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Imbolc is a Gaelic traditional festival. It marks the beginning of spring. It is held on 1 February, which is about halfway between the Yule (Winter Solstice) and the Ostara (Spring Equinox). Imbolc is mentioned in early Irish literature, and there is evidence suggesting it was also an important date in ancient times. It is believed that Imbolc was originally a pagan festival associated with the Goddess Brigid.

The festivities on the feast of Brigid did not begin to be recorded in detail until the early modern era. In recent centuries it was marked by the making of Brigid’s crosses and a doll-like figure of Brigid would be paraded from House-To-House by girls. Brigid was said to visit one’s home on the eve of the festival. To receive her blessings, people would make a bed for Brigid and leave her food and drink, and items of clothing would be left outside for her to bless. Brigid was also evoked to protect homes and livestock. Special feasts were had, holy wells were visited, and it was a time for divination.

It has also been argued that originally the timing of the festival was more fluid and based on seasonal changes. It is associated with the onset of the lambing season he beginning of preparations for the spring sowing, and the blooming of blackthorn. Holy Wells were visited, spring or small pool of water revered either in a pagan context, sometimes both. The water of holy wells is often thought to have healing qualities, through the numinous presence of its guardian spirit. They often have local legends associated with them as they were during some of the other Gaelic festivals. Visitors to holy wells would pray for health while walking sunwise clockwise was considered the “Prosperous Course”, turning from east to west in the direction of the sun, around the well. They would then leave offerings, typically coins. Water from the well was used to bless the home, family members, livestock, and fields. In Celtic regions, strips of cloth are often tied to trees at holy wells, known as clootie wells.

Imbolc is the traditional time for initiations. Initiation is a rite of passage marking entrance or acceptance into a group or society. It could also be a formal admission to adulthood in a community or one of its formal components. In an extended sense, it can also signify a transformation in which the initiate is “Reborn” into a new role. A person taking the initiation ceremony in traditional rites is called an initiate.

Brigid so loved as a pagan Goddess that her worship was woven. She is a Goddess of healing, poetry and smith craft. She is a Goddess of Fire, of the Sun and of the Hearth. Bridget brings fertility to the land and its people and is closely connected to midwives and new-born babies. She is the Triple Goddess, but at Imbolc she is in her Maiden aspect.

Other Ways to Imbolc

You don’t have to create an altar to celebrate Imbolc, although it can be a fun way to get your craft on. Other fun ways are to plant seeds, bake a cake light candles. As I’ve already mentioned, you can celebrate however you want. However, consider incorporating these symbols that are attributed to Imbolc:

  • A Bridig Cross.
  • The snowdrop.
  • The swan.
  • The flame.
  • The serpent.
  • Sheep.
  • Imbolc colors are white, silver and green.
  • Herbs of Imbolc are blackberry, coltsfoot, ginger.
  • Trees of Imbolc are rowan and willow.

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