What is Imbolc?
Imbolc is a Pagan Holiday that signifies the beginning of spring. It lies midway between winter solstice and the vernal equinox which usually falls around the first of February, a date that closely coincides with Groundhog's Day. Imbolc is one of 4 Celtic pagan holidays that signify the beginning of a season such as Beltane (summer), Lughnasa (autumn), & Samhain (winter).
What does Imbolc mean?
The word Imbolc could be a derivative of the Old Irish (Gaelic) word Mbolg, meaning “in the belly” referring to pregnancy, supposedly of sheep but also, more symbolically, of the earth. Imbolc could also derive from the Old Irish word imb-fholc, meaning, simultaneously, “milk” and “cleansing,” which lends to the imagery of the quickening life within the earth and awakening from hibernation.
What is the history of Imbolc?
Imbolc was also known to the Celts as Brigid’s day, a time to honor the Celtic Goddess of the hearth. Brigid’s day was first mentioned, in writing, in the 10th century. In order to appropriate paganism into Christianity, Brigid was canonized to St Brigid. St Brigid’s Day is still celebrated in British Commonwealth countries, and by Neo-pagans worldwide.
What are Imbolc traditions? How do you celebrate Imbolc?
The decorative colors of Imbolc are white, red, & green.
Imbolc altars are decorated with herbs and foods in the colors of the season; rose petals, cherries, sage, basil, and bay leaves, amethyst & selenite.
Imbolc is traditionally a time for cleaning away the clutter and cobwebs of winter and making space for the new year (literally and figuratively). The broom is a well-known decorative symbol of Imbolc.
Smudging the home with sage is a common Imbolc ritual. Do this by burning sage and blowing the smoke into the ceiling with a smudge fan or feather. (Hint: do not blow with your mouth. Use a feather or fan.)
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Leaving small piles or vials of salt in the corners and window of the house is said to cleanse the home of all spirit energy. Welcoming positive energy back into the home is then needed, and can be done with sweet grass, sage and lavender.
Some Brigid's Day traditions include making Brigid’s crosses out of green palm leaves and making Brigid dolls out of straw. Another common tradition is to leave clothes outside over-night to be blessed by Brigid on the first spring morning.
Suggestions on how to decorate an Imbolc Alter:
Herbs: sage, mint, basil, bay, salt, lavender,
Crystals: amethyst, peridot, moonstone, selenite
Food: cherries, milk
May you find clarity hope and rebirth this Imbolc.