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Imbolg - (Ihm-bowlk) other names are Imbloc, Brigantina, Candlemas, Lupercus
Feb 2nd - or for some can be celebrated from the eve of Feb. to Feb. 3rd. This lands between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox
This is considered a Fire festival Or The Winter Festival of lights; Fire as in light not heat/warmth. Fires are lit to encourage the sun to return. This festival reminds us that the day light is growing and the winter will soon be gone.
Imbolg marks the end of the winter, a festival of survival and new life; anticipated with joy as Mother Earth stirred from her winter's sleep.
This is a time for cleansing, re-dedication, planning and personal assessment and transformation.
Groundhog day falls during this time and is thought that upon the groundhog's return from hibernation, we will find out if the winter will continue on or end soon. Possibly a manifestation of the God, He has been sleeping since Samhain and stirs in his slumber to get a take on the coming light"
Traditons for Imbolg are -
- Making your own candles to use for the rituals now and for the rest of the year
- Do a house cleansing and blessing to rid the house of the old and unwanted and to welcome the new (this can include 'spring cleaning', yard sales, etc!!!)
- An Imbolg seven day ritual - focusing on new plans, goals, wishes, projects, etc. and leaving behind the past mistakes and negativities
- Sow seeds for your gardens or to share with others
- Ceremonial lighting of fires and solar wheels (which were once lit and rolled down hills to send blessings to the feilds and animal, telling all that spring will soon return!!
- Hang a scarf outside on the eve of Imblolg and Brigid will bless it with healing powers.
Please share any additional and/or different info you may have!!
Traditionally, Imbolc was a time for fertility rituals for the land and rituals and prayers to ensure there was enough food until the harvest. Fires were lit and Brigid, the goddess of fire, healing and fertility was petitioned.
Today, it is a time for rekindling activities that may have been neglected throughout the busy year, and rituals include making and lighting candles, planting seeds and spring flowers, reading poetry and storytelling.
Imbolc is traditionally at the cross-quarter point between winter solstice and spring equinox in the astrological year, but modern Pagans in the Northern Hemisphere often celebrate it to coincide with the Christian festival of Candlemas.
From Sandy J~~
Imbolc is always heavy house cleaning time for me. I scour every floor, wall, counter, and tile. All the rugs are beaten. All the cleaning brushes are tossed out or given to my husband for garage work and new cleaning brushes are bought. The mattresses are flipped and rotated. The fridge and freezer are cleaned and defrosted. I go through clothes and toys and bag up things to go to goodwill. Its usually a month long process. Last weekend I scrubbed all the window blinds and cleaned and ironed the curtains. My house is never cleaner than in February and March!
I'm also a big fan of cooking for the holidays. My family always had a big meal for every holiday and I have carried on that tradition. For Imbolc I usually serve an all white meal- fish, bread, pasta, cauliflower, etc. I have a recipe or two that is traditional for every holiday and I vary the menu from there. My traditional Imbolc dish is Swiss Onion Bread.
White = all colors combined so consuming white foods is a way of bringing color and light back into our lives after the long winter. White is also a purification color and thus fits in with my heavy cleansing association with the holiday.
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-Brigid is the goddess of poetry. Write a poem in her honour, and read it aloud during any Imbolc ritual you may have planned.
-Have a bardic circle where everyone brings poetry, songs or a short story that they have written to honour Brigid (Brigid was the daughter of Dagda. She was the protector of the poets, the forge and the healing persons)
-Imbolc is a traditional time to clean your house. If there’s any Yule greenery lingering, burn it now and send winter on its way. Celebrate the return of the Sun’s strength and the Goddess as the Maiden. Clean out your cupboards and donate what you don't need to your local food bank. Go through all your herbs and discard those that are more than a year old. Perform rites of spiritual cleansing and purification.
-Create a Solar Cross from palm fronds, make enough to place one in each room of the house. Place a red pillar-style candle centre to the front door; with palm crosses in hand, light the candle and open the door and say:
We welcome in the Goddess and seek the turning
of the wheel away from winter and into spring.
Close door; take up the candle and go to each room of the house and say:
Great Lady enter with the sun and watch over this room!
Leave a Solar Cross in the room and proceed thusly throughout the house. This is great for the kids as you can divide up the tasks for each to do - one can hold the palms, another can open doors, another can carry the candle, and so forth. The last room should be the kitchen and here you say:
Mother of the earth and sun,
Keep us safe and keep us warm,
As over our home you extend your blessings.
The celebration would include a ceremonial cleansing and purification of the house. The hearth fires would be put out and re-kindled. The celebration primarily involved the women of the household rather than the men.
-Cleanse the area where you do card readings or scrying with a censor burning rosemary or vervain, and say:
By the power of this smoke I wash away the negative
influences that this place be cleansed for the Lady and her babe.
-Do a self-purification rite with Elemental tools - cleanse your body with salt (Earth), your thoughts with incense (Air), your will with a candle flame (Fire), your emotions with water (Water), and your spiritual body with a healing crystal (Spirit).
-Women should spend time with their female friends. (Men can honour the goddess by recognising the women's need for free time and asking what they may do to help)
-Mothers can make an effort to spend quiet time with daughters, perhaps learning a new skill or doing some charitable work together. If your daughter is of an age to understand the life cycle, this would be a good time to acknowledge her special part in it.
-The best gift you can give a child of any age is your time. Read together. Tell stories, especially the old folktales. Laugh. Share your feelings. Tell your children you love them.
-Since the weather is generally still very cold, this is a good time for long-cooking stews, baking bread, and desserts which will fill your home with the scent of caring while helping to chase the chill away.
-Make a Brigid’s cross. They can be made from either straw, sheaves of grain, rushes, or grass. They can be hung in the houses and farm buildings as protection against illness and other misfortune. The weaving material should be ceremonially brought into the house and laid under the table where the feasting would occur. After the meal, the household creates the crosses. Any leftover materials should be used to create a bed for Brigid or sprinkled in the byre for good luck. Hang the crosses the next day, especially in the kitchen where her influence can bless your food.
-The goddess Brigid was believed to actually visit the household and personally bestow her blessings on those within. Put out food (cake, buttered bread and milk will do) outside your door: Brigid and her cow walk through the neighbourhood tonight, and will appreciate your offering.
-The brat or cloak or mantle of Brigid was a ribbon, piece of cloth, or an article of clothing (often made of silk). They were left outside on the evening before the feast of Imbolc to receive the blessing of Brigid as she passed through the household. Afterwards, the cloths and ribbons were used as talismans of protection and healing, particularly aiding childbirth. Ribbons and strips of cloth were sewn into clothing or carried in a pocket. Articles of clothing were worn in times of stress and need; for example, a woman might wear a man’s vest while giving birth. Shawls that had been blessed might be laid on ailing human or animal while a prayer of healing was recited.
-Leave out dishes of water or salt overnight for Brigid to bless. These can be put aside for use in healing illness.
-On Imbolc Eve, leave buttered bread in a bowl indoors for the faeries that travel with the Lady of Greenwood. Next day, dispose of it as the "essence" will have been removed.
-The críos or girdle of Brigid was a rope of plaited straw or rope three or four metres long and formed into a circle held vertically aloft while those gathered ritually passed through, reciting a charm. The ceremony appears to have symbolized regeneration.
-Tie tiny strips of fabric in trees near a stream and ask Brigid for her influence in your life. Use cotton strips and the birds will use them for nesting or they will bio-degrade over time.
-Buy a "salt lick" block and leave it out for the wild animals.
-If you have a fireplace, clean out the ashes and lay a new fire.
-Bless candles that you will be using for rituals throughout the year.
-Make candles for Imbolc. We make candles at Imbolc to remind the Sun to come back to us. Light all the candles during your Imbolc ritual so the Sun will know where to come back to.
-Light a white candle and burn sandalwood incense.
-Place a lighted candle in each and every window of the house, beginning at sundown on Imbolc Eve, allowing them to continue burning until sunrise. Make sure that such candles are well seated against tipping and guarded from nearby curtains, etc. If you are not able to use real candles use those candle lamps sold at crafts and department stores for the Christian Christmas season.
-Play a candle game where the men stand in a circle passing a candle quickly around the circle and the women stand on the outside of the circle trying to blow out the flame. The one who succeeds gets to claim a kiss.
-Make a tiny "Candle Garden" by filling a small aluminium pan with fine salt or sand and "planting" tea lights and various other candles in the "garden"
-Make a Crown of Light (i.e. of candles for the High Priestess to wear for the Imbolc Circle, similar to those worn on St. Lucy's Day in Scandinavian countries.
-In many areas, an image of Brigid would be formed from the last sheaf of wheat harvested in the fall. These images are called Brideo’gas (corn dollies). The Brideo’gas would be decorated with ribbons and other trims and would be carried into the house with great ceremony and either laid in a specially prepared basket bed (Brigid’s Bed), or placed in the homeowner's own bed to bring the blessings of fertility.
-Make a Brigid’s bed to ensure fertility of mind and spirit (and body, if desired). Use a Brideo’gas that you made earlier and dress the doll in white or blue with a necklace that represents the seasons. Lay it in a long basket adorned with ribbons; light white candles on either side of the basket, and say:
Welcome the bride both maiden and mother;
rest and prepare for the time of the seed;
cleansed and refreshed from labours behind her;
with the promise of spring she lays before me.
Next morning, remove the dress and scatter the wheat outdoors (or if you use corn, hang it up in a tree for the squirrels and birds). This can be seen in terms of the Lady's recovery from the birthing bed and readiness to begin the turning of the seasons anew.
The Imbolc Corn Doll represents the mother nurturing her son, who will grow and become her husband. This is the earth and the sun, which is still weak but gaining in strength.
-Help your kids go through all their clothes, toys, and books to find the unwanted and outgrown items. Donate everything to a charity that will give the items to children who need them.
-Meditate upon what you would like to see grow in health and strength this year: for yourself, your family, your community, the Earth, and ask for Brigid's blessing upon your prayers.
-Meditate as a family. Have everyone explore what it would feel like to be a seed deep in the Earth, feeling the first stirrings of life. Lie on the floor and put out tendrils. Stretch and bloom.
-Take a Nature walk and look for the first signs of Spring. Take off your shoes and socks and squish your toes in the mud! Reflect upon/reaffirm spiritual vows and commitments you have made.
-Lead the family on a parade around the outside of your home, banging on pots and pans or playing musical instruments to awaken the spirits of the land.
-Have your children hold some herb seeds in their hands. Talk to the seeds. Bless them with growth and happiness. Fill them with love. Plant an in-door herb garden.
-Even if the sowing did not begin on Imbolc, seeds might be blessed for later planting.
-Place three ears of corn on the door as a symbol of the Triple Goddess and leave until Ostara.
-Bride’s Bouquet Sachets and Pentacle Candle Wheels are also often made on Imbolc.
-Other customs include: Stone Gatherings, Snow Hiking, Making Priapic Wands, Decorating Ploughs, Feasting, and Bonfires may be lit.
(collected by shadow_kitten on Pagan forum, x posted with permission)
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