbat. You can combine both of these in a ritual by standing the candle up on a heat-safe plate and dividing the plate in quarters, labeled “yes,” “no,” “maybe,” and “unsure.” If you use a pendulum in your practice, you can ask it to show you how to divide the sections beforehand or use the same key you use for your pendulum.

When you light the candle, ask a straightforward question that requires a yes or no answer. While the candle is burning, dripping wax onto the plate, watch for shapes and movements in the flame, recording what you see and interpreting what it means for you. When the candle is finished, observe in which quarter the majority of the wax drippings fell to determine your answer!

Decorating Your Altar

Because the energy of Imbolc is about making plans but not yet taking action, letting go of old energy that no longer serves you is an important step to include. You can first start by energetically cleansing your altar (and your home too if you feel the need!), and cleaning it physically as well. Some options could be to wipe it down with Florida Water before replacing the cloth and sweeping over it with a besom to move out the stagnant energy.

An easy way to change up your altar for Imbolc is to include lots of candles! These welcome the light and honor the goddess. You can decorate with red candles to further represent the fire element. Cauldrons also represent fire and the hearth, which Brigid keeps and protects.

Since water is also a Brigid correspondence, you can include a bowl of water. If you want to go further with this, you could bless it for healing and charge it under a full moon, or use it for water scrying. Crystals you can decorate your altar with that correspond with Imbolc include amethyst, bloodstone, ruby, garnet, turquoise, and onyx. 

Flowers, of course, make an excellent altar decoration. Snow Drops and other early blooms remind us winter won't last forever. If you live somewhere that spring is already beginning to awaken at this time, you can also decorate with other early signs of spring.

* Mystiques Enchantments Florida Water can be purchased in store & online.  

Imbolc Spell Candle 

It is time to let go of the old and look towards the new! Start by clearing out and making way for new beginnings of spring!
Imbolc, or also commonly known as Festival of Light, Imbolc heralded the return of Nature’s Bounty. It’s the halfway mark between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox.

With the gentle aroma of the forest coming to life.

Imbolc Candle Chant:  

Candle bright
Burning fire
Keep within you
my desire.
Now listen to
the words I speak
And clear a path
To what I seek.
Let my wishes
All come true
As they burn
This night with you.

Blessed Be!

*Mystiques Enchantments Imbolc Spell Candle can be purchased in store & online. 

Candle Ritual


Hundreds of years ago, when our ancestors relied upon the sun as their only source of light, the end of winter was met with much celebration. Although it is still cold in February, often the sun shines brightly above us, and the skies are often crisp and clear. On this evening, when the sun has set once more, call it back by lighting the seven candles of this ritual.

The seven candles in this ritual represent various aspects of both the seasons and the human existence. Several symbolize the light that emerges as winter finally comes to an end, and another represents the purifying warmth of the hearth fires. One candle is symbolic of the barrier between the positive and negative in your life; a boundary of sorts between our world and the next. Another stands in for the magick of wisdom and inspiration, and for the light that comes into our lives when we experience love.

 

Prior to beginning your ritual, take a warm, cleansing bath. While soaking, meditate on the concept of purification.

You will need :

  • Seven candles, in red and white (tealights are perfect for this)
  • Something to light your candles with
  • A large bowl or cauldron big enough to hold the candles
  • Sand or salt to fill the bottom of the bowl/cauldron

Pour the sand or salt into the bowl or cauldron. Place the seven candles into the sand so they won't slide around.

Light the first candle. As you do so, say:

Although it is now dark, I come seeking light.
In the chill of winter, I come seeking life.

Light the second candle, saying:
I call upon fire, that melts the snow and warms the hearth.

I call upon fire, that brings the light and makes new life.
I call upon fire to purify me with your flames.

Light the third candle. Say:

That which is outside, shall stay without.
That which is inside, shall stay within.

Light the fourth candle. Say:

I call upon fire, that melts the snow and warms the hearth.
I call upon fire, that brings the light and makes new life.
I call upon fire to purify me with your flames.

Light the fifth candle, saying:

Like fire, light and love will always grow.
Like fire, wisdom and inspiration will always grow.

Light the sixth candle, and say:

I call upon fire, that melts the snow and warms the hearth.
I call upon fire, that brings the light and makes new life.
I call upon fire to purify me with your flames.

Finally, light the last candle. As you do so, visualise the seven flames coming together as one. As the light builds, see the energy growing in a purifying glow.

Fire of the hearth, blaze of the sun,
cover me in your shining light.
I am awash in your glow, and tonight I am
made pure.

Take a few moments and meditate on the light of your candles. Think about this Sabbat, a time of healing and inspiration and purification. Do you have something damaged that needs to be healed? Are you feeling stagnant, for lack of inspiration? Is there some part of your life that feels toxic or tainted? Visualise the light as a warm, enveloping energy that wraps itself around you, healing your ailments, igniting the spark of creativity, and purifying that which is damaged.

When you are ready, end the ritual. You may choose to follow up with healing Magick.

* Mystiques Enchantments Red & White Spell Candles can be purchased in store & online.

Imbolc House Blessing Ritual  

This is the point in the wheel of the year where the energy supports spring cleaning, both physically and metaphysically. Traditionally homes were whitewashed and swept clear, the hearth was cleansed and fires lit. Performing your own home blessing ritual will help align you to the season and in 2022 will help you stay focused and grounded with health and healing at the forefront of our intentions.

Imbolc Blessing Spray

You will need: 

  • Spray Bottle
  • Distilled Water
  • 2 drops Patchouli (for grounding & protection) Essential Oils
  • 5 drops Rosemary (for cleansing & purification) Essential Oils
  • 3 drops Lavender (for love, peace & happiness) Essential Oils

To perform your ritual, begin outside at the front door. You will start with the front door, then work through each room of your house following a clockwise rotation. As you go, spray a little of your blessing oil on every door frame and windowsill of the house to anoint them. While saying:

Bless this home and all who enter here

May our troubles be less and our blessings be more

and nothing but happiness come through our door

Finish your ritual with a celebration of traditional foods around a candlelit table. 

Blessed Be!

* Mystiques Enchantments Essential Oils can be purchased in store & online. 


Bonfire Ritual

One of the most ancient Imbolc traditions revolves around the outdoor bonfire. Nowadays, this is still a great way to celebrate Imbolc!

The bonfire not only gives strength and warmth both energetically and physically but it’s meant to be a symbol to guide the Sun god back to your area in order to usher in spring.

Imbolc Correspondences

Symbolism: rebirth, purity, new life, light, new beginnings, warmth, growth, renewal, rejuvenation

Symbols: candles, daffodil’s, snow drops, lanterns, acorns, fire, Brigid's cross, acorns, brooms, corn dolls, sun wheels

Colors: white, silver, pale yellow, red, pink, orange, lavender, light green

Food and Drink: bread, cake, milk, spiced wine, cheese, yogurt, herbal teas, fish, white meat, honey cake, muffins

Herbs: angelica, basil, bay, blackberry, chamomile, rosemary, heather, rowan, dill, myrrh, willow.

Deities: Cernunnos, Eros, Osiris, Pan, Athena, Bast, Blaize, Brigid, Ceres, Cerridwen, Venus, Gaia, Demeter, Hestia, Vesta, Cupid

Crystals and Gemstones: amethyst, bloodstone, ruby, turquoise, garnet, onyx

Animals: groundhog, bear, ewe, lamb, stag, robin, owl, dragons, phoenix

Magic: This is the time of awakening as the Wheel turns toward spring. Out with the old and in with the new. Cleansing magic, home blessings, divination, initiation rituals, fertility magic, and self-discovery rituals are perfect for this Sabbat.  Rid your home of stale energy left over from the cold winter. Light candles and hold a bonfire to call forth the Sun and honor the Earth.

Mystiques Enchantments Imbolc Blessing 🔮

As the first shoots of spring push through the ground, your projects begin to bloom and grow. May Goddess Brigid show us inspiration on our path
of continuing growth towards the increasing light.

Blessed Be!  Mys