By Isabella @TheWandCarver
Hello, a bit early! Imbolc, of course, is Sunday 2 February. Imbolc or Imbolg, also called [Saint] Brigid’s Day, in which case the day would be called Candlemas [for Christians], [Irish: Lá Fhéile Bríde, Scottish Gaelic: Là Fhèill Brìghde, Manx: Laa’l Breeshey], is a Gaelic traditional festival marking the beginning of spring. The festival/celebration is held about half-way between Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox. Whether Pagan or Christian, the celebration is a celebration of light, leaving the deep darkness of Winter and moving toward Spring. In many places, new signs of life both plant and animal begin to appear already. It is truly a time to celebrate.
To me, Imbolc is the entering of the birth canal, as in a birth about to happen. We theoretically “die” at Samhain, we are also implanted into the “womb” of Yule, and then we begin rebirth in Imbolc to emerge as “new” come Ostara. Symbolically speaking, my point of view does not exactly fit in with the wider Pagan community’s beliefs; in fact, it almost sounds Catholic, but I’m not. Traditionally, Imbolc is the Goddess’s respite after giving birth to the God [Sun] on the Winter Solstice. But, just as Imbolc once symbolised the first day of Spring in Irish Celtic lore, the date is no longer flexible as it once was and is held between 1st and 2nd February. So, I believe the current meaning of Imbolc can be just as much open to interpretation as it is seen or felt by any person.
At this time of the year, we begin to “see the light”, as it were [or, if I may offer a bad pun based on my above theory, “the light at the end of the tunnel” – forgive me]. How might we celebrate such a momentous occasion? Well, you don’t need money, really. Which is a good thing, as most of us aren’t exactly flush.
Most of you own at least a stub of a smudge stick, I’m sure, or some incense. This is a good time of year to smudge your home… cleanse the path to rebirth and protect your space.
Burn candles. If you only have one candle [white or yellow would be best but go with what you have], it is a good day to light it and think about the Goddess Brigid. As it burns, this would be a good time to speak the poem I mention next paragraph.
Clean your altar space and leave offerings for Brigid. You could make a Brigid’s cross for one. Traditionally in the UK, this would be made with wheat. If you have reeds available, you can create them this way. If all else fails, you could draw one on a piece of paper to place on your altar. As Brigid is associated with poetry, perhaps you could write an Imbolc poem dedicated to her. In Wicca, it is also customary to leave grain and milk offering for Brigid on the altar.
Drink a beer! Did you know that St Brigid is the patron saint of brewing? If you’re Irish, you know it. This is not a dig, by the way because I am from some Irish ancestry myself and I do love a pint! 😊
Brigid’s Sacred Correspondences
Animals: Boar, Cow, Fish, Sheep, Snake, Wolf, Bear, Badger, Swan
Trees: Hazel, Oak, Rowan, Willow
Plants: Blackberry, [all] Spring Flowers, Grain and Hops
Symbols: Brigid’s Cross, Flame, Iron, Nine White Stones, Number Eight, Two Crescents
Element: Water, Fire
Astral: Milky Way, The Moon
Imbolc shona daoibh go léir to all, and warmest blessings to all whom this way wander x