The Festival of Imbolc
The beginning of February marks the festival of Imbolc, an ancient Celtic celebration to welcome back the return of the Sun and Spring. It is one of the eight festivals that pagans celebrate the cycles and seasons of the year with. Four of the festivals have Celtic origins, these are Imbolc, Beltane, Lughnasadh and Samhain, and are known as the fire festivals. The other four are associated with points on the solar calendar, the Spring and Autumn Equinox, (when day and night are equal) and the Summer and Winter Solstices (the longest and shortest days of the year). I will be following these cycles through the year on my blog, and the traditions and customs that are associated with them. We have lost touch with our ancient roots, of the importance of creating ritual in our lives, these are the things which keep us connected with the earth and the cycles of nature, and to one another…. when we reconnect and deepen this connection it can have profound positive effects within us.
What Is The Festival Of Imbolc and Why Ritual is Important?
Imbolc was one of the most important times in the Celtic farming calendar, as the Winter stores would be getting low. The days are getting longer, new life is returning. Imbolc translates as “ewe’s milk” or “in the belly”, because this is the time that the sheep are pregnant and lambs are on the way. The cold harsh days of winter are nearly behind us. Even though the days are still bleak and frosty, the energy differs from the deep reflection and withdrawal that Yule and the Winter Solstice brings us…here at Imbolc there is a sense that within the earth things are beginning to wake from their slumber. Imbolc celebrations entered around the lighting of fires to welcome in the return of the Sun, and for cleansing. It is also associated with the Goddess Brigid, or Saint Brigit, (this time is also known in the Christian calendar as Candlemas) who is a Goddess of fire, healing and fertility. She is also associated with birthing and midwives, wells, poetry and blacksmiths.
As we move through this time, we begin to see new life emerging all around us in the natural world, buds on the trees, the first snowdrops begin poking their heads up through the soil.
Rituals, Activities & Recipes
Rituals and activities might include the making of candles, Spring cleaning and getting rid of clutter! Planting seeds or spring flowers, and bringing these into the home, reading poetry and telling stories, gather around the fire with friends and family and share your stories and ideas… toast some marshmallows and celebrate the return of the Sun!
This year 2020, Imbolc falls on Saturday 1st February, but you can mark the time anywhere within a week before or after. The moon is waxing at Imbolc this year, so the perfect time for allowing what you want more of to manifest into your life. Imbolc is a good time to set your intentions for the coming year, as well as release things from the previous year that no longer serve you. A simple ritual to do for Imbolc is to write down on a piece of paper all the things you wish to achieve for the year, as well as the things you want to release, any old energies and ideas that no longer serve you. Meditate on these for a while, visualising the things you wish to happen as actually happening! Light a candle and burn the paper, while holding your focus on the things you wish to manifest. When the smoke has disappeared into the ether, release your thought process on it, and trust to the Universe that your intentions and dreams will manifest! Along with this, plant some seeds, to represent the new ideas that you wish to manifest and to grow within you or your life, sunflowers, calendualas, or healing herbs for the garden are a great choice.
This year I am doing several Imbolc ritual events. A friend and I met with another friend on her beautiful houseboat home and performed the above ritual! We are all healers, one is a poet and so we had a figure of the Goddess Brigid to represent our inner desires, as well as a white candle. It wasn’t a complicated or flashy ritual, just 3 friends sitting around a candle at the helm of the boat, looking at the amazing view, feeling connected with nature, and each other chatting and thinking about and writing down what our hopes and dreams were for the coming year, what we wanted to release, and then burning the paper. We didn’t even meditate!!!! Then we ate home made soup and bread, drank pine needle tea and ate home made cake!! Simple pleasures, a simple ritual, that weaves connections of love enriching and enhancing our lives. We don’t need to over complicate things to be present, to perform little rituals that honour the seasons, cycles and ourselves.
The next Imbolc rituals will be with my Reiki Students after I have taught Reiki 1 and 2. Maybe these will involve more serious meditation, and definitely more Reiki, but they will still be filled with laughter, and fun, (and always cake!!) Ritual doesn’t have to be complicated to be meaningful and to bring about great change within us and our environment!
There are lots of recipes that are linked with the festival of Imbolc. Anything with eggs, as they represent fertility, as well as being a beautiful golden colour to represent the sun! Here is a link to a page that has lots of recipes on.
Healing Treatments To Try During Imbolc
During the festival of Imbolc, there are particular holistic treatments and therapies that are perfect for promoting comfort, healing and reflectiveness within the body.
Reiki is one of the most empowering and healing modalities that you can practice. It brings a sense of calm and self awareness like no other therapy. The start of Spring is the perfect time to think about learning something new – Reiki brings change!
Reflexology is a complementary therapy that helps to promote balance and healing within the body by applying gentle pressure to different points on the feet and hands. Each point corresponds to areas of the body, ultimately helping to re-balance the body and encourage the natural healing process. Those who suffer from pain, anxiety and lack of sleep would all particularly benefit from Reflexology.
Reflexology works really well with Reiki. Reiki is a Japanese term which relates to the phrase ‘universal life energy’ and helps to heal the body physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Opting to book a reflexology and reiki split treatment is incredibly beneficial in delivering ultimate relaxation and healing.