I don’t know about you but I am ready to welcome in the light and for the change of seasons and I am so ready for the festival of Imbolc or Candlemas.
In the Celtic tradition it is celebrated on February 1st but other traditions celebrate is on February 2nd.
This is the seasonal change where the first signs of spring and the return of the sun are noted, i.e. the first sprouting of leaves, the sprouting of the Crocus flowers etc. In other words, it is the festival commemorating the successful passing of winter and the beginning of the agricultural year. This Festival also marks the transition point of the threefold Goddess energies from those of Crone to Maiden.
It is the day that we celebrate the passing of Winter and make way for Spring. It is the day we honour the rebirth of the Sun and we may visualize the baby sun nursing from the Goddess’s breast. It is also a day of celebrating the Celtic Goddess Brigid. Brigid is the Goddess of Poetry, Healing, Smithcraft, and Midwifery. If you can make it with your hands, Brigid rules it. She is a triple Goddess, so we honour her in all her aspects. This is a time for communing with her, and tending the lighting of her sacred flame.
At this time of year, practitioners of earth based religions will light multiple candles, white for Brigid, for the god usually yellow or red, to remind us of the passing of winter and the entrance into spring, the time of the Sun. This is a good time for initiations, be they into covens or self-initiations.
Imbolc (February 2) marks the recovery of the Goddess after giving birth to the God. The lengthening periods of light awaken Her. The God is a young, lusty boy, but His power is felt in the longer days. The warmth fertilizes the Earth (the Goddess), and causes seeds to germinate and sprout. And so the earliest beginnings of Spring occur.
This is a Sabbat of purification after the shut-in life of Winter, through the renewing power of the Sun. It is also a festival of light and of fertility, once marked in Europe with huge blazes, torches and fire in every form. Fire here represents our own illumination and inspiration as much as light and warmth. Imbolc is also known as Feast of Torches, Oimelc, Lupercalia, Feast of Pan, Snowdrop Festival, Feast of the Waxing Light, Brighid’s Day, and probably by many other names. Some female Witches follow the old Scandinavian custom of wearing crowns of lit candles, but many more carry tapers during their invocations.
It is traditional upon Imbolc, at sunset or just after ritual, to light every lamp in the house – if only for a few moments. Or, light candles in each room in honour of the Sun’s rebirth.
If snow lies on the ground outside, walk in it for a moment, recalling the warmth of summer. With your projective hand, trace an image of the Sun on the snow.
Foods appropriate to eat on this day include those from the dairy, since Imbolc marks the f
estival of calving. Sour cream dishes are fine. Spicy and full-bodied foods in honour of the Sun are equally attuned. Curries and all dishes made with peppers, onions, leeks, shallots, garlic or chives are appropriate. Spiced wines and dishes containing raisins – all foods symbolic of the Sun – are also traditional.
Ritual for Imbolc/Candlemas
Supplies: Symbol of the season, such as a white flower, snow in a crystal container, also needed, an orange candle anointed with cinnamon, frankincense or rosemary oil (unlit), red candle to represent the elements, and your ritual supplies.
Arrange the altar, light the candles and censer, and cast the Circle.
Invoke the Goddess and God.
Say such words as the following:
“This is the time of the feast of torches,
When every lamp blazes and shines
To welcome the rebirth of the God.
I/we celebrate the Goddess,
I/we celebrate the God;
All the Earth celebrates
Beneath its mantle of sleep.”
Light the orange taper from the red candle on the altar. Slowly walk the circle clockwise, bearing the candle before you. Say these or similar words:
“All the land is wrapped in winter.
The air is chilled and
Frost envelopes the Earth.
But Lord of the Sun,
Horned One of animals and wild places,
Unseen you have been reborn
Of the gracious Mother Goddess,
Lady of all fertility.
Hail Great God!
Hail and welcome!”
Stop before the altar, holding aloft the candle. Gaze at its flame. Visualize your life blossoming with creativity, with renewed energy and strength.
If you need to look into the future or past, now is an ideal time.
Works of magic, if necessary, may follow.
Celebrate the Simple Feast.
Thank the Goddess and God.
Release the Circle.
Enjoy and welcome in the light!