Spring is Coming! Rebirth
Imbolc is a holiday with a variety of names, depending on which culture and location you’re looking at. In the Irish Gaelic, it’s called Oimelc, which translates to “ewe’s milk.” It’s a precursor to the end of winter when the ewes are nursing their newly born lambs. Spring and the planting season are right around the corner.
The Romans Celebrate:
To the Romans, this time of year halfway between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox was known as Lupercalia. For them, it was a purification ritual in which a goat was sacrificed and a scourge made of its hide. Thong-clad men ran through the city, whacking people with bits of hide. Those who were struck considered themselves fortunate indeed. This is one of the few Roman celebrations that is not associated with a particular temple or deity. Instead, it focuses on the founding of the city of Rome, by twins Romulus and Reus, who were suckled by a she-wolf—in a cave known as the “lupercal”
The Feast of Nut:
The ancient Egyptians celebrated this time of year as the Feast of Nut, whose birthday falls on February 2 (Gregorian calendar). According to the Book of the Dead, Nut was seen as a mother-figure to the sun god Ra, who at sunrise was known as Khepera and took the form of a scarab beetle.
The Goddess Brighid
Like many Pagan holidays, Imbolc has a Celtic connection as well, although it wasn’t celebrated in non-Gaelic Celtic societies. The Irish goddess Brighid is the keeper of the sacred flame, the guardian of home and hearth. To honour her, purification and cleaning are a wonderful way to get ready for the coming of Spring. In addition to fire, she is a goddess connected to inspiration and creativity.
Brighid is known as one of the Celtic “triune” goddesses—meaning that she is one and three simultaneously. The early Celts celebrated a purification festival by honouring Brighid, or Brid, whose name meant “bright one.” In some parts of the Scottish Highlands, Brighid was viewed as Cailleach Bheur, a woman with mystical powers who was older than the land itself. Brighid was also a warlike figure, Brigantia, in the Brigantes tribe near Yorkshire, England. The Christian St. Brigid was the daughter of a Pictish slave who was baptised by St. Patrick, and founded a community of nuns at Kildare, Ireland.
In modern Wicca and Paganism, Brighid is viewed as the maiden aspect of the maiden/mother/crone cycle. She walks the earth on the eve of her day, and before going to bed each member of the household should leave a piece of clothing outside for Brighid to bless. Smoor your fire as the last thing you do that night, and rake the ashes smooth. When you get up in the morning, look for a mark on the ashes, a sign that Brighid has passed that way in the night or morning. The clothes are brought inside, and now have powers of healing and protection thanks to Brighid.
This is a time to cleanse yourself from any negative energies.
So get a bath or shower, and just take the time out, to de clutter any emotional thoughts you have though out the last few days or month. Cleanse an area within your home, take the phone off, and any other distractions, and just relax put some soft music on or smells, or just sit in silence and relax your mind. So it cleanses the mind body and soul.
A simple Ritual
A white cloth left outside on the Eve of Imbolc may be brought inside in the morning having been blessed by the Goddess.
Lighting many white candles to celebrate the strengthening light of the season.
Suitable incenses to burn at Imbolc include lavender, cinnamon, basil, frankincense and myrrh. Open windows for a few minutes to air the home, and then allow the fragrant smoke to permeate the home. The cleansing smoke will quicken the mood of all those that experience it, and this atmosphere of renewal will remain long after the smoke has dispersed.
Drinking fresh milk from a magical chalice/cup. Traditionally animals began to provide much needed fresh milk around Imbolc, a very welcome and practical sign of the renewal of the wheel of the year!
Also you could do some candle magick, and as long as you have intent that’s all that matters, you can ask for anything.
On the 2nd Feb I normally wear all white and I put some fairy lights on my crown, as a sign of the Light.
I also share soup and bread made by myself and my children.
We sit and talk about plans, what it is we want to do within the coming months.
We also set ourselves a project that we can all do together ready for the next ritual.
© Wendy Binks aka Lady Snake 2010