Imbolc, Imbolg or Candlemas falls on February 1-2 of each year and is the cross-quarter point between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox.
Traditionally it is a time for making or purchasing new candles for the home to be used throughout the coming year, hence its association with the Christian celebration of Candlemas. It also carries with it an energy of lightness and love – perhaps partly due to falling so close in the calendar to St Valentine’s Day on February 14. There are indeed love rituals that can be done on Imbolc Day itself which can easily be searched for online.
What Imbolc means to me is the hope and promise of spring. I find its energy lifts my heart and fills me with excitement for the turning of the wheel during the year ahead, after the post-Christmas holiday slump that most people experience. The darkest part of the year is now done and this is the first Sabbat to come after the darkest day at Yule. It is a time for looking forward, and I always feel, the time when the magick woven at the previous Samhain or Pagan New Year truly begins to manifest and come into play.
The feeling of newness inspires me to refresh my spiritual altar each year, which is a most fitting activity for Imbolc indeed. As a token, I do tend to make or buy one or two new candles to be used on my altar, but I may assemble different items on my altar which may have been in storage or on display elsewhere, include flowers, flowery or seashell-themed pot pourri, and brightly-coloured crystals to inspire and capture the light. I tend to see what I assemble on the altar at this time of year an offering of sorts, whether you see this as a gift for the Goddess, or the Universe, or your angels, faeries and guides. However, until Mabon as the dark half of the year takes hold, my Imbolc altar usually remains essentially unchanged apart from small additions or adaptations as the wheel turns. For this reason, at Imbolc I take extra special care to create a beautiful altar which is meaningful for my life themes in that year.
The Celtic Goddess Brigit or Brigid is particularly associated with this festival, and you may be inspired to make a Brigid cross as a temporary addition to your altar – there is a good explanation here: The Goddess and The Green Man – Imbolc.
Imbolc is also one of the fire festivals, so lighting your new candles on Imbolc Eve is also a fitting tribute.
The theme of love and beauty is significant with this festival, so it’s a great time for a makeover, a special night or day out with your partner, making love, giving compliments or uplifting those you love with small surprises, token gifts or cards to say you’re thinking of them. Hearts and flowers are key power symbols. There is a lovely beauty ritual which sticks in my mind, to be done at dawn on Imbolc – sadly not something I would ever do because I’m a night owl, not a dawn riser – but maybe once in my lifetime I will. It simply involves gathering the morning dew on one’s hands and using this to cleanse one’s face. You can add power to it by visualising yourself at your brightest and most beautiful, with that inner glow of light shining out for all to see. See yourself as you visualise your soul, and you and others should notice and recognise your beauty more in the year to come.
It is a time for hope and new expectation. Should you make a wish on Imbolc, make it a gentle and loving wish, and something you can work to bring about yourself. Magick is not at its highest at this time, but contentment, synchronicity and flow are in abundance.
I will add to this information as I find out more over the years. Here are some previous Imbolc altars I have created. Blessed Be.
~ Copyright Silverla StMichael, January 2013 ~