Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Happy Imbolc to All

Today we celebrate Imbolc, also known as Candlemas. Another name for it is St. Brigid's Day. Imbolc is what is called a cross-quarter day; this means that it falls midway between the Winter Solstice or Yule and the Spring Equinox or Ostara.  At Yule, the days slowly started growing longer and by Imbolc,  the lengthening days have finally become noticeable. I can recall coming home from work in early December in the dark; now, the sun is just beginning to set, and even though we may be moving now into the coldest time of the year, it is hard not to notice the little signs that show us we are slowly moving toward Spring...

...although you would never know it if you looked out my door...a perfect ice skating rink it was this morning.  I know others have endured that biggest blizzard of the year.  Winter is not letting up Her grasp, that's for sure.   I didn't go to work today.  After watching the others slipping and sliding as they made their way down the block, I said "That's not for me," called in, and went back under the covers.

This is the time of the Maiden Goddess who symbolizes the promise of new life which is shown to us with the first stirrings of the seeds within the earth. Imbolc is associated with the dawn and the inner fire.  Symbolically, it is a time for renewal, cleansing, and rebirth. Early spring is a season of change; it is a time of transitions. It is a perfect time to re-dedicate yourself to your chosen path.The light is returning,  and with it, we begin to feel the urge to start new projects as we make  our plans for the next Spring.

The Goddess or God that you associate with this festival greatly depends upon where you live or which  path you have chosen.  However, there are a couple of deities that have come to be particularly associated with this celebration.  The first of these deities is Brigid, the Celtic Goddess of poetry, healing, and smithcraft. She was Brigantia to the English, Bride to the Scots, and Brigandu in Celtic France.  Brigid  was so beloved by the people that She was one of the few of the ancient deities to survive into our modern times, and when the Catholic Church found they could not demonize Her, they chose instead to canonize Her as Saint Brigid, the patron saint of arts and healing, and along with this Christianizing of Her name,  Imbolc became known as the Feast of Saint Brigid.  

Like the Celts, the Greeks also described the cycle of seasons in myth, and during the Eleusinian Mysteries, the people held a torchlight procession in honor of the Harvest Goddess, Demeter.  The torch was to aid Her in the search for Her daughter, Persephone for when She was found, winter would leave and light would return to the world.   

For those who follow an Egyptian path,  February 2nd is the birthday of Nut.  She was known as Mother Sky, the  barrier that separates chaos from order.  As the Mother of all the gods,  She is sometimes seen as a giant pig suckling many piglets...a depiction which fit in perfectly with the idea of Spring and new life.   The Roman goddess, Minerva,  protector of doctors, teachers and craftsman and seen as the goddess of wisdom had Her feast day on  February 1st,  the old festival of spring.  Venus, the Goddess of beauty and fertility was also worshiped at this time. Offerings would be made to ensure fertility to the fields and crops, mostly in the form of grapes and flowers.  
is the Hindu Goddess of learning and creating; She is the wife of the creator, Brahma.  She is dressed in white for 'purity' and rides a white goose or swan.  On Sarawati Puja, usually celebrated in February, musical instruments are cleaned and books are collected and placed on an altar and worshiped.  The festival this year falls on February 12th, not exactly on Imbolc, but symbolic of the same ritual cleansing. 

Here is the United States, we celebrate this day as Groundhog Day. The beliefs and traditions of Candlemas Day, an ancient festival which has its roots in Paganism, are similar to Groundhog Day in that the day marked a milestone in the weather and a change from Winter to Spring.  According to the old legend, if the groundhog sees his shadow, he will retreat back to his hole and there will be six more weeks of winter.  But, if he doesn't see his shadow, we can all look forward to an early spring.  It seems like the groundhog would be encouraged by the sunlight, but it is his own shadow that drives him underground.

In celebrating Imbolc, we celebrate poetry, birth, and change. Imbolc traditions center on light and purification. Candles are a symbol of Imbolc, hence the Christianized name Candlemas, and it is a tradition to light many candles for this festivals.  Light candles in each room of your home to honor the returning Sun, and visualize the returning warmth of Spring and the spark of life that it brings with it. This is also a perfect time to cleanse or bless your house, or you may leave a ribbon outdoors overnight where it is said that Brigid will bless it as She passes on Her feast night.  Many people weave corn dollies out of corn husks to symbolize Brigid Shake off the shadows of Winter and look ahead to the light and abundance of the upcoming Spring.

"Mother of the earth and sun,
Keep us safe and keep us warm,
As over our home you extend your blessings."


  1. A Blessed Imbolc and New Moon Blessings to you. Stay safe and warm from this latest storm.

  2. Happy Imbolc Mary. I hope you are having a relaxing day at home. We're melting today and the warmer temps have a dense fog over the area. It's nice sitting next to the window listening to the icicles melt and watching the birds through the fog.

  3. No self respecting groundhog would leave it's warm den today.
    Neither did either of US ;0)

  4. Happy Imbolc to you!

    So glad you did not venture out, in/on the ice!

    Hugs and ♥'s...
    'Cause Valentine Day is coming!

  5. Imbolc blessings and good news! The Groundhog says "Early Spring!"

  6. Imbolc wishes for you Mary. This day has many meanings for me. My oldest daughter birthed my middle grandson on this day, Layn Steven.

  7. Bearing Water for Brigid

    Sketches for a water vessel --
    bottle and message elide on waves.
    Voice of Brigid calls.
    All who hear: Imagine.
    Exposed to wind, to grit, to rain
    and hail,
    rock faces erode.

    Designated fixed space
    Sacrosanct container
    Conveyor through fluid
    Creates place, surface to paint.
    diffusement of emotion,
    beatitude, foment of dueling farce.

    Harsh edges polished,
    pure colors
    blend in the dark.
    Brief infusion
    of giddy illusion
    just enough to guilefully entice.
    Sparkling Neural net
    a secret
    clue revealing
    purpose, meaning,
    wild eternal child,
    ages' flamboyant fool,

    (Voice rains from within)

    A wound is a sacred vessel.
    Pain carves into flesh
    sense memory;
    carries the seed
    of its own demise.
    engulfed in life
    learns anew to be whole.

    Wounded with the potential for wisdom
    when eyes are are pried
    from seeping, sucking, suffering
    aching to censure what future we admire.
    Redefine the schizm.
    This wound is our project.
    To heal, discover the vision;
    realign the seam to fit
    self-framed landscape.

    Let loose that genie of desire.
    Ride rushing blood streams.
    Build a roaring pyre of grief,
    insane belief in wrathfilled deities.
    Revile that old refrain: "life is pain" or a game
    to be lost.
    No Faustian bargain.
    Just a
    rambling adventure
    to explore
    essence of ecstasy.
    Don't wait for the rest to see
    and demur.
    Stretch your sail.
    Take sight of your guiding star.
    The only failure is self-denial
    in favor of the vile lie
    that pain is destiny
    instead of faithful friend
    lending energy
    for change.

    Slice vivid memories.
    Exult in the tastes, the textures.
    Enliven your way.

    In the end
    the vessel breaks.
    There the Goddess stirs

    2011 Aquarius

  8. No offense, but I recommend you check out the information about Saint Brigid. A lot of people are confused about the saint/goddess story, but the fact is that the "she was a goddess until those grasping Christians got her!" thing is a myth.