Do you feel the first stirrings of Spring?
In the Celtic calendar there are 8 high holy days centred around nature festivals. They include the equinoxes and solstices that demark our four traditional seasons along with cross-quarter days. Imbolc is one of these cross-quarter festivals along with Beltane, Lammas, and Samhain.
These holy days are times when we harness the energy of connecting to Nature and expand our sense of the Self and the Sacred into our everyday.
Known as Lupercalia to the Romans and Sul-Minerva to the ancient Brits, the Celtic fire festival of Imbolc (pronounced EM-bowl-k) celebrates the midpoint between Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox.
With Neolithic origins, the actual date varies due to astronomical influences but is generally celebrated on February 1st or 2nd. The name Imbolc is derived from Old Irish and means “in the belly,” or “ewe’s milk.” This was a time to celebrate the survival of Winter and was set to coincide when farm work began.
It’s a time of preparation and welcomes the fertility of the land.
Imbolc celebrated the arrival of the fire goddess Brigid (pronounced breed). Brigid was later absorbed by the Catholic Church into St. Bridget with her festival of light becoming Candlemas. She is known as the Goddess of the Flame and Hearth, she rules over smithery, healing, and creativity. The flame of Brigid was tended by the Daughters of the Flame in Kildare, Ireland over many centuries from the 5th BC to the 16th CE.
Brigid revived the Earth (in the Northern Hemisphere) from its winter slumber so that farm work could begin. Being as at this time the winter pantry began to run close to empty, the first appearance of new life and green shoots, brought with it the promise of the return of Spring.
This is the time to initiate new beginnings and to prepare for new life to emerge.
But first…we are called to discard what is no longer working (anything harmful or not needed) to create space. If space is not created then a new seed planted in overgrowth will suffocate.
What we discard acts like mulch allowing the old ways of being to fertilize new growth.
Then…we turn our gaze to new vision. New vision requires new insight and new actions.
How can we acknowledge the Sacredness of this time?
Before you continue to the suggestions on how to celebrate, first connect to the essence of this being a time to notice the gestational stirrings of Spring within you.
Take out your journal and contemplate the following:
- The Sufi poet Rumi said: “And don’t think the garden loses its ecstasy in Winter. It’s quiet, but the roots are down there riotous.” What do you think about this quote?
- What is no longer working in my life that needs to be discarded?
- How can I create space for something new to emerge in my life?
Brigid represents smithery, healing, and creativity. Ask yourself:
- What do I want to manifest in my physical world? What am I currently building or what would I like to start building in my life?
- What needs healing or cleansing within me? Does my physical health need tending? How am I mentally or emotionally? Are there any thoughts, feelings, beliefs, or behaviours that need attention?
- What wants to create through me as its muse? What do I feel pulled to create right now? How am I appreciating the beauty of life and/or how can I develop a deeper appreciation for the beauty in life?
- What new action or insight do I need to be able to bring the above into my life?
Ways to Celebrate Imbolc
- Take a walk in Nature and notice signs of new life
- Light a fire in your fireplace or outside in a safe firepit
- Gather with friends and feast!
- Fill a planter with springtime bulbs (daffodil, tulips or crocus)
- Start some Spring cleaning
- Visit a stream, river, well, or other body of water: Traditionally, Imbolc was a time for visiting a spring or a well, to both purify us and bring fertility to our dreams. If the water’s clean, splash some over yourself as you set your intention to cleanse and purify. Possibly dip a piece of ribbon in the water and hang it from a nearby tree. Treat this tree as a “wishing tree” to carry your wishes of hope and healing.
- Gather with other like-minded and hearted women and celebrate the turning of the Wheel of the Year. Consider doing so in-person (for those in Victoria, BC), livestream, or replay in my SHE Collective Moon Lodge on Friday February 2nd. More information here.
How did you celebrate Imbolc?
I’d love to know! Leave your comment in the box below and share your experience with me.
If this post nudges you; if you are a woman who pulses with the Earth, the Moon, and the Seasons; if you hear the call howling for you, I invite you to consider answering this call and joining me and other like-minded and hearted women in the SHE Collective Moon Lodge either in-person or virtually.
There is a place for you here: shecollective.ca/moonlodge/
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Your Soul Sistah,