For most of us living in the Northern Hemisphere, February is a time of storms and bleak, short days which reflect the stark reality of Winter while it conveys the hope of Spring. It is a time that we celebrate the renewing fertility of the Earth
The celebration of Imbolc falls midpoint between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. We have reached the turning point when one is at ultimate darkness and from now on everything will start to get less dark. In earlier times, the ancient rite was traditionally held on the eve of February 1st. It was a purification fire festival called the 'Feast of Lights'.
It is the point in the cycle of seasons when new life is beginning, a time when the first stirrings can be felt in the natural world, of renewed life of the earth after winter and the growing strength of the sun. It is the festival of the beginning of spring which marked the arrival of milk for the first birthing lambs of spring. Imbolc is the festival of the Maiden Goddess, particularly Brigid in the Celtic traditions, whose associations include the dawn and the inner fire. This Sabbat celebrates the goddess bringing the youthful sun God back to the earth in spring
Imbolc is a time to clean out the old to make way for the new, to light candles to help the young Sun God. It's a great time for some early spring cleaning, too. Get rid of things you don't need. Get ready for the spring season to come. Place strips of cloth or ribbons outdoors, to catch the first light of the sun on Imbolc or the dew of the dawn. This is called Brat Bride or Brigit's cloak. The cloths were kept and used for healing throughout the year.
On Imbolc, herbs such as angelica, basil, rowan, celandine, heather, and myrrh are used to celebrate. Snowdrops and candles are placed on altars to represent all things new.The lighting of candles is done to encourage the sun in its return toward the earth. Place as many white candles around your house or on the Imbolc altar as you can, because the candles' glow symbolizes the growing light.