Imbolc means ‘In the belly of the Mother ‘and refers to the potential for growth in whatever way is most relevant in your life.
Myth tells this was in pre-Christian tradition the festival of the young maiden goddess Brighid who with her willow wand melted the winter snows and brought new life to the land. It is also linked with the story of the newly delivered mother of the infant Sun king whose milk is mirrored by the milk of the ewes, who gave this festival its other name of Oimelc or Ewe’s milk and so a time for nurturing yourself as well as others and reconciling unresolved relationships with parents or children.
Time at last too to express new ideas, plan the future and put out the first shoots of new love and the growth or regrowth of trust, for taking the first steps to launch any projects that start in a small way; for encouraging others who may be considering giving up, for reconciliation with estranged loves or family members, for melting rigid attitudes or prejudice that may have led to conflicts between families and work colleagues; for newborn infants, babies and young animals and for animal rescue and the conservation of habitats for wild creatures.
Ways of marking the festival in the modern world
- Personal and home purification, by burning smudge or incense sticks in sage, sagebrush or cedar and spiraling the smudge around your home, your possessions and yourself before taking the smoke stick outdoors to burn away.
- Personal detoxing and the beginning of a fitness and healthy eating regime to maximise your energy and increase your resistance to ills and chills.
- Candle meditations or just quiet times sitting by candlelight talking to your family or friends. If you are alone, hold a clear crystal between your hands and ask your guardian angel and spirit guides if they have any messages for you. These may be expressed through words that come into your mind or images and sudden good ideas.
- Create a candle web with friends or relatives for healing or peace. Choose an evening when you are all at home and pre- agree a time when you can light a white or beeswax candle and all focus on the same person, animal or place and send healing through the candle. You can adapt the web for people who live in different time zones. Leave the candle to burn through.
- Plant seeds, if necessary in a sheltered place naming for each handful of seeds what you wish to bring into your life in the months ahead.
- In age-old tradition, pour a little fresh milk on to the earth as a tribute to the Earth Mother and as you do so, ask for fertility or creativity in any aspect of your life you need it. Drink the rest or use it in cooking.
- On the night of August 1, place nightlights safely at every window of your home to welcome the new energies into your home. Once, it is told, candles were lit to welcome Brighid the maiden goddess on her day in the Northern hemisphere, February 1 and later as St Bridget on the Christian festival of Candlemas, February 2,
- Take along a green plant or two to refresh the workplace and as a reminder of the coming spring.
- Write some poetry or a story or start your novel whether for pleasure of publication and set yourself a deadline for the coming Lughnassadh, festival of the harvest six months from now.
May the new energies awaken your dreams and plans that you may reach out for the future you can make.