Honouring and celebrating Imbolc rituals

February 1st marks the day in which we begin to recognize the turning of the seeds, the beginning growth of new life, and is a reminder to us that we have made it half way through the cold and darkness of winter, and that spring will soon arrive. We know and celebrate this time as Imbolc!


Traditionally, Imbolc is celebrated with fire and light. People would burn fires in the hearth or keep candles lit all through the night. The Indigenous and Pagan Celts believed that the Goddess Brigid would come to visit in the night and bless them with prosperity and protection. Likewise, converted to Christianity type Celts, believed Brigid’s spirit was a Saint and would come to bless and protect them. Some made dolls out of rushes (called a Brideog), covering them in white dresses with flowers in their hair, and they would put them in a basket or a makeshift bed near the fire. Others took rushes, tying them together, and hung at the entrance to their home. These and many other old traditions were observed on this festive day.


So, how can someone today who is interested in seasonal living and celebrating using rituals, recognize this first day seeds turning and new coming light, while honouring and respecting the traditions of their past? Here are a few ideas to help you and your family celebrate Imbolc.



Build A Fire

As mentioned before, fire and light is a traditional way to mark and celebrate the festival of Imbolc. It is also known to have been an ancient fire festival. So, what better way to celebrate the significance of this day than by starting a fire!


Starting a fire in your fireplace or wood-stove is more in line with ancient traditions, but if you do not have access to a hearth or stove, you can light lanterns or candles in your home. Light lots of candles, turn your electrical lights off, and enjoy the warmth and feeling of celebration! And as you light your candles, don't forget to say this little blessing:



Hearth and home, home and hearth, welcoming close our family and friends. Home and hearth, hearth and home, the light returns as winter ends.



Make a Brigid’s Celtic Cross & Brigid Doll

The Goddess Brigid is known for her knots and crosses and the Brigid Dolls are common crafts that are made and placed in the home during Imbolc. There are YouTube tutorials that will show you how to make them. When it comes to making Brigid’s Crosses, you can make them with anything. You don’t have to have tall corn stalks or dried yellow rushes or wheat sheaves! You can make them out of strips of paper, pipe cleaners, straws, or other types of grass. Hang these in your home to symbolize the blessing of your home.


Your kids can make these with you and if you are in an Irish pub you can always do it while you wait for your food. Set them up in the Irish pub or place them in baskets in your own kitchen or near your stove (not too close though!) to honour the Goddess Brigid.



Eat or order in symbolic foods

If you are looking for symbolic foods that represent traditional festivals and holidays, Gather Victoria is the perfect website to visit. For Imbolc, enjoy sweet honey cakes, pancakes with syrup, lavender and lemon bars, and seeds and nuts are great too!


Take a Milk Bath

The Goddess Brigid is associated with dairy, as is the increase of new births during spring and the resulting mother’s milk that follows. New birth is more than humans and animals. New plants emerge from the seeded soil and sap and nutrients begin to flow through trunks, stems, and branches even if a crust of snow lies on the soil. For that reason, bathing Cleopatra-style in a milk bath is the perfect activity on Imbolc. This bath filled with a litre or two of milk in your warm water can be decadent.



Start Seeds or Make DIY Seed Bombs

Imbolc is the perfect time to start buying or starting your seeds indoors, so you have seedlings, tiny and waiting and ready, when the fear of frost has passed (depending on where you live). So, grab your favourite non-GMO seed catalogues, re-use some trays and find last year's starting soil, or even use peat pellets - perhaps you even need heat mats and grow lights - and get to planting ideas for spring and imagine those seeds!





So, now you know some rituals and ways of celebrating the fire festival and holiday known as Imbolc. Are you interested in living a more seasonally aligned lifestyle? If so, how will you be celebrating this year? Share your thoughts and plans with me in the comments below.


Let us at WitchSchool wish you a lovely February to you and your friends and family. Remember - we have made it half way to spring. May your hearth, home, and health be blessed, may your cup overflow, and may your world be filled with warmth, light, and colour over the coming months!



So Mote It Be



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Bibliography and more information


Imbolc

https://www.history.com/topics/holidays/imbolc


Making a St. Brigid's Doll - An Easy Step by Step Guide

https://youtu.be/Yn_MG4HZVOo


Crafting Brigid's Doll For Imbolc Season

https://youtu.be/_axrwXKBMuA


Imbolc (and other traditional) Foods

https://gathervictoria.com/tag/imbolc/