Imbolc

Imbolc by Damh the Bard
As the dark, cold morning gives way to light,
And the world shows its face dazzling in her nakedness,
So the twigs and leaf-bare branches,
Bow to the passing dance
Of old Jack Frost.
His crystal breath on the earth,
And the corners of houses weep icicles of joy.
But where is the Sun’s warmth?
Where is life?
A small flower, delicate and pure-white,
Looks to the earth,
As if talking to the waiting green,
“Not yet,” it seems to whisper.
“When I fall, then you can return.”
And she nods her head,
as the Lady passes by,
Leaving more flowers in Her wake.

Imbolc is the second of the 8 High Days by calendar year. It falls midway between Yule and Ostara (typically the first few days of February) marking the time when daylight is noticeably increasing. Some early plants may begin to sprout, and many more animals are giving birth.  The time of rest is coming to a close and the year’s work is starting to take shape. A few alternate names include Oimelc,  Candlemas and Ground Hog’s Day.

It’s a time of renewal, cleansing, birth, and new beginnings. It’s a time to bless the seeds for the upcoming growing season (and in a few cases to get them started indoors), and to clean away the shadows of the winter (I firmly believe this is where the tradition of spring cleaning came from).

In many Traditions it’s also the “proper” time for initiations.

Some traditions/symbols include:

  • Brigid’s Crosses
  • White flowers
  • the churning of butter
  • blessing ploughs and seeds
  • ritual cleansing
  • in some traditions this is an ideal time for love magic

Feasting is common at all the High Days. Some traditional foods for Imbolc are breads (especially sweet breads), potatoes, any kind of dairy, but especially milk and butter, and seeds.

Imbolc is especially sacred to the celtic goddess Brigid, patron to smith crafting, healing, midwifery, and poetry. Milk, apples, and bee’s are all sacred to her.

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