The Spiritual Meaning of Imbolc

imbolc

imbolc

In this blog, I’ll be exploring what Imbolc is, the spiritual meaning of Imbolc, how we may experience its energy at this time, and some ways we can celebrate this special day.

WHAT IS IMBOLC?

Imbolc is a festival in the Celtic Wheel of the Year. It takes place on 1st – 2nd February in the northern hemisphere and on 1st – 2nd August in the southern hemisphere, and is the midpoint between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. The Wheel of the Year is celebrated by many spiritual seekers all over the world, including pagans, Wiccans, witches of all kinds, and also nature-lovers who do not follow a specific spiritual tradition. It celebrates the turning of the seasons, and those who follow its rhythms mark its seasonal festival days or ‘Sabbats’.

Imbolc takes place at the time of year when the sap is rising in the trees and new shoots are starting to push through the earth, so it is all about new life, new beginnings and the birth of new ideas. The Celtic focus on the rising of new life force from the earth has echoes of the Indian concept of kundalini, the rising of life force in our bodies.

Codes Of The Seed .jpg _The Rose Oracle by Rebecca Campbell

Artwork from The Rose Oracle

THE SPIRITUAL MEANING OF IMBOLC

At this time of the year, the nights are still long and cold, but Imbolc heralds the return of the light after the darkness of winter. The word Imbolc is most commonly believed to come from an old Irish word meaning ‘in the belly’. Other interpretations say that it derived from words meaning ‘budding’, ‘cleansing’ or ‘ewe’s milk’, all of which are themes of this festival.

At Imbolc, the baby lambs are growing in their mother’s bellies and new life is stirring in the belly of the earth. I notice this so much more now that I live in the countryside in Glastonbury and am surrounded by the lambs skipping in the fields and the signs of nature waking up all around me at springtime.

Snow drops in the glastonbury abbey

Snow drops in the glastonbury abbey

Imbolc is also a time of renewal. As the Wheel of the Year turns and many animals come out of their hibernation, we too begin to emerge from the darkness of winter and become warmed by the sun. In our personal lives, we may be moved by this fresh energy of springtime to start making plans for the year ahead and beginning projects. For this reason, Imbolc is also connected to the concept of creativity.

Courageous-Peony-newThe Starseed Oracle_Rebecca Campbell

Artwork from The Starseed Oracle

This is also the time of the year when we sweep out the old to make space for the new, with the tradition of ‘spring cleaning’ happening around this time, and many people also putting focus on their health and wellbeing, committing to healthier habits as it becomes more pleasant to exercise outdoors, particularly if you live somewhere with more extreme seasons.

As one of the cross-quarter days in the Wheel of the Year, Imbolc is a fire festival, and is also connected to the hearth of the home. And so it is fitting that the goddess of Imbolc is the Celtic fire goddess Brigid, goddess of the hearth, of creativity, of inspiration, healing, birth and new beginnings.

 

BRIGID: THE PERSONIFICATION OF IMBOLC

Brigid cross

The Goddess Brigid is the personification of the first stirrings of new life and the spirit of Imbolc. She can help you birth new ways of being in your life and can help you nourish, nurture and tend to them as they blossom and begin to grow.

As a fire goddess, Brigid is associated with three different fires: the fire of the hearth, the fire of the forge, and the fire in our own hearts. Her connection with fire can be seen as a metaphor for her other attributes: stoking the fire of the hearth represents home, family and hospitality, the fire of the forge represents creative pursuits and industry and the fire in our own hearts represents love, healing and inspiration.

Bride’s Mound in Glastonbury, a place of worship for Brigid

Seen as a source of inspiration and healing, many holy wells and springs are also dedicated to Brigid, and the White Spring in Glastonbury holds a special altar devoted to her.

A spiral at The White Springs, Glastonbury

If you’d like some inspiration on how to celebrate Imbolc, you can find a special module in my Membership focusing on this topic. It includes ideas for marking this festival day, including a special Imbolc Cleansing Water Ritual, further teachings on the goddess Brigid and a meditation to connect you to her titled Birthing a new age with Brigid.

If you’d like to explore deepening your spiritual practice this year, we would love to have you join us! You can find out more here.

imbol ritual