This part of the wheel of the year is my second favourite to Beltane. We’re moving towards the light, Brigid is emerging and the Cailleach is taking a back seat. A birch branch is often used to sweep the dark energy of winter away, making way for the new vibration. I believe this is where ‘spring cleaning’ originated from.
If your home is already spick and span then smudging is another ritual that can clear any stagnancy within your four walls. Allowing the smoke of the sage to waft around the house as you move, helps cleanse your abode of negative forces as well as purifying its energy.
Imbolc, or is sometimes known as Candlemass, signifies the recovery of The Goddess after giving birth to the God. That is one thing we can always be guaranteed; death and rebirth. This time of year is the start of new beginnings, a fertile time for sowing seed plans and putting each step into action.
Imbolc is one of the quarter days of the year, this means that it occurs forty days after the last equinox, in this case Yule, the winter solstice.
I look to this season for vibrancy and its bursts of colour as spring flowers like daffodils and crocuses burst from the ground, nodding their heads as if welcoming the sunnier days. Nature has thrown back her duvet and is now ready to take her first steps to reawaken all flora and fauna.
It is said that around Imbolc adders leave their nest to journey out on their own and that the very word Imbolc originated from ‘ewes milk’, the time of year when new born lambs are being nursed by their mothers.
Imbolc is the feast day of the Goddess Brigid and her dedications are fertility, healing, poetry and unity. I speak about the virtue of unity and community in my video below. The wife of the Irish king Bres, Brigid bore three sons who each became a warrior, but Brigid was responsible for many miraculous healings. One of which prompted unity between two people. The story tells that two lepers appeared at a sacred well in Kildare in Ireland, each having severe skin lesions. She told the lepers the values of community and expresses they should begin to heal each other. One of the lepers made a recovery, but he was so repulsed at his friend that he refused to reciprocate in giving healing. Brigid then wrapped her cloak around the poor leper and he was instantly healed. There are many wells in Ireland and throughout the UK that are named after Brigid.
Brigid taught the human race how to use herbs for healing and as a Master Herbalist, this is an area of lore that interests me greatly. The plants associated with this feast day are Figwort and Dandelion, each great healers in their own right. Making a dandelion tincture to flush and purify the liver is a great idea at this time of year, or if you prefer baking, you may like to make my ‘Imbolc Fire Flapjack’, I share the recipe in the video below.
Remaining on the subject of grain, corn dolly making is a tradition of this period, and consecrations included taking water from a well of Brigid to anoint the new dolly, which then bestowed abundance and fertility upon its maker. I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve never made one!
The wheel of the year is our very life. To celebrate these special times helps keep our connection not only to the landscape, but to the energy of our ancestors.
View my Imbolc video