Imbolc (EM-bolk like folk) is a fire festival holiday that falls on February 2nd. More commonly known as Groundhog’s Day, this holiday is a celebration of the return of the light and for the return of activity in nature.
The term Fire Festival refers to the four greater holidays or Sabbats of most Wiccan Traditions. In olden times, these holidays were celebrated with the community coming together to trade goods and stories which culminated in a large bonfire. However, this holiday is typically smaller and quieter. It doesn’t show up with a boom usually and after all the Yule/Christmas crazy we just had it’s actually really nice.
At this time of year, we can see a marked difference in how long the sun is sticking around after the Long Night. Animals and plants begin to wake up and check to see if winter is still in full swing.
Using their keen senses and instincts, they check on the conditions of the weather and such to see if they should wake up or hit snooze. We would do well to watch their habits in order to see if we will be in for a longer winter.
But if it’s not a loud holiday, how can we celebrate it?
You can celebrate this return of light in many fashions. Those that follow the Celtic Goddess Brighid will often light a candle or flame and keep it lit all day to encourage the sun’s return. While tending to this fire, a follower of Brighid would also create a Brighid’s cross out of reeds, cloth, or pipe cleaners.
Our family does a couple of small traditions.
First, we’ll take a bay leaf and set it in a small bowl and pour a generous amount of sugar or salt until it covers most, not all, of the leaf. This green leaf popping through the snow is a great visual for the return of life to our natural world.
Second, we’ll take this little bowl to our meditation spot or altar, light a candle and take a few moments to meditate on the coming year and refocus ourselves on our goals for the year.
Lastly, we’ll give this offering either to our gods, the fae, or perhaps both as a way of saying thanks for their blessings.
Other ways to celebrate include: candle making, meditation, drawing or coloring, cooking a delicious dish, storytelling, creating a Brighid’s cross, singing or chanting, drumming.
Purification Bath Recipe
Modern Imbolc is a time of transformation and purification. This holiday marks the beginning of Spring and change. It is a holiday for celebrating the light that is returning.
Purification and cleansing rituals are especially appropriate at this time of year. Imbolc is the time to welcome back and celebrate the returning light and greet it with a fresh perspective and open mind.
1 Cup of Epsom Salts
10 Drops of Lavender Essential Oil
3 Drop of Lemongrass Essential Oil
2 Drop of Orange Essential Oil
Optional: 1 tsp of lavender buds
Optional: 1 tbsp of dried orange peel or lemon peel
1 tea bag, cheese cloth, or organza bag
1 tealight candle or yellow candle.
Light the candle and combine the oils into the epsom salts and stir to blend together.
This trick helps the oils merge well with your bath.
As an option, you can also put the lavender buds and orange peel in a tea bag and hang over the running water. You get all the benefits of the herbs without clogging your tub!
Sit and meditate, read, or just relax in a warm epsom salt bath designed to purify and refresh you.
Blessing of the Tools
When trying to live within natural cycles, it’s easy to get out of sync when life demands that we constantly move, go to work, and keep pushing on. It can be difficult to remember to slow down during these cold months.
However, ancient people’s did not necessarily stop all their work. Winter was a great to for reflect, review, and repair. Not only of the self but of your home and of your tools.
The Heathens call this the Charming of the Plow where the land and tools are blessed and offerings were made to ready them for the planting that will come.
It would be a great idea to bless and make ready yourself for the work you’d like to do.
Whether that’s blessing your keyboard to help you write, blessing your repair tools as a mechanic, or even me, blessing my calculator and pen for my accounting work.
While the above sounds silly when I write it down, it is truly how a modern witchcraft practitioner does their work.
Perhaps I’ll help my husband bless his scrubs and stethoscope for his work.
How ever you look at and celebrate this holiday, make it something special to you. Reflect and repair the the spaces you need to for the Spring that will be.