Greetings lovely friends. How is your New Year going so far? Mine is going very well. As I write this it is 2:30pm..I am still in my jammies, there is snow on the ground and it’s really cold out and snowing again. A warm fire, a warm drink, celtic music playing, veggie soup in the crock and I have just finished catching up on bills/paperwork and organized some things. Now I am relaxing and have started thinking about Imbolc and how I want to celebrate it, decorate my altar, etc. Imbolc is a a wonderful Sabbat to me as it is the first one I actually celebrated many years ago. I had read about Sabbats for many years, knew alot about them, but hadn’t done anything but read about them and recognize the day. When I finally actually DID something to celebrate..well, my practice changed for the better, needless to say. So lets talk a bit about Imbolc. I love the book Simple Wicca by Michele Morgan for her beautiful prose on what is happening to Mother Earth during the time of each Sabbat!
“Winter fights valiantly to hold the land. The crisp snows of January have turned to storms of sleet, and the Earth and the sky are gray, leaden, and heavy with the cold. But here and there, scattered like jewels in the sodden grass and the frozen garden, the first slender tips of daffodils start up toward the pale, growing Sun, and something in us stirs as well, as life pulses unseen beneath the still-slumbering ground.”
This is Imbolc, known also as Imbolg, Candlemas, the Festival of Brighid, and the Feast of Lights. The word Imbolc means “in the belly,” or in the womb of Mother Earth, as well as “in milk,” which refers to ewes coming into milk for the first lambs of the season. This Sabbat marks the return of spring, even as winter continues its reign. Imbolc is February 2nd and is of course, in modern times, also known as Groundhog’s Day.
Imbolc is a time of cleansing and purification. It is time to throw out the old and bring in the new. This not only means the “stuff and clutter” in your home, but also your old thoughts, anger, hurt feelings etc. It’s time to prepare for the warm spring days and for the renewal of Mother Earth and her bounty. Rites of initiation and consecration of altars and ritual tools are often conducted at this Sabbat. Imbolc is the time of year that I often renew my devotion to my Path by performing a self re-dedication ceremony.
The customs of Imbolc include ritual “spring cleaning” of the house, to banish the last of winter and hasten the growing days. Use lavender and rosemary in a pot of boiling water to wash floors and walls, vinegar and mugwort for windows and mirrors. Burn sage to cleanse the psychic energies, and replace old protection and prosperity charms. I will be renewing my witches bottle at the Full Moon closest to Imbolc. Cleanse your body with a ritual bath scented with lavender, and as you soak, meditate to clear your mind and heart of any thoughts or emotions that no longer serve you. This is all to “start a-new” in mind, body, spirit and home. I love doing this..the house smells wonderful and feels so clean..and cleansed and Blessed, and what’s not to love about a ritual bath with great smelling lavender!
In ancient times, the Goddess Brighid was honored as her Maiden aspect, as the Bride. One way to celebrate her is to make Brighid’s Crosses, fashioned from wheat stalks and exchanged as symbols of protection and prosperity in the coming year. Home hearth fires are put out and re-lit, and a besom is placed by the front door to symbolize sweeping out the old and welcoming the new. Candles are lit and placed in each room of the house to honor the re-birth of the Sun. Just before sunset, turn off all the lights in the house. With a single white candle burning to represent Brighid, knock three times on the front door and invite the Goddess to enter, asking that she bestow health, success, abundance, and love upon everyone in the house. Then slowly begin turning on the lights, moving room to room, until every light in the house is on.
*Symbolism-First stirring of Mother Earth, lambing, growth of the Sun God, the middle of winter, Purity, Re-newal, Fertility, dispensing of old and making way for the new
*Symbols/Tools/Decorations-Brighid’s Crosses, Brideo’gas, Besoms, white flowers, acorn wands, candles, Brides bed, milk, evergreens, daffodils, grain/seeds, snowflakes
*Herbs-Angelica, basil, bay laurel, blackberry, heather, iris, myrrh, violets, clover, willow, and all yellow flowers.
*Incense/Oils-Basil, bay, wisteria, cinnamon, violet, vanilla, myrrh, jasmine, rose, sage lavender,
*Colors-Gold, light green, green, blue, yellow, pink, white, red, brown and pastels
*Crystals/Stones-Amethyst, bloodstone, garnet, ruby, turquoise, onyx, moonstone, red jasper
*Customs/Activities-Candle lighting, seeking omens of spring, cleaning house, bonfires, indoor planting, stone collecting, hearth re-lighting, storytelling
*Foods-Pumpkin, sesame and sunflower seeds, spicy foods, dairy, raisins, poppyseed bread/cakes, muffins, scones, breads, pancakes/waffles, spiced wines, herbal teas
*Gods- Pan, Cupid/Eros, young Sun Gods
*Goddesses- Brighid, Venus, Diana, Virgin Goddess, Maiden Child Goddess, Aradia, Athena, Inanna, Vesta, Gaia, Selene, Februa
*Spellworking/Rituals-Cleansing, purification, renewal, creative inspiration, purification, initiation, candle work, house & temple blessings, welcoming Brigid, feast of milk and bread, Self-dedication
To aid you in your house cleansing, here is a ritual I love to do after all the Cleaning is done….
Imbolc House Cleansing Ritual
-First do a complete physical cleaning of your house.
-Clean windows with vinegar and mugwort water.
-Clean floors with lavender and rosemary water.
-Throw out old, used, worn items or give to charity.
-Sort thru piles of paperwork.
-This physically sweeps out the old negative energy in the house and makes room for the new.
-Light a smudge stick and walk around the rooms of your house to replace old protection and prosperity.
-Make Blessing Oil.
As you pass from room to room, anoint each door and windowsill with the Blessing Oil by tracing the shape of a pentagram or other symbol of your tradition. This prevents anything negative from crossing into the home. Say:
“May the goddess bless this home,
making it sacred and pure,
so that nothing but love and joy
shall enter through this door.”
For me the house cleaning part takes place the week before. Then I do the floors and windows the day of, then I perform this ritual. The night of Imbolc, I light candles all over my home for awhile. Then I do as suggested above. I turn off all lights and light a single white candle and go to each door, knock 3 times, throw it open and invite in the goddess and ask her for all the good things in life to come into my home; Health, abundance, prosperity, and joy! As I go room to room, I turn the lights back on. I will then spend time at my altar doing my self re-dedication and honoring the Goddess Brighid, whom I often will call on.
I will post more about my altar and my Imbolc celebration in the coming days. If you haven’t already started thinking about this beautiful Sabbat, then do. There is alot of work involved with this one. The clearing out of the old is not for the faint of heart! LOL Be brutal in both your home and yourself! Really clear out the stuff that needs to go. You will feel so much better about your home and you will feel lighter and happier with yourself as well. Spring is coming and I know that makes many of your heart’s soar!! Start it out with a clean, uncluttered great smelling home and a clean slate full of positivity, lightness and joy for yourself!
Blessed Be, Autumn