As Imbolc Approaches
a guide to the Sabbat’s symbolism
by Arwynn MacFeylynnd
Date: February 1 or 2.
Alternative names: Imbolg, Candlemas, Oimelc, Brighid’s Day, Lupercus, the Feast of Lights, Groundhog’s Day
Primary meanings: The name “Imbolc” derives from the word “oimelc,” meaning sheep’s milk. It is considered a time of purification, preparation and celebration for new life stirring, anticipating spring. The holiday is also known as Candlemas; the custom of blessing candles at this time signifies awakening of life and honors the Celtic goddess Brighid, to whom fire is sacred. This Sabbat also celebrates banishing winter.
Symbols: Candle wheels, grain dollies and Sun wheels, a besom (witch’s broom), a sprig of evergreen, a bowl of snow and small Goddess statues representing her in the maiden aspect.
Colors: White, yellow, pink, light blue, light green; also, red and brown.
Gemstones: Amethyst, aquamarine, turquoise, garnet and onyx.
Herbs: Angelica, basil, bay, benzoin, clover, dill, evergreens, heather, myrrh, rosemary, willows and all yellow flowers.
Gods and goddesses: Brighid, the Celtic goddess of healing, poetry and smithcraft; all virgin and maiden goddesses; all fire and flame gods, connected with the newborn Sun.
Customs and myths: In Irish legends of the Tuatha De Danaan, Brighid is the name of three daughters of Dagda who over time were combined into one goddess. She was venerated in Scotland, Wales, on the Isle of Man and in the Hebrides. When celebrating Candlemas or Imbolc, spellwork for fertility, inspiration and protection are appropriate, defining and focusing on spiritual and physical desires for the future. Imbolc is a good time to get your life in order — physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally. Make plans, organize, clean out drawers and closets to bring in the new and clearing out the old. Make and bless candles; light one in each room in honor of the Sun’s rebirth. Carry out rites of self-purification. Burn mistletoe, holly and ivy decorations from Yule to signify the end of harsh weather and old ways.