Imbolc was always one of the sabbats when I first started upon my path which didn’t resonate with me nor did it spark any interest within my spirit. I repeatedly skipped over it until I happened upon a video that for some reason really shifted this forgotten sabbat into the forefront for me. Indeed, now I constantly find myself excitedly preparing for this festival of purification and rebirth. I feel it’s one that has slipped into the background for most who simply aren’t certain how to go about celebrating it. This was my problem and hopefully, this post will rectify that for many. This is information I have either gleaned from other sources and compiled or have intuitively decided upon.
Take a moment and let’s imagine: we’ve traveled in time. The winters are harsh and bleak and a good harvest season meant life or death. The food is steadily dwindling, the weather is bitter and cold and yet, despite all of this, you’ve noticed the sun is slowly lingering in the sky but for a moment or two longer. You glance outside and notice a few snowdrops beginning to push their way through the snow. How does that make you feel? You glance up and notice the seagulls are returning and it’s then you realize there are just as many seagulls now as there are blackbirds who have been some of your only animal companions throughout this season. I guarantee one of the feelings you’d be overcome with is relief. Relief as you know spring is coming. It might be a ways off, but sure enough it’ll come.
Very Aquarian sort of energy-the visionary-who can see off and know change is coming. At least, that’s how I understand it and indeed, Imbolc occurs when the sun is in 15 degrees of Aquarius. Typically this is around the 2nd of February and this year this holy day falls upon 1 February 2017. It’s fast approaching and after the revelry of Yule, Christmas, and New Year’s, this sabbat can sneak up on you without much warning! Perhaps, though, that’s because we’ve become to focused and busy on our resolutions and life that we forget to pause and look around at what’s happening in nature. I’ve recently noticed a gathering of seagulls in the Walmart parking lot and laughed because I knew they return near Imbolc. However, I hadn’t realized the date and thought they’d returned a bit too early. Nope. Right on time, as always….or at least where I live at, anyways.
Thinking on seagulls, snow, ice, the cold winter, and snowdrops, it’s easy to figure out the colors for this sabbat which are blue and white. You could say gold or yellow for the sun whose light is slowing returning but green, a deep and dark green, is a traditional color as this is the color of Brigit’s cloak who is honored during this sabbat. One of the other names for this time is St. Brighid’s Day as well as Candlemas. These are the three most popular though there are many others.
Though any Maiden Goddess would be appropriate, and even Mother Goddesses, Brighid is traditionally honored. This made Imbolc also a day I didn’t feel any sort of connection to as I didn’t really follow a Celtic path-though there certainly are Pagans who follow the Wheel of the Year while they walk on different paths. I will do another post on Brighid later, before tomorrow, so you may explore Her a bit more. 🙂 Now, if we look more into what Imbolc means, we find many translate it as “ewe’s milk” since this is when the ewe’s begin lactating which would’ve been a very much welcomed occurrence. Due to the origin of the word, it’s only natural ewes and lambs would be symbols of this sabbat but we also find robins, deer, and burrowing animals. Think-any animals you see at this time of year.
Yes, yes, but what does this sabbat celebrate?! Imbolc marks the halfway mark between the Winter Solstice (Yule) and the Spring Equinox (Ostara). It’s about the returning light, purification, rebirth, and cleansing. This is a good time to make offerings to the Gods. Symbols for this sabbat are candles, The Bride, Burrowing Animals, The Equal-armed cross, spirals, Grain Dolly, Sun Wheels, and Candlewheels. Want to add some kitchen witchery into the mix? Food for this Sabbat are milk, anything dairy, sour cream dishes, spicy food, spiced wine, food with raisins, honey cakes, honey, poultry, pork and lamb.
This is just a brief picture of this exceptionally bright and exciting time. Following is a list of some activities to celebrate as well as a list of my sources. 🙂
- Watch the sun rise and set
- Make Honey Cake
- Cleanse and Dedicate Tools
- Give Offerings
- Perform spells with snow and ice
- Use Candles throughout the home
- Light candles in every room or have the lights on in every room for a few moments to welcome light back
- Visit any magickal wells within your neighborhood
- Research Brighid
- Imbolc by Laura Daligan
- The Witches’ Zodiac-Imbolc
- TipToeChick Imbolc
- Sabbats by Edain McCoy
- The Simple Sabbat by M. Flora Peterson
Brightest of Blessings and Blessed Imbolc,
The Autumn Witch