If you follow the Wheel of the Year, then you know that on February 2nd is a magical holiday called Imbolc. It’s a lesser sabbat or lower holiday, but nonetheless we celebrate the significance of this midway point between Yule and the Vernal Equinox. Now, the days begin to grow longer and barren trees stir with new life. In a few short weeks, we’ll see all forms of new life emerge. We don’t have much more of the darkness and cold of winter to bear.
But Winter is a season of purpose – as are all seasons. Winter’s medicine is about rest, recovery, and going within. When we rest enough during winter, we have the energy we need to sustain us for the remainder of the year. In native traditions, this concept is known as Bear Medicine. Can we learn from bear and hibernate sufficiently to restore ourselves ahead of the busy, waking seasons?
The last call for the medicine of winter
Imbolc is a last call for bear medicine. If you haven’t rested enough, take the next few weeks to honor the cycle. Being one of the “wise” requires nothing more than taking nature’s messages to heart. If you have rested and are feeling anxious to move into spring, Imbolc is also an invitation to get your shit together, energetically speaking of course. Many magical practitioners take Imbolc off from their day jobs to stay home and clean, organize bills, rearrange the home, and prioritize personal projects. 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.
Pagans honor the Celtic goddess Brigid during Imbolc, who reigns over hearth and home and is known as the Keeper of the Sacred Flame. Tending to your home on Imbolc honors her legacy. This ancient holiday was later interpreted as a day to feast in honor of the purification of the Virgin Mary (who supplanted Brigid as the figurehead), and candles blessed during “Candle Mass” in honor of Mary’s purification were through to have protective powers. Hence the other name of this day in modern-day 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. That’s what Imbolc is to me – the fanning of my flame, the reminder of my inner fire, and a burst of energy to clear out and clean up. If you’re seeking tools to honor this sacred day, I’m offering a brand new Imbolc Ritual Set here.
Imbolc: The Great Return
I find myself longing for a Great Return to what is pure, clean, and nourishing. Whole foods, long walks, organic products, deep meditation and relaxation. Alone time, unaccounted-for space for myself to breathe. Kind words, deep breaths, warm baths, gentle candlelight. Spacious schedules and easy processes, less clutter and zero rushing. My life is no race to the finish; my life is a winding road with luscious turnouts and sweeping views, replete with sensual reminders to treat myself and those around me with loving care.
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, the fruits and nuts that grow on trees about to blossom and yield their bounty. Aho to your flame and your courage. May I embrace the warrioress within and explore the uncharted expanses of my heart without fear.
On Imbolc, the journey back to You begins. So it is.
Enjoy Imbolc, dear ones. Sweep out what isn’t serving you. And get ready to welcome Spring with a spirit that is energized from winter rest.
So it is.