Imbolc – or Candlemas – is a major Sabbat that occurs every year on February 1st or 2nd. It exists as a halfway point between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. Its current traditions stem from Ireland’s St. Brigid’s Day, a celebration for the Mother Goddess Brigid, who is associated with fertility, protection, healing, and fires. Lights are a main focus on this day, as representations of the Sun that will be coming back to us soon in all of its fiery glory, bringing with it new life and energy. Lighting as many white candles as (safely!) possible is appropriate on this day.
At this moment in the year, the Goddess is recovering from giving birth to the God back on Yule, and is now watching her son grow and learn. She is daydreaming of his future, when he will be her equal on Beltane and be his strongest on Litha. He is the embodiment of the Sun, and Imbolc serves as a reminder that the Sun will soon be getting stronger, giving renewed life to all that turned inward and died in the winter. The wheel of the year turns, and turns, and turns.
It’s fun to make a whole day out of celebrating Imbolc. Find the time for some spring cleaning around the home. Out with the old, in with the new. I know that some may not like cleaning and organizing as much as I do, but it can be very rewarding. Magick can be incorporated into housework- banishing old energy while sweeping and vacuuming, whispering a blessing chant while lighting incense, and asking Deity to protect your loved ones while dusting off the front porch mat. Feel free to donate any lightly-used clothing, appliances, and furniture to thrift stores or charities. If you’re a kitchen witch or you just like cooking and baking, milk and honey are choice ingredients for this holiday. The word Imbolc means “ewe’s milk,” as Europeans associated ewes lactating as the pre-beginnings of spring. If it’s not too cold outside, take a walk outside in nature and look for the first signs of spring. Are there any animals poking their heads up? Have any flowers bloomed yet, or about to bloom? Collect any stones that speak to you. Place them on your altar or arrange them to create a sacred circle.
Samhain taught us about death, letting go, and drawing inward into the waning year. Yule taught us to look for beginnings after every end, to keep friends close, and call to mind that there is light and warmth ahead. Now that we are moving closer to warmer days, dynamic Aries energy, and the waxing year, the energy of Imbolc is best used for planning. It is the “ready, set…” before the “go!” The earth is beginning to yawn and stretch and stir, but it’s not quite the time for acting on new goals yet. Therefore, in the meantime, we now pick the seeds we want to grow in our lives, literally and metaphorically. If you haven’t already, now is a good time to make a list of what goals you want to accomplish, which ideas you want to learn more about, and what hobbies you want to master. Leave anything that would get in your way back in the waning year and do not carry it with you. Think big, for this is a new year full of possibilities. As long as you stay true to yourself and your craft, you will be satisfied with wherever you are on your journey.
Source: Sabbats by Edain McCoy