Imbolc/g is an ancient Celtic/Pagan holiday celebrating the very first whispers of new life and the earliest breaths of spring in the Northern Hemisphere. Even though there may still be snow on the ground where you are, even if it’s freezing cold outside, we are beginning to feel the very earliest hints of spring rising within us and the Earth begins to wake from her winter slumber. Also called 'The Quickening' Imbolc is a time to celebrate the stirrings of new life and fertility upon the earth.
Imbolc marks the halfway point between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox and is most closely associated with the Celtic Goddess Brigid, who was celebrated as the goddess of learning, healing, the smitharts/craftsman and fertility. During Imbolc, Brigid would be celebrated in her Maiden form and offerings would be left to please her and bless the incoming harvest season.
Imbolc (pronounced Em-bowel-k) meaning 'In the Belly' is a not-so-subtle reference to the beginnings of fertility blossoming and the first whispers of a new harvest season. Imbolc is generally celebrated on February 1, though some people opt to celebrate it closer to February 5th, when the sun reaches the exact astronomical midpoint of 15 degrees Aquarius or on the second full moon after the Winter Solstice. Customs of the time would include leaving offerings to the Goddess, to the spirits of the land and water, blessings of fertility and of pregnancies soon to be birthed.
Now is a potent time in the great Wheel of the Year to begin to gently encourage the germination of winter seeds that have been rooted into the fertile earth. Imbolc is considered the beginning of the great thawing of the earth as the sun begins to gentle shine upon the land again and the ice begins to melt leaving a soft and fertile land beneath. A time of new beginnings and new ideas beginning to grow.
Some ritual ideas for this upcoming Imbolc;
Make a Brigid's Cross (image above). Originally woven from willow or rush - a Brigid's Cross is a traditional offering woven on the annual Imbolc feast. This could be a nice activity to do with children or as a family on the day of Imbolc. Weaving offerings for the goddess Brigid was said to bring blessings and luck to the family home through the year.
Light candles around the home. As Goddess Brigid was the representative of home, hearth, fertility and fire a beautiful devotion to her energy would be to light a fire or burn candles. Try carving intentional words into your candles before you light them and using them as a magical moment to send your intentions out into the universe.
Start your Spring cleaning! Following the thawing of the Earth and the beginnings of Spring now is a potent time to begin cleaning out the old and making way for the new. Spring cleaning allows us to wipe away old energy and throw open the windows to allow new energy to flow in.
Take a cleansing bath. Just as Spring cleaning can clear out old energy from your home, taking a ritual bath can help you release old, stagnant energy from your body. Pour a steaming hot bath and try adding herbs like rosemary, chamomile, Angelica or rose petals as well as a healthy serving of mineral salt and get in the soak.