Imbolc Sabbat Brigid Goddess

IMBOLC: The Sabbat Fire Festival of Light to Come

How would you describe Imbolc? I would say ‘the light at the end of the tunnel’ is the perfect metaphor for this beautiful Sabbat. If you are looking for inspiration to honor Imbolc or, you just want to know a little bit more about it, this article will assist you in doing just that. It’s time once again, to celebrate the seasonal rites, mark the cornerstone of our Wheel of the Year. Let’s embrace this gift, another moment in time, to welcome the change of energy and better attune ourselves to the season we are in. Brighter days are coming, new life is stirring and awakening just like we are as we emerge from our winter slumber. Imbloc, a time of introspection and planning for the future, with fertility and change at the heart of this celebration.

Wheel of the Year

Note: Some Wiccans bless candles at Imbolc while other neo-pagans declare Imbolc to be irrelevant to them and their practices.

The first sign of spring always refreshes the soul doesn’t it? Do daffodils spring to mind lol. Did you know that theses beauts are capable of pushing up even if there is still snow on the ground, inspiring us with their beautiful, bright yellow and green. Everything is reawakening, plants, animal, even us! What a sleepy Sabbat Imbolc is! Lets celebrate renewal and purification as the new season of growth begins.

What is Imbolc?

Imbolc is the Sabbat that is halfway between the winter solstice of Yule and the spring equinox known as Ostara. It is also known by a few other names, which are: Imbolg, Oimelc, and the Feast of St. Brigid. Basically, Imbolc marks the turning point where we start to forget the cold, dark depths of winter and look forward to the increasingly warmer and brighter days. This Sabbat was originally founded on the seasons and climate of northern Europe although, this does not mean you can’t celebrate it if you are located in a different part the world, you can still celebrate Imbolc we will take a look at these later in the article.

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Traditionally, Imbolc is celebrated on February 1st but, some people prefer to celebrate Imbolc on the date according to the current years star alignments. If you are a Witch, Wiccan or Pagan that prefers to celebrate according to the astrological alignment, this means the celebration of Imbolc could fall any where between Feb 2-7.

NOTE: Candlemas is celebrated on Feb 2 and is the Christian reinterpretation of Imbolc. Please be aware that they are different holidays and not to be used interchangeably, although some people still do.

The History of Imbolc

Our ancient ancestors saw Imbolc as an important milestone. It was a celebration of the first milk from the pregnant ewes all over Northern Europe and the UK. To truly understand the roots of Imbolc and why it is celebrated as Sabbat for many Witches, Wiccans and Pagans – we have to imagine what the world was like for our ancestors. Try to imagine how harsh the winters must have been without all the creature comports and luxuries we have today. No food preservation, no grocery stores, not airtight containers and fridge-freezers. They had to deal with challenges that we can’t even properly grasp.

But, our ancestors we smart and used all the elements to their advantage. They used the snow to refrigerate, the salt to preserve, the sun and fire to dry food in preparation for the long winter months. I imagine living so closely in-tune with nature taught our ancestors to have a deep reverence for all life including the animals and plants that they lived among. Food supplies would also have to be plentiful for any farm animals for them to make it through the winter too. Farm animals were so precious to our ancestor because unlike with the planting of seeds (this yields must later), the animals (especially the ewes) could provide milk and nourishment first. This is why Imbolc was so special, and celebrated, as it marked a much needed turning point in the year. This meant spring is just around the corner in accordance to the Celtic Wheel of the Year.

NOTE: Ewes milk (sheep milk) was the first available because they mate during Autumn time (September/October). Because of this, they begin to give birth around Imbolc. This meant fresh milk and cheese! After a long winter of rations.

Our ancestors survived with their strong connection to nature, communities, and a number of deities who would help guide them. The element of fire was given such reverence and it is no surprise since we all know how deeply dark and cold the winter can get. Many people would die if they didn’t make sure they had enough food and wood to keep the fires burning, to see them through. Babies conceived at Beltane were born around Imbolc. The cold could claim many newborns lives if there wasn’t enough heat or food to sustain them. Death for all, not just babies. Because of this, they we much more attuned with nature and the celebration of the changing seasons. Now that you have a better understanding, we can appreciate why Imbolc is such a celebrated turning point in the year. A celebration of survival and making it through the winter.

NOTE: Our ancestors would watch animals closely to help them predict weather and seasonal changes.

Imbolc and Brigid

It would be impossible to talk about Imbolc and not talk about the Celtic goddess Brigid. She is a goddess of many forms and is presented as maiden, mother, crone of the Earth Goddess. She is a very powerful goddess, she is strong, and is very closely associated with Ireland. Brigid is a goddess of fire and flames, of the Eternal Flame. A goddess of transformation (from goddess to saint to goddess again!) and inspiration. She is also known as the goddess of childbirth and many call on her to keep the mother and child safe during delivery. Just like Imbolc, goddess Brigid is all about transformation and new beginnings. Preparing for what is to come and discarding that which no longer serves us. Some Wiccans identify this Sabbat so strongly with goddess Brigid, that they call it Sabbat Brigid. Her popularity survives in our modern times when other deities have been lost somewhat. In one form or other, Brigid has been worshiped continuously since prehistory.

RITUAL: On Imbolc, open all the doors and windows of your home for the women of the house to receive Brigid’s blessings.

Brigid’s cross and corn dolls are hung in the kitchen for her protection over the hearth and home. The corn doll is used to represent Brigid maiden form when made at Imbolc (unlike at Lughnsadh where the corn doll is made to represent her in Crone aspect).

NOTE: Corn refers to any kind of silage fed to livestock: reeds, grass, other plant material.

TRADITION: On Imbolc Eve, place your corn doll (a.k.a. the biddy) on a specially made small scale bed with a symbol of male fertility such as stick or wand. place the bed in the ashes of the homes hearth, with some burning candles. If the ashes were disturbed in the morning this is a good omen for the coming year.

A Roman Take on Imbolc

Imbolc is not just a Celtic, North European celebration. The ancient Romans celebration of Februalia is a ritual of purification that happened at the end of the Roman year. They honored gods of the dead and celebrated the goddess Juno (the ancient goddess of time, healer, protector of women, fertility and birth) and, was a time for people to purify themselves for the coming year. The similarities with Februalia and Imbolc made it very easy to combine, overlap and blur the two. The goddess Juno shares many of the same qualities as goddess Brigid.

NOTE: The month of February was names after this Roman purification festival.

Planting on Imbolc – Physically & Metaphorically

Imbolc is the perfect time to plant new ideas as well as actual seeds for the new coming year ahead. Its a time to get rid of the things you no longer need in your life, things that are holding you back (hence the term spring cleaning!). Now is the time to get rid of all that clutter, assess the people you have around you and make the necessary changes you need in order to continue to grow and make improvement in your life.

How to connect with the energy of Imbolc

This Sabbat can be easy to overlooked as some might struggle with finding a connection with what the Imbolc Sabbat is all about. Imbolc is an opportunity celebrate this subtle Sabbat and bring yourself into the rhythm of nature once again. It is a private celebration for most.

Things to focus on during Imbolc: easier days around the corner, family close friends, introspection, reflective time, self contemplation, planning, quietness, internal activities, create new plans, make new connections, remove obstacle (physically, mentally & spiritually) clear out old energy to make way for the new, blossoming spring energies!

If you are finding it difficult to connect with Imbolc here are some suggestions on how you can make some slight adjustments to fit your own ways and practices:

  • Hold back till you see the first signs of spring in your area (this will keep your spiritual practices in line with nature) However, if you are the type of person who can’t justify celebrating Imbolc weeks later, or don’t think this should be something you do – you can focus on Imbolc’s symbolic aspect instead no matter what the weather maybe be outside.
  • Focus on the concepts of Imbolc – rebirth, new beginnings, emergence, discarding
  • Perform rituals to deepen your connection with our ancestors pertaining to what they would have done
  • Learn lessons of the Imloc sabbat – find your own way to celebrate Imbolc (this might be the lesson?)
  • Go for a walk in nature, a park or trail (see if you can spot any symbols of the season: signs of life breaking through)

NOTE: This is the perfect time to choose the plants you are going to grow later, so figure out what you want to grow and buy the seeds! This act is something that will also bring your connection to nature deeper and more meaningful.

How to Honor Imbolc

There are plenty of things you can do! The key focus of Imbolc is the emergence from darkness and preparing for Spring. Here are some suggestions that you might want to consider:

  • Cleaning – clear space of clutter, physical and magickal, negative energies, air out – will bring a breath of positive energy and peace. use a besom to sweep out negative energies.

TIP: Start at the ceiling of a room and work your way down, visualize sweeping away all the negativity with the dust – you can also offer to do this for someone else too (I am sure they would greatly appreciate it)

  • Plant a Seed – both literal and symbolically, (nourishment/potential), every project you start is like planting a seed, plant seeds of love in others, seed trays (indoor to outdoor)
  • A positive gesture – do something you have never done before, think and see in a new light/perspective, free yourself of old ideas that might be holding you back, get out of your comfort zone
  • Burn candles – make your own

Spells for Imbloc Sabbat

Spell work can be enhanced when performed during Sabbats especially when they are specific to the time of year and energy. Working with natural energies and deities doesn’t always have to require complex spells and rituals, you can take a simple approach too. If you happen to be looking for something new to try, you can try this simple candle divination below.

Simple Brigid Candle Divination:

You will need a small white tapered candle or birthday cake candle, white card or thick white paper, permanent marker, fireproof surface, a question to ask and possible answers, matches.

  • Make sure your question is specific and clearly defined.
  • Write down all the possible answers to your question on the pieces of card.
  • Observing how the wax melts onto the card will indicate the answer.
  • Yes or no answers are the easiest
  • Divide the card by drawing a cross and writing the answers in each quarter etc.
  • Include a ‘something else‘ for a possible answers you didn’t consider.
  • Once all equally marked, melt the bottom of the candle so it sticks on the card in the exact center.
  • Place on fireproof surface, sit facing it (make sure there isn’t a draft)
  • Relax, clear your mind
  • Begin by calling to Brigid, you can choose your own words or use something already made
  • Clearly speak your carefully constructed question to Brigid out loud
  • Then light the candle with a match
  • As the candle burns focus your attention on the candles flame, think about your question
  • Visualize the question in your mind
  • Allow the candle to burn all the way down till it goes out on its own accord, so the result will be accurate (if the card starts to burn or scorch extinguish the candle immediately!)
  • Let it cool then, if there is a nub remove if possible, now you can read and interpret the results.
  • If it isn’t obvious, the answer with the most wax is the one you should go with.

You can also take a quiet moment with your self being enough, follow simple meditations, prayers and invocations. Doing this can also provide you with clarification, direction & a deeper connection with both the natural and supernatural.

Imbolc – time to bless your Candles

Imbolc is a traditional time to bless your candles that you plan to use throughout the year. Making your own will empower them more. You can bless many different types of candles that you create at the same time, it won’t have an effect on the magickal energies.

Imbolc Recipe Ideas

It can be tricky trying to figure out what tasty food you can make in honor of Imbolc. Milk should definitely feature on the menu (hot chocolate anyone?)! for best tasting always aim to get organic products for all recipes items and local as possible.

  • Make your own cheese
  • Make your own butter
  • Make your own soda bread
  • Make your own milkshakes
  • Make your own fortune cookies

Imbolc Craft ideas

It is always create when you get the chance to create something. Imbolc is a great time to get crafty, here a few suggestions of what to make in honor of Imbolc and goddess Brigid:

  • Make your own Brigid’s cross
  • Make your own Imbolc incense
  • Make your own Corn Dolly

Imbolc Ritual

If you want to extend your Imbolc magick beyond simple spell work, why not try a more elaborate Imbolc ritual. Rituals in essence are far more complex in both prep and execution, however, they will provide you with a more effective and deeper experience. One I came across was the Fire Seed ritual. Basically, with this ritual you plant within you a burning energy that will grow and blossom in the summer. A Fire seed is about what you need. A private matter. Be careful what you wish for you just might get it sort of thing. Don’t create a fire seed without first thinking of all the possible effects and outcomes. Only plant one fire seed at a time. It is great if there is a habit you want to break or a project you want to get going on. Imbolc is the perfect time to plant a fire seed, and Brigid is the obvious deity to ask for power and help during your ritual.

NOTE: A ritual like this is best done in a magick circle. This is strongly advised as you do not want any rouge energies present when you plant your seed.

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