Intro to the Sabbats -
Imbolc – February 2nd
Imbolc (another name
commonly used is “Oimelc”) means “ewe’s milk” and it was at this time
that pregnant ewes began lactating, which was a sign to early Europeans that
spring was on its way. Crocuses, a flower traditionally associated as one of the
first signs of spring, were used to adorn altars, homesteads, and people.
This was also the cue to really begin to get things in order for planting
crops for the upcoming growing season. This
holiday is also referred to as Candlemas in the Anglo-Celtic cultures and this
most likely would be, because of a custom of lighting candles in the hopes that
their flames would draw the warmth and Sun back to their land.
In one custom, a young woman, representing the Virgin Goddess, would
enter the ritual area carrying a circle of candles that were lit.
This circle closely resembles the Wheel of the Year, blazing brightly,
another form of coaxing warmer seasons to them.
Before we had heating in
homes supplied by gas, coal, oil, fire was the household’s only source of
heat. The importance of fire goes
far beyond heat and light in the house – the fireplace was also a central
gathering place. Stories were spun,
the days event’s told, teachings passed down, guests entertained, etc.
This was truly the social center of the household.
The heart has been
adopted as one of the Symbols of Imbolc, and we know it today as a symbol of
Valentine’s Day (also known as Lupercalia prior to that).
In some of the cards we see in celebration of that day, there is a young
woman waiting patiently for her distant lover to return.
So it is for us – we wait for our cold, barren winter season to pass,
so that we may enjoy the warmth, and beauty of the fertile spring and summer
months. This is a time to make
plans, not just what to do over the next few days, but long term (for the entire
year). If there are some life
altering decisions to be made, this is the time to decide exactly what you want,
and set out a game plan for accomplishing it.
Want to take a cruise in September?
Then start now, by figuring out where you want to take this trip to and
how much it will cost. If you are
like some of us, you aren’t made of money, so you need to budget and save. In other words, plan ahead for whatever it is that you want
to accomplish for the year.
Imbolc was also a time
to collect stones for new magic circles and even for general magickal use.
Stones contain within them the Earth energies, which is also symbolic of
renewing a connection with the land. They
often are a marker for ritual space, and you will even see them now as property
markers as they are viewed as semi-permanent.
Because of their strength and durability, stones are quite often used in
strength and protection rituals. Other
activities that are traditional for this time are making grain dollies and sun
The grain dolly may be
in human form or woven like a mat and rolled up, and was used probably as a form
of crop fertility magick. Made from
dried grains kept aside from the previous harvest, she is dressed throughout the
year, to represent the Goddess aspect being celebrated in each Sabbat.
At Imbolc she is dressed as a bride and is often referred to as such.
At Midsummer and Lughnasadh she is shown as being “with child” and
mirrors the wish for fertile and abundant crops, and as the year winds down, she
is shown to be the crone during Mabon and Samhain.
The Sun wheel is also
known in some traditions as Brigid’s Cross, since Brigid is one of the
Goddesses associated with Imbolc. One
of Brigid’s correspondences is fire, which is as we saw above, central to the
theme of the occasion. Sun wheels
are an equilateral cross encased in a circle, which represent the Wheel of the
Year. This also reminds us that to everything there is a season and
a cycle – nothing is permanent.
Candlemas, Disting-tid, Feast of Brigid, Festival of Light, Fest of the Virgin,
Festival of Milk, Anagantios, Feast Day of St. Blaize, St. Briget’s Day,
Candles, the Bride,
Burrowing Animals, Grain Dolly, Sun Wheel, Heart
White, Yellow, Pink
Gods and Goddesses as
children, all Virgin Goddesses
All Virgin Goddeses, All
Flame Goddeses, Anu, Arachne, Arianhrod, Athena, Audhumla, Aradia, Arani, Artio,
Attar, Branwen, Brigid/Brid, Brynhild, Cardea, Dahud, Februa, Frimia, Gaia,
Inanna, Kebenut, Laufey, Lucina, Selene, Triduana, Vesta
All Dragon-headed Gods,
All Flame Gods, Bannik, Braggi, Cupid/Eros, Dainichi, Diancecht, Dumuzi, Essus,
Februs, Pax, Trusto
Searching for Signs of spring, Gathering Stones
Cutting or picking
Animals, Sheep, Lamb, Dragon, Deer
Milk, Honey, Poultry,
Rosemary, Clover, Dill
Honor of the Virgin
Goddess, First Signs if returning life, Festival of Light
Chamomile, Red Clover,
Carnation, Sweet Pea, Neroli, Olive
Mythical Creatures &
Berometz – open and begin
from "Wicca Handbook" by Eileen Holland
"Ancient Ways" by Pauline and Dan Campinelli