Happy Imbolc to all! As we approach this special time, we anticipate the emergence of new life in the form of buds on trees and sprouts from the soil. Imbolc signifies the start of a new season, when we can bring our ideas and projects into the light and allow them to grow and flourish.
Imbolc is a pagan holiday that runs from February 1 to February 2. With its roots in Celtic tradition, the holiday was intended to mark the midpoint between the winter solstice and the spring equinox in Neolithic Scotland and Ireland. Practitioners of neopagan or pagan-influenced religions, including Wiccans, celebrate this holiday. Imbolc is one of several pre-Christian holidays that celebrate the winter and sunlight while heralding the change of seasons.
The celebration of Imbolc dates back to pre-Christian times in the British Isles. The earliest written mentions of this holiday in Irish literature were found in the 10th century. At that time, Imbolc was associated with ewe’s milk, which had the connotation of purification. It has been speculated that this ritual is linked to sheep’s breeding cycles and the beginning of lactation. The holiday was traditionally aligned with the first day of spring and the concept of rebirth.
Imbolc celebrations include a festival in honor of the pagan goddess Brigid, who was associated with fertility blessings, prophecy, and crafts, particularly poetry. Brigid was worshipped by the Filid, a class of poets and historians amongst the Celts of ancient Ireland and Britain. She was one of the most powerful Celtic gods and was the daughter of the Dagda, the oldest god in the Celtic pantheon Tuatha du Danann. Brigid had two sisters also named Brigid, but these sisters were thought to symbolise different aspects of the same goddess.
Brigid was also a goddess of healing, poetry, and smithcraft. She represented Fire, the Sun, and the Hearth. Goddess Bridget was responsible for bringing fertility to the land and its people and was closely associated with midwives and new-born babies. She brought the news of new life and hope.
As we celebrate the return of spring, we think about what we want to sow in the coming weeks and months. Imbolc can be celebrated with rituals such as lighting candles, burning lamps, and lighting bonfires in tribute to Brigid. You can also make a Brigid straw doll (Brideog), a Brigid cross, or hold a feast and fire to write down your goals for the summer and burn them in a little bonfire. Spring cleaning your home and visiting a stream, river, or well is also an excellent way to celebrate Imbolc.
One great way to honour the goddess Brigid is to turn off all the lights and light one candle, allowing others to light their candles from it. As the room fills with light, it symbolises the return of light from darkness, and how one small light can light up a hundred others. As the new flames take hold, a new breath of hope for the future is kindled.
If you’re looking for ways to celebrate Imbolc, I have created a tarot spread that you can use with yourself or friends. The Ace of Wands or Ace of Cups would be a perfect Tarot card to reflect Brigid. As the days become warmer and longer, our power strengthens, and we plant the seeds for our future growth. This is a time of new beginnings, rebirth, clearing space of the old, and cleansing our homes to rid them of old energy and awaken new vibrations.
*What is thawing for you – The Tower – Old belief systems, how you knew things, are all changing, making way for a fresh start, allowing you to rebuild your future stronger and firmer
*New growth that needs your focus: The hanged man: The time has come to see things from a different perspective. Let go of the old, release what know, & welcome new magic. A deepening sense of your self attracts your new found focus.
*Hope to come -The sun: Happiness, joy and success. These wonderful energies combine for your future to come.
*Changes for the season- The moon: expect the unexpected! Emotions change like the wind! Trust your intuition and pay attention to your dreams
*Imbolc message for you – Judgement: A big decision wakes you up! Your true calling and purpose aligns. A welcome transition for new beginnings.