Imbolc is one of the eight sabbats of the Celtic year and it falls on or around February 2nd, and while it is all about the first signs of spring, it is very much a women's ritual. It honours Brighid, a goddess who is fiercely protective of women, children and newborns of every kind. In this way she can also breathe life into new projects, and when you consider Beltane is the big fertility festival, if you were lucky enough to conceive that day then Imbolc falls nine months later. Interestingly Brigid was so popular she was incorporated into the Christian pantheon as St. Bridget, the midwife to Mary when she gave birth to Jesus.
I've got to be honest, this is the one sabbat that I struggle with because it seems a bit vague and wishy-washy. Compare it to Ostara which marks the spring equinox, or Beltane which is Mayday; even Lughnasadh marks the bringing in of the harvest. Yet the first signs of spring may have already arrived back in mid January or may not appear until almost March, so I always feel a bit uncertain about this festival.
|My Imbolc basket on the front door|
One of the things to do on Imbolc is a ritual cleansing, and this is what I will do tonight. First I will shower and wash my hair to make sure I am clean, and then I will light candles in my bathroom to represent the growing Sun and its heat which is warming the soil and making it possible for the crops to be sown and for the animals to prepare for birthing their young. Once I am ready I will run a bath and add one of my Ceridwen's Cauldron bath melts which will anoint my skin with citrus, cocoa butter, sandalwood, frankincense, rose, elderflowers, cowslips and daisies, and perform a meditation to prepare my spirit for the growth that is to come.
In the spirit of new beginnings, another ritual involves planting seeds to represent what we want to achieve or gain, and as the seedlings grow so will our projects. I think I will work some magick tonight to help me bring about the transformations I need in my life. This might also be a good time for me to sculpt my goddess figure for my alter as a way of honouring the spark of divine creativity in all of us.
If you are celebrating Imbolc ritually with friends and family, it is important to allow the women to be alone to honour Brighid in their own way and in private; our connection to this goddess can be very complicated but it always runs very deep once we open our souls to her; once this is done the group should then reform and perform the public part of the ritual, however you wish to do that. I'm sorry if I'm being a bit vague there but as I have always worked as a Solitary I'm really not sure what covens or groups might do. See? Even I'm still learning stuff!
If you celebrate Imbolc, let me know in the comments and share what you do, or if you celebrate today I'd love to see some pictures.
Until next time everyone,
Blessed be )0(