These days, because it is just me and my two youngs sons, I don’t often go for a full out formal ritual to mark the passing of the seasons and the turning of the Wheel of the Year. Over time though, I have picked up bits and pieces about the Sabbats which I will be sharing with you here.
Imbolc, also spelled Imbolg or Oimelc, and pronounced ‘im’olk‘ comes at the beginning of February and is the second Sabbat in the Wheel of the Year. The word Imbolc has been translated as meaning “in the belly” or possible “ewe’s milk” in Irish Gaelic. A reference to the beginnings of the lambing season in Celtic societies.
This is the Festival of Brigid (pronounced ‘Breed’), an ancient Goddess of Ireland and the British Isles, and now known as St Brigid. In modern times this date is called Candlemas in the Christian calendars and Groundhog Day in America. It marks a return of light once more to the world after the length of Winter’s darkness and the beginning of the Agricultural year.
Brigid is one of the Tuatha de Danann who were among the earliest Gods of Ireland. She is a Goddess of poets and poetry, of blacksmiths, of healing, of holy wells and sacred flames.
In the rest of the British Isles she was known as Brigantia and she has been associated with the Greek Athena and Roman Minerva. I will write more of Brigid in a future post.
This symbol of Ireland and St Brigid, one of the Patron Saints of Ireland, is thought to have been an early representation of the Pagan Sun wheel. It can be found in many Pagan and Irish kitchens as it is thought to be a charm of protection against fire and evil.
If you are interested in making your own Brigid’s Cross, this video is one I have found that provides clear and easily followed instructions.
Ritual Activities for Imbolc
Think of your goals for the coming year while planting seeds in a bowl of fertile soil. Take up to 5 seeds and attach one goal to each seed. Focus clearly on your goal, and the steps you need to go through in order for it to develop and grow. As the seeds germinate and grow so too will your plans and goals for the coming year.
Imbolc is frequently the time of year when initiations and dedications are conducted in the Pagan religions. You can dedicate yourself to anything. Studies. School. Your work. The Pagan Path. Achieving a goal. Learning a skill.
This is a self-dedication ritual which I have used in the past. It is especially appropriate to use at Imbolc.
Sit down in the days before and write out what it you want to achieve in this dedication. Be as detailed and as clear as you can.
Prepare the ritual area. You will need a candle, incense, salt, water, something which represents what you are dedicating yourself to, and your written work, a glass of wine or fruit juice, and a small cake or biscuit.
Take a shower or bath, cleansing your body. Use the time to clear your mind of any worries that might be lingering. You can add oils or incense to the bath if you wish.
When you are ready, dress in clean clothes and sit at your ritual area.
Light the candle.
Visualise a sphere of gold surrounding you. This will contain any energies you raise until you are ready to release them. If you are so inclined, you can create a circle, but it isn’t necessary.
Invite whatever Deity you believe in, if any, to attend to bear witness to your dedication. If you are dedicating yourself to a specific God or Goddess invite them to be present. You can also invite the Guardians or Spirits of the Cardinal Directions and any Spirit Guardians you may have. If you are atheist, you can still do a self-dedication. Just skip this step or use this time to meditate.
Say:“I (ordinary name) am prepared to dedicate myself to (fill in the blank with a summary of what you have written). I now call upon these witnesses here to confer on me wisdom and integrity. I ask for the blessings of air, fire, water and earth.”
Focus clearly on what you are dedicating yourself to.
Pick up the water. Dip your finger in and touch it to your forehead, lips, heart, and abdomen.
Say:“With the element of Water I dedicate myself to fill in the blank.
Pick up the salt. Dip your finger in and touch it to your forehead, lips, heart, and abdomen.
Say:“With the element of Earth I dedicate myself to fill in the blank.
Pick up the incense. Hold it to your forehead, lips, heart, and abdomen.
Say:“With the element of Air I dedicate myself to fill in the blank.
Pick up the candle. Hold it to your forehead, lips, heart, and abdomen.
Say:“With the element of Fire I dedicate myself to fill in the blank.
If you have invited Deity or any other Spirits to attend, ask them now to Bless you and aid you on your path.
Focus on the candle flame and see yourself achieving your goal in the coming growing season.
Take a sip of the wine, or juice. And a bite of the cake. Give the remaining to the Gods in offering, if you have called them in otherwise consider leaving out an offering to any wild creatures living in your area.
Thank any Beings you have invited for being present to bear witness and bid them farewell.
Release the golden sphere and feel the energy you have raised moving across the world.
Sit in quiet reflection until you are ready to move.
Place the object representing your dedication in a place where you will see it frequently each day.
After this, it is up to you to do the work.
If you are interested in foods for Imbolc, have a look at my Menu Plan for an Imbolc Feast