IMBOLC – What is it?
Imbolc, also spelt Imbolg and Oimelc, is the second of February. It is also known as St Brigid’s Day. The festival was originally an Irish festival marking the beginning of Spring. It is one of the four cross-quarter days on the calendar, the others being Beltane, Lughnasadh, and Samhain. Imbolc is an old Irish word for “ewe’s milk” or “in the belly”. It is a time of rebirth and fertility.
In the 20th century it returned as a religious festival in the pagan communities and is associated with the Goddess Brigid. Imbolc is also known as a “fire festival”. Fires are extinguished in the hearths and then relit and candles are placed in each room of the house to honor the re-birth of the Sun. Besoms are placed by the front door to symbolize the “sweeping” out the old to make room for the new.
Even though in some places there will still be snow on the ground and frigid temperatures, in other places flowers are starting their return from the winter hibernation. Look for these first signs of Spring.
Rituals during this time can be dedicated to the Goddess Brigid. Celebrations of fertility and rebirth can also be done during this time. Purification and new beginnings are topic for rituals during this time. I have a wonderful ritual that I will be posting later as an example. There are quite a few rituals that can be found in books as well on the internet. Imbolc Rite and Rituals has wonderful examples of rituals for Imbolc.
Colors for this Sabbat are traditionally Red and White.
Incense for Imbolc. This wonderful recipe is taken from The Complete Book of Incense, Oils & Brews.
3 parts Frankincense
2 parts Dragon’s Blood
½ part Red Sandalwood
1 part Cinnamon
A few drops of 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. Burn during rituals on Imbolc, or simply to attune with the symbolic rebirth of the Sun, fading of the Winter and the promise of Spring.
Herbs for this Sabbat are many. Angelica, Basil, Bay, Benzoin, Chamomile, Cinnamon, Red Clover, Crocus, Copal, Dandelion, Dill, Fennel, Heather, Jasmine, Myrrh, Myrtle, Nutmeg, Oak, Primrose, Rosemary, Strawberry, Snowdrops, Willow.
Celebrate this wonderful time of the year.
Thanks to Patti Wigington for some great information.