Imbolc-The Celebration of Light
Imbolc-The Celebration of Light
Many religious and spiritual paths celebrate February 1st or 2nd as the Feast of the Waxing Light, also known as Imbolc/Imbolg. It falls midway between the winter solstice of Yule and the spring equinox of Ostara and is considered the first cross quarter day in the Wheel of The Year. It is a celebration of the returning light and the hope of spring.
Imbolc has as many names as there are spiritual paths with Candlemas, The Light Lord, and (Saint) Brigid’s Day to name a few.
The name Imbolc derives from an old Gaelic translation meaning “in the belly” or “milk” and at one time referred to the pregnant ewes who birthed at spring.
The day was celebrated with feasting, dancing and weather divination.
It fell out of favor for some time in the middle ages but was revived and to this day many Wiccan and Celtic neopagans celebrate the day joyfully as a spiritual or religious holiday.
At this time of year, the days are noticeably longer, and Imbolc is celebrated with light.
Candles and fires are lit and kept burning all night to illuminate the ritual dances and the burning of sacred herbs.
Even though winter is only half way over, the returning light cannot be ignored. In ancient times the sun was the God/dess of Light and it was their favor that was bestowed upon earth to bring the promise of life renewed.
Brigid was a powerful Goddess in Ireland and governed higher spiritual states such as wisdom, poetry, art and divination. In another aspect she protected animals and children and so has a warrior aspect as well.
If one goes back far enough in time, we learn that Brigid was a triple Goddess having a sister who was a healer and another who was a blacksmith . In her Christianized aspect she is St. Brighid protector of the hearth, home and children.
Agrarian societies depended on an early warm spring to ensure both birthing of healthy livestock and sowing of their crops. The spiritual leaders gathered to observe whether snakes or badgers came out of their dens .
If they came out and cast a shadow winter would be longer and cold, if no shadow could be seen spring was near.
In modern times we see this weather divination expressed in Ground Hog’s Day made popular by The German Pennsylvania Dutch culture.
Like ancient Gaelic people, Pennsylvania Dutch farmers depended heavily on an early spring for their livelihood and groundhogs were considered a forecasting animal.
The Ground Hog’s day celebration is officiated by elders wearing traditional costumes that have not changed in many years.
As anyone who has been to Punxatawny, Pennsylvania on Feb 2nd knows, there is much celebratory drinking and dancing all day long?
For many of us on a spiritual path, Candlemas/Imbolc can also be a quiet time to reflect , rest and redirect before the spring arrives.
With the dark night of winter still upon us it is a perfect time to scry, divine with cards, cast runes or meditate. A traditional scrying method involves gazing into a mirror to see your path unfold . Another method involves drop of olive oil into a bowl of water and gazing by candle light into the bowl.
You may wish to burn incense or drink teas that represent the light of Imbolc. Some traditional herbs are angelica, basil, bay, heather and myrrh.
Some foods to herald the light include bread with caraway seeds, peppers, garlic, onions and root vegetables. For sweetness, tea with honey and candied ginger is eaten. The flowers of Imbolc includes pansies, wild jasmine and narcissus.
No matter what you call the day , open your inner sight and celebrate the light.
How do you celebrate Imbolc?
What do you think?
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I became aware of my gifts at age 3 when I began seeing spirits in my room.
My mother and grandmother were both gifted and from a very young age, I was taught to respect nature and to read her signs along with herbalism, tarot cards, and healing.
I have worked in the healing and psychic world for many years and have taught, read and counseled and written. I trained with many masters and have studied to enhance my gifts in Italy, Greece and many places in the US.
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