Wheel of the year

What is Imbolc?

Imbolc is what is known as a cross-quarter holiday on the wheel of the year. It marks halfway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. This post looks at what is Imbolc in relation to history and what it means today. 

Normally celebrated on either February 1st or 2nd in the Northern hemisphere each year. Other names for Imbolc are; Imbolg, Candlemas, and Brigid’s day. 

History of Imbolc

It is said that the word Imbolc means ‘In the belly’ as this is the time that spring starts to show and with that new life. Although February is normally the coldest month here in the UK, each day of sunlight lasts a little bit longer than the one before.

In times gone by, farmers would use Imbolc to plan out their crops for the year ahead and it would also be a time that livestock such as sheep would begin to give birth. Imbolc is a fire festival as we welcome back the growing sunlight and the earliest signs of spring. The sun brings with it growth, warmth, and life. 

What we can take from this

Yule was a time for reflections, Imbolc is a time for releasing any leftover emotions from doing so. Any ideas or projects you have been thinking about can now be put into action as Imbolc is all about new beginnings. It is about transformation and growing which can be hard but will always be worth the effort.

Willow Catkin, February, Winter, Nature
You will soon be able to notice the first signs of spring

Tradition Imbolc symbols

Brigid

Brigid is a Celtic deity who later became sainted when Christianity created Candlemas (based on Imbolc!). She is the goddess of transformation, invention, and creativity. Brigid oversees things relating to birth and the creative arts. To honour Brigid, and to bring luck and fertility into the home, a corn doll of Brigid would be made. 

A quick search on Pinterest shows that now people are using all sorts of things to make their Brigid doll. It should have red hair and be dressed in white, red, and gold. If you make a Brigid it is said, you should make a bed and lay the doll in the bed on the eve of Imbolc. Again, Pinterest has lots of ideas for making a bed too. 

Brigid cross

A Brigid cross is made from reeds or straw. It is a symbol of the sun and acts as a talisman to protect your home. You could also add one to your altar for Imbolc if you have one. There are many tutorials available online to help you make one. 

Fire

Being a fire festival, of course, fire would be important. Traditionally it would be a hearth fire which should be kept burning all night. In modern times, not many people have hearth fires so instead long-lasting candles can be used as a substitute. 

Fire, Flames, Hot, Heat, Fireplace, Energy, Light, Burn Imbolc symbol
The hearth fire is a traditional Imbolc symbol

I hope that this short guide has given you a good starting point. Don’t forget that new posts are being added weekly and will be added to the Imbolc page, so check back soon. 

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