Imbolc, in the Celtic seasonal calendar, signals the beginning of Spring and the stirrings of new life and marks the beginning of the lambing season. It is Feile Brighde, the ‘quickening of the year.’ The original word Imbolg means ‘in the belly.’ All is pregnant and expectant. It is the promise of renewal, of hidden potential, of earth awakening and life-force stirring. Imbolc 2021 in Ireland will begin in the evening of Monday, February 1 and ends in the evening of Tuesday, February 2. A lesser known pagan holiday, Imbolc falls exactly halfway between the Winter Solstice (Yule) and the Spring Equinox (Ostara). Daylight is increasing and spring is the air.
Imbolc is traditionally the festival honoring the Goddess Brigid (Brighid, Bride, Brigit), so loved as a pagan deity that her worship was woven into the Christian church as St Bridget. As Christianity spread from Rome to northern Europe and the British Isles Imbolc was adopted as Candlemass, still celebrated on February 2. Brigid is a Goddess of healing, poetry and smithcraft and also a of Fire, of the Sun, and the Hearth. She brings fertility to the land and its people and is closely connected to midwives and new-born babies. Also referred to as the Feast of Pan, Feast of Torches, Feast of Waxing Lights, and Oimele (“ewes milk”).
It is time to let go of the past and to look to the future, clearing out the old, making both outer and inner space for new beginnings. This can be done in numerous ways, from spring cleaning your home to clearing the mind and heart to allow inspiration to enter for the new cycle. It’s a good time for wish-making or making a dedication.
WAYS TO CELEBRATE IMBOLC
Eat your dinner by candlelight
Create meals with intention for what you want to accomplish in the coming year
Create authentic medieval fare such as roasted meats, hearty breads and old fashion desserts
Have a romantic dinner or for a few of your favorite people
Decorate your favorite room with candles in the evening
Take time to meditate or journal in your candlelit room
Weather permitting, take some time to go outside and enjoy the lengthening days and increased sunlight. Take a walk to appreciate this period of rest for the earth and nature.
According to the author Patti Wigington, “Although traditionally Imbolc is associated with Brighid, the Irish goddess of hearth and home, there are a number of other deities who are represented at this time of year.”
Some of these are….
This lusty god was worshipped as a fertility deity. In some myths, he appears as the son of Aphrodite by Ares — the god of war having conquered the goddess of love. His Roman contemporary was Cupid. In early Greece, no one paid much attention to Eros, but eventually he earned a cult of his own in Thespiae. He also was part of a cult along with Aphrodite in Athens.
This agricultural god was honored by the ancient Romans as part of the festival of Lupercalia, held every year in the middle of February. Faunus is very similar to the Greek god Pan.
This studly Greek fertility god is well known for his sexual prowess, and is typically portrayed with an impressively erect phallus. Pan learned about self-gratification via masturbation from Hermes, and passed the lessons along to shepherds. His Roman counterpart is Faunus. Pan is a distinctly sexual god, often described in legends regarding his lusty adventures.