Imbolc is a pagan festival called a Sabbat which means it is one of the lesser festivals, but still of great significance. It was celebrated by the Ancient Celts and marks a time of light as we herald the start of spring. It is called ‘The Feast of LIghts’ and should be a pretty occasion.
Imbolc is a fire festival and signifies the return of the sun.
It symbolises the ‘quickening of the year’ as earth shows the first stirrings of spring in the womb of Mother Earth. The word ‘i mbolc’ translates to the meaning of ‘in the belly’. It signifies an end to Winter and the spark of life in the belly of the animals, particularly the ewes who bring the spring lambs. Life starts to return again in nature and for man after a long winter. Food will be in abundance again soon. Men pick up arms again, farmers prepare their animals for breeding and the social part of life begins to return.
This festival focuses on light and is a fire festival as it shows the spark of light which pierces the gloom of Winter.
‘When the time for Imbolc shows watch the flowers through the snows’
It is also celebrated by connecting with the Goddess Brigid ( known as Brigid’s day in the Celtic lands). It is said that Brigid was bought up by a wizard and that she has the ability multiply food and drink and help the needy.
In the Ancient Celtic tradition women would dress up and invite the Goddess Brigid in to their homes, they would make crosses of rush or straw. These were placed in the home that night in the hope that the God would come and impregnate Brigid which would bring good and healthy bounty to the crops for the coming year.
There is a Celtic superstition that if the weather is bad on Brigid's day then the summer will be good. The tradition is to visit a well ( there are over 3,000 magical wells in Ireland). At the well people would walk around it and place offerings for the holy well of food and pray for a healthy and good year ahead.
We do seem to have lost many of the traditions fo the lesser sabbats however, we can celebrate in our own way. I like to do the following:
Ways to Celebrate Imbolc on 2. February
1) Light candles in the home to celebrate the return of the light
2) If you can make a cross of straw and lay it in your home and welcome the Goddess Brigid in to your home
3) Ask for a good and healthy year ahead
4) It is also a perfect time for cleansing, a good spring clean of the home will serve well for the coming year.
5) Take time to give thanks for the winter and what it provided for you. Give thanks for the abundance and harvest to come in the following months. Gratitude is very powerful. If you do nothing else just do this and acknowledge the traditions of the ancients to keep them alive in someway.
Many Blessing & A Happy Imbolc Celebration
Louisa Marie Sullivan