Imbolc heralds hope, celebrates the coming of spring and welcomes in the renewal energies of growth and new life. This is the best night of the year to decide what you will leave behind in the darkness of winter and what you will cultivate and grow in the light of the year to come. Take time on the last evening of January to light a candle and light up your wishes for the year ahead.
The more I learn about the ancient Celtic festivals, the more I can see the absolute sense in them. Light must always follow dark and #Imbolc is the festival of the spring, heralding in the hope and light half of the year and saying goodbye to the austerity, darkness and cold of the winter months. The coming of Imbolc meant it was time to prepare the fields for the start of the harvest cycle and begin to breed new animals to provide sustenance for the year to come. In spiritual terms, it's the time to put your energy into new ways of being.
Imbolc is traditionally celebrated after the sun sets on 31 January and lasts until 1 February. It sits between the two months and marks a midway point between the winter solstice and spring Equinox. It is a time for making resolutions (spiritual and more mundane), beginning new projects and generally clearing out the old to make way for new energies of growth and rebirth.
Imbolc means 'in the belly' referring to the cow and ewe udders begnning to engorge with milk, ready for the first births of the year. Is associated with the pagan goddess, Breed (Brigid), the goddess of fire, blacksmiths, wells and springs and healing waters. So water and fire are both important elements to include in any ritual or marking of the festival. Brigid is also connected with motherhood, fertility and abundance and Imbolc is linked to the bride (the new) after the crone (the old) of winter.
Five ways to harness the magic of Imbolc
1. A simple fire/candlelight ceremony
Light a fire or a candle (or even better, lots of candles) as the darkness falls on 31 January. The light of the fire calls upon the light of the sun to shine brightly for us this year, illuminating all that we desire.
List the things you no longer need in your life – feelings, people, beliefs, emotions – anything that is no longer serving your or aligned with the person you want to become. Either burn your list in the fire or safely in a metal bowl and feel the relief of letting go as you watch it burn.
Now call in the things you wish to give light to – new projects, new thoughts, your ambitions and desires for the year. Being a crystal person, I would put these in a list in front of the fire or candles and surround them with clear quartz or optical calcite – both will clear and magnify the rays of light around all the good things that you wish to give life to this year.
Call upon Brigid, your guides and your angels to hear your desires and ask them to help you to manifest all this and more for yourself this coming year.
Let the energy of all this settle, sit around you and inside of you and really picture yourself being and living the energies and ideas that you have called in.
2. Take a mindful walk in nature
Find time in the coming days to go for a walk and begin to notice all the natural signs of spring coming: Birds singing, snowdrops pushing up through the earth, lambs being born, buds beginning to form on trees and catkins on the willows. With every thing you notice, remind yourself of the things you wish to cultivate in yourself and your life this year. Concentrate on the positive thoughts – energy will always follow your thoughts.
3. Tie a ribbon on a tree
Similar to the fire ritual above you can use a length of ribbon for each of the new things you want to achieve this year and say it out loud as you tie the ribbon to a tree. Even better if you can find a tree by a holy well or a stream to bring in the water element of Brigid – dip the ribbon in the water first and then tie it to a tree with your wish. The colours of yellow, red and green are associated with Imbolc but any colour will do – it is the thought and the intent behind the action which is really important. Rowan and Willow are particularly friendly and helpful at this time of year.
4. Make a Brigid Cross
A traditional symbol of Brigid, they are traditionally made from soaked straw or reeds. Paper straws or strips of paper will also work. I've never made one before but plan to have a go with the kids. This is a good YouTube video to follow:
5. Make yourself a cup of Nettle and Gorse Tea
The nettles are starting to sprout up and the gorse flowers are blooming! Bring the vibrancy and vital force of these freshly picked plants (please wear gloves) into your life to boost your energy. Try this recipe here at Intelligenttea.ie.
Whatever you do, acknowledge that this is the time to make positive changes in your life and really believe that it can be done. The seasons, the energies and Brigid are all there cheering you on to say goodbye to the darkness and let in the light!
Francesca Hennessy is a natural healer, combining crystals, colour, sound and shamanic techniques to help her clients let go of whatever is causing them distress or dis-ease in their lives. Based in Greystones, in County Wicklow, she specialises in helping people and animals to let go of negativity and reconnect with their healthy, essential selves.
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