The cross-quarter Sabbat known as Imbolc is 13 days away! Set between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox, Imbolc is one of the four cross-quarter or “lesser” Sabbats. (Even though there is no hierarchy between the “greater” and “lesser” fire festivals.)
Many Wiccans, Witches, and Neopagans in the Northern hemisphere will be celebrating Imbolc in the upcoming weeks, while those in the Southern hemisphere will be getting ready to celebrate Lughnassadh.
Imbolc was known by our great ancestors (pagan or not,) as the first day of Spring or Spring-like weather. It was a time of great joy as the harsh winter they had to endure in their one or two-room home, cramped with relatives and possibly animals, was coming to an end. It developed as a Sabbat, a turning point in nature and in the year, from when the ewes first began to lactate after giving birth in the incredibly early Spring. It was the time when the ground was starting to thaw and plans for sowing crops or possibly giving birth. (Imbolc is sometimes used interchangeably with Candlemas, even though the days not only take part on different dates; Imbolc being Feb 1 and Candlemas being Feb 2, they also have different meanings from different backgrounds. Imbolc having pagan roots, while Candlemas is rooted heavily in Christianity.)
The Sabbat is also known as Brigids day, or the day of St. Brigid. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a pagan of any lineage who does not know or revere Brigid as a great Goddess, and Imbolc is the time to worship her more heavily than you may already do. She is the Goddess of the great fire, fertility, light, change, and more. Brigid is one of the few, if only, Goddess to not only survive the rampant colonization of the pagan peoples to Christianity, she even made it into their religious texts as Saint Brigid. Women would call upon or pray to Brigid in labour; to protect mom and child, in extreme change; to burn away your old self in her sacred flame and make way for you to grow anew like a new spring bud, for protection; from the nasty men that walk this Earth.
For the modern-day Wiccan or Neopagan, it is hard for us to build great fires in our home or in our backyards without alerting the fire department or getting ratted out by our nosey neighbors, in order to praise Brigid in a way she so greatly deserves. The simple remedy for this is candles, usually an abundance of them. (Never leave a candle unattended once lit!) There are other great ways to adorn your home or altar for Imbolc and for Brigid as well.
Probably one of the most common crafts of Imbolc, it holds great symbolism and power and can be useful for the entire year until next Imbolc.
The crosses were made and put outside the night before Imbolc in hopes that Brigid would bless them. They are then hung inside next to doors that lead to the outside in hopes that it will bring protection to the hearth and home. Grain cakes should be left outside as an offering to Brigid and for the hungry animals that are suffering from the harsh winter.
The cross was originally made of straw (soaked for 24 hours in water so it was pliable) but anything will work in todays day and age; pipe cleaners working the best if you don’t have time to soak old straw.
Seeing as the Sabbats are all fire festivals, and Imbolc’s main Goddess is one that had her own sacred flame, it only makes sense that making your own candles as part of the day would be a great crafting idea.
Candles made at Imbolc are usually incredibly powerful when blessed on this Sabbat, for anything you can think of. Future Sabbats, spells you always cast, or protection for your upcoming garden project.
I won’t go into detail on how to make candles as there are many different ways to do so, so I suggest going to your local crafting store and asking them for assistance, especially if you don’t want to just make white candles and want candle specific dye!
Seeing as Imbolc is a time for sowing seeds and stripping away the darkness of the harsh winter, here are some ideas for seeds you may wish to sow and reap by Mabon (the time of harvesting.)
-break a bad habit
-a project you wish to start
-something you’d like to achieve
-something you wish to have more of (self-confidence comes to mind.)
The important thing about working such spells at Sabbats is that you have to be open-minded and be able to see the opportunities as they present themselves. They won’t come gift wrapped with a card that says “Love: Imbolc” as great as that would be. Most pagans and witches are great at looking at all the symbolism that grows around them, but new witches may not be able to really see what’s in front of them quite yet. So keep your eyes peeled!
All dairy products
I hope you all have a wonderful Imbolc and use it to your full advantage. I look forward to you all accomplishing great things in your year to come, with all the seeds you sow.