Just when you thought winter would never end, the days start to draw out and the bright festival of Imbolc – christianised as Candlemas - brings new hope. The natural magic of the season can give you inspiration if you tune in to its power. Understand and celebrate this nature-worship festival. Learn about:
• Ancient meanings
• Festival of Water
• Festival of Fire
‘Imbolc’ means ‘in the belly’, for now, deep within the belly of the earth, life begins to stir. This is a time of purity and new growth, as snowdrops and crocuses brave the frost. Creativity is celebrated at Imbolc – the first tiny lambs are born and new ventures seem possible.
In times of yore people must have felt a huge sense of relief as the sun began to return, melting the snows and making so many activities feasible with the increasing light. You will probably find that your energy grows and you feel more able to tackle some of those resolutions you made at New Year. Commit to a creative enterprise. Set your imagination free and let it harmonise with the Imbolc sparkle.
Ice giving way to flowing streams was a reminder to celebrate the life-giving qualities of fresh water. Wells were considered sacred to the Goddess and in Celtic lands were often ‘dressed’ at Imbolc by being wreathed with ivy and early flowers.
People wishing for healing may leave strips of cloth tied to trees near a sacred well. Is there any trouble you long to feel cleansed of? Find a well near you and pour your heart out to the Goddess. Then leave your problem with her, as you tie your fabric to a branch. (N.B. Please use natural fabrics that will biodegrade, not plastic.)
Imbolc is the festival of the Celtic goddess Bride, later Christianised as St Bridget. She was patroness of poetry, child-birth, smithcraft, healing and creativity of all kinds. Priestesses were initiated at Imbolc, making this a very feminine festival. As Goddess of the Sacred Flame, a flame was literally kept burning in honour of Bride for many centuries in the monastery of Kildare.
If you have a scheme that is dear to your heart, write it with a pin on a thick white candle (initials will do!) and anoint the candle with some essential oil of rosemary. Ask Bride to bless your project, as she has blessed the efforts of so many women down the ages, and to be with you as you pursue success. Light your candle when you are working – writing, painting, making phone calls or whatever it takes, and be sure that the goddess is with you.
Make sure you won’t be disturbed, relax and close your eyes.
You find yourself in a dark place. It is a large outdoor amphitheatre, and around you there is a crowd of people, but you can see no-one, only hear them murmuring. You are all caught in the darkness and hopelessness of winter.
Then you become aware that you are holding a candle, and, magically, your candle lights up. There is a sigh of hope and expectation, as the person next to you lights their candle from yours, and so on, so that in no time the entire amphitheatre is lit up with twinkling flames. You say three times ‘Let there be light!’
Now, into the amphitheatre, come the performers, or whatever show is to take place. Allow this part of your visualisation to develop in its own way, for it holds a message for your own creativity. What is the show about? Are you involved in it? Or are you just a spectator? Let it proceed, without trying to control or analyse.
When you are ready, let the show end, and come back to everyday awareness. Do you understand the message? Make a note of what you have experienced for the meanings may become clear to you at a later time.
Winter can leave the atmosphere at home turgid and depressing. A little psychic cleansing will liven things up at all levels.
You will need a bell, smouldering joss-stick (lavender is a good choice of scent) a bowl of water, some salt and a white candle. An old-fashioned besom is also a good idea but if you don’t have one of those, any brush will do. Starting at the top of your house, sweep each room clear of negativity, imagining your besom or brush driving it away, like grey clouds. Finally sweep all the winter murk out of your front-door and close it. This should only take you five minutes.
Place your equipment on a tray, so you can take it from room to room. Ring your bell all over the house, paying special attention to corners that may harbour stagnant energy. Sprinkle a little salt in each room saying ‘Be blessed by earth’ Sprinkle water saying ‘Be blessed by water. Take your joss stick round saying ‘Be blessed by air’ and finally your candle with the words ‘Be blessed by fire’. When you have consecrated your entire house, place your candle somewhere secure and surround it with sprigs of rosemary. Say ‘This house is a clear space where light and life flourish’
Sit and watch the candle-flame dance for a while, as you make plans for your future.
Now that you have observed Imbolc it seems easier to say goodbye to winter. You have learned the ancient meanings, the Water Festival and Fire Festival aspects, you have a visualisation to enjoy and cleansing, to sweep away stagnant vibes. Feel positive and energised!
PUBLISHED: 01 February 2016