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Imbolc



When is Imbolc ?

The Pagan holiday of Imbolc begins at sundown on January 31st and lasts until sundown on February 1st.

Imbolc is a fire festival celebrating the halfway point between Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. It also honours the hearth, home, sheep giving milk again, and themes of renewal.

Imbolc is Old Irish meaning in the belly or milking and refers to pregnant ewes (female sheep over 1 year of age) this time of year.

The Spiritual Meaning of Imbolc

There may be snow on the ground and chilly temperatures outside, but you’ll start to notice the light lasts a bit longer each day. You may begin to see the earth awakening and feel it in your soul as well.

The spiritual meaning of Imbolc is transformations, purification, fresh beginnings, and celebrating the return of the light.

Imbolc, in the Celtic seasonal calendar marks the beginning of the lambing season and signals the beginning of Spring and the stirrings of new life. It is Feile Brighde, the 'quickening of the year'. The original word Imbolc means 'in the belly'. All is pregnant and expectant and only just visible. It is the promise of renewal, of hidden potential, of earth awakening and life-force stirring.

It is time to let go of the past and to look to the future, clearing out the old, making space for new beginnings. This can be done in numerous ways, from spring cleaning your home to clearing the mind and heart to allow us to enter into the new cycle.

It's a good time for wish-making or making a dedication.



Imbolc is traditionally the great festival and honouring of the Celtic Goddess Brigid. She is a Goddess of healing, poetry and Smith-craft. She is a Goddess of Fire, of the Sun and of the Hearth. She brings fertility to the land and its people and is closely connected to midwives and new-born babies. She also is known as the Triple Goddess, but at Imbolc she is in her Maiden aspect.


Ideas for Your Imbolc Altar



Decorate your altar with snowdrops, bluebells, swan feathers, a Brigid Cross, Tulips a Bridey Doll, white and green candles.


Make a Brigid Cross



The Brigid’s cross is typically made from reeds with four arms – although some used to have three arms – and propped on top of a doorway or window to ward off evil spirits and protect the house from harm. They are a little piece of magic which honours Brigid



Make A Bridey Doll


You can make a bridey doll from either dried raffia or fabric stuffed with wool, herbs and dried flowers.

To make a simple one with dried raffia – fold the raffia into the arms first and hold in place with elastic bands.

Then push them through another clump of raffia using more elastic bands to make a head, and another band to hold the arms in place and create the skirt.

Snip off any strands that are out of place to tidy it up and place it on display on the mantelpiece.

Some people also add a slip of paper with a prayer or wish for the year, and you can also decorate the doll with beads and ribbons.



Plant Seeds

Seeds are completely magical - pure potential! Plant each one as representing your hopes, ideas and dreams.



Bake A Cake




Traditional foods for the Imbolc celebration include those made with seeds, (to symbolize growth), raisins (a fruit of the Sun God), pork, poultry, or lamb, with sides of potatoes, cabbage, onions, and garlic. Imbolc is the mid-point of the dark half of the year, and though stored foods are running low, it is a celebration of renewal and preparation for Spring.

Ingredients For Imbolc Ritual Cake

  • 13/4 cups all-purpose flour

  • 3/4 cup water

  • 3/4 cup sugar

  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil

  • 2 tbs. poppyseeds

  • 1 tbs. grated lemon peel

  • 1 tsp. baking soda

  • 2 tbs. lemon juice

  • 1/2 tsp. salt

  • powdered sugar

How To Make Imbolc Ritual Cake

This is all done in one pan, so clean up is a breeze! Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix flour, sugar, poppyseeds, baking soda, and salt with a fork in an ungreased 9"x9"x2" baking pan. Stir in the remaining ingredients, except the powdered sugar. Bake 35-40 minutes or until toothpick inserted in centre of cake comes out clean, and the top is golden brown. Remove from oven and cool. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Makes 8 servings.

Light Candles

As part of your celebrations, light candles and make wishes for your family and friends - the simplest form of candle magic. Don't leave burning candles unattended, EVER, and allow them to burn down completely.


Some of the symbols attributed to Brigid are:

The Swan.



The swan mates for life and represents loyalty, fidelity and faithfulness. Swan feathers are a powerful amulet.

The Snowdrop.



The first gift of Spring in the bleakness of Winter.

The Flame.

Imbolc is a Fire Festival and fire of all kinds is associated with Brigid - the fire of creativity, the protective hearth fire, and her fire wheel - the Brigid Cross, which heralds her as a Sun Goddess. Brigid's Cross.

The Serpent.

In Celtic mythology Brigid was associated with an awakening hibernating serpent which emerged from its lair at Imbolc. Traditionally serpents were associated with creativity and inspiration - the powerful Kundalini energy of the Eastern Mysteries. Paths of earth energy were called serpent paths and at Imbolc they are stirred from their slumber.

Sheep.

Brigid's festival is at the beginning of lambing - eat ewe's milk cheese!Imbolc Colours: White and silver for purity, green for the fresh burst of life.

Blackberry:

Sacred to Brigid, the leaves and berries are used to attract prosperity and healing. A Goddess plant, belonging to the planetary sphere of Venus.

Ginger:

Revitalises and stimulates the 'fire within' - helps alignment with the rise of Kundalini serpent energy at this time of year!

Trees of Imbolc

Rowan



Luis, or the Rowan, is the tree usually assigned to this time of year in the Celtic (Ogham) Tree Alphabet. It has long associations with the Maiden aspect of the Triple Goddess. It is also known as the 'Quickening Tree' and is associated with serpents. Traditionally it protects and wards of evil. A sprig of Rowan can be put near the door of your home (we have a whole tree), or a sprig worn for protection. Rowan berries have a tiny five-pointed star on the bottom reminiscent of the pentagram.


Willow



The fourth tree in the Celtic Tree alphabet - S Saille, is also long associated with the Maiden aspect of the Triple Goddess. Willow is the great 'shape shifter' of consciousness and emotion and symbolises feminine energy and the lunar cycle. Its branches are flexible - expressing movement and change rather than resistance. It is a tree of enchantment and dreaming, enhancing the confidence to follow one's intuition, and inspires leaps of imagination.

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