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Imbolc

Imbolc

Imbolc, also known as Candlemas and Groundhog's Day, occurs at the beginning of February. It marks the middle of Winter and holds the promise of Spring. The Goddess manifests as the Maiden and Brigid. The Groundhog is a manifestation of the God. Colors are White, and sometimes Red. It is a festival of spiritual purification and dedication. 

Thoroughly clean your altar and/or temple room. Do a self purification rite with Elemental tools -- cleanse your body with salt (Earth), your thoughts with incense (Air), your will with a candle flame (Fire), your emotions with water (Water), and your spiritual body with a healing crystal (Spirit). Bless candles that you will be using for rituals throughout the year. Invoke Brigid for creative inspiration. Take a Nature walk and look for the first signs of Spring. Reflect upon/reaffirm spiritual vows and commitments you have made.

    Also called: Candlemas, Oimelc, Brigid's Day; merged with Lupercalia/Valentines Day 
    dates: February 2, early February 
    colors: white, red 
    tools: candles, seeds, Brigid wheel, milk 
    energy: conception, initiation, inspiration 
    goddesses: Brigid, Maiden 
    gods: Groundhog, other creatures emerging from hibernation; young Sun 
    rituals: creative inspiration, purification, initiation, candle work, house & temple blessings
    customs: lighting candles, seeking omens of Spring, cleaning house, welcoming Brigid

     

    IMBOLC/BRIGID
    February 2nd (fixed)

Imbolc, or the Festival of Brigid, celebrates the growing strength of the God, still in His child form, as well as the return of the Maiden aspect of the Goddess.  As their strength and light grow, we grow with them.  It is a holiday of light and inspiration, a time when our path becomes more fixed, and the seeds that will grow later begin to stir within us.  The Irish celebration of this festival was dedicated to the Goddess Brigid, a triple Goddess who represented inspiration, muse, healing, and the arts.  This holiday also celebrated lambing, and as such the feast of this holiday should contain dairy products if possible.

As with many of the Wiccan Sabbats, Imbolc has made its way into the lives of non-pagans.  The foretelling and omen properties of the holiday gradually evolved into Groundhog Day, the day when the end of winter is foretold by the appearance (or non appearance) of the groundhog.

Appropriate rituals for this holiday include celebrations of the Sun or Brigid and the light and inspiration they provide, as well as initiation and Goddess dedication rituals.  This is an ideal time to divine your future through tarot, runes or trance.  You may also draw upon the growing strength of the Sun to provide inspiration for your growth.  If you need to look into the future or past to aid in your path planning, this is the ideal holiday.  Finally, light and candles should adorn the ritual area--celebrate, the earth will soon awaken from Her winter sleep!

Imbolc/Brigid
Color White or Yellow
Time of Day Sunset
Season Winter
Animals Owl, Sphinx, Snake
Nature The Sun
Properties Fire and Light, Inspiration, Muse, Initiation
Incense/Herb Sage, Heather, or Chamomile
Alter Decorations Candles, Candles, Candles!
Goddess Brigid
God None Specifically Associater

Imbolc

1st February

Alternate Names

Oimelc, Brigantia, Imbolg, Brigid, Feast of Lights, Celtic 'Candle Festival'

Druidic Name

Imbolc

Christian Equivalent

Saint Bridget's (Bride's) Day, Candlemas: the Festival of the Purification of the Virgin (2nd February)

Place in the Natural Cycle

Imbolc (pronounced 'im-molc') is the cross-quarter festival that heralds the start of the spring quarter of the year and the end of the winter quarter. Even though Imbolc occurs at the coldest time of the year, it marks the time at which days become noticeably longer. Oimelc, an alternative name for this festival, means "sheep milk", as this is the lambing season.

Further Details

Imbolc is a festival of waxing light and purification, heralding the potential of spring. It is associated with the Celtic goddess Brid (pronounced 'breed') (also called Bride, Bridhe, Brigid or Bridget). In terms of the Goddess cycle, Imbolc is the point at which the old, winter aspect of the Goddess, the Crone, is transformed into the Maiden (the Virgin Goddess, Brid).

In its Christian form, Imbolc is the Feast of the Purification of the Virgin, in which candles are lit at midnight as a symbol of purification (hence the common name for this day, Candlemas). It celebrates the presentation of the infant Jesus at the temple and the purification of the Virgin Mary. Jewish law dictated that the mother of a male child had to be purified by ritual 40 days after the birth. The Christian Church also appropriated the day more directly, by designating the Goddess Brid as Saint Bridget of Kildare, and recasting her festival day as Saint Bridget's Day. Just as Brid was the Goddess of poetry, healing (particularly midwifery) and smithcraft, so Saint Bridget became the patron saint of these areas.

Imbolc traditions center around light and purification. Candles may be lit in each room of a house to honor the returning sun, or in each window from sundown on Candlemas Eve (February 1st) until dawn. This is an appropriate time to cleanse or bless your house, to seek inspiration, and to purify yourself of limiting thoughts and negative attitudes. Dairy foods are particular appropriate to eat on this festival of calving and lambing.

Imbolc may mean 'in the belly', a reference to the seeds of life ready to stir again in the cold earth, and to the purification of the Maiden so that she may conceive the divine child at the following festival, Ostara.