Imbolc is perhaps one of the most quietly exciting festivals of the Celtic year. It is a celebration of the emerging life and an awakening of natural world around us. You may starts seeing new life peeking through the soil, and buds emerging on trees. Imbolc is a time for bringing new life to old projects and allow the ideas you have been reflecting on over the winter months to take hold.
Imbolc is also a time of cleansing and a wonderful chance to get crafty with your family and friends and enjoy the wonders of new life. Here are 6 ideas:
1. Meet the Celtic Goddess Brigid (pronounced breed)
Imbolc is an important date in the agricultural year. Cows’ udders are starting to swell with milk at this time of year, just in time for the first births of spring. It is when farmers would prepare their fields for the first sowings and fishermen would return to the sea after the winter away. Brigid is a Celtic triple goddess of blacksmiths, healing, well and spring waters, and poets. She is linked to her magic as Goddess of fire. She is also associated with motherhood, fertility and abundance.
2. Make a Brigid straw doll (Brideog)
One way to bring the magic of Brigid into your home at Imbolc is to make a Brideog (pronounced Bree-jog). Traditionally, men in the home made the little Brideogs to hang over the doors of their home. To make your own Brideogs are made with straw or grasses twisted into the shape of a doll, wrapped in fabric to make a dress and decorated with the first flowers, greenery from the garden, and other pretty things you find in nature.
3. Make a Brigid cross
Brigid crosses are another craft to be made at this time of year. Soak straw overnight and weave is around a frame made of sticks. There are various styles, some with three or four arms, so get creative. Hang your Brigid cross wherever you like in your home. Traditionally, children’s were hung over their bed and it was believed that a Brigid cross tucked under the mattress helped aid conception. They were used to bless seed before planting in spring.
4. Feasts and fire
As with many Celtic celebrations, an Imbolc tradition is to light a fire. Fire celebrates the Fire Goddess Brigid, and also recognized the returning power of the sun. In the Christian calendar, Imbolc is known as Candlemas, when candles are lit for Virgin Mary. Gather your family and friends for the fire lighting, and reflect, share and laugh together. Imbolc is also a time of feasting so you might want to make some food you can cook in the fire, and toast some marshmallows!
5. Spring clean your home
Imbolc is a time of cleansing. Now is the perfect opportunity for a good spring clean of your home. Get rid of anything that is cluttering up your home and stagnating the energy, and scrub all the surfaces down thoroughly. If you can bear the cold, open all the windows and let some refreshing clean air flow through your home.
6. Visit a stream, river or well
Traditionally, Imbolc was a time for visiting holy water; a spring or a well, to both purify us and bring fertility to our dreams. To continue this tradition, take a walk with family and friends to find some water near your home: a river, stream, or well. If the water’s clean, splash some over yourself as you set your intention to cleanse and purify. Try dipping a piece of ribbon in the water and then hanging it from a nearby tree (trees near water are especially sacred) to carry messages of hope and healing. Thank the spirits of the place you visit and pick up any rubbish you see nearby as an act of gratitude.
What are some of your Imbolc traditons? Tell me about them on the Mumbles & Things Facebook page or comment below.