If you celebrate the pagan festivals, you know that we have entered the season of Imbolc. If you don’t, you can probably feel Imbolc’s warmth in your bones. Here in the UK, the nights are slowly drawing out, and, despite the rain, we’re feeling a little lighter and brighter.
What is Imbolc?
Green pastures, snowdrops, budding trees and newborn lambs are the first signs that Imbolc is here. With these first stirrings of spring, our ancestors would have been relieved to see that the hardest, coldest months were behind them, that the land was awakening, and that the ewes were producing milk again (Imbolc means ‘in milk’).
Also known as Candlemas, Imbolc is a fire festival that celebrates the strengthening sun. In the Christian calendar, candles are lit for the Virgin Mary. For pagans (and nature-lovers in general), Imbolc is the time of the fire goddess, Brigid.
Brigid’s name is said to mean ‘Bright Arrow’
Brigid is a goddess with many strings to her bow. She’s a midwife and a healer. She’s a patron of poetry and smithcraft. She’s a protector of children and animals. And, she’s a triple goddess. At Imbolc Brigid is pictured as a maiden, but she is also a wife and a mother.
Born at sunrise, Brigid rose into the sky with a halo of flames emanating from her head. Fire is symbolic of consciousness and the spark of creativity, and Brigid’s forge represents life’s challenges – those painful transformations that strengthen the human spirit.
Brigid brought peace to the warring clans of Ireland through the power of her grief when her son was killed in battle. At her keening cry, the warriors laid down their weapons and peace was born. Her gifts are knowledge, inspiration, healing and peace.
4 Ways to celebrate Imbolc
- Start something new
Have you been meaning to try a new class or start working on a healthy new habit? Take advantage of the positive momentum that Imbolc brings. There’s no time like the present!
- Bring in the light
Brigid’s devotees (and the nuns in Saint Brigid’s convent) tended a sacred flame. To celebrate Imbolc, simply light a candle and meditate on your hopes for the coming year. Or – as Imbolc is a fire festival, light a fire at your hearth to honour the returning sun. Toasted marshmallows, anyone?
Any good festival deserves a feast. Traditional foods include milk and seeds (for growth). Eating seasonally will bring you closer to the natural cycles of the wheel of the year. Seasonal foods include: cabbage, cauliflower, parsnips, kale and purple sprouting broccoli.
- Create something
Why not make a Brigid’s Cross, a Bridie Doll or simply bake a cake? Creating anything is a sacred act – if you want it to be.
- Goddessgift.com. (2017). Brigid, Celtic Goddess of Inspiration and Healing. [online] Available at: http://www.goddessgift.com/goddess-myths/celtic-goddess-brigid.htm.
- Brigidsflame.com. (2017). The Goddess Brigid – Brigid’s Flame. [online] Available at: http://www.brigidsflame.com/brigid.html.
By Ellen Long-Common
Ellen is a freelance writer who specialises in keeping blogs ticking over for business owners who love content but hate to create it. Check her out over at The Uncommon Writer.