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The Cottage January/Imbolc 2002
Imbolc

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I M B O L C (February 1 or 2)
Also known as: Candlemas, Imbolg, Imbolgc, Brigantia, Lupercus, Disting.

This is a Sabbat that celebrates the beginnings of spring as the days get longer. We know the first buds will be showing up soon and we are filled with hope for the coming summer months. If the keywords for Yule are rest and introspection, the keywords for Imbolc are planning and creativity. The Goddess recovers from the birth of Her son and the God's strength is increasing with the waxing power of the sun. The earliest whispers of spring are heard as the Goddess nurtures Her young son. This is a Sabbat of purification, after the darkness of winter, through the renewing power of the sun. It is also a festival of light and of fertility, once marked with huge blazes, torches and fire in every form. Fire in this season represents our own illumination and inspiration as much as lighte and warmth. This is a traditional time for initiations and dedications. Here we begin to plan and create our hopes and dreams for the coming summer months.

Where I live, there is most likely snow on the ground,( and lots of it;) how can we see this as spring? Even though Imbolc occurs at the coldest time of the year, it marks the time during which days become noticeably longer. We know the greenery that will be born soon is lying just under the surface, planning, waiting for the time when it will meet the sun and thrive.


Imbolc is a festival of waxing light and purification, heralding the potential of spring. It is associated with the Celtic goddess Brid (pronounced 'breed' but) (also called Bride, Bridhe, Brigid or Bridget). In terms of the Goddess cycle, Imbolc is the point at which the old, winter aspect of the Goddess, the Crone, is transformed into the Maiden (the Virgin Goddess, Brid).

Activities of Imbolc:

Imbolc is a great time for candlemaking and it is appropriate to make your whole years stock at this time, blessing them at your ritual. If you dont make your own, store bought candles can be blessed at this time.


Pick up seed catalogs and start ordering for spring -even if you have to plant your "garden" on your window sill. Do a seed blessing with the seed you have in stock.


These are still the "hungry months" so consider volunteering at a soup kitchen. Most of the Christians who do this seem to lose interest after "the holidays" of Thanksgiving and Christmas. Suicide hotlines are also in need of more volunteers during this time, even if the worste is at Christmas ---help someone else see through the coming of the spring.


If you eat meat try going with out red meat for a few weeks, or eat only preserved meat products. Follow this up with a meal including lamb for your feast at your Imbolc ritual.


Even if Brighid is not the main focus of your worship, consider making a small altar to Her at your "hearth." This may just be a space in your kitchen near your stove that includes a white candle and a Brighid's Cross (and equal arm cross of straw). The cross should be destroyed and replaced each year; and making and blessing the crosses might be part of your Imbolc ritual. Hang them up, especially in the kitchen where her influence can bless your food.

This is also an appropriate time to bless your house. If you belong to a ritual group whose members live nearby, it could be part of the group's seasonal activity.

If you are involved in an activity that is specifically summer oriented, say a sport, get out the gear that you use for this activity. Clean it, repair it if necessary. Perhaps start making plans for this activity or for others that may involve traveling or getting a group together.


Consider spending extra time just with your family and "tribe," whatever that may mean to you. Rather than spending time traveling and surrounding yourself with strangers, concentrate on those closest to you. Tell stories;, this is still the dark half of the year and it is from Samhain to Beltaine that stories are traditionally told. Perhaps if your ritual group tends to meet only on group "business," this would be a good time to just hang out, drink tea, and get to know each other better.


In the days and weeks to follow do a period of spiritual purification. This includes things like physical and spiritual housecleaning, and removing Yuletide greens from home and burning them. Do a purification bath to purify your body,. a meditation to purify your mind.


As a time of cleansing and purification, it's a great time to make or buy a besom if you don't already have one. Symbolically sweep your home top to bottom, ridding the old and making room for the new.


Symbolism of Imbolc:

Purity, growth and renewal, the reunion of the Goddess and the God, fertility, and dispensing of the old and making way for the new.

Symbols of Imbolc:

Brideo'gas, besoms, white flowers, candle wheels, Brighid's crosses, priapic wands (acorn-tipped), and ploughs.

Deities of Imbolc:

All virgin/maiden goddesses, Brighid, Aradia, Athena, Inanna, Gaia, and Februa, and gods of love and fertility, Aengus Og, Eros, and Februus, Aphrodite.

Lore:

Fertility and growth are celebrated at this time. Its a good time for initiations into groups . One tradition calls for the lighting of all lamps or candles in the home just for a few moments to honor the suns return. Persephone returns from the pool re-born.

Colors:

White, pink, red, yellow, light. green, brown,. orange.

Herbs of Imbolc:

Angelica, ashleaf, balsams, basil, bay, benzoin, blackberry, celandine,
chamomile, coltsfoot, coriander, dragon's blood, sage, garlic
heather, iris, lemon, mastic, myrrh, rose hips,
sunflower, tansey, vervain, violets, wheat, witch hazel.

Incense of Imbolc:

Basil, Bay, Benzoin, Chamomile, Cinnamon, Dragon's Blood, Frankincense, Heather, Myrrh, Red Sandalwood, Sage, Wisteria, Vanilla, Violet.

Foods of Imbolc:

Pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, poppyseed cakes, muffins, scones, and breads, all dairy products, peppers, onions, garlic, raisins, spiced wines and herbal teas.

Stones of Imbolc:

Amethyst, Bloodstone, Clear Quartz, Citrine, Garnet,
Green Tourmaline, Hematite, Iron, Lodestone, Onyx, Red Zircon,
Rose Quartz, Ruby, Turquoise, Yellow Tourmaline.

Altar Decorations:

Snowflake cut-outs, white and yellow flowers, a crown of thirteen candles, a sprig of evergreen, witches broom or besom, statue of Triple Goddess in Her maiden phase.

Tarot Card:

The Star

Taboos:

It is considered taboo to cut or pick plants during this time.

Signs of Spring:

If Candlemas day be sunny and bright, Winter again will show its might.
If Candlemas day be cloudy and grey, Winter soon will pass away.

If Candlemas day be fair and bright, Winter will have another flight.
If Candlemas day be shower and rain, Winter is gone and will not come again.

This article was compiled from information I have gathered in my Book of Shadows. If anyone can cite proper sources, please let me know so I can credit them.