by Andrew Pacholyk MS L.Ac ~

An Irish Gaelic word, Imbolc pronounced im-molk, literally means “in milk” or “in the belly“. It is a time for honoring creativity, fertility and receptive, feminine energy. It occurs when daylight begins to lengthen as we approach the Spring Equinox. It is apart of the Wheel of Life where ancient connections mix Irish spirituality with Celtic pagan traditions and Christianity. It is also a time we celebrate love and patience.

Celebrated all over the world in different cultures including Imbolgc Brigantia (Caledonni), Imbolic (Celtic), Disting (Teutonic, Feb 14th), Lupercus (Strega), St. Bridget’s Day (Christian), Candlemas, Candlelaria (Mexican), the Snowdrop Festival, Groundhog Day, The Festival of Lights or the Feast of the Virgin.

2nd Celtic Moon

(Jan 22 – Feb 18) (The Thinker) The Rowan Moon is associated with Brighid, the Celtic goddess of hearth and home. Honored on February 1, at Imbolc, Brighid is a fire goddess who offers protection to mothers and families, as well as watching over the hearth fires. This is a good time of year to perform initiations (or, if you’re not part of a group, do a self-dedication). Known by the Celts as Luis (pronounced loush), the Rowan is associated with astral travel, personal power, and success. A charm carved into a bit of a Rowan twig will protect the wearer from harm. The Norsemen were known to have used Rowan branches as rune staves of protection. In some countries, Rowan is planted in graveyards to prevent the dead from lingering around too long.

The Element of Water

This receptive energy symbolizing our emotions, water is an important part of this holiday. Psychologically, water represents a good memory. This can manifest as dwelling on the past. But the ultimate experience of water is remembering that we all share life as a common heritage. Within the Celtic history, water ~ including lakes, streams, rivers, springs and wells, have been held in deep respect, honor and places to visit on pilgrimage. The power of water has refreshing, hydrating and rejuvenating powers that call, the Celts (and most every other culture) to their healing banks and shallows to gather, drink and bathe in the ever sacred waters! Water is considered a fertility symbol, found in the Culdron of Daghda, in the Baths and Sanctuaries of Sulus, on the shoreline of the Boyne River and flowing along Brigid’s Well.

Candlemas: Celebration of Light

Candlemas is a church “adaptation” of the Imbolc holiday, celebrating the goddess, called Imbolc where people light candles to banish dark spirits, dark nights and look forward to the light of Spring.Candlemas is celebrated on the same day as Imbolc, February 2nd. The word Imbolc, variously spelled Imbolg, Oimelc and Imelg, also means “ewe-milk” because this is the time baby lambs were born in old England, Ireland and most of Europe therefore, bringing back the flow of ewe’s milk.
The Christian version is called the Purification of the Virgin and is the end/culmination of the forty day period after Mary gave birth to Jesus on December 25. Women had to wait forty days after childbirth before entering a church or temple again due to their “uncleanliness”. This waiting period is still observed in Eastern Orthodox Christian churches today, and all Christian churches.

Winter Ritual Bath

~Blend together in a blender 3 cups of whole milk, 2 teaspoons of honey and 1 sprig of dried sage
~ Light 5 white candles to represent the power of fire and light. They embody the winter white snow
~ If you would like to encircle your bath tub with crystals, consider placing 4 crystals in 4 corners (rose quartz, chiastolite, moonstone and aventurine, and add milky white quartz stone into the bath water. Run the bath water into the tub and add your blended mixture of milk, honey and sage into the running water. You can repeat a prayer or positive affirmation as you sit in the water. Relax in your bath for 15 – 20 minutes. Think positive, creative and fertile thoughts as you enjoy this ritual to cleanse, purify and love yourself for the turn of a new Spring to come.

When: February 1st or 2nd
Season: Cross Quarter : (Mid-way point between Winter and Spring)
Represents: Festival of the Maiden, St. Brigid’s Day, Candlemas, Groundhog’s Day, Weather Divination
Virtues: Fertility, Patience
Symbols: Candle, Ewe Lamb, Crocus Flowers, Corn Doll, St. Brigid’s Cross, Priapic (acorn-tipped) Wands, Bride’s (baskets) Beds, Seeds
Gemstone: Amethyst, Aventurine, Fire Agate, Bloodstone, Carnelian, Citrine, Rose Quartz, Snow White Quartz
Color: Red, Green, White, Yellow, Brown
Essential Oils: Basil, Cedar, Geranium, Myrrh, Pine, Rose, Rosemary Vetiver
Remedies: Angelica, Basil, Dandelion Root, Dill Weed, Rosemary, White Willow Bark, Yellow Dock
Flowers: Ancyrensis, Chrysanthus, Crocus, Sieberi, Tommasinianus, Yalta
Element: Water
Direction: Northeast
Life Event: Quickening
Lunar: Ice Moon or Full Snow Moon
Body Healing: Strength

Imbolc Blessing

O Brigid our most patron saint,
of craft and poem and home so quaint.
From cross you wove with field rush,
to dollies made with care and such.
You bless our home, our brides, our land,
with mother Nature close at hand.
We honor up these charms so dear,
to bring good joy, when Spring is near
~ Andrew Pacholyk MS L.Ac

Find more celebration rituals here…