For some time now, I have been playing the game of writing about my beliefs. I'm not looking to surf on an increasingly emerging trend. In fact, I have been trying to share what I believe in for about twenty-five years. I have not always been an assiduous practitioner, but my heart has always belonged to ancient traditions.
This brings me to this new article on one of the Wiccan Sabbaths. While some are preparing to celebrate the Candlemas, others like me will celebrate The Return of Light, the awakening of the Goddess, that is, Imbolc.
I emphasize that this is MY vision for this celebration. As an eclectic wiccan, I do not claim to have THE right way to honor this Sabbath, but rather a vision among others. The principle of my Wiccan tradition is to accept the fact that there is not ONE way of doing things, but rather as much practice as there is individual.
What is Imbolc ?
Imbolc is a Celtic religious holiday celebrated on February 1st (or 40 days after Yule).
"At Imbolc, we make new plans, and we plant new ideas. Traditionally, it is a time to examine the people, objects and philosophies around us. This is an opportunity to get rid of things that you don't need, or that keep you from doing. That's when we make new plans and improve old ones. In a way, Imbolc's moment, in the Wheel of the Year, is a winter cocoon. When we get out, we can really be very different from the people who celebrated Yule just a few weeks earlier.
(Source: Imbolc by Carl F. Neal of Editions Danaé)
Literally, Imbolc means "in the belly". The word refers to the time when the ewes, covered in late autumn, have their first milk. As a result, in the Celtic calendar, Imbolc symbolized the return to life and the beginning of spring. The rise of the sheep's milk signalled the return of the sunny days. The animals could then be taken to the pastures, and in fact they were no longer dependent on stored hay. In addition, after months of caulking to protect against the cold of winter, Imbolc's arrival allowed houses and barns to be ventilated. The Sabbath of Imbolc, particularly oriented towards light, renewal and change, also signalled the resumption of work in the fields: the tools were repaired and the fields were prepared for the first planting of the year.
The Goddess Brigid :
Great Celtic goddess, she has many faces and often manifests herself in all three aspects The Celtic Goddess Brigid to the three faces of the Mother Goddess (the Virgin, the Mother and the Old Woman). A particularly powerful and resistant goddess, she symbolizes fire and flame, change, poetry and inspiration, transformation, wisdom, metalwork and forging, healing, creativity, water, prophecy, education and learning. She also presides over births, ensuring the well-being of mother and child.
In ancient times, fire was in the centre of the house and the house was made mainly of wood and thatch. As the Goddess of Fire, Brigid was therefore asked to protect the fireplaces from the destructive power of the flames. Brigid Crosses and Grain Dolls were then created and hung in the kitchen to attract the protection of the goddess..
As Water Goddess, it is frequently said that Brigid protected the healing waters of sacred wells, such as the Kildare or Liscannor sanctuary in Ireland.
The goddess Brigid is also known to be a powerful shape-shifter. It can appear sometimes in the form of a snake, sometimes in the form of an old lady, sometimes in the form of a bird, smoke or even a pillar of fire. Moreover, being a goddess of fire and water, it is not surprising that she is the goddess of change and transformation. It is said that her power of metamorphosis is so great that the goddess has found a way to be prayed to always, in front of the Holy Brigitte of Catholic traditions.
Brigid is a central figure in Celtic mythology and one of the incarnations of the Triple Goddess. Some myths tell us that there are three sisters, all three named Brigid. One is the goddess of the Fire of the Foyer, another is the Goddess of the Fire of the Forge, and the third is the Goddess of the Fire of Creation and Transformation. All three were formed together to become a triple goddess.
What could you do at Imbolc?
Be careful, I am not saying to clean your house from top to bottom on this Sabbath day. I myself am unable to do this (especially because I am not a household addict ^^). But clean a room in the house, sort through your belongings and air your house. We tend to open windows when the weather is sunny. As a result, we accumulate negative and exhausting energies in the house. Opening your home with invigorating air, even for a short period of time, allows you to renew your energies. But I am convinced that you are already doing it, it is the famous "Spring Cleaning" that we practice with the arrival of the sunny days. It is pleasant, isn't it, to note that we are following, without even realizing it, a tradition that has existed for centuries.
Also do an energy dusting of the house. For this, it is not necessary to have a dedicated broom. Your usual broom will do just fine. All you have to do is symbolically "sweep away" the energies that have stagnated in the house for many months. Start from the ceiling to the floor, and imagine these energies leaving the house with the dust.
Plant a seed:
Whether you are in an apartment or a house, in the city or in the country, with Imbolc comes the time to plant your ideas and life. To celebrate nature's awakening and fertility rites, why not take the opportunity to plant something? Even if the soil is not ready to receive a seed, you can easily put some seeds in pots (respecting the natural planting dates of course;)).
Planting a seed can also be done in a totally unexpected way: for example by offering your help, spontaneously and without expecting anything in return, to someone. It is a seed of openness and love that you are planting by doing this. Imagine how much more beautiful things would be if we all planted these kinds of seeds.
Walking in nature:
You don't have to travel miles from home to enjoy the outdoors. If you live in the city, choose a park that you like, that will fill your heart with joy. If you live in the countryside, you have plenty of choice to lose yourself in nature for a few moments. What is important here is to take the time to reconnect with nature and really look at it. See the buds that begin to emerge from the trees, see the first flowers open, see the birds that are preparing for the approaching sunny days. See and feel the nature that is gradually awakening around you.
Light a candle:
Imbolc symbolizes the return of light and warmth that are becoming more vigorous every day. Moreover, Brigid being the guardian of the Eternal Flame, we understand the importance of candles in this celebration. In the distant past, a candle was lit at every window of the house. Today, it is advisable to light a candle at a single window, so as not to leave a flame unattended. To pay tribute to all aspects of the goddess, you can use a floating candle in a container filled with water.
Make a Brigid cross:
It is a symbol of protection that is prepared just before Imbolc. The cross is placed outside the house the night before the Sabbath in the hope that the Goddess will bless them. The next day, the cross is brought in and hung next to the front door to prevent misfortune from entering. This cross remained in place until the following year, when new Brigid Crosses were created.
It is in good taste, when waiting for a blessing from the gods, to leave them an offering. If you want the Goddess to bless your Cross, remember to leave a cereal cake or some grass for the white cow that accompanies Brigid.
In conclusion :
I could still write tons of things to celebrate Imbolc but... I have my own preparations to make. And then, what I didn't put here will be the occasion for another article.
Feel free to write to me, as a comment here, about what you are doing at Imbolc. I'm sure we'd have a lot of recipes to exchange.
Beautiful day to all and may the gods be with you!