Welcome the Spring!
This week marks Imbolc. Often celebrated on February 1st or 2nd, Imbolc represents a welcoming of spring and the ever increasing light of the sun.
But how do you celebrate and observe this holiday?
What is Imbolc?
Imbolc is originally a Celtic pre-Christian pagan festival and is also called and celebrated as Oimelc (meaning ewe’s milk), Candlemas (Christianized), Lá Fhéile Bríde (Irish), Là Fhèill Brìghde (Scottish Gaelic), Brigid’s Day, Midwinter, and Groundhog Day (American secular). Today, it is celebrated by many Neo-Pagans and Witches as part of the Wheel of the Year as cross-quarter day welcoming the beginning of spring and ending of winter. Various traditions will observe Imbolc anywhere between January 31st and February 3rd or later, and many ancient festivals would last a week long.
In ancient Irish and Celtic celebrations, it was a festival dedicated to the goddess Brigid (also spelled Brigit or Brìde and usually pronounced breed) who was the daughter of The Dagda. She was a poet, a smith, healer, and crafter. Modern Neo-pagans often view her as a Triple Goddess image due to these multiple aspects and honor her for bringing inspiration, light, cleansing, and fertility to the land.
Some modern Neo-pagans and Wiccans celebrate Imbolc as a holiday that has the Triple Goddess shift from her Crone aspect into her Maiden aspect, with the God is in his youth growing up and bringing his warmth back to land.
Christians also celebrate Saint Brigid, a syncretized version of the goddess Brigid, on this day. Taking the ancient pagan practice of Brigid’s priestesses and the ever-burning flame, nuns took over the practice of maintaining the saint’s ever-burning flame for nineteen-day cycles. Other Christians celebrate the day as Candlemas that celebrated the presentation of Jesus to the temple and the Purification of the Virgin Mary.
Imbolc is also a time of weather divination, hence the modern American practice of Groundhog Day where there are attempts to predict how long the winter will last each year on February 2nd by Punxautawney Phil. Other forms of divination are very much appropriate for this holiday.
If you want to learn more about Imbolc, check out a few of these sources here.
Look at twenty different websites and books, and you will find quite a few different associations for Imbolc and different interpretations of why those symbols work for this holiday. This list is just a short list of some of the most overlapping of correspondences. Use these as a starting point for decorating your altar, performing ritual, or casting spells for this season.
The modern birthstone for the month of February, amethyst is a good choice for decorating your altar for Imbolc. Amethyst is known for being a great beginner crystal and allows us to connect to our intuitive and psychic abilities. It also is known for being a good stone to help break bad habits.
Need some amethyst in your life? Check out what we have in our shop here.
Another great stone associated with Imbolc is garnet. It is a birthstone for the month of January and has strong associations with commitment, fertility, and the underworld.
Bloodstone is a stone of strength and courage. It brings vitality to the holder and is a great stone for warriors of all varieties.
We have a couple a cool pieces of bloodstone in the shop here.
Moonstone is known to be a great stone for transitions, and holidays like Imbolc are all about transitioning from one state of being to the next. It is also a good stone for rebirth and initiation.
Moonstone hearts are a nice way to welcome the spring and can be found here.
This is one of my favorite stones for creativity. Its association with Imbolc is tied heavily to its connection to fertility, fire, and passion all key phrases to this holiday.
What better representation of creativity and fertility are these carnelian eggs?
The Irish goddess Brigid is the number one deity associated with Imbolc as its origins stem primarily from her holiday in ancient Irish and Scottish Gaelic traditions. She has been syncretized into Saint Brigid for the modern Christian celebration of the Feast of Saint Brigid. She is a healer, a smith, and a poet and goddess of heavily associated with fire. These associations make her excellent to work with and honor at this time by anyone who is creative or wants to work more on creative endeavors.
There is so much more to learn about Brigid, so learn more here.
Maiden Aspect of the Triple Goddess
Modern Neo-Pagan and Neo-Wiccan traditions honor the Maiden aspect of the Triple Goddess during this time as it is her transition from Crone back to Maiden. She is young and returning to life, bringing the world back from the cold winter into spring with the Youthful aspect of the God bringing sunlight back to the earth as well. If you find yourself more drawn to these deity aspects, they are great for focusing Imbolc on the transition from winter to spring.
Aphrodite and Eros are additional deities sometimes linked to Imbolc. Aphrodite and Eros (with their Roman counterparts Venus and Cupid) are deities of love and romance and often linked closely with modern Valentine’s Day, which is another close holiday to Imbolc. If you wish to focus on love during this time and bringing that into your life, you may find focusing on these deities perfect for the focus of your ritual.
There are a good deal of more associations for Imbolc from flowers to animals to foods. The following lists will give you some ideas of what to look for to decorate your altar or use in you rituals.
Plants, Flowers, Herbs, and Incense
Snowdrop, Rowan, Willow, Ginger, Coltsfoot, Angelica, Basil, Bay Laurel, Crocus, Holly, Iris, Tansy, Violets, Thyme, Wisteria, Cinnamon, Violet, Vanilla
We have a good selection of several herbs and dried flowers that can work for incense or spell sachets for your personal ritual for the Imbolc seasons. Check them out below:
- Angelica Root
- Bay Leaves
- Cinnamon Chips
- Pink Rose Petals
- Enchanted Botanicals Herbal Incense Release Blend
Swan, Serpent, Sheep (especially ewes), Cows
Blackberry, any baked goods, dairy products, spicy food, lamb, smoked meats, dried fruits and nuts, soups, winter vegetables
White, Silver, Green, Red
- Brigid’s Cross
- Brigid Doll
- Brigid’s Bed
- Cauldrons or Chalices
- Fire and Flame
How to Celebrate
There are many ways to celebrate and make space for Imbolc and Brigid this week. Consider some of the following options to get some ideas going. Even if the holiday has passed, it isn’t too late to do one of these. Intention is key.
Set Up an Altar
Setting up seasonal altars is a very appropriate way of celebrating the changing of the Wheel of the Year. Often it involves incorporating imagery of the gods associated with the holiday or crystals and other holiday appropriate symbols into the altar. I have often changed the color of my altar cloth to something that matches the holiday’s main color associations. Other people will include flowers or other natural elements to decorate. Candles are always appropriate.
Take some time to set up an altar using any of the correspondences from above or make your own associations. There is no right or wrong way to set it up. As long as it is functional for you and incorporates the symbols that make sense for you, it will work.
If you need some altar supplies, you can check out what we have in our store here.
If you need some more ideas, check out this link here.
Perform a Ritual
Take some time during this week to perform a ritual for Imbolc. Find one from a book like the Sabbats Almanac or find one online like the following simple candle ritual for solitaries.
If you want to keep things simple, light a few candles on your altar and just make space to honor the transition to spring. Welcome the light from the candles. We have a selection of candles in our shop here and a book on candle magic here.
Imbolc is a good time to start thinking of spring cleaning. It is a time of cleansing and greeting the new year. Get rid of the old to be able to welcome the new into your life. Maybe pick up some clearing spray or other cleansing items in the shop today to turn it into a ritual:
- Enchanted Botanicals Clearing Spray
- Enchanted Botanicals Black Clearing Salt
- The Rose Craft's Florida Water
If you have the time, try a couple of crafts like Brigid’s Cross or dolly or maybe bake some bread and hold a feast.
Try a Meditation
And finally, take twenty minutes to just meditate or take a guided journey. If you are skilled enough in your own practice of meditation, you can guide yourself on a journey to greet the spring. However, if you need some help, check out one of the many videos you can find on YouTube for Imbolc Meditations like the one below.
Books for Additional Information
2021 Sabbats Almanac (currently on sale)