Every midwinter I eagerly await the cross-quarter Celtic holiday, Imbolc. So sweetly do I cherish it's treasured Goddess, Brighid for her promise of springtime and the miracle of her restorative power. She is the magic of white space after the swell of Yuletide has receded. Her presence is announced by the flutter of inspiration in our bellies as we set forth our intentions for the coming year. We sit at her feet while perusing seed catalogs, visioning the future gardens of our souls, as much as any other kind of gardens we can dream of at this time of year.
Imbolc (Imm-ulk) is the cross quarter holiday which initiates the season of spring in the Celtic calendar. It is observed at the beginning of February with various traditions vacillating between the 1st and 2nd of the month. Lunar Imbolc is marked with the new moon in Aquarius whenever it occurs, which in the case of this blog post happens to be today (1/20/15). Imbolc is Brighid's day through and through! She is the Goddess of inspiration, poetry, midwifery, smithcrafting, healing, wells and fire. Imbolc is the first Spring fire festival and it celebrates the growing strength of the Sun. Though the sun was reborn at Yule it isn't until Imbolc that we can truly say we notice the difference. And what a difference it is!
The word Imbolc means “in milk”, or “ewe’s milk” which correlates to the birth of lambs at this time of year and the lactating of their mothers. In many parts of the world the earth is beginning to show signs of spring. Crocus and snowdrops push up through the snow as the ground warms below the strengthening sun. In modern times we relate the season of Imbolc to cleansing and the preparation for growth and renewal. The gifts of insight and inspiration allow us to make resolutions and solid plans for the coming year.
I feel the call of Brighid intensely at this time every year. Quickening light and energy stirs me to action after the slumber of deep winter. Imbolc heralds the beginning of spring and contains the promise of renewed life in the year ahead. I was born at Samhain which is the beginning of winter, but was conceived during this season of Lupercalia and in a sense my very existence is a spring time promise fulfilled. I made my first vows to the Goddess on Imbolc as an intrepid 21 year old. I learned what it meant to have an invincible summer inside myself that winter. To the untrained eye the midwinter doldrums are something to merely endure, but to a wise woman there is much to learn about the strange alchemy of fire and ice.
Right now I am deep in journey and vision work. Horse is my guide in the dream space and the journey time. Situated securely on the back of an incredible stallion I was treated to the most beautiful countryside as we made our way up the Tor to Brighids well in my journey last night. A message delivered by my guide said, "Listen closely to the voice within. Are you prepared to meet the Goddess?" Atop the mound I was told to disembark and walk the rest of the way. There were other devotees there and together we walked silently toward the well. We gathered together before her. SHE stood beside her well. Her voice called out demanding to know, "What will you heal? What will you build? How will you inspire?" When we could answer her we were given a drink of the sacred crystalline waters of Brighid's well. The medicine a unique blend bespoke by the Goddess herself for each of one of us. A voice echoes and I hear, "I vow to take the medicine I am given."
What projects will you commit yourself to this year? What longstanding problems will you heal in your life? What thing of beauty will you create? What powerful manifestations will you bring forth?
Check your personal well, how deep are your reserves? What do you need and how will you supply it? If you already know where you want to go make sure you are you properly outfitted for the journey ahead.
Fire warms, sustains and transforms. The sensuous quality of its nature is mesmerizing. Just remember, if you play with fire you might get burned, or burned out. Wield your power wisely.
Imbolc is an especially potent and magical turn of the wheel. Behold the miracle and the power that is Brighid. Feel the flutter of inspiration in your belly. Dream the vision of your heart into being. This is smith-craft as life.
Imbolc Candle Devotion Ceremony
One Red Candle for creative inspiration.
Representing the sacred well:
One White Candle for transformative healing.
Representing the forge:
One Black Candle for protecting what is manifesting.
Inside of specially prepared sacred space prepare yourself by getting still and asking yourself to listen to the voice within.
Are you prepared to meet the Goddess?
When you can answer, "What will you heal (white)? What will you build (black)? How will you inspire (red)?" light the candle that corresponds to each intention. Vow to serve the mission of your vision. Dedicate yourself to the devotion of your dreams. Allow the candles to burn to fruition. Carry the wax in your medicine bag or bury it on you property. So mote it be!