You’ve probably heard of Groundhog Day, the traditional holiday in the United States that is used to divine for the coming of Spring. On this day, our government turns to the wisdom of the Groundhog to see if he or she sees its shadow. If no shadow is seen then there are an estimated 6 weeks of winter left; if a shadow is seen, winter is coming to an end. It’s interesting to note the use of animal magic in this modern sense, but what’s really happening is we’re looking to see if the animals are coming out of hibernation.
If nature’s keepers are done waiting out the cold, it’s time to celebrate!
What better way to show our excitement than with the traditional Celtic celebration of Imbolc? What’s Imbolc? Let’s turn the wheel of the year, and we’ll show you!
What is Imbolc?
Imbolc, also known as Imbolg, Gŵyl Fair y Canhwyllau, Saint Brigid’s Day, The Feast Day of St. Brigid, Candlemas, and Oimelc, is the celebration of the active returning of the Sun. This is a time when the longer days are starting to become more noticeable through temperature, growth, and the beginning of new life. Fire is regaining its strength in the sky, on the Earth, and in all signs life.
“Imbolc” means “in the belly,” and this is a direct reference to the return of and continuation life that exists within the belly of female animals as well as in the belly or womb of the Earth. This is where the cute sheep and deer come into play and where the Celtic Goddess Brigit (or Goddess Brigid) enters the scene.
Stemming from Irish mythology, Brigid is the Goddess of fertility, strong womanhood, and fire. She is the daughter of the Dagda, the Irish “father-god”, and she rises with the sun every morning. Her return to strength is marked by flowers that spring with every step she takes on Earth. As you can quickly see, she plays a massive role in the return of spring every year.
Our Celtic ancestors celebrated this return of life and the return of Brigid with a special dinner that typically included colcannon, dumplings, breads, and cakes. In the modern day, however, you’re free to celebrate anything that helps you gain the enlightenment and meaning of Imbolc.
Imbolc is the day on which we celebrate:
- The Reunion of the Goddess (Earth) and the God (Sun)
- Removing the old and making way for the new
When is Imbolc?
Traditionally in ancient Ireland, Imbolc is celebrated on February 2 in the Northern Hemisphere. In the Southern Hemisphere, Imbolc occurs on August 2. This roughly the middle point between the Winter Solstice (Yule) and the Spring Equinox (Ostara). If you’re a deep follower of the old ways, it’s important to note that the celebrations start on the eve of February 1 and continue on through February 2.
However, if you live in an area that has a milder climate or a more harsh climate, feel free to enjoy this witchy holiday on your local time. Look for signs that winter is coming to an end.
To calculate Imbolc’s date using nature, look for signs of Spring, such as:
- The beginnings of small leaf buds on dormant trees
- Groundhogs and other animals coming out of hibernation
- Weather forecasting predicting a weeklong stint of above-freezing temperatures after the winter’s longest snow
- Greenery popping out from under frozen earth
- Anything marking the beginning of spring
In Austin, TX, I’ll be on the lookout for leaves budding and nests being nestled; sometimes that happens in January and sometimes it happens at the end of February!
What should I do for Imbolc?
Check out our list of Imbolc Correspondences here!
Ideas for celebrating Imbolc include:
- Making Brigid Crosses
- Spring Cleaning
- Spiritual Space Spring Cleaning
- Personal Aura Cord Removal
Shop for Imbolc items for your Imbolc Ritual here!
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