Related Deities: Brigid, Brid, the Maiden, the Spring Goddess, the Young Lord
Related Herbs: Angelica, basil, bay leaves, myrrh
Related Stones: Quartz crystal, opal, moonstone, aventurine, sunstone
Although we call this celebration Imbolc [im'-bolk] or Candlemas, you probably know it as Groundhog Day. The word Imbolc literally means “in the belly.” No other name could be more appropriate, for this festival is a celebration of the first fetal stirrings of the Earth as She responds to the wake-up call of spring. And although this is definitely a fire festival, the emphasis here is not so much on warmth as it is light. Why? Because the light is necessary to guide spring’s path so it doesn’t get lost, or even worse, forget to renew the Earth with its greening. This is also the reason why all candles to be used in magical efforts for the next twelve months are blessed at this time,
One theme for this festival surrounds the preparation of Brid’s or Brigid’s [breeds] Bed. This is usually a basket filled with raffia or Easter grass that’s deco-rated with ivy and white satin ribbons. Then a corn dolly dressed as a bride is placed inside along with a symbol of masculinity. This represents the first intimate encounter between the Maiden Goddess and the Young Lord, and ensures fertility in the months ahead.
The most common theme, however, is that of purification. It’s symbolized by the sweeping of the Circle, and is a little like spring-cleaning for the body, mind, and spirit. We get rid of what’s no longer of use to us – bad habits, old ideas, pre-conceived notions, unsavory character traits, and so forth – to make way for the new and exciting things to come. We open our minds and spirits to change and all it entails, And in doing so, we embrace new life – a fertile, wonderful life where doors open and things fall into place, a life that greens our hearts as well as our spirits, the life that we truly want to live.
Imbolc Circle Notes
Use a brown altar cloth to symbolize the Earth, and decorate with narcissus, daffodils, crocuses, hyacinths, or other seasonal flowering bulbs. Anoint white candles
with musk oil and place them in ivy-covered candle rings. Burn Imbolc Incense (a
mixture of angelica, basil, bay leaves, and myrrh).
After casting the Circle with the wand, use the besom to sweep the perimeter, as you sweep, say something like:
With this besom filled with power
Sweep away the old and sour
Sweep away the chill of death
As winter draws its last cold breath
Round, round, round about
Sweep the old and useless out!
After libation, bless the candles for the coming months by saying something like:
I bless thee creatures of wax and light
And cast out negativity
Serve your purpose, flaming bright
Infused with magic, you shall be
Instruments of light and strength
Wick and wax though you may be
I give you life of needed length
To aid in creativity!
Continue Circle in the normal manner.
Imbolc Celebration 1deas
Turn on all the lights in the house for a few moments to guide the path of spring. If you like, burn a votive candle in each room instead.
Tie three small ears of corn together with a white satin ribbon, then wrap the bundle in a white doily to represent Brid. Use a clear quartz crystal point to rep-resent the Young Lord. As you place them in the basket, say something like:
The Maid and Lord now bring us light
The winter dies, and all is bright!
And as They lie in bed so near
The frozen ground does disappear –
For Their love brings fertility
To the Earth again; so mote it be
Burn all evergreen decorations from the Yule ritual. This ensures good luck in the coming year.
Tie small bundles of straw together with pieces of black ribbon. Name each bundle for something you want to remove from your life, and then burn it in the cauldron.
After libation, walk outdoors for a few moments. Remember the warmth of spring. Then trace the male and female symbols (the symbols for Mars and Venus) on the ground and enclose them in a circle. Say something like:
Encased in Sun, Your light shall shine
And guide the spring toward greening time
And as your hearts both melt in love
The light grows stronger from above