Traditions of Imbolc

Imbolc is celebrated by many Pagans around February 2nd. This Sabbat is based in Gaelic-Celtic traditions for marking the halfway point between Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox.

Traditions of Imbolc

Imbolc means 'ewe's milk' or 'in the belly'. It was at this time that newborn lambs were nursing and winter was coming to an end. This was a hint of the changing of the season on the horizon and was observed with hope for the potential the growing Light would bring.

For some, this is also a time of celebration of the Goddess Brighid, Keeper of the Sacred Flame,Guardian of Home and Hearth. Purification and cleaning rituals and activities are lovely ways to honor this deity and prepare for Winter's End or Spring.

Among non-Gaelic Celts, an early version of Imbolc was also celebrated. Celts honored the holy day by singing this poem about a serpent:

Thig an nathair as an toll (The serpent will come from the hole) la donn Bride (on the brown day of Bride (Brighid) Ged robh tri traighean dh’an (though there may be three feet of snow) Air leachd an lair (On the surface of the ground.)

Modern Celebrations

"In modern Paganism, Brighid is viewed as part of the maiden/mother/crone cycle. She walks the earth on the eve of her day, and before going to bed each member of the household should leave a piece of clothing outside for Brighid to bless. Smoor your fire as the last thing you do that night, and rake the ashes smooth. When you get up in the morning, look for a mark on the ashes, a sign that Brighid has passed that way in the night or morning. The clothes are brought inside, and now have powers of healing and protection thanks to Brighid." -Patti Wigington

Imbolc Activities

  1. Craft a corn doll

  2. Make a Brigid's Cross

  3. Spring clean

  4. Make dishes that use milk

  5. Visit a dairy

  6. Make a feast

  7. Light candles

  8. Make an outdoor fire (safely)

  9. Make a fire in your fireplace

  10. Collect water from a well, stream or river and Bless it

  11. Take a cleansing bath

  12. Purify your home- open windows and burn incense

  13. Wash your floors & walls with your holy water

  14. Visit a Rowan Tree and commune with the Tree Spirit

Enjoy the Day

Think about what your Ancestors were doing around this time, wherever they hailed from, without the luxury of modern conveniences like electricity, almanacs, watches, or indoor plumbing. Try meditating on their lives, communicating with them and visualize a day in their life at Imbolc. What were they celebrating, if anything? What were their joys, fears, concerns? What would they have been excited about? Write down what you see, feel or hear during your meditation. If you're inclined, draw what you see and add as much detail as you can.

Then enjoy your day with family, friends or on your own, tuning in to the season and what is happening outside in your backyard and neighborhood. Happy Imbolc!

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