Pronounced: Im-bulk, Im-molg, or imb-olc
Hope, Renewal, fertility, Purification, Hearth, Home, Return Of The Light
Candlemas Day, Brigid’s Day,
Imbolc celebrates the coming end of Winter and the beginning of the growing cycle in the Northern Hemisphere. The long, cold, dark months are nearly over, and stirrings of Spring can be seen with the slow emergence of animals from their hibernation, smelled in the blooming of daffodils and crocuses and felt with moments of winds seeming warmer with each passing day. Although snow may continue to cover the ground in many regions, the darkest and often harshest part of the cold season is now behind us. This cross-quarter day—midway between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox—is a welcome time for many who eagerly awaited the return of the warmer months. Imbolc, also known as Brighid’s Day, Candlemas, of course even Groundhog’s Day, is celebrated on February 2nd.
It’s time to give thanks for the growing daylight. A celebration of Gods return to power and the Goddess, recovering from giving birth to the God at Yule, is beginning once again to step into her Maiden role. Historically, it was widely observed throughout Ireland, Scotland. It is one of the four Gaelic seasonal festivals, Christians also observe it as the Feast Day of St. Brigid. The concept of purity and purification has long associations with the month of February. The warmth of the growing Sun (Son) begins to cause seeds deep in (and of) the Earth to germinate and sprout, and even though much of this activity is taking place deep within the soil, those who are attuned to Nature’s rhythms can feel the quickening pace of life emerging all around them. The festival was mostly observed in Ireland, Scotland, and the Isle of Man but today it’s popular throughout the world.
Imbolc is a good time to get your life in order – whether physically, mentally, spiritually, emotionally. Make plans, organize, clean out drawers and closets to help create a refreshing sense of bringing in the new and clearing out the old. Preparing yourself and your home now will help to allow you to take full advantage of the wonder, fertility and freedom that Springtime will bring !
This holiday celebrates beginnings and renewal. It is also a time for spring cleaning after being shut indoors and inactive through the winter months. The ability of the Sun to cleanse and purify is is signified and recognized in various ways. Some people light several candles in each room of the house, or, in a more modern version of this tradition, turn on every lamp to energize and cleanse the old energy. Many do spring cleaning and then bless their rooms with sage, palo santo, holy water, tingshaws, etc… Candle colors for Imbolc are typically white or yellow decorations include fresh Spring flowers and besoms (small decorative ritual brooms).
May the stirring of life underground, stir new dreams into life within you.
May the flames of inspiration and new growth be ignited within your Being.”
— IMBOLC BLESSING
Ways To Celebrate Imbolc
- Light a candle – a flame is the traditional symbol of Imbolc, which is a ‘fire’ festival.
- Spring clean your home
- If you have the space outdoors, or making your own apartment garden inside, plant for the coming year and maybe sow a few early seeds. You can start off tomatoes or sweet peas indoors in February.
- Visit a river or stream.
- Take a cleansing bath.
- At sunset, put the lights on in every room in the house to welcome back the sun.
- Host a candlelight dinner.
- Take time to meditate or journal in a candlelit room.
- Take a walk outside and enjoy the lengthening days and appreciate this period of rest for the earth and Mother Nature.
- Spend time with the earth, sky, and sea.
- Recite and write poetry.
- Create a Brigid’s Cross.
- Many magical practitioners take Imbolc off from their day jobs to stay home and clean, organize bills, rearrange the home, and prioritize personal projects.
Imbolc Cleaning With Intention
Imbolc is the time for Spring cleaning. It is time to clear out the dust and cobwebs and prepare our homes, and ourselves, for the activity and growth that come during the spring season.
- Cleanse your Home – Clean windows and mirrors. Sweep down cobwebs and dust under books. Throw away or destroy any old charms, spellwork, etc.. Out with the old….. Dust, polish, under and over. All the small nooks that get neglected with every day cleaning. This is a great time to dig into minimalism and start to toss out and donate things you no longer need. Now, light a smudge stick (palo santo or sage and lavender) and let the smoke reach every corner of your house; behind doors, under furniture, under the bed, etc! Open the windows and wave the smoke outside, taking the negative energy with it. Next, sprinkle holy (blessed) water around.
- Cleanse yourself – Take a ritual bath. Fill the tub with lavender salts or oils. Soak for as long as you like, allowing all negative energy soak away. As the water drains from the tub, visualize it carrying away all the negativity from you, leaving you fresh and clean, psychically as well as physically.
- Give thanks – Spray some lavender oil mist or buy some fresh lavender to fill your home with clean springtime aroma. Burn some *frankincense incense. In your prayer, meditation space, or ritual altar (you can cast a circle if you wish to do so) and think about the areas of your life that you would want to be more calm, peaceful (aka cleaner). Ask your higher power for inspiration in doing so. Or if you prefer, meditate and see and feel what inspiration comes to you during meditation. Think about what you want to gain strength in, in your life. Ask for ideas to create that. Thank your higher power for spending time with you and inspiring you!
- Have a cup of ginger tea and a piece of cinnamon toast with your higher power, goddess, etc as an offering and celebration of spring renewal. If you opened a circle, it can now be closed.
Imbolc Incense Blend for Purification and Protection
- Dried Pine Needles/Evergreen Essential Oil
- Dried Ginger or Oil
- Dried Chamomile
- Dried Rosemary
- Bay Leaf
Mix together in a bowl and burn on a charcoal disc in a heat safe incense bowl. Use a fan or feather to waft the smoke into all corners of a physically cleaned home. As you energetically clear the space with the smoke, repeat “This space is cleared, this space is blessed.”
Candle Magic for Imbolc
Since Brigid is the Goddess of Fire, Imbolc is a great time for candle magic. With an intention in your mind, light your candle and imagine your intentions igniting in the flame of the candle. Burn the candle as long as you wish before blowing it out. As the smoke wafts, imagine your intentions being carried into the Universe. And because we want you to be safe, please remember never to leave burning candles unattended.
Make Your Own Fire Starters
Brighid is a goddess of fire, but sometimes getting a fire lit on a chilly, windy winter evening can be tricky. Put together a batch of simple fire starters to keep on hand, and you’ll be able to get a blaze going at any time!
Egg Carton Fire starters
- Cardboard egg carton
- Parrafin Wax or candle stubs
- Sawdust, wood chips, cotton balls, dryer lint, belly button lint and/or paper towels
- Shove whatever you have on hand in the cups of a cardboard egg carton. Lint, sawdust, wood chips, cotton balls or paper towels.
- Chop your wax up so it will melt more quickly. Melt it in a double boiler or in the microwave.
- Place your egg carton onto a baking sheet lined with tin foil or a surface you can easily scrape wax drips off of.
- Pour wax into each egg carton cup, let them harden and then pull them apart into individual cups.
- Easily lights with one match.
Foods For Imbolc
Now this one is tricky for me. I gave up dairy years ago and Imbolc is all about the dairy. But symbolism is just as meaningful so non-dairy it is! Dairy (particularly cheese, butter, and milk), eggs, baked goods (particularly bread), spiced wines and herbal teas. Blackberry is sacred to Brigid and blackberry pies, jams, jellies and wines are eaten in honor of her.
Honey Cakes (Liebkuchen)
1 cup margarine
1 cup sugar
1 cup honey
1 cup sour milk
2 Tablespoons vinegar
6 cup flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon mace
1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
Prepare sour milk and mix dry ingredients. Set both aside. Cream margarine and sugar, add egg, beat until light. Add honey, sour milk and vinegar. Mix thoroughly. Chill one hour. Roll out to 1/4″ thickness. Cut into 2″x3″ rectangles and place on buttered cookie sheets. Bake at 375° for 6 minutes. Frost with plain vanilla frosting.
* For sour milk, add 1 T. vinegar to 1 c. milk and let stand for 10 minutes.
*Used in religious and spiritual rituals for thousands of years, frankincense is a symbol of holiness and righteousness. Because it is so fragrant when burnt, it was used by ancient people as a religious offering. In Christian symbolism, frankincense can represent Christ’s sacrifice.