Imbolc is a pagan sabbat celebrated February 1st to sundown on February 2nd. It dates back to the pre-Christian era of the British Isles. Based on Celtic tradition, Imbolc marks the halfway point between winter solstice, or Yule, and the spring equinox, Ostara. Much like many other pre-Christian holidays, it is a celebration of the changing of seasons. The word Imbolc means “in the belly of the mother,” because it is said that the seeds of Spring are beginning to stir in Mother Earth’s belly.
Imbolc is a festival for the pagan goddess of fire, transformation, fertility & childbirth, education, healing, poetry, crafts, creativity and prophecy: Brigid. She is considered one of the most powerful Celtic gods, appearing to us throughout the year as Mother, Maiden, and Crone in a cycle of life, death, and rebirth. Legend has it, Brigid drank the milk of a magical cow from the spirit world!
Ancient Imbolc traditionally began the night before February 1st, as everyone began preparing their homes for a visit from Brigid. They would craft a doll of the goddess with bundles of oats or wheat straw, which would be put in a dress and placed in a basket overnight. Young girls would then carry the baskets door to door on Imbolc, when gifts are given from family to family. Other traditions included burning lamps or bonfires in tribute to Brigid and feasting.
As Christianity spread, Brigid was adapted into St. Brigid, the patron saint of Irish nuns, newborns, midwives, dairy maids, and cattle. St. Brigid founded a monastery in Kildare, which was also believed to be the former site of a shrine to the Celtic goddess. She was known for her charity for the less fortunate and stories about her healing powers.
Today, Imbolc is recognized by modern day pagans as a holiday celebrating the earliest signs of the spring to come and winter’s end, as well as Brigid. If you’re looking for a couple ways to celebrate Imbolc yourself, keep reading!
1. lighting a bonfire
In honor of Brigid, light a fire, or even just a candle, after sundown to welcome the return of the sun.
2. decorate your altar
Use items to represent the coming of Spring and the things you’re manifesting for the season, such as seeds! Some other items might be milk, corn husk dolls, and candles.
3. feasting with family
What better way to enjoy the beginning of the end of winter than having a delicious meal with your favorite folks gathered around the table?
4. spring cleaning
Get a head start on the hype and kick off your “spring” cleaning season a little early! Start by throwing out old junk you don’t need anymore and clearing clutter.
5. plant the seeds of your manifestations
Get really clear on your focus for the rest of the year. See in your mind’s eye exactly where you want to go.
How will you be celebrating the turn of the seasons today? Share with us in the comments below!
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