Imbolc (pronounced ‘im’olk’ also known as Oimelc) comes from an Irish word that was originally thought to mean ‘in the belly’ although many people translate it as ‘ewe’s milk’ (oi-melc).
Imbolc is one of the cornerstones of the Celtic calendar. For them the success of the new farming season was of great importance. As winter stores of food were getting low Imbolc rituals were performed to harness divine energy that would ensure a steady supply of food until the harvest six months later.
Like many Celtic festivals, the Imbolc celebrations centred around the lighting of fires. Fire was perhaps more important for this festival than others as it was also the holy day of Brigid (also known as Bride, Brigit, Brid), the Goddess of fire, healing and fertility. The lighting of fires celebrated the increasing power of the Sun over the coming months. The Goddess Brigid was so much loved that when the Christians were converting Pagans they could not change the holiday of Imbolc so the holiday was reformed and renamed ‘Candlemas’ when candles are lit to remember the purification of the Virgin Mary, and they changed the Goddess Brigid into Saint Brigid.
As Imbolc is in between Winter and Spring it reminds us that there is strength in cold as well as heat, death as well as life, light as well as dark. To embrace them both on this day.
At Imbolc we celebrate the young God and Goddess that of the young fertile earth and the young waxing Sun growing more in power day by day.
Imbolc is the ending of Winter and the beginning of Spring, to celebrate Imbolc, light a fire, it may only be a very small one and make wishes for the coming year into the flames. Burn any leftover evergreens that were decorating your home at Yule. Clean your homes of clutter that was gathered over the Yuletide and get rid of the old and bring in the new. Plant flowers for them to bloom in the Spring. Use a sage smudge stick to cleanse your homes of stale or unwanted negative energies.
Imbolc is a time of contemplation, to think about the year that has past and mistakes or successes and what we have learned from them to help us achieve our goals, dreams and ambitions for the coming year. As well as planting seeds to grow in the earth also plant seeds in your mind to grow and blossom over the coming months.
Have a blessed Imbolc, May the God and Goddess watch over you.