Tam’s Tips: Imbolc

Tam’s Tips: Imbolc

Also known as Candlemas, St. Brigid’s Day, and by other names: the Sabbat of Imbolc is typically celebrated from February 1st to the 3rd.  Historically a Celtic fire festival, it is honored today by many modern pagans from any tradition. I had some elders who considered this time as the mid-winter. Others considered it more of an early or pre-Spring. In either perspective, this is nature’s time for waking up and beginning the cycle of renewal.

Imbolc as a word stems from the Irish Gaelic “Imbolg” and means “in the belly” or “milking.” This is because for the Ancestors (and still today), ewes were at the end stages of pregnancy. So we start seeing new lambs about this time of year that rely on their mother’s milk for nutrition. Another theme of Imbolc is the sensation of “quickening,” which is both associated with labor pains and one’s sudden desire to make manifest after a time of stir-craziness. 

It has been long believed that intentions focused on at Imbolc have the greatest likelihood of being made manifest. Seeing that the earth is starting to thaw and the days are starting to grow longer, this is a time both within and without for reawakening. After being more indoors than out, we feel called to shake off the stillness of winter and to look forward to the coming of spring. We are ready to have hope and faith in ourselves and in the world. With such new drive and determination, no wonder goals made now then to be completed.

To welcome this passion and the returning of the Sun’s light, fire festivals great and small are held to draw ever-growing light. If you’re the type to recycle wax, now is a great time to collect all the remnants of your candles for melting down and molding into new jars or tapers. (Just be sure to add fresh wick material.) Or visit your favorite candle shop and stock up on new scents. Think about what no longer serves you and what you are ready to release. Write them down and burn them away—or if you can, safely jump over a fire to cleanse and purify yourself. All of these are things that our Ancestors did, and part of why we still do them today.

In reflection of the time of year and ewe’s milk, white is the color most associated with Imbolc. So fresh, bright, and pure—white reminds us of new life, clean slates, and untapped potential. So to further boost your own quickening energies, try wearing white, dressing your altar or work spaces with white cloths, or wearing white jewelry such as pearls. And/or ingest dairy foods like seasoned butters, cheese or white hot chocolate. (Lactose free options work just as well. It’s all about intention after all.)

If you haven’t worked with the goddess Brighid (there are multiple spellings of Her name), now is the perfect time of year to learn about Her. She is associated with fire, blacksmith work, child birth, healing, fertility, and many other things. As you prepare to make your goals manifest, you may want to call upon Her for assistance. In my home, we often weave new Brighid’s Crosses, thinking or speaking aloud our intentions while making them. Then we hang them in our work areas to remind ourselves of all we wish to manifest. When motivation slows, looking at this symbol of potential can help us push through and get things done. It also welcomes the blessings of Brighid upon our work.

But my favorite Imbolc thing to do, is recharge my family’s Brighid’s Mantles. These are special scarves that we leave out for Brighid to bless during Imbolc along with an offering to Her and Her white cow. When ill, we wear our mantle to help speed healing.

I encourage everyone to get a mantle--and all it takes is choosing a scarf. It can be cheap or expensive, handmade or from a store, any color or print, and just needs to be long enough to wrap around the neck or shoulders. Just remember that this tool is only worn when ill. After you’ve chosen your mantle, remove any tags and feel free to bless or smudge it in your own way. Then on the night before Imbolc, tie the mantle to your gate or doorknob (outside), and ask Brighid to please fill the mantle with Her healing love and light. Place an offering nearby for Brighid as a thank you. Corn, cornbread, butter, and cinnamon are among foods associated with Her. In the morning, bring your mantle indoors and store it in a place where you can access it whenever feeling under the weather. After February 3rd, dispose of the offering in your preferred way.

As always, I hope my tips help you but remember that there’s more than one way to witch! May this season of Imbolc bring you restored body, mind, and hope to make all of your dreams reality. May you release to make room for new blessings. Check out the Discord, send me your questions, and tune into the next live for more inspiration!

Until next time, Bright Blessings!



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