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What Is Imbolc All About?

what is imbolc all about

The wheel of the year is a great way to recognize the cycle of Mother Earth around us. Imbolc is one of those special days on the wheel. So what is Imbolc all about? What makes it so unique?

In the wheel of the year, we are talking about quarters and cross-quarters. 

To start, we are dividing the year into quarters according to the sun’s position: the Spring Equinox, the Summer Solstice, the Fall Equinox, and the Winter Solstice.

Between these quarter days are the cross-quarter holidays or fire festivals: Imbolc, Beltane, Lughnasadh, and Samhain. 

So we are talking about the cycle of eight festivals. 

Imbolc is one of these eight festivals, and let’s discover its meaning.

What happens at Imbolc?

In the Celtic calendar, Imbolc represents the start of spring. But what does this really mean? 

To understand the real meaning of the Imbolc sabbat, we need to imagine those old times of our ancestors. 

Imagine those old times when the winter was harsh. 

People were sharing their one room with the crowded family members and their animals. 

Opening up the windows to welcome sunlight was not an option in the darkness and coldness of the winter. 

With Imbolc, the ground is just starting to warm up. This warming up effect of the land means a lot;

  • It’s time to start preparing the fields for the upcoming sowing season. 
  • Bringing animals out to pasture to eat something outside as well. 
  • Fresh air could come in to ventilate the barns and homes.
  • Fresh milk was welcomed, as it was time for newly born animals.

In many ways, the Imbolc sabbat represented a time of cleansing, renewal, and rebirth.

What does Imbolc mean?

Also known as “Imbolg,” “Oimelc,” and the “Feast of St. Brigid,” Imbolc is the sabbat midway between the winter solstice and the vernal equinox; Ostara.

What does Imbolc symbolize and represent? 

Imbolc time is the messenger in the middle of the winter that the soft breezes of spring and the warm sun are closer.

In Imbolc, life begins to awaken from its winter sleep. 

Like life, we also slowly come out from our inner winter journey. 

Look what we have learned in that dark labyrinth of life. 

It is time to examine our lives to make an intention to discard those people, objects, and philosophies in our lives, that we do not need. 

Moreover, it is time to take the first steps to make plans for our future, plant new ideas, and improve the old ones.

Imbolc is about the preparations for the transition time. It is the perfect time to remove obstacles and clear out the energies to prepare for the blossoming spring fully.

When does Imbolc start, and how long does Imbolc last?

Traditionally Imbolc day starts on the 1st of February and ends on the 2nd of February.

When is Imbolc celebrated?

On the other hand, many Wiccans and Neopagans adapt the date of Imbolc according to where they live. 

Practicing celebrations of the wheel of the year help people tune in with nature’s rhythms. 

As Imbolc symbolizes the new awakening from the winter and getting ready to the energy of the blossoming of the spring, if you will see nature waking up in front of you, it will be easier for you to connect this special sabbath. 

So if the first flowers blossom at the beginning of March for you, and if it’s easier for you to connect to Imbolc sabbat around these days, then go for it.

What is Imbolc day?

Imbolc day is the time to celebrate this point in the wheel of the cycle.

Imbolc day is more than just a day, a period where we become aware that winter is beginning to get warm, and still, we have some time for spring. 

So great times for preparation. 

Imbolc period is to be aware of this change in nature, so tune in to reflect and contemplate our lives. 

Why is Imbolc celebrated? 

As Imbolc is one of the cross-quarters celebrations in the wheel of the year, taking its place between Yule and Ostara, for some people they can enter to a wrong belief that it is not as important as those two.

Whereas the quality of the blossoms of your spring, so the Ostara time can depend on your Imbolc sabbat celebrations.

Who celebrate Imbolc? 

Wiccans and Neopagans celebrate Imbolc.

On the other hand, in pre-Christian culture, ancestors were not celebrating these eight festivals altogether.

This concept of celebrating these eight special days of the wheel of the year had been after a British Gerald Gardner in the ’40s and ’50s. 

He created a new religion of Wicca, bringing many traditions and cultures altogether. 

What do pagans do for Imbolc, and how is Imbolc celebrated?

Imbolc was more of an introverted celebration than other celebrations of the wheel of the year. 

Imbolc traditions include Imbolc divination, Imbolc blessings, Imbolc greeting, Imbolc chants, Imbolc incantation, and Imbolc offerings.

In this tradition, connection with Imbolc gods and goddesses was vital. Especially the Imbolc goddess Brigid.

How is Brigid celebrated?

It is simply impossible to talk about Imbolc without mentioning the Celtic goddess Brigid. 

Brigid is all about transformation and new beginnings, just like Imbolc. 

For Wiccans in particular, Imbolc is a celebration of the goddess Brigid, so that they call it sabbat Brigid instead of Imbolc.

Brigid and Imbolc have many things in common symbolically. 

Brigid is about transformations and new beginnings as Imbolc. 

Moreover, Brigid made a fantastic transformation from a goddess to a saint and then reclaimed her goddess status again. A great symbol of transformation.

There are beautiful Imbolc traditions related to Brigid.

People prepare the Brigid’s Cross just before Imbolc, which symbolizes protection. 

They hang it outside their front door the night before Imbolc, with the hope that Brigid would bless them and also prevent misfortune from coming inside.

Also, people open their doors and windows on Imbolc to receive Brigid’s blessing. 

Colors, food, drinks, stones, incense, and plants associated with Imbolc 

I am providing you the list of related Imbolc colors, food, drinks, stones and crystals, flowers, and incenses from the book of Carl F Neal, Imbolc: Rituals, Recipes & Lore for Brigid’s Day.

Colors for Imbolc 

  • Light Green: Abundance, growth, fertility, health, calming, new beginnings, prosperity.
  • Pink: Harmony, tenderness, affection, love, spiritual healing, virtue, spring, honor, contentment.
  • White: Cleansing, peace, protection, healing, truth, divination, purification, childhood, innocence.
  • Yellow: Joy, vitality, creativity, communication, the sun, planning, psychic ability, attraction.

Food for Imbolc 

Dried fruits, grains, potatoes, cornmeal, dried/salted meats, cheese, pickled or canned foods, nuts, and eggs.

Imbolc drinks 

All dairy products, ale, mead, and cider.

Imbolc tea

  • Angelica: Balance, new beginnings, consecration, insight, purification, stability, success.
  • Basil: Clarity, divination, love, money, protection, strength, success.
  • Blackberry/Bramble: Growth, attachments, fertility, intuition, prosperity, protection, purification.
  • Cinnamon: Balance, blessings, courage, protection, purification, strength, success.
  • Grain: Protection, abundance, fertility, community, balance, birth/rebirth, a blessing.
  • Reed: Action, awareness, confidence, growth, healing, inspiration, protection, unity.
  • Wormwood: Banishing, divination/dreamwork, forgiveness, overcoming obstacles, purification.

Imbolc flowers 

  • Crocus: Attract love, visions, sobriety, and rebirth
  • Daffodil: Calm, fairies, fertility, love, perseverance, magick, wishing

Imbolc crystals and stones

  • Amethyst: Dreams, healing, courage, happiness, balance, beginnings, change, divination, growth, rebirth, transformation.
  • Turquoise: Attraction, balance, clarity, compassion, courage, healing, improvement, inner strength, wisdom.

Incense for Imbolc

Cedar, peppermint, styrax, basil, and cinnamon

Conclusion

Imbolc is all about preparation for new beginnings. The more you see this preparation in nature and tune in to this energy, the more you will symbolically celebrate Imbolc day. 

To celebrate Imbolc day, rituals for Imbolc are great ideas. You can read here more about them;

How to Celebrate Imbolc? Rituals For Imbolc

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