Image courtesy of Astrocal
Imbolc – The Earth Awakens
The beginning of February marks the celebration of Imbolc, (pronounced “Im-olc”) 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). Our ancient Ancestors were farmers and relied on the seasons and the land, their lives depended on it! These are pastoral / agricultural markers. In our modern world, where all our needs are taken care of, food is easy to get hold of, we have warmth and shelter, we have lost touch with Mother Earth, our connection with the seasons, and how the weather affects us is reduced to mere inconvenience, we are not connected to our ancient roots, 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 it can have profound positive effects within us and our environments and the people around us.
We have moved into 2021 – and all the hope we carried through from the Grand conjunction at the Winter Solstice and new year seems to have been dashed, as we have yet more restrictions imposed upon us, more fear rippling through our society, more disconnect and divisions. Now more than ever it is important to hold on to that hope that things will work out, we will get through this. Maybe this is our modern version of experiencing what our Ancestors had to go through… not knowing who would make it, uncertainty and fear – restrictions on seeing our loved ones, for them, they would not have had the luxury of popping out in a car, the winters force too fierce to travel distances – and so maybe we are not so different? Maybe this allows us to connect with them, to understand them, and to learn from them – and Mother Earth, the Goddess – to have faith in the knowledge that Spring will come, it always follows the harshest Winter. To have faith that we will get through this. You may feel that things are in limbo, but nothing in nature is ever stagnant for long. See this time as a period of hibernation – at a time when we would naturally go within and stay home – a lovely quote that came to me around this time, that I have slightly adapted is this – “We are in our natural hibernation time now between Yule / the Winter Solstice and Imbolc. This is the time of the re-emergence – we self-care and prepare now. Gather your strength and your seeds for sprouting. Fix everything that is broken. Mend. Make good. Make soup. See what you really need and what you do not.”
Brigid – Goddess of Imbolc
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, (pronounced “Breed”) Bridie, Brigit or Saint Brigit as she was later called by the Christians, showing what a beloved and powerful figure she was, they couldn’t get rid of her so they made her a saint!! (this time is also known in the Christian calendar as Candlemas) She is a Goddess of fire and water, of healing and fertility, the Goddess of childbirth, midwives, poetry and blacksmithing!!
Image courtesy of Angela Ferreira Magic paintings
Brigid – Image courtesy of Wendy Andrew Painting Dreams
Brigid is a Goddess of many things to many people, and is one of the most enduring Goddesses of them all. Because of her association with water, she is connected to wells, and holy springs – “well dressing” is something that was practiced and still occurs today. To honour the spirit of Brigid the local well would be bedecked in flowers and offerings, “clooties”, ribbons, bells. The water supply was so important to the village. In these times of being mindful about the environment its better to leave something that is not permanent, and will degrade into the earth – a food offering that will feed the birds, small pieces of cake, a drop of apple juice or blessed water poured into the ground, a feather, or stone – flowers and greenery, things that are natural to the local environment and left with loving intention are better than fancy ribbons and crystals. Where I live we have a Holy Well, and so I will be going there to connect with Brigid and ask for her blessings around Imbolc.
Stevington Spring, Bedford
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, but we are not out of the grip of winter yet! I could not talk about Imbolc without mentioning the Cailleach! – The old woman of Winter. We are still in her time, so its wise to honour her too.. but we will take time at Samhain to connect with her in more depth. She is one of the most ancient Celtic creator deities that shaped much of our land. Neither fully good nor evil, a natural, wild, destructive force. The patron of wolves and deer, she was said to help deer escape from hunters. Ageless and immortal, both young and old, in some tales she becomes Brigid at Beltane, also a Goddess of the grain, mother at Litha, and becoming crone at Samhain!… she fully embodies the triple Goddess aspect of Maiden, Mother and Crone. She is a sovereign of Winter and also of Imbloc.
Cailleach by Wendy Andrew
Tradition has it that at Imbolc, the Cailleach runs out of firewood, if the day is sunny and bright, its a good day for her to collect firewood, and so winter will last longer. If the day is grey and rainy, she stays in bed, and the winter will end sooner! An interesting fact, in the United States this was transformed into Groundhog day! Losing the Cailleach, but retaining the ritual!
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 bulbs – snowdrops, crocus, daffodils, 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! Baking, especially things that use dairy products. You can find some good recipes to celebrate Imbolc on Gather Victoria.
If you know of a local well or spring, visit that, take an offering to leave for the well spirits and the Goddess Brigid.
Items for an Imbolc Altar, Dedicated to Brigid
Snowdrops, and other potted bulbs such as crocus or daffodils. Items such as ribbons, crystals, candles, lots! in white, or yellow or green, a statue, a corn dolly, a Brigids cross or anything that depicts Celtic knotwork (you could try and make one yourself using the tutorial on Colorful Crafts). Cauldrons and chalices. A book of poetry, or a poem you have written. Fairies.
This year 2021, Imbolc falls on Monday 1st February, but you can mark the time anywhere within a week before or after. The moon is waning at Imbolc this year, so the perfect time for letting go and releasing what no longer serves you, and Imbolc is a good time to set your intentions and the things you want to manifest for the coming year. 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! Surrender, and release all attachment to outcome. Along with this, plant some bulbs or seeds, to represent the new ideas that you wish to manifest and to grow within you or your life, nurture them and watch them grow and come to fruition.
Image courtesy of Janie Olsen
With the awful situation that is happening globally, it seems really hard to believe that things will get better… its difficult to feel motivated to want to have any plans or see a time when we can do the things we want to do, but following the Wheel of the Year, the seasons and cycles, taking time to bring ritual and ceremony into our lives, is a way to connect with each other, with Mother Earth – to feel that we have a purpose, and that something bigger than ourselves is at work, it helps us to understand that although nothing stays the same, there is always new life, a chance to transform. I have a secret Facebook group, The Green Witch Womens Magical Development Circle, where I hold regular online (zoom) rituals and meditations to honour each cycle, to come together, meditate, connect with a different goddess or energy, share books, herbal recipes, or just share how we are feeling. There is no pressure to be or do anything.
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Green Witch Magical Development Group – Imbolc Ritual and Meditation
You don’t need to be on Facebook to be able to join in on these events – which is why I send out newsletters. If you wish to join in here are details of the Imbolc Ritual and Meditation;
Event – Imbolc Ritual and Meditation;
At Imbolc, we recognise the first stirrings of Spring. It is time to sow the seeds of our intentions, our hopes and dreams for the coming year. We are still in deep Winter and hibernation, but now is the time to gather our strength, and our seeds for sprouting.
For this Imbolc, we are going to journey with the Goddess Brigid – keeper of the sacred flame and holy well, goddess of fire and water – patron of poets, blacksmiths, midwives, healers, home and hearth – she who inspires us, at this time of deep Winter to turn our faces to the Sun, and know that the Earth is stirring. Despite this being a year of challenges and hardships, Brigid can help us dig deeper – do not feel downhearted by the setbacks you feel are happening – it’s very easy to feel stuck, down, angry and afraid of everything that is happening – and those feelings are real and valid, but also, to know that you are the keeper of your feelings and emotions – you have sovereignty over how you react to things. It’s important to honour and acknowledge how we feel, but also, not to dwell on those negative feelings – we need to keep putting one foot in front of the other, looking toward the light, and to make those positive intentions, to have some goals to achieve this year, no matter how small or large they are, what matters is our intention to create and manifest. And this is where we can call on the power and strength of The Goddess Brigid to help us – at Imbolc we can set our intentions for what we want to bring into our lives.
Join me for this zoom ritual and meditation, as we take this journey within, to meet Brigid at Imbolc. On Tuesday 2nd February at 8pm – investment is £7. Message me to register your interest and I will send you details of how to pay and the zoom link and prep. nearer the time. xxx
Image courtesy of Wendy Andrew
5 Week Meditation and Mindfulness Course
I know I sound like a broken record, always banging on about the virtues of meditation, but it really is the answer to bringing about inner peace and calmness, as well as getting in touch with your inner spiritual self, if that is where you want to go with it. Meditation works on a physical and practical level, as well as a more spiritual intuitive level.
Bringing a daily practice into your life can calm the mind and help the body to relax and heal by actually changing the physiological and psychological parts of the brain. It can help your brain, and body, age better, is proven to help ease anxiety and depression and improve overall wellbeing, and this is why I regularly run my online meditation and mindfulness course. Add that to the benefits of coming together and meditating in a socially connected group, and you’ve got a winning combination!
Whether you’re an experienced mediator, a complete beginner or have been attending and enjoying my (or anyone else’s) online meditations since lockdown began, you will get benefit from joining this 5-week program. We all learn in different ways, and some techniques work better than others, in these sessions we will explore different ways that work for you!
I’m offering this course for an investment of £50 for the 5 weeks, what you get for that is;
A weekly 45-minute online class meet up via zoom, to go through and learn new techniques in a small group together, with plenty of time for personal tuition – if you can’t make a session, they are all recorded so you can catch up later. Each week we focus on a different way to meditate, or learn a mindfulness or breathing technique, so you build up a personal toolkit of different techniques that will work for you! The class is recorded, with all the meditations and guided visualizations emailed as audio and video to keep and emailed detailed course notes of what we cover each week that you can build into a collection of resources to refer back to.
Message me via email to reserve your space, numbers on each course are limited; firstname.lastname@example.org
If you have attended any of my previous meditation courses you can jump in on any session, or redo all of them, for a reduced investment of just £5 per class!
In Other News
The cabin is up and running! Not for long though!!!… I was just able to run one face to face end of life skills course.
End of Life Skills Day
A few hands on treatments, one of which was a new one that has been guided into being – Myofascial Healing Massage – a very slow, seemingly gentle, but powerful massage that works on the fascia to release emotions and blockages that are stored within. Really great if you have painful conditions like fibromyalgia, or injuries, but also for releasing trapped emotions. I was also able to run a small face to face Winter Solstice ceremony – which was lovely, and I look forward to the time when I can welcome people back and we can do more of these events – the cabin can comfortably hold 5 or 6 people. Hopefully we can meet in the physical for Ostara, the Vernal Equinox!
In the meantime, I wish you all health, strength and inspiration for Imbolc. Stay well, and connected to each other, rest, renew, gather your strength, sprout your seeds of intention, and make soup!!!
Much love and blessings,