The Celtic festival of Imbolc, on February 2, celebrates the arrival of spring and the awakening of Mother Earth. It is a pagan festival that dates back to ancient times when the Romans called it Lupercalia or The Feast of God’s Bread.
IMBOLC – Festival of Purification – Festival of Lights
Imbolc means “in the womb” and refers to the birth of spring with the reappearance of the light and warmth of the sun.
This date is known as the Feast of Purification, in honor of the Virgin Mary and is celebrated with rituals of cleaning the house, lighting candles in the windows and asking for inspiration for new plans. It honors the hidden mysteries and celebrates the power of life emerging from the earth.
Candlemas and Imbolc Day
Candlemas celebrated on February 2, derive from a much older pagan festival whose meaning was the “festival of purification. The Romans adapted this celebration and christened it Lupercalia, or the Feast of God’s Bread.
Steward Farrar explains that this feast represents the re-establishment of the Goddess after the birth of the Sun-God-child on December 25th. This is known as the quarantine necessary to restore the mother’s body after childbirth.
Thus, February 2 became the day of purification, coinciding with the Celtic fire festival of Imbolc.
The date was set by the Romans on February 15, according to Leonardo da Vinci. This pagan festival was moved to February 2 to celebrate the purification of the Virgin Mary.
Meaning of the word Imbolc
It means “in the womb” and refers to the birth of spring when Mother Earth begins to awaken after the silence of winter and gives birth to all the creatures, plants and seeds that have been beating beneath the earth.
Oimelc means “sheep’s milk”, as it is also the time when the young of the flock is born. Imbolc is a celebration of the arrival of spring when you can feel the warmth of the sun and the increase of light.
It is a time to prepare for the busy season ahead, to clean up and to honor the triple goddess Brigit. This holiday celebrates the awakening of Mother Earth, welcoming the new life to come with the birth of seeds that begin to germinate underground.
On Imbolc, inspiration and guidance are sought for new plans and projects and the hidden mysteries that take place in the darkness are honored.
As the dark earth holds the life that will emerge and blossom in the spring, the moments of hidden power that guarantee the development that will sustain creativity in the warm sunny days of the future are praised.
The ancient tradition of lighting candles in the windows on the eve of the Sabbath is one of the most beautiful celebrations. That evening they are left to burn until dawn.
This custom is also used to make candles for use on other Sabbaths. Rituals of purification and cleaning the house are also part of the day.
Correspondences and Symbolism of Imbolc
The colors yellow, orange and white are said to be a reason for celebration. This holiday is also known as Imbolc Brigantia, Candlemas, Lupercus, Candelaria, Disting, Oimelc, Brid’s Day and Brigit’s Day.
The goddess is depicted as a virgin and manure, while the god is depicted as a sun child. Herbs, flowers and incense such as white sage, marigold, lemon, dandelion, saffron seeds, rose, verbena, violet, myrrh, dragon’s blood, vanilla and cinnamon are used.
Appropriate stones for this celebration are all white and warm-colored stones such as white quartz, citrine, yellow tourmaline, ruby, garnet, zirconia, coral, red agate and topaz.
Materials to use in Imbolc
Warm-colored candles, such as red, orange and yellow, whose hues create a cozy and warm atmosphere. White flowers can also be used as a symbol of purity, adding a touch of elegance to the ceremony.
For the celebration, sacred foods and beverages should be offered, such as seasonal fruits and flowers, as well as all foods containing dairy products.
If you want to prepare a more elaborate feast, you can add fruit scones, pastries, bread, creamy soups, wine, or fruit juice. Vegans are encouraged to use vegetable milk to honor the puppies’ mother’s milk.
Recommended activities for Imbolc
It is possible to burn the protective elements already used during the Yuletide.
To perform a cleansing spell, it is necessary to form a circle with candles. It is also important to clean and purify the house and the sacred space, as well as the altar and the instruments.
To complete the spell, place three wheat grains over the front door as a symbol of the Triple Goddess and leave them there until Ostara when they are to be burned. On Imbolc, look for stones to use in the circle and at the end of the ritual, return them to nature and look for new ones.
Finally, light a candle in each opening (windows, doors) of the house or room, starting at sunset on the day of Imbolc and leaving it burning until sunrise the next day. Candles should also be cleaned and consecrated for the rituals and festivals of the year.