Imbolc-Everything you need to know

Imbloc – February 2nd

Pronounced: EE-Molc

This holiday is also known as Candlemas, or Brigid’s (pronounced BREED) Day. One of the 4 Celtic “Fire Festivals. Commemorates the changing of the Goddess from the Crone to the Maiden. Celebrates the first signs of Spring. Also called “Imbolc” (the old Celtic name).

Candlemas Day is the first of the three fertility festivals (Imbolg, Ostara and Bealtaine). The first of the four Celtic Fire festivals (Imbolg, Bealtaine, Lughnassadh and Samhain). It stands for new growth and new beginnings. The spark of Yule becomes the seed of Imbolg. Ritual tools, particularly metal ones are cleaned and re-consecrated. Thorough house cleaning done, particularly of the hearth and areas where the fire is built. It is also a time to purify your body and soul. Take a bath in lavender, white sage, rosemary and hyssop for example.

This is the seasonal change where the first signs of spring and the return of the sun are noted, i.e. the first sprouting of leaves, the sprouting of the Crocus flowers etc. In other words, it is the festival commemorating the successful passing of winter and the beginning of the agricultural year. This Festival also marks the transition point of the threefold Goddess energies from those of Crone to Maiden.

 

It is the day that we celebrate the passing of Winter and make way for Spring. It is the day we honor the rebirth of the Sun and we may visualize the baby sun nursing from the Goddess’s breast. It is also a day of celebrating the Celtic Goddess Brigid. Brigid is the Goddess of Poetry, Healing, Smithcraft, and Midwifery. If you can make it with your hands, Brigid rules it. She is a triple Goddess, so we honour her in all her aspects. This is a time for communing with her, and tending the lighting of her sacred flame. At this time of year, Wiccans will light multiple candles, white for Brigid, for the god usually yellow or red, to remind us of the passing of winter and the entrance into spring, the time of the Sun. This is a good time for initiations, be they into covens or self-initiations.

Imbolc (February 2) marks the recovery of the Goddess after giving birth to the God. The lengthening periods of light awaken Her. The God is a young, lusty boy, but His power is felt in the longer days. The warmth fertilizes the Earth (the Goddess), and causes seeds to germinate and sprout. And so the earliest beginnings of Spring occur.

This is a Sabbat of purification after the shut-in life of Winter, through the renewing power of the Sun. It is also a festival of light and of fertility, once marked in Europe with huge blazes, torches and fire in every form. Fire here represents our own illumination and inspiration as much as light and warmth. Imbolc is also known as Feast of Torches, Oimelc, Lupercalia, Feast of Pan, Snowdrop Festival, Feast of the Waxing Light, Brighid’s Day, and probably by many other names. Some female Witches follow the old Scandinavian custom of wearing crowns of lit candles, but many more carry tapers during their invocations.

 

IMBOLC LORE

It is traditional upon Imbolc, at sunset or just after ritual, to light every lamp in the house – if only for a few moments. Or, light candles in each room in honour of the Sun’s rebirth. Alternately, light a kerosene lamp with a red chimney and place this in a prominent part of the home or in a window.

If snow lies on the ground outside, walk in it for a moment, recalling the warmth of summer. With your projective hand, trace an image of the Sun on the snow.

Foods appropriate to eat on this day include those from the dairy, since Imbolc marks the festival of calving. Sour cream dishes are fine. Spicy and full-bodied foods in honor of the Sun are equally attuned. Curries and all dishes made with peppers, onions, leeks, shallots, garlic or chives are appropriate. Spiced wines and dishes containing raisins – all foods symbolic of the Sun – are also traditional.

Ritual for Imbolc/Candlemas

Supplies: Symbol of the season, such as a white flower, snow in a crystal container, also needed, an orange candle anointed with cinnamon, frankincense or rosemary oil (unlit), red candle to represent the elements, and your ritual supplies.

Arrange the altar, light the candles and censer, and cast the Circle.

Invoke the Goddess and God.

Say such words as the following:

“This is the time of the feast of torches,

When every lamp blazes and shines

To welcome the rebirth of the God.

I/we celebrate the Goddess,

I/we celebrate the God;

All the Earth celebrates

Beneath its mantle of sleep.”

Light the orange taper from the red candle on the altar. Slowly walk the circle clockwise, bearing the candle before you. Say these or similar words:

“All the land is wrapped in winter.

The air is chilled and

Frost envelopes the Earth.

But Lord of the Sun,

Horned One of animals and wild places,

Unseen you have been reborn

Of the gracious Mother Goddess,

Lady of all fertility.

Hail Great God!

Hail and welcome!”

Stop before the altar, holding aloft the candle. Gaze at its flame. Visualize your life blossoming with creativity, with renewed energy and strength.

If you need to look into the future or past, now is an ideal time.

Works of magic, if necessary, may follow.

Celebrate the Simple Feast.

Thank the Goddess and God.

Release the Circle.

Imbolic is  a Gaelic festival marking the beginning of spring. Most commonly it is held on 31 January–1 February, or halfway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. It is one of the four Gaelic seasonal festivals, along with Beltane, Lughnasadh and Samhain.[It was observed in Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man. Kindred festivals were held at the same time of year in other Celtic lands.

Imbolc is mentioned in some of the earliest Irish literature and it is associated with important events in Irish mythology. It has been suggested that it was originally a pagan festival associated with the goddess Brighid and that it was Christianized as a festival of Saint Brighid, who herself is thought to be a Christianization of the goddess. At Imbolc, Brighid’s crosses were made and a doll-like figure of Brighid, called a Brídeóg, would be carried from house-to-house. Brighid was said to visit one’s home at Imbolc. To receive her blessings, people would make a bed for Brighid and leave her food and drink, while items of clothing would be left outside for her to bless. Brighid was also invoked to protect livestock. Holy wells were visited and it was also a time for divination.

All about this day:

This holiday is also known as Candlemas, or Brigid’s (pronounced BREED) Day. One of the 4 Celtic “Fire Festivals. Commemorates the changing of the Goddess from the Crone to the Maiden. Celebrates the first signs of Spring. Also called “Imbolc” (the old Celtic name).

Candlemas Day is the first of the three fertility festivals (Imbolg, Ostara and Bealtaine). The first of the four Celtic Fire festivals (Imbolg, Bealtaine, Lughnassadh and Samhain). It stands for new growth and new beginnings. The spark of Yule becomes the seed of Imbolg. Ritual tools, particularly metal ones are cleaned and re-consecrated. Thorough house cleaning done, particularly of the hearth and areas where the fire is built. It is also a time to purify your body and soul. Take a bath in lavender, white sage, rosemary and hyssop for example.

This is the seasonal change where the first signs of spring and the return of the sun are noted, i.e. the first sprouting of leaves, the sprouting of the Crocus flowers etc. In other words, it is the festival commemorating the successful passing of winter and the beginning of the agricultural year. This Festival also marks the transition point of the threefold Goddess energies from those of Crone to Maiden.

 

Candlemas day,or Imbolc, is one of the Wicca holidays. Learn Witchcraft history and the Wicca Goddesses associated with this Sabbat

Understanding the sabbats is an important part of understanding basic wicca beliefs because they provide connection to the rhythm of the Earth.

The most important thing to remember during Candlemas Day is that you hold within you a divine spark. A sacred fire whose ember has been tended throughout the dark days leading up to Winter solstice and is steadily burning brighter. This festival honors that space in you.

HIstory of Imbolc in different Cultures :

 

Wiccans

Candlemas Day is the first of the three fertility festivals (Imbolg, Ostara and Bealtaine). The first of the four Celtic Fire festivals (Imbolg, Bealtaine, Lughnassadh and Samhain). It stands for new growth and new beginnings. The spark of Yule becomes the seed of Imbolg. Ritual tools, particularly metal ones are cleaned and re-consecrated. Thorough house cleaning done, particularly of the hearth and areas where the fire is built. It is also a time to purify your body and soul. Take a bath in lavender, white sage, rosemary and hyssop for example.

Spells are done for the gathering of inspiration, to release the old so that the new can enter, to create and/or increase love and warmth in a household / relationship /family, to create prosperity and to welcome personal growth. It is a time for inner reflection, meditation, divination, and/or journaling. Candlemas Day, or Imbolc, is a time to reflect and evaluate your life and to plan how you can achieve your dreams.

View Candlemas day as a mini-initiation. It is a reminder of the potential in each of us and the light we can bring to the world. Honor the spark of the Goddess/God within ourselves.

Greece

Considered one of the lesser Eleusinian Mysteries. The Great Dionyseia. Originally celebrated from Aquarius New Moon to the Full Moon, but was later fixed from Feb. 1 to Feb. 14. Candlemas Day, or Imbolc, began by enacting the rising of Dionysos from the underworld where he spent the cold months of the year as the aged Hades/Plouton. He then begins his growth from a boy into the god of wine, sex, dance and all ecstatic experiences. His rites climaxed on the day that doves were seen to mate for life, Feb. 14. Greeks also held a celebration for the return of Demeter’s daughter, Persephone, from the Underworld. Persephone brings along the Goddess Hekate and the spirits of the dead chosen to reincarnate with her.

Roman

Known as Februarius mensis – “The month of ritual purification.” Jan. 31 – Feb. 2 = Februalia Dedicated to Vesta (the Shining One) – the Goddess of fire and the hearth. Feb. 1 – Honors Juno Sospita who is depicted as a fierce warrior with a goatskin helmet who could throw lightning bolts. This is the first of the three Juno celebrations and is the “spark,” the lightning bolt, the catalyst in the darkness under the earth.

Egyptian

Feast of Isis – The mother Goddess and patroness of magic and healing.

Celts – Oimelc

“Ewe’s Milk.” The word “Imbolg” means “in the belly.” The time of the year when the ewes first began to lactate for their new lambs. An emphasis was placed on the fact that the light was returning; you could visible see that the length of the day was increasing.

There was a 12 day festival which began on Jan. 23 and ran through Feb. 3. On the 23rd, thanks and praise were given to the Wise Woman as the protector of the eternal life flame of the world and the bringer of light to those who mastered augury and prophecy and the arts of plant, stone and star lore. Nine days later (1 for each day/month of a woman’s pregnancy), came Imbolg.

On the 31st of Jan., Hecate/the Moon was worshiped as the purifier and destroyer. She was asked to cleanse all negative fear-inducing emotions from the supplicant. The home was also cleansed. Feb. 1 was then the day of renewal. Spiral and swastika shapes were woven from reeds as signs of new life and of the sun. New hearth fires were laid and blessed. Candlemas Day, Feb. 2, was a time to have fun and drive the dark forces away from the home and village.

Ireland/ Northern England

Feb. 1 – Wives Feast / Wives Feast Day. Women are honored as the preservers of the home and community. Dinner is prepared for them and presents of household gifts are given to them. This has a fire theme as women are the keepers of the hearth and thus the home. Feb. 1 and/or 2 – Feast Day of St. Brigid. The home and hearth are cleaned and blessed, a new fire is kindled, offerings of reparation are given and peace is made.

Christians

Feb. 2 – Candlemas Day. As Imbolg and Juno Februata were important to the Pagans, these ways had to be changed and incorporated into “proper” Christian beliefs and traditions. Pope Sergius proclaimed that this become the Feast of the Purification of the Virgin. This date occurred 40 days after the birth of Christ and thus by Jewish law the woman who gave birth to a sun was cleansed by this time after the birth process. (If it was a girl, the time would have been 80 days.) It was also the day that Mary took Jesus to the temple where it was prophesied he would become the light of the world. It became the mass where the candles of the church and home a blessed.

Brigit

Christianized Spelling – Brigid (pronounced Bree – id) Feb. 1 – Feast day Name translates as “fiery arrow,” “bright arrow,” or “bright one.” Brigit is the Triple Goddess form; Brigantia (“High One”) is the single Goddess form. She is a member of the Tuatha de Danaan. Her mother is usually given as Boann and her father as Dagda.There are a few accounts of Dagda playing the part of her husband. In some accounts she is the daughter of Lir. In a few accounts she is a merger of Pallas and Athena. Her lover is Bres and her son is Ruadan.

She is compared to the Greek Goddess Juno with some of the additional traits of Heckette, Hestia and Artamus. She is also compared to the Roman Goddess Minerva with traits of Vesta, Victory and Diana. You will also find that some incorporate her Celtic traits with those of Solis (that is also the Roman Goddess Aquae Solis).

Especially sacred places for her are places where three streams come together. She is known in the Celtic Goddess form; Calliach. Here she may be seen as a triple Goddess as Calliach (in beautiful maiden form), Brigit (as the mother form) and Calliach (as the ugly crone form). She may also appear as only a dual Goddess, the two faces of Calliach (maiden and crone). In this dual aspect she is similar to the pair of Greek Goddesses represented by Demeter and Persephone.

Candlemas Day or Imbolg Activities

Make a “corn dolly”

This is to represent Brigit to watch and guide your festivities. Should be made from the long stems and intact heads of oat, rye, wheat or wild grass. Dress her mainly in white with decorations, jewelry or belt of red. (Red and white are the colors of the day.)

Build Brigit’s Bed

This is for fertility, blessing and healing. Build anywhere from size to fit corn dolly to full sized. Lay in warmest corner of house or by hearth.

Make birch wand

Top it with a pine cone and wrap it at the juncture with red ribbon. (Phallus symbol of God.) Place this next to or in bed, beside corn dolly, when you retire. It will be for Her use, if she so chooses.

Lay a good fire

Keep it burning all night long. If you do not have a fireplace, keep a candle burning all night long. (Be extra careful here. A votive candle inside a glass globe out of the way of pets is reasonably safe. You may put a pillar candle on a large plate, again out of the way of pets. Be sure if either is tipped over or “blows up” it will not catch anything near it on fire.)

Horseshoes

If you have horseshoes hung for luck, they should be taken down and put in the fireplace overnight. This will cleanse them and recharge them for the entire year. Be sure to handle them carefully on Candlemas day and be sure they are cool before re-hanging.

Make Brigit Cross or Sun Wheel

Use stems/heads of dolly material. These will be hung around the house and property where you need the most luck and/or protection.

Leave Brigit a gift of food

Do this at night before you go to bed. Be sure you put a light in the window so She knows you are leaving the gift and are welcoming her. Food should be milk with bread, buttered toast or cake. It would also be nice to leave a small bowl of hay, grass or corn for Her cow which often accompanies Her in Her travels. You may also make an offering of a bit of milk splashed on your threshold. You can also take a piece of bread and throw it down hard onto the threshold (driving away hunger; give to birds afterward).

Invite an Elder Lady

Have Her over for a Candlesmas Day dinner.

Brigit’s Mantel

Leave a piece of material outside your door at sundown.(Preferably white, green or blue in color.) Collect this material at or shortly after dawn. This forms Brigit’s Mantle which She will give powers for healing and protection to. The Mantle is especially helpful for animals. You can reuse/renew the Mantle each year.

Burn any remaining Christmas/Yule greens.

This is done so that there will be no hauntings for the year and to let go of the old year and make way for the new. If you are not going to reuse the corn dolly you made at Lughnassadh for your Brigit corn dolly, it should be burnt now.

Burn any old Brigit’s Crosses

Find these around your house. You will make new ones to replace them.

Wiccan spells

Do protection magick now.

On Candlemas day, today known in the secular world as Ground hog day, go outside and see if you see your shadow that is cast by the sun. If you do, it means more weeks of tough winter ahead. If not, it means that the worst of winter is coming to an end soon. As an alternative, if you don’t want to play the part of a rodent (hedgehog or Punxsutawney Phil), try listening to see if you hear the sound of a lark, robin or thrush. If you do, it’s just like no shadow; winter will be ending soon.

Imbolc Correspondences

Other Names:

Imbolc, Oimelc, Candlemas, Disting-tid, Feast of Brigid, Festival of Light, Feast of the Virgin, Festival of Milk Anagantios, Feast Day of St. Blaize, St. Bridget’s Day, Candlelaria

Symbols:

Candles, The Bride, Burrowing Animals, Grain Dolly, Sun Wheels, Corn Dolly, Besom/broom, Spring Flowers

Colors:

White, Yellow, Pink, Orange, Red

Activities:

Candle Lighting, Gathering Stones, Searching for signs of Spring

Animals:

Robin, Burrowing Animals, Sheep, Lamb, Dragon, Deer

Insense:

Rosemary, Frankincense, Myrrh, Cinnamon, hyssop

Stones:

Turquoise, Amethyst

Foods:

Milk, Honey, Poultry, Pork, Lamb

Plants & Meaning:

Evergreen – Honor of the Virgin Goddess

Willow – First signs of returning life

Rosemary, Clover, Dill

Attunement Teas (Individually or Blended):

Chamomile, Red Clover, Rosemary, Blackberry

Ritual Oils:

Jasmine, Apricot, Carnation, Sweet Pea, Neroli, Olive

Mythical Creatures:

Firebird, Dragon, Berometz

Key Action(s):

Plan and prepare

The Goddess at Imbolg

The Goddess has given birth to the God and has Herself been rejuvenated. She is now the young child Goddess, the Virgin Goddess. Hers is also a time of growth and exploration and a heralding of the awakening of the Earth from the time of sleep.

All Virgin Goddesses

All Flame Goddesses

Anu (Irish)

Aradia (Tuscan)

Arachne (Greek)

Arani (Aryan)

Arianhrod (Welsh)

Artio (Gaulish)

Athena (Greek)

Atta (Arabic)

Audhumla (Teutonic)

Blaize (Breton)

Branwen (Manx-Welsh)

Brigid/Brid (Irish)

Brynhid (Teutonic)

Cardea (Roman)

Dahud (Breton-Cornish)

Februa (Roman)

Frimia (Teutonic)

Gaia (Greek)

Inanna (Sumerian)

Kebehut (Egyptian)

Laufey (Teutonic)

Lucina (Roman-Norse)

Selene (Greek)

Triduana (Scottish)

Vesta (Roman)

The God at Imbolg

The God young, growing and energetic at this time of year. He is the curious, active child. His days on the Earth are just begun. As the daylight hours lengthen, His powers grow and spring is on its way.

All Dragon-headed Gods

All Flame Gods

Bannik (Slavic)

Braggi (Norse)

Cupid/Eros (Greco-Roman)

Dainichi (Japanese)

Diancecht (Irish)

Dumuzi (Sumerian)

Essus (Gaulish)

Februus (Roman)

Pax (Roman)

Trusto (Teutonic)

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