Imbolc – The Return!
Living and working in the centre of Avebury means that I am extremely fortunate to see in all of the Sabbats surrounded by the Pagan community who are truly dedicated to the celebration of all the sabbats. We also have the rather beautiful St James Church here in Avebury.
Being a lover of the warm sun Summer is definitely my favourite time of year. I long for the longer days, the walking (a real passion of mine) beautiful foods grown in the UK. BBQ’s and lazy evenings with friends watching the sun go down.
Held in early February (anywhere between the 1st and 7th Feb) it is around halfway between the Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox so Imbolc for me is the beginning of the longer days and almost a journey back to who I am as it comes around every year. I am definitely ready to welcome Spring back with open arms after a Winter rest!
Imbolc is traditionally a Gaelic festival and marks the beginning of Spring and is historically widely observed in Ireland, Scotland and England. Irish Christians would celebrate this time as the feast day of Saint Brigid or Saint Brigid’s Day.
The Candlemas holiday for Christians celebrates the day when Jesus was revealed to the community by his mother Mary after 40 days and 40 nights of raising her son. Candlemas marks the return of the light in both the physical sense and in spiritual light too….
Imbolc is pronounced ‘imolk’ and is originally an Irish word thought to mean ‘within the belly’. This phrase referred mainly to flocks carrying young but it summons up real feelings of growth.
Back in the old times the success of the new farming season was so important – especially as the winter food stores would be running low. Imbolc was a celebration in the Celtic ways (and other religions) and rituals were performed to generate a steady supply of crops for the harvest later in the year.
I personally can’t imagine what it must have been like coming through a winter without hot water or heating. Certainly in the UK our winters can be very unforgiving so it must have been such a big deal to have managed to get your family through to February.
Its certainly no surprise to me that the warmth of the Sun as the Element of Fire would be welcomed in during Imbolc and fire lighting celebrates the power of the sun increasing in the months ahead. The Holy day of Brigid, the Goddess of Fire and Candlemas are all important ways of welcoming in the warmer months and the blessing of the sun onto the upcoming crops.
Its not always easy to light fires – especially in our modern homes (unless you are blessed with a log burner) I find that lighting candle can be just as useful – on a much smaller scale!
Even today during Imbolc, the light and warmth of the world is weaker at this time of year. The Pagan community are deeply connected to the natural world and fully recognise there is strength in both cold and warmth, life and death. The Horned God reminds us that he is still powerful despite his main reign is over Autumn and Winter.
Come rain, snow or sunshine our very dedicated Avebury Pagan and Druid community can be seen within the Stone Circle carrying out their traditional ceremonies for Imbolc – and all other sabbats.
I guess in our modern times Imbolc is our natural world starting to awaken after the Winter has passed and is seen as an extremely cleansing time for all. New life begins making its way through the earth as daffodils and snow drops begin to peek out and trees begin forming little buds….. we all feel this time of year and through speaking to friends I know it feels like a time of hope, new things going to happen – the days getting lighter.
There are so many ways to see in Imbolc – whether you celebrate it officially or not!
On a practical level Imbolc is an excellent time to spring clean your home – if it is in the way, throw or give it away! Your clutter is someone else’s treasure. Taking some time to de clutter your living and working space really cleanses the energy in your home and shifts the Qui energy. Open the windows (if it isn’t too cold 😊)
If you love essential oils then the best ones to use during Imbolc are Lavender, Rosemary, Cedarwood and Jasmine. My personal favourite is Lavender... I love the musky clean smell of fresh lavender - you can't beat running your hands through it when it is freshly growing.
There are also many beautiful crystals associated with Imbolc... my star of the show is clear quartz... its one of the most abundant and powerful crystals on the planet which I think makes it so suitable for Imbolc celebrations.
I have also found that if, over the Winter, you have been thinking about starting a new project Imbolc is the perfect time to really bring it to life – all the idea’s can start to take shape.
As many of you know Elements of Avebury have a wonderful partnership with Starchild. They make the most beautiful incense which is sold at our shop in Avebury and also on our website and I wanted to share with you all their words on Imbolc….
‘The ice is melting and the ground turns muddy and soft. The water cleanses and prepares the Earth womb to become fertile once again.
In the hidden depth of the Earth hitherto dormant seeds are beginning to germinate and life is stirring. The Sun Child is gathering strength, the days age getting longer and light and warmth are beginning to return.
Almost imperceptibly the Earth is quickening and the buds are beginning to swell. Imbolc is a time of fasting and cleansing. The larder is getting sparser. It is time to clean out and get rid of old stuff in preparation of next seasons growth.
Earth, Practicality, five senses, material world, sensuality, manifestation, prosperity, grounding, air, ideas, concepts, thoughts, knowledge, mental powers, logos, reason, visualisation, understanding.’
Imbolc is always a very special time for me as it reminds me of the all the planning I had to do when preparing to open Elements of Avebury. All the ideas were spinning around in my head over the winter of what I wanted her to be like, the type of shop she would be and then in February (Imbolc) I was really able to start making it happen.
Are you looking to bring Imbolc into your life? Elements of Avebury have some beautiful monthly meditations held within our calm space above the shop. As we are in the centre of the Avebury Stone Circle (yes – right on the top) there is an immense calmness gained by attending our Imbolc meditation.
Much love and light