Imbolc, or Candlemas, also known as Brigantia, is celebrated at the beginning of February. This festival is known as the Feast of Light or the Feast of Pan. More ancient still, it is the celebration of the Goddess recovering from giving birth to the New Year’s Sun God, coming as it does six weeks after the Winter Solstice. Here in the Northern Hemisphere, it is the festival to mark the awakening of the Earth and Spring.
Our friends in the Southern Hemisphere are welcoming their first harvest with the Sabbat of Lammas/Lughnasadh.
This Sabbat is presented in one of the coldest months of the year, yet it is a time when the forces of new life are moving across the earth. Winter fights hard to hang on, but Spring is slowly bringing warmth in his place. Regermination of seeds and life is beginning under the frozen land and the forces of Nature are becoming ready for the young Sun God to begin spreading his light and warmth soon. Now plans are laid for the future as this is also a time of new beginnings.
Astrological Date: Sun at 15º Aquarius
Imbolc (approximately February 3rd) is the first of the Spring festivals that honors the quickening of the fire in our spirits that was birthed at Yule. Corresponding with the midpoint of the fixed sign Aquarius we are in a place of transition in February. As the last of the air signs, dreams and visions are the essences of Aquarius. Imbolc is when we can take everything we dream, pour our heart and soul into it, and begin to shape our reality. The Aquarian vision will nourish and support the seeds of your dreams as they await the deeper level of warmth found in the compassionate waters of Pisces.
As with the other cross-quarter festivals that occur on the midpoints between equinoxes and solstices, you can celebrate on the secular calendar date (in this case, February 2nd) and/or check for the exact transition time and celebrate then. Many witches will hold a public celebration on the popular date and reserve their magical workings for when the Sun transitions at the midpoint of the zodiac sign.
You can check for this year’s exact date >>HERE<<
Seasonal Focus: Rejuvenating
This Sabbat is the first of the Fire Festivals and it ignites a spark of rejuvenation within us. The earth is beginning to stir from its winter slumber here in the Northern Hemisphere. The spark of life is renewed as the first buds of spring push through the snow and the first lambs are born. Take this time to practice rejuvenating self-care (think bubble baths, warm tea, or creative journaling) and regain inspiration.
- Altar Decorations / Symbols: Brigid’s Cross, Candle Wheels, Dish of Snow, Evergreens, Grain Dollies, Ploughs, Sun Wheels, White Flowers
- Animals: All burrowing animals, Bear, Deer, Groundhogs, Lamb, Phoenix, Sheep
- Colors & Candles: Brown, Green, Pink, Red, White, Yellow
- Crystals & Stones: Amethyst, Bloodstone, Garnet, Onyx, Ruby, Turquoise
- Herbs & Flowers: Acorns, Angelica, Basil, Bay, Blackberry, Chamomile, Crocus, Jasmine, Lavender, Rosemary
- Incense & Oils: Angelica, Basil, Bay, Chamomile, Frankincense, Jasmine, Lavender, Myrrh, Rosemary
- Trees: Birch, Evergreens, Olive, Willow
Imbolc Customs & Celebrations
Traditionally, this is the lambing season in the old world. The milk of life is flowing as animals have just given birth (or are about too). It is a time for the blessing of seeds and consecration of agricultural tools. It marks the center point of the dark half of the year.
- Weave your own Brigid’s Cross. Straw weavings can be as simple as a few strands or totally elaborate. Children can even make them out of pipe cleaners. Protect the household and its occupants from fire and lightning by hanging your cross near the entryways.
- Light up your home at sunset. Turn on all the lamps in your house — if only for a few moments. Or, light candles in each room in honor of the Sun’s rebirth. Alternately, light a kerosene lamp with a red chimney and place in a prominent part of the home or in a window. If snow lies on the ground, walk in it for a moment, recalling the warmth of Summer.
- Now is the time for a thorough spring cleaning in preparation for blessings from Brigid. If you have a fireplace, be sure to clean it very well. Magically purify the home using a birch branch to symbolically sweep the floors. Complete your spring cleaning prior to the eve of Imbolc. On that night, place a small dish of butter on a windowsill and kindle a fresh fire or light a candle in honor of the Goddess.
- Go snow hiking to hunt for signs of spring. Are there any birds that have returned? Can you spot their nests? What plants are beginning to appear? Stay mindful in the moment and look for symbols of rebirth and new beginnings.
- Make your own fire starters. Let’s face it, most of the Northern Hemisphere is still suffering from winter cold and chilly winds, so it’s not always easy to get fire lit. Check out 5 Frugal Ways to Make DIY Fire Starters.
- Try a simple pendulum divination on this night. As one of the easiest forms of divination, the trick to finding an answer is to keep your question simple. New to this? Read more about Pendulum Divination on ThoughtCo.
Imbolc Foods & Recipes
Celebrate in the kitchen with seasonal foods that focus on the home and hearth: Bread, Cakes, and all Dairy products, Herbal Teas, Muffins, Root Vegetables, Scones, and Spiced Wine.
Braided Holiday Bread
Ceara’s Kitchen has an easy recipe for a Vegan Braided Holiday Bread made with only a few ingredients. You can even make up a batch of dough the night before and bake it fresh on Imbolc morning.
Creamy Potato Soup
While some soups are thought of as an appetizer course, this Creamy Vegan Potato Soup by Alison over at Loving It Vegan! is hearty enough to be your main course.
Earth Charms on Etsy has concocted a fragrant “loose leaf lime” herbal tea that is perfect for your Imbolc celebration!
What are some of the ways you celebrate this time of year? Let us know in the comments below!
Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs by Scott CunninghamA
My personal Book of Shadows and the traditions of Clan Ravynmyst
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