As an apprentice witch, this is my first year going through and celebrating all the sabbats or holidays on the wheel of the year. I was familiar with some of them already. For example, Yule, which happens around Christmas was a pretty easy one to recognize. The word Yule is literally found in modern Christmas songs. Samhain, which is around Halloween, I was aware of as well because of Halloween and all the spooky associations with that holiday. However, Imbolc stumped me. I hadn't even heard of the holidays around it. The only thing that came to mind was Groundhog's Day, so I did my research and found out about this holiday. If you're a newbie witch like me, let me give you the low down on Imbolc.
Like the other sabbats, it has many names, because it is recognized in different parts of the world in some form or another. It's been called Brigantia, Oimelc, Feast of Torches, Feast of Pan, Brigid's Day, and many more, but for our sanity's sake, let's just stick with Imbolc. Imbolc means, "In the belly". This is the quickening of the year. The Mother has recovered from giving birth to the God at Yule and The Crone, who has been minding the newborn God, gives him back to The Mother. Basically it means the sun is coming back, the days are getting longer, and the Earth is becoming warm and habitable again. It's the light at the end of the tunnel after a long winter. Who wouldn't want to throw a little party?
Imbolc is a sabbat of purification and renewal after being shut in all winter and there are lots of ways to celebrate this time. You can do some spring cleaning. You can throw a big party while you burn your Christmas tree in your backyard. You can do a ritual of self-dedication or reaffirmation. You can even burn some white and pale blue candles on your altar. It's all up to you. I would highly suggest reading more about Imbolc or the various holidays associated with it to see what resonates with you. The two reference books I used for this blog post can be found in the shop: "Grimoire For The Green Witch" by Ann Moura and "Wicca: A Guide For The Solitary Practitioner" by Scott Cunningham. In the Grimoire, she has listed the various herbs, ritual items, altar decorations and food you can use for a ceremony. She also details a ceremony you can do, along with little activities associated with it. In Cunnigham's book, he describes more about what the holiday is about and he includes references to the type of rituals you can do at that time. Both books definitely give a lot of insight into the Wheel of the Year and its importance to the craft.
For those of you who don't wish to celebrate the holiday alone, please come and see us at ATL Craft on February 2nd. It is a donation based event and it is a potluck, so please feel free to bring something to share with the community. We'll have a ceremonial feet washing, and a small demonstration on making Brigid's Cross. Doors will be closed and locked by 7:30pm. Hope to see you there!