There are eight Sabbats through the year, celebrating the turning of the wheel of the year and the change of the seasons. The eight Sabbats consists of four solar holidays and four cross-quarter days, marking the shift from one season to the next. The four solar holidays of the year are Ostara – Spring Equinox, Mabon – Autumnal Equinox, Yule – Winter Solstice, and Litha – Summer Solstice. The four pagan cross-quarter holidays are Samhain, which is also considered the witches new year, Imbolc, Beltane and Lughnasadh.
Imbolc – Spring, February 2nd/3rd.
Season + Element: the transition to Spring and the element of Air
Incense: Rosemary, Frankincense, Myrrh & Cinnamon
Stones: Red stones like Garnet and bloodstone, as well as cleansing stones such as clear quartz.
Food: Anything made with seeds, dairy, homemade bread and cakes, spiced wines, soup of winter vegetables.
Decorations: Corn Dolly, Besom, Spring Flowers, Candles and Brigid’s cross.
Colors: White, Orange & Red
Deities: Brigid, The Triple Goddess as Maiden, Eros, Osiris, Pan, Herne, Athena.
Corresponding Moon: Cresent Moon – symbolizing wonder, discovery and curiosity.
The Celtic fire festival Imbolc – or first spring – is a cross-quarter day celebrated when sun is exactly halfway between the Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox. The Sabbat marks the recovery of the Goddess after giving birth to the God, and is a day to honor the rebirth of the Sun, and to celebrate the passing of Winter, and the first signs of spring. The time around Imbolc is usually a time of heightened anticipation and hope for Spring and new beginnings to arrive.
Imbolc is also a day of celebrating the Celtic Goddess Brigid, the Goddess of poetry, fertility, healing, smith-craft, regeneration, livestock and light. She is said to be a triple Goddess, reborn on Imbolc from the crone of winter to the maiden of spring, and this Sabbat honors her in all her aspects. Imbolc is the perfect time for communing with this healing and loving Goddess, and Pagans and Wiccans usually choose to honor her memory during this time by lighting dozens candles – white for Brigid, and yellow or red ones for the God and the Sun.
Imbolc is the perfect time for initiations, dedication and for rituals focusing on spiritual purification, cleansing one’s body, thoughts and emotions, as well as the lighting of candles, representing the return of the God and the Sun, or to start a sacred fire in honor of goddess Brigid’s sacred flame.
If you want to do a candle ritual, I love the candle tradition where you collect all your old candles, carving words and wishes for yourself and your loved ones, before melting them all together to create new candles out of them, and light them in the honor of the Goddess and the Sabbat. The candles will then be lit regularly until spring returns.
If you want to add a social part to your Imbolc ritual, you can invite to a shared meal with your tribe. The Goddess Brigid is known as a keeper of the hearthfires in the home, and, as such, she is often associated with domestic rituals like cooking. Use the ingredients of the season, bless your meal in Brigid’s name and enjoy some Imbolc magic with your loved ones. Traditional food for Imbolc includes flour, milk, butter, buttermilk, yeast, eggs, dried fruit and honey.
While many people like to do rituals in a group setting, Imbolc celebrations also encourage personal reflection. Make your own personal goals and plant your seeds for the coming year. Imbolc in many ways represents the words yet to be spoken and the potential in our spirits, Imbolc’s beauty being in waiting and not knowing. Use this day for stillness and reflextion, and honoring what’s not present yet.
Or why not build a seasonal altar for First Spring. The best days to change your altars are during the cross quarter days, as they mark an initiation into the energies of the season. White and blue ﬂowers and crystals, candles, a Brigid’s cross and a representations of the maiden/youth are all ideas for your altar around this time.
Questions for journaling and contemplation:
What are your hopes and dreams for spring?
More than hopes and dreams, what is your heart’s deepest longing? How does this longing feel it in your body? Is it still buried deep or is it ready to burst?
Where is your focus? Do you have your focus where you wish to go? Our life goes where we keep our attention, so choose wisely.