Holidays

What is Imbolc? Goddesses, History, and How to Celebrate

Imbolc is an ancient Pagan holiday based on Celtic traditions; it marks the halfway point between winter solstice and the spring equinox in Neolithic Ireland and Scotland. This is the time of year when we start to emerge from the darkness of winter in preparation for the Spring. 

In today’s modern world, we are far removed from the hardships of Winter, compared to our ancestors who lived thousands of years ago. At this point in the year, people have been hunkered down inside for months, living off root vegetables, salted meat, and what little they could fish or hunt. Their sheep, who naturally tend to breed in Autumn, are ready to give birth right around Imbolc. The ewe’s milk flows for the first time all Winter, and fresh milk and cheese were the first signs that Spring is about to arrive. Imbolc was a time to celebrate the coming of brighter days, surviving the harsh Winter, and planning for the year’s sowing season.

Being mindful of the natural energies, the ebbs and flows of the year, can help us stay connected to the elements, the season and the earth. Ancient Pagans followed the Wheel of the Year, eight Sabbats consisting of four solstice festivals, and four fire festivals.

All about Brighid (Brigid)

On Imbolc, ancestors in Ireland and Scotland particularly, honored the Goddess Brighid. Brighid can take on any appearance she wants, young or old, human or snake. She is a Triple Celtic Goddess, the embodiment of the child, the maiden and the crone. She is the Goddess of the Eternal Flame, the trinity also represents three types of fire: hearth fire, forge fire, and the fire to create and transform. She is also known as the Goddess of the Sacred Well, protecting healing waters. Brighid was the patron of poets, healers, and magicians.   

Brighid (Brigid) Imbolc

Imbolc Correspondence for the Modern Witch

Foods associated with Imbolc are milk, butter, yogurt, and cheese (and nondairy alternatives will do just fine). This is the time to savor creamy soups, spring onions, leeks, potatoes, and Irish Soda Bread. Oils associated with Imbolc are spruce and fir, cinnamon, rosemary, patchouli, jasmine, and vanilla. Colors are white, light blue, and light pink. 

Imbolc is sometimes referred to as Candlemas, and a common practice is to make and bless candles. You can make corn dollies or Brighid’s Cross out of any kind of grass or hay you have available. 

Ceromancy, or candlewax divination, is a great way to connect with the magic of the season. Imagine a goal you are working towards, a seed you wish to plant. Really meditate on this goal, and develop a question with a yes or no answer. Use a paper plate and draw a line down the middle. Label on side yes, the other no. Light a small spell candle or tealight. Journal about your vision or meditate more (while supervising the candle). When it has burned all the way down, observe which side of the plate collected the most wax. That is your answer!

Imbolc Spell Kit

4 Ways to learn more about Imbolc

  1. Listen to my Imbolc playlist on Spotify, with seasonal songs and podcasts
  2. Check out my Imbolc board on Pinterest for more ideas
  3. Order an Imbolc Spell Kit from my Etsy Shop (pictured above)
  4. Join me for a magic workshop:

Learn more about Brighid, the Roman Goddess Juno, and the Egyptian Goddess Renenutet. Pull tarot cards, receive reiki, and relax during a guided meditation that will help you plant your own fire seed of intention. 

  • In Person workshop at Saltitude Sunday 1/31 1:00-3:00 pm (learn more)
  • Virtual workshop on Zoom Monday 2/1 5:30-7:00 pm (learn more)

Sources

Neal, Carl F. Imbolc: Rituals, Recipes & Lore for Brigid’s Day. Llewellyn, 2016. 

Moura, Ann. Grimoire for the Green Witch: a Complete Book of Shadows. Llewellyn Worldwide, Ltd, 2018.

Personal Quips

A Witch’s Guide to Social Distancing

I’ve been shying away from posting about the pandemic that is rippling across the globe. I wanted to stay positive, and felt the last thing we need is more reminders of the current state of affairs. But as the weeks pass, I’ve come to realize that my daily rituals and witchy beliefs have helped me so much and I wanted to share my experience with all of you.

“Good morning star shine, the Earth says hello”

Morning ritual makes me feel like a human even if I’m not leaving the house all day. I meditate and hit my yoga mat every morning, first thing. Sometimes I free style and find what feels good. I also highly recommend this Down Dog app, which a friend turned me on to. It is being offered for free right now! Also, Yoga with Adriene on youtube is my jam. Don’t take your home yoga practice too seriously, just have fun with it.

After yoga, I always shower, and put on real pants! Well, at least clean pants. I always make a point to brush my teeth right after I finish breakfast. I open all of the curtains to let as much light in as possible. I try to get outside a little bit every day. I have three dogs and I live in a neighborhood with plenty of sidewalks for lunch time strolls and after dinner walks. I know that we all have different routines and preferences. Personally, nothing works better for me than movement, nature and healthy habits.

Spells and smells

Filling your space with nice smells can be surprisingly uplifting. I have some frankincense oil in my diffuser this morning. Sometimes I’ll pick a citrus scent or a floral scent. Nothing like that at home? You can simmer a small pot of water with cinnamon, rosemary, lemons, anything you have on hand to make the house smell good. This is also a good offering for your mediation or spells. A simple spell I like to do is write an intention on a piece of paper and burn it in a candle.

Speaking of making the house smell good, I’ve been doing so much baking! Check out these biscuits and cinnamon rolls. I made a sauce from some strawberries stuck in the back of my freezer and put that on the biscuits for some strawberry shortcake. What are you cooking up at home? I like getting creative with the odds and ends in my cabinets.

Staying connected

My pets have been a great comfort to me. As much as I enjoy conversations with my dogs and my cat, I also try to stay in touch with humans. I also have been putting myself out there online. I took a yoga class through zoom with Healing Within RI.

Other lifesavers have been: books, poetry, movies, coloring and crafting!

I’ve had some zoom chats with my friends, and I try to call and text friends and family throughout the day. Its not always easy for me to point the camera at myself, but this has been a great opportunity to work on that. I’ve been giving tarot readings over the phone way more than usual. I’m working on creating more video content, like this fun “pick a number” reading!

How are you coping with our current situation? Let me know! Connect on Facebook or shoot me an email. A 30 minute phone reading with me is not only great entertainment, but it can reveal some clues and give some insight on how to make the most of your time at home.