Imbolc or Imbolg, also called Saint Brigid’s Day, is a Gaelic festival marking the beginning of spring. Most commonly it is held on February 1st but more often today on February 2nd, about halfway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox.
It is believed that it was originally a pagan festival associated with the goddess Brigid and that it was Christianized as a festival of Saint Brigid, who is thought to be a Christianization of the goddess. At Imbolc, Brigid’s crosses were made and a doll-like figure of Brigid, called a Brídeóg, would be paraded from house-to-house. Brigid was said to visit one’s home at Imbolc. To receive her blessings, people would make a bed for Brigid and leave her food and drink, while items of clothing would be left outside for her to bless. Brigid was also invoked to protect homes and livestock. Special feasts were had, holy wells were visited and it was also a time for divination.
Although many of its customs died out in the 20th century, it is still observed and in some places it has been revived as a cultural event. Since the latter 20th century, Celtic neopagans and Wiccans have observed Imbolc, or something based on it, as a religious holiday.
Imbolc marks the recovery of the Goddess after giving birth to the God. The lengthening periods of light awaken Her. The God is a young, lusty boy, but His power is felt in the longer days. The warmth fertilizes the Earth (the Goddess), and causes seeds to germinate and sprout. And so the earliest beginnings of Spring occur.
This is a Sabbat of purification after the shut-in life of Winter, through the renewing power of the Sun. It is also a festival of light and of fertility, once marked in Europe with huge blazes, torches and fire in every form. Fire here represents our own illumination and inspiration as much as light and warmth. Imbolc is also known as Feast of Torches. Some female Witches follow the old Scandinavian custom of wearing crowns of lit candles, but many more carry tapers during their invocations.
So what does this Imbolc energy bring to us?
It will be all about emotional depth. This won’t be out in front, but an intensely private energy that will run very deep under the surface. It will be complex and sensitive with a fierce determination to move forward and advance. There is nothing superficial about this energy. It will drive you to be more passionate and intense towards your personal goals. You’ll find yourself suspicious that those appearances are superficial and masking the “real nitty-gritty”, you are always probing beneath the surface to uncover the deeper, hidden aspects of a matter. You’ll also be keenly observant and seem to have “x-ray vision” regarding the inner motivations and intentions of other people.
Your intuitive nature will start kicking into overdrive. Your emotional responses may seem immediate whether positive or negative. You will fight the urge to lash out in response despite the fact that those instincts prove to be correct. Watch your suspicion of others, but also don’t trust too quickly. You will value loyalty above anything else. You may find yourself seeking and valuing your freedom on a multitude of levels. You will shy away from people that want to own or possess your time and effort in ways that seem more like indentured servitude.
The energy will be about fairness, intelligence, objectiveness and rational, letting your head rule over your heart. You will want to remain stalwart in your decisions. You will begin to think and feel not only about your place and purpose in your own personal sphere, but outside of that. You will seek to reach out and understand how you are connected and interacting with your town, nation and planet and thusly expanding to the Universe as a whole. You may feel the urge to jump in and take on social causes as they become very keenly important to you. Watch your sense of obligation and make sure you aren’t committing yourself to more than necessary.
Watch your tendency to be overly direct, energetic, and sometimes aggressive and combative. At the same time there is the energy which will continue to ground these strong urges bring back realism and practicality into the fold. The one set is to help get you in gear and get moving, the second is to make sure that you don’t jump off the cliff without a parachute.
You will have the immense need to seek out things that are beautiful and unique; artwork, nature, music, cultures, anything that is out of your everyday sphere of influence. You want to break away from the day in and day out and expand your mind into new creative realms.
Look out for those shiny blinking lights that so easily distract you. They are shiny but they can eat up more of your time than necessary. Save those things for later, after you have taken care of your responsibilities.
Positive Key Words & Phrases: agreeable, complexity, contemporary, enigmatic, emotional maturity, experimental, determination, disciplined, harmony, innovative, inquisitive, instinctual, loyal, passion, sensitivity, social betterment, strong-willed, unwavering
Negative Key Words & Phrases: dogmatic, combative, hastiness, fanaticism, inflexible, jealousy, lackadaisical, opinionated, restlessness, recklessness, retaliation, strong-willed, superficial, struggle, stubborn, withdrawn