Imbolc


Imbolc/Candlemas Comments

Imbolc

Imbolc (pronounced “IM-bulk”, “IM mol’g” or “EM-bowl/k”) is one of the Greater Wiccan Sabbats and is usually celebrated on February 2nd. In the Celtic tradition it is celebrated on February 1st or the first Full Moon in Aquarius. Other names Imbolc are known by include Imbolg, Imbolic (Celtic), Imbolgc Brigantia (Caledonii Tradition, or the Druids), Candlelaria (Mexican Craft), Disting (Teutonic Tradition – celebrated on February 14th) Candlemas (some Pagan Traditions and/or individuals prefer this name), the Feast of Candlemas and St. Bridget’s Day (Christian), Oimelc, Brigid’s Day, Lupercus (Strega), the Feast of Lights, the Feast of the Virgin, the Snowdrop Festival, or the Festival of Lights. The name “Imbolc” or “Oimelc”, which is derived from Gaelic, means “ewe’s milk” after the lactating sheep that are feeding their first born lambs of the new season at this time of year.

2561664549dc64ae87bf84355c514ddf8496efa0

Imbolc Correspondences

Tools, Symbols & Decorations
White flowers, marigolds, plum blossoms, daffodils, Brigid wheel, Brigid’s cross, candles, grain/seed for blessing, red candle in a cauldron full of earth, doll, Bride’s Bed; the Bride, broom, milk, birchwood, snowflakes, snow in a crystal container,evergreens, homemade besom of dried broom, orange candle annointed in oil can be used to sybolize the renewing energy of the Sun’s rebirth.

Colors
Brown, pink, red, orange, white, lavender, pale yellow, silver, green, blue

Customs
Lighting candles, seeking omens of Spring, storytelling, cleaning house, bonfires, indoor planting, stone collecting, candle kept burning dusk till dawn; hearth re-lighting

Animals/Mythical beings
Firebird, dragon, groundhog, deer, burrowing animals, ewes, robin, sheep, lamb, other creatures waking from hibernation

Gemstones
Amethyst, garnet, onyx, turquoise

Herbs
Angelica, basil, bay, benzoin, celandine, clover, heather, myrrh, all yellow flowers, willow

Incense/Oil
Jasmine, rosemary, frankincense, cinnamon, neroli, musk, olive, sweet pea, basil, myrrh, wisteria, apricot, carnation

Rituals/Magick
Cleansing; purification, renewal, creative inspiration, purification, initiation, candle work, house & temple blessings, welcoming Brigid, feast of milk & bread

Foods
Dairy, spicy foods, raisins, pumpkin, sesame & sunflower seeds, poppyseed bread/cake, honey cake, pancakes, waffles, herbal tea

The WOTC's Sponsors

Imbolc

February 1 – 2, or when the sun reaches 15 degrees of Aquarius

Imbolc, one of two sabbats associated directly with a specific deity, is a festival to celebrate the beginning of spring. Imbolc’s partner across the Wheel is Lughnassadh, the Feast of Lugh.

The modern eclectic Wiccan perception of Imbolc comes from three very different festivals. Imbolc is one of the clearly Celtic festivals, with no Saxon influence. The Celtic Imbolc is celebrated from sundown on February 1 to sundown on February 2. This agricultural festival marks the lambing and calving season in the British Isles. Candlemas, which is the Catholic festival of the purification of the Virgin and the blessing of candles, is celebrated on February 2. From these two festivals comes the modern Wiccan Imbolc feast of purification and growing light. The third important festival that has influenced Imbolc is La Feile Bhrid, or Brigid’s Feast Day and this influence is perhaps the most popular for modern Wiccans. Celebrated in Ireland and the outer isles of Britain and Scotland, this festival honors the goddess (and later saint) Brigid. Her name is spelled and pronounced in different ways depending on the location in which she was worshiped. The original translation of her name in Irish Gaelic meant “bright flame,” and from this the association of Brigid with fire arose.

Brigid is quite a multipurpose goddess, encapsulating different associations from different cultural and regional affiliations. Over time, her association with poetry and inspirations has led her to be a goddess often invoked for creative purposes. She is often assumed to be a gentle goddess, but one of her cognates, Brigantia, was the martial goddess of a warrior tribe in the British Isles, and any deity associated with smithing has a connection to warcraft (as well as hearthwork).

Brigid is one of the original triple goddesses—not the maiden-mother-crone triptych postulated by Robert Graves in the mid-twentieth century, but the triple-sister form that predates the modern conception of the age-separated Triple Goddess.

In some myths, Brigid is the maiden goddess who seizes control of winter away from the Callieach, the crone goddess of winter. In the climate of the British Isles and in Western Europe, the beginning of February does indeed bring the first real signs of spring. In the British climate, farmers plough and prepare the fields for crops. Cattle and sheep feed on the newly sprung grass, and give birth to young, which results in the production of enriched milk. The new lambs and calves are signs of new life, confirmation of the ongoing life cycle. Brigid is associated with cattle, sheep, and milk; in fact, some of the later saint depictions show her with a churn or pails of milk. For these reasons, milk forms a focal point in many Imbolc rituals.

In the modern Wiccan mythos, the infant God born at Yule is now a child, nicely fitting into the Brigid and Imbolc associations of children and hearth and home. Imbolc is one of the sabbats that revolves around fire, as both a source of warmth and a source of purification. By this point, the returning light has noticeably lengthened the days.

–Solitary Wicca For Life: Complete Guide to Mastering the Craft on Your Own
Arin Murphy-Hiscock

 

2561664549dc64ae87bf84355c514ddf8496efa0

Deities of Imbolc

Although traditionally Imbolc is associated with Brighid, the Irish goddess of hearth and home, there are a number of other deities who are represented at this time of year. Thanks to Valentine’s Day, many gods and goddesses of love and fertility are honored at this time.

  • Aradia (Italian): Popularized by Charles Godfrey Leland in Gospel of the Witches, she is the virginal daughter of Diana. There is some question about Leland’s scholarship, and Aradia may be a corruption of Herodias from the Old Testament, according to Ronald Hutton and other academics.
  • Aenghus Og (Celtic): This young god was most likely a god of love, youthful beauty and poetic inspiration. At one time, Aenghus went to a magical lake and found 150 girls chained together — one of them was the girl he loved, Caer Ibormeith. All the other girls were magically turned into swans every second Samhain, and Aenghus was told he could marry Caer if he was able to identify her as a swan. Aengus succeeded, and turned himself into a swan so he could join her. They flew away together, singing exquisite music that lulled its listeners to sleep.
  • Aphrodite (Greek): A goddess of love, Aphrodite was known for her sexual escapades, and took a number of lovers. She was also seen as a goddess of love between men and women, and her annual festival was called the Aphrodisiac.
  • Bast (Egyptian): This cat goddess was known throughout Egypt as a fierce protector. Later on, during the Classical period, she emerged as Bastet, a slightly softer, more gentle incarnation. As Bastet, she was regarded more as a domestic cat than a lioness. However, because of her position as a guardian, she often was seen as a protector of mothers — as a cat to her kittens — and childbirth. Thus, she evolved into the identity of hearth goddess, much like Brighid in the Celtic lands.
  • Ceres (Roman): This Roman agricultural goddess was a benefactor of farmers. Crops planted in her name flourished, particularly grains — in fact, the word “cereal” comes from her name. Virgil cites Ceres as part of a trinity, along with Liber and Libera, two other agricultural gods. Rituals were performed in her honor prior to spring, so that fields could be fertile and crops would grow. Cato recommends sacrificing a sow to Ceres before the harvest actually begins, as a gesture of appreciation.
  • Cerridwen (Celtic): Cerridwen represents powers of prophecy, and is the keeper of the cauldron of knowledge and inspiration in the Underworld. In one part of the Mabinogion, Cerridwen pursues Gwion through a cycle of seasons — beginning in the spring — when in the form of a hen, she swallows Gwion, disguised as an ear of corn. Nine months later, she gives birth to Taliesen, the greatest of the Welsh poets.
  • Eros (Greek): This lusty god was worshipped as a fertility deity. In some myths, he appears as the son ofAphrodite by Ares — the god of war having conquered the goddess of love. His Roman contemporary was Cupid. In early Greece, no one paid much attention to Eros, but eventually he earned a cult of his own in Thespiae. He also was part of a cult along with Aphrodite in Athens.
  • Faunus (Roman): This agricultural god was honored by the ancient Romans as part of the festival ofLupercalia, held every year in the middle of February. Faunus is very similar to the Greek god Pan.
  • Gaia (Greek): Gaia is the mother of all things in Greek legend. She is the earth and sea, the mountains and forests. During the weeks leading up to spring, she is becoming warmer each day as the soil grows more fertile.
  • Hestia (Greek): This goddess watched over domesticity and the family. She was given the first offering at any sacrifice made in the home. On a public level, the local town hall served as a shrine for her — any time a new settlement was formed, a flame from the public hearth was taken to the new village from the old one.
  • Pan (Greek): This studly Greek fertility god is well known for his sexual prowess, and is typically portrayed with an impressively erect phallus. Pan learned about self-gratification via masturbation from Hermes, and passed the lessons along to shepherds. His Roman counterpart is Faunus.
  • Venus (Roman): This Roman goddess is associated with not only beauty, but fertility as well. In the early spring, offerings were left in her honor. As Venus Genetrix, she was honored for her role as the ancestress of the Roman people, and celebrated as a goddess of motherhood and domesticity.
  • Vesta (Roman): This hearth goddess of Rome was the one who watched over home and family. As a hearth goddess, she was the keeper of the fire and sacred flame. Offerings were thrown into the household fires to seek omens from the future. Vesta is similar in many aspects to Brighid, particularly in her position as a goddess of both home/family and of divination.

Author

Patti Wigington, Paganism/Wicca Expert
Article published on & owned by About.com

2561664549dc64ae87bf84355c514ddf8496efa0

Activities for Imbolc

Here are a few suggestions for Imbolc activities, some of which can be incorporated into the Sabbat celebration or simply as something to make the day more special, especially for children.

Burn the Yule greens to send winter on its way.

Make the Bride’s Bed using the Corn or Wheat Doll made the previous Lughnassadh. Dress the doll in white or blue with a necklace that represents the seasons. Lay it in a long basket adorned with ribbons; light white candles on either side of the basket, and say:

“Welcome the bride both maiden and mother;
rest and prepare for the time of the seed;
cleansed and refreshed from labors behind her;
with the promise of spring she lays before me.”

Next morning, remove the dress and scatter the wheat outdoors (or if you use corn, hang it up in a tree for the squirrels and birds). this can be seen in terms of the Lady’s recovery from the birthing bed and readiness to begin the turning of the seasons anew.

The Imbolc Corn Doll represents the mother nurturing her son, who will grow and become her husband. This is the earth and the sun, which is still weak but gaining in strength.

On Imbolc Eve, leave buttered bread in a bowl indoors for the faeries who travel with the Lady of Greenwood. Next day, dispose of it as the “essence” will have been removed.

Place three ears of corn on the door as a symbol of the Triple Goddess and leave until Ostara.

Light a white candle and burn sandalwood incense.

Cleanse the area where you do card readings or scrying with a censor burning rosemary or vervain, and say:

“By the power of this smoke I wash away the negative
influences that this place be cleansed for the Lady and her babe.”

Cleanse the altar and equipment, do a self-purification rite with the elemental tools representing earth (salt) for body, air (incense) for thoughts; fire (candle flame) for will; and water (water) for emotions.

Make dream pillows for everyone in the family.

Create a Solar Cross from palm fronds, make enough to place one in each room of the house. Place a red pillar-style candle center to the front door; with palm crosses in hand, light the candle and open the door and say:

“We welcome in the Goddess and seek the turning
of the wheel away from winter and into spring.”

Close door; take up the candle and go to each room of the house and say:

“Great Lady enter with the sun and watch over this room!”

Leave a Solar Cross in the room and proceed thusly throughout the house. This is great for the kids as you can divide up the tasks for each to do – one can hold the palms, another can open doors, another can carry the candle, and so forth. The last room should be the kitchen and here you say:

“Mother of the earth and sun,
Keep us safe and keep us warm,
As over our home you extend your blessings.”

Source:
“Green Witchcraft” by Anne Moura 

2561664549dc64ae87bf84355c514ddf8496efa0

Imbolc Oil

Put in soap or anoint candles

5 drops frankincense
>5 drops rosemary
3 drops cinnamon
2 drops sandalwood

Add a piece of rowan and a small hematite, garnet, and clear quartz crystal. A spicy, sunny scent for awakening the earth.

2561664549dc64ae87bf84355c514ddf8496efa0

Imbolc Incense

by Scott Cunningham
3 parts Frankincense
2 parts Dragon’s Blood
1/2 part Red Sandalwood
1 part Cinnamon
a few drops Red Wine
To this mixture add a pinch of the first flower (dry it first) that is available in your area at the time of Imbolc (February 1st – 2nd). Burn during Wiccan ceremonies on Imbolc, or simply to attune with the symbolic rebirth of the Sun — the fading of winter and the promise of Spring.

(The above recipe for Imbolc Incense is directly quoted from Scott Cunningham’s book:
The Complete Book of Incense, Oils & Brews, page 72,
Llewellyn Publications, 1992.)

2561664549dc64ae87bf84355c514ddf8496efa0

Hold an Imbolc Candle Ritual for Solitaries

Hundreds of years ago, when our ancestors relied upon the sun as their only source of light, the end of winter was met with much celebration. Although it is still cold in February, often the sun shines brightly above us, and the skies are often crisp and clear. As a festival of light, Imbolc came to be called Candlemas. On this evening, when the sun has set once more, call it back by lighting the seven candles of this ritual.

First, set up your altar in a way that makes you happy, and brings to mind the themes of Imbolc. You’ll also want to have on hand the following:

Prior to beginning your ritual, take a warm, cleansing bath. While soaking, meditate on the concept of purification. Once you’re done, dress in your ritual attire, and begin the rite. You’ll need:

  • Seven candles, in red and white (tealights are perfect for this)
  • Something to light your candles with
  • A large bowl or cauldron big enough to hold the candles
  • Sand or salt to fill the bottom of the bowl/cauldron

If your tradition requires you to cast a circle, do so now.

Pour the sand or salt into the bowl or cauldron. Place the seven candles into the sand so they won’t slide around.Light the first candle. As you do so, say:

Although it is now dark, I come seeking light.
In the chill of winter, I come seeking life.

Light the second candle, saying:

I call upon fire, that melts the snow and warms the hearth.
I call upon fire, that brings the light and makes new life.
I call upon fire to purify me with your flames.

Light the third candle. Say:

This light is a boundary, between positive and negative.
That which is outside, shall stay without.
That which is inside, shall stay within.

Light the fourth candle. Say:

I call upon fire, that melts the snow and warms the hearth.
I call upon fire, that brings the light and makes new life.
I call upon fire to purify me with your flames.

Light the fifth candle, saying:

Like fire, light and love will always grow.
Like fire, wisdom and inspiration will always grow.

Light the sixth candle, and say:

I call upon fire, that melts the snow and warms the hearth.
I call upon fire, that brings the light and makes new life.
I call upon fire to purify me with your flames.

Finally, light the last candle. As you do so, visualize the seven flames coming together as one. As the light builds, see the energy growing in a purifying glow.

Fire of the hearth, blaze of the sun,
cover me in your shining light.
I am awash in your glow, and tonight I am
made pure.

Take a few moments and meditate on the light of your candles. Think about this Sabbat, a time of healing and inspiration and purification. Do you have something damaged that needs to be healed? Are you feeling stagnant, for lack of inspiration? Is there some part of your life that feels toxic or tainted? Visualize the light as a warm, enveloping energy that wraps itself around you, healing your ailments, igniting the spark of creativity, and purifying that which is damaged.

When you are ready, end the ritual. You may choose to follow up with healing magic, or with a Cakes and Ale ceremony.

Author

Patti Wigington, Paganism/Wicca Expert
Article published on & owned by About.com

Look for more crafts, rituals, and spells to come in our Imbolc Edition!


Imbolc/Candlemas Comments

Advertisements