On February 1st, we move into one of the sweetest, purest Sabbats of the Witch’s calendar. Imbolc celebrates the near-end of the long Winter, bringing us towards the warmer part of the year, and celebrating the sprouting of new life from the Earth. The Wiccan tradition celebrates this as the strengthening of the Sun God, as he comes into his adulthood, and the Goddess is coming into her maidenhood once more, after birthing the God at Yule (yep, it’s convoluted and more confusing than your average family reunion).
Brigid, or Brighid, is the Irish triple Goddess of smithcraft, poetry and healing, who was worshipped as Goddess prior to the Christianisation of Ireland, and then sainted. Her origin story differs from Celtic pagan to Christian faiths, but everyone pretty much agrees that she is the Maiden, who blesses our crops and gives us sweet-smelling Spring flowers and the most joyful of all worldly creatures: tiny, dancing, bouncing lambs (insert love heart emoji eyes here). When I spent my first early February in Ireland with my partner’s family, I was amazed to see how seriously people took what they call St. Brigid’s Day. Everyone hung an item of clothing out of the window, and Brigid’s crosses popped up in the hands of children everywhere after making them at school.
For me, Imbolc is two-fold in its importance. Firstly, I celebrate the fact that we’ve (just about) made it through another Winter, and that Springtime is pushing its way through the Earth to burst forth with sumptuous flowers and edible plants. On the other hand, I look at Imbolc as a time of the year to make plans and sow seeds. I use it to meditate on the goals I want to accomplish, and to plan out how I can best serve those goals with actions.
Here are just a few ways we’ll be celebrating Imbolc in our house (apartment).
- Go searching for newly-sprouted wildflowers and (respectfully, asking permission of both the source and the owner, if it’s someone else’s land!) cut some flowers for your altar.
- Speaking of altars, create a luscious Brigid-inspired display of white, green, silver, orange and red. Sprinkle with wildflowers and flame-related icons to honour Brigid and the Sun God. Add crystals that represent Imbolc, like amethyst, garnet, turquoise or aquamarine (all the prettiest shinies for this celebration!).
- Make a Brigid’s cross to hang above the door or in the rafters (you fancy thing, you) of your home to protect your house or apartment from evil and fire for the year. Next Imbolc, you can burn this year’s cross and replace it with your fresh one.
- Spring Clean. Okay, this one is just not one of my favorites, but for those of you not allergic to cleaning your own homes, now is the time to do a ritual cleansing. Mix magic into your floor wash, bless your broom and sweep away the spiritual cobwebs.
- Now is also a great time to practice some healing magic, too. If you need to address some physical or emotional issues, take some time to meditate and make yourself a gorgeous ritual healing bath of salts, peppermint, rosemary and sage. Envision the energy of new life revitalizing your body and mind (don’t scrimp on the candles).
- Speaking of new life and fertility, it’s not a bad time to think about getting it on. Imbolc is a fire festival, and a festival of love and reproduction. So, *ahem*, get out your sex magic supplies, if you practice in that way. If you’re trying to start a family, make a petition to Brigid. If you’re expecting, take some time to bond with your bump or new arrival, and thank the Goddesses for your blessings.
Finally – eat. Dairy-based foods celebrate the abundance brought by the return of the Sun, so make a cheese platter and eat some ice cream (that’s not traditional, I made that up, but it still counts). Bake breads and cakes with seeds, and use up the last of the Winter veggies in a hearty stew (with or without lamb, as is your preference). I’ll be baking and cooking up a whole lot of too much delicious food for us and some friends, to share the magic of the season.
But most importantly, hold your love and loved ones close. Imbolc is the time to share feasts and make love, to manifest your goals and plant the seeds for what you wish to read through the year. Now is the time to look ahead and start planning for the abundance you know you’re ready to receive.
How do you celebrate Imbolc?
Written by: onebosswitch.com/
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Welcome to our collective favourite season, witchy folk! Perhaps that’s a generalization, but the Autumnal vibes are an absolute mood in the spiritual community, and for so many reasons. This season we have two Sabbats to celebrate; the first of those is Mabon, otherwise known as the Autumn Equinox, and the hemispherical counterpart to Ostara, in which we celebrate the Spring Equinox.
Not only is Autumn the season of flavoured lattes and pumpkins, it is the season of the colours of the Earth – oranges and reds and browns, greens and glorious yellows. We have beautiful harvest vegetables and burgeoning berries; a veritable feast of offerings from our beautiful Mother Earth to celebrate.
For Mabon, we focus on the beginning of the end of the harvest season and the descent into wintery darkness. Spiritually, we are reaching the closing-down portion of the year – as the days get shorter and the evenings are longer, we assess the outcomes of our labour (physical, financial, emotional, spiritual) across the past twelve months. Summer is celebration, and Autumn is when we reap what we’ve sown. So, as we draw towards the end of this summertime haze and commence the darkening and hibernation periods, we’re beginning to wind down business and take stock of what we’ve achieved.
Seasonal altars are a great way to focus our attentions and intentions towards that for which we are grateful, and the things that we want to manifest in our lives. Not only does the season dictate our physical activities, it also directs our spiritual lives, and the altar is the witch’s way of centring that energy.
With so much to love and celebrate about Autumn, let’s take a look at some traditional (and not-so-traditional) items to feature on our altars during this time.