Imbolc Sona

For those of you who don’t speak Irish Gaelic that’s “Happy Imbolc.

In Gaelic Imbolc means “in the belly”, so named because sheep begin to give milk (signifying they are pregnant) this time of year. Imbolc (also called Candlemas) is a Fire festival celebrating the coming of Spring, new beginnings and spiritual growth, and the “sweeping out of the old” (see section below on spring cleaning). In Mexico it corresponds to the Aztec New Year.

The festival of Imbolc is traditionally observed from February 1st through sundown on February 2nd and marks the beginning of Spring – landing halfway between the Winter Solstice (Yule) and the Spring Equinox (Ostara). It was widely observed throughout Ireland, Scotland, and the Isle of Man; and is one of four Gaelic festivals: Bealtaine (Beltane), Lughnasadh (First Harvest), and Samhain (Halloween).

February 1st is also Brigid’s Day in honor of the ancient Irish goddess, Brigid, who is associated with Spring, fertility, healing, poetry, and blacksmithing. When Ireland was converted to Christianity the goddess “morphed” into Saint Brigid, with the correlating pagan traditions absorbed into Christian customs. Thus, the Feast of Saint Brigid is celebrated by the Roman Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church, and by the Anglican Communion as “St. Brigid’s Day.”

Fortunately, Neopagans and Wiccans have re-embraced Imbolc’s ancient roots where it’s now celebrated as one of eight pagan holidays. Additionally, Imbolc was traditionally a time for weather divination (Aeromancy) where watching to see if badgers came out of their winter dens may be the precursor of Groundhog Day (February 2nd).

People normally equate “spring cleaning” with, well…the Spring! Why wait until March? Imbolc is the perfect time to clear away the cobwebs (both externally and internally) and prepare for spring – which is just around the corner. So go ahead:  get rid of any unwanted/unneeded items and set aside to donate, wash the windows and the floors, sweep, vacuum, dust, and polish until everything sparkles. To get you started, take a look at Apartment Therapy’s 20-step January Cure.

Once you’ve got your home right as rain, treat yourself to a purification bath. Release any negative energy, defeatist mindsets, and bad habits and visualize them draining away with the bath water.

Now that your house is squeaky-clean and your psyche is refreshed and renewed, what better way to welcome the coming spring by having friends over for food and drink! (Can you say Super Bowl Sunday?) Since the ewes’ udders are filling with milk in preparation for the coming births, include recipes containing milk products such as cheese (50 Easy But Awesome Game Day Dips). Also traditionally served at Imbolc would be nuts, dried fruits, cured meats, and seasonally-available fruits and veggies such as pumpkin, potatoes, root vegetables, and apples. Mulled wine, hot chocolate (spike it with rum or bourbon), or anything that incorporates milk or cream (White Russian, Gin Fizz, Egg Nog, etc.) would be a perfect accompaniment to your Brigid’s Day Feast.

Being Irish myself, I enjoy getting in touch with my Gaelic Pagan self. For Wiccans protection, purification, and healing magick go perfectly with Imbolc – as does divination and any kind of Shadow work.

February stone:  Amethyst
Colors:  white, silver, and green
Trees:  Rowan and willow
Incense:  Rosemary, frankincense, and myrrh
Herbs: Angelica, basil, bay, benzoin, celandine, heather, myrrh, and all yellow flowers

Decorate your altar with snowdrops, swan feathers, a Brigid Cross, and white and green candles.

Brigid – The Triple Goddess
Brigid the Goddess
Celtic Mythology: Brigid

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