Imbolc is upon us here in the Northern Hemisphere, bringing the promise of spring. Imbolc is a pagan cross-quarter festival celebrated on February 1, at the midway point between Yule and the Vernal Equinox – when the days continue to grow longer and barren trees stir with new life. Soon, we’ll see all forms of new life emerge. Imbolc is the last call for Bear Medicine. If you haven’t rested enough, take the next few weeks to honor the cycle. Learn from the bear and hibernate sufficiently to restore yourself ahead of the busy warmth of the waking seasons. Take nature’s messages to heart. Just like spring blooms, soon, the goddess within you will rise and blossom in all her glory. In this blog, I’ll share how Imbolc prepares us for the magic of spring.
Imbolc falls mid-winter and is a time to celebrate the harbingers of the next season, such as crocus sprouting through the snow. It’s an ancient Celtic holiday, and Celtic practice honors a time when life centered on the crop cycles. Our ancestors’ lives revolved around the growth and harvest of crops they grew. They celebrated the first signs of spring on Imbolc and gave thanks for the coming of crops that would bring abundance, nourishment, and the opportunity for growth. The promise of spring reflects the growth of our hopes, nourishment of our dreams, and birth to new projects and offerings in the world.
Imbolc also celebrates the triple goddess’ transition from crone to maiden – she is ever-changing through her cycles. The Celtic goddess Brigid is honored, who reigns over hearth and home. Tending to your home on Imbolc honors her legacy. This ancient holiday was later interpreted as a day to feast in honor of the purity of the Virgin Mary (who replaced Brigid as the figurehead), and candles are blessed during “Candle Mass,” hence the other name of this day in modern Christian traditions, Candlemas.
Brigid, like Hestia and Vesta, is a goddess of the eternal flame – the fire within that burns even in the darkest of places, on the coldest of nights. In the olden days in Europe, they would light fires on Imbolc, creating huge blazes. To me, Imbolc means the fanning of my flame, a reminder of my inner fire, and a burst of energy to clear out and clean up. The besom or broom is one of the symbols of Imbolc because it’s figuratively a time of sweeping out old patterns to usher in what is new, fresh, and productive.
I find myself longing for a return to what is pure, clean, and nourishing – fresh foods, long walks, organic products, deep meditation, and relaxation. I treat myself to alone time – unaccounted space for myself to breathe, soaking in warm baths, surrounded by gentle candlelight. My life is no race to the finish – it is a winding road with luscious turnouts and sweeping views.
Thank you, Brigid, for your invitation to the Great Return, for simplicity and beauty, the flowers that grow under your feet – the still waters, the wide rivers, and the flowering blossoms of spring that will eventually yield their bounty of fruits. A’ho to your flame and your courage. I encourage each of you to embrace the hearth fire within and explore the uncharted expanses of your heart. Sweep out what isn’t serving you, and get ready to welcome the promise of spring with a spirit that is energized from winter rest.
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