The agricultural calendar has eight farming and community holidays and celebrations making a wheel. Every six or so weeks is a corresponding holiday that helps denote the time of year and gives us space to receive blessings and to show gratitude. These holidays are Celtic historically but they are celebrated still. The first of these holidays in the year is Imbolc. Pronounced im-bowl-g. It begins the eve of February 1st and sometimes goes until February 2nd. It is not too late to bring back some of our most beloved traditions and wisdom.
It is interesting to note that in each culture around the world, the gods and goddesses looked very similar and had similar roles. Brigid is the goddess of spring. She brings back the light of the sun. She awakens Mother Earth to warm and bring spring. She travels through the night on January 31st blessing articles of clothing that are left outdoors. In her wake life is sparked.
Now as Christianity came rolling through, destroying cultures and people in its wake, the church demanded that the peasants (another word for peasant is Pagan) stop worshipping gods and goddesses. But the people so adored Brigid that the Catholic church finally made her a saint so that the people would at least be praying to a saint. St. Brigit was born. Her Celtic cross is not a crucifix, it is a symbol of the four directions.
Imbolc is one of four fire festivals. The elements are revered in every original culture for their power to destroy and renew. Fire warms, awakens, enlivens, brings life.
Imbolc translates to “In the belly” or “Ewe’s milk” depending on text and is the celebration of lambs being born. Fiber, milk, and meat were of course ways of survival before we could truly choose compassion completely. This is a time to bless seeds. And each day gets a little longer and a little warmer and gives us hope for spring and a break from the cold.
Ways to Celebrate and Prepare
Sweep out the house and set out a bouquet of fresh flowers.
Mix in a small spray bottle a blend of essential oils along with witchhazel or vodka to suspend. Try lavender, cedar, sage, orange, frankincense, sandalwood, vanilla, rose, or other intoxicating, cleansing scents and smudge your home and yourself with the oil spray. Your house will smell fresh, negativity will be released, and a fresh start will commence.
This evening, start a fire or light a candle. Ask Mother Earth and Brigid and Creator to bless your seeds and gardens.
Prepare a glass of warm almond milk with herbs steeped in it like lavender or green tea and enjoy before the fire.
Place a scarf or hat or other article of clothing outdoors to be blessed.
In our world of science and seriousness, we have lost the enchantment of what was. People would not have been doing these traditions and celebrating these holidays for thousands of years if there was nothing to them. Accept your blessings, feel renewed, and enjoy the warmth of Imbolc.