Imbolc and Me

A bit after my birthday last year I found out that my birthday is the day after one of the Wiccan (or pagan if you prefer) holidays. Like, directly after.

On February 2nd Imbolc comes around right before the also celebrated February 3rd that is my Birthday :D

From what I can gather from the occasionally broken fount of knowledge that is Google, Imbolc is a holiday that celebrates Brigid the Light giver.

The idea is that in February, though things are still cold (in the UK and US/Canada areas at least), but that usually around February you can see signs of life, you can feel a bit of warmth in the breeze…

So Imbolc (pronounced Im-bol-ik for the most part) Or Saint Brigid’s day celebrates Brigid the Light Bringer as the bringer of spring. It is also a hearth and home celebration, in many cases a celebration that they had made it through another winter and is usually celebrated with hearth fires (turn up your heating system maybe?), special foods (*le gasp* We are not used to such an idea!)

Imbolc is traditionally a time of weather indication, and the old tradition of watching to see if serpents or badgers came from their winter dens is perhaps a precursor to the North American Groundhog Day.

A myth for the holiday is that Imbolc is the day the Cailleach — the hag of Gaelic tradition — gathers her firewood for the rest of the winter. Legend has it that if she intends to make the winter last a good while longer, she will make sure the weather on Imbolc is bright and sunny, so she can gather plenty of firewood. Therefore, people are generally relieved if Imbolc is a day of foul weather, as it means the Cailleach is asleep and winter is almost over. This, I find, is quite a bit more reassuring than the redundant Groundhog winter-indicator… x number of weeks until winter ends vs x number of weeks before spring begins hmm? Really? Great. Thanks for that.

Mr. Groundhog, what's it like being the annual weatherman? Not great? Work one day a year? Yeah, thanks.

One folk tradition that continues in both Christian and Pagan homes on St. Brigid’s Day (or Imbolc) is that of the Brigid’s Bed. The girls and young, unmarried, women of the household or village create a corn dolly to represent Brigid, called the Brideog (“little Brigid” or “young Brigid”), adorning it with ribbons and baubles like shells or stones. They make a bed for the Brideog to lie in. On St. Brigid’s Eve (January 31), the girls and young women gather together in one house to stay up all night with the Brideog, and are later visited by all the young men of the community who must ask permission to enter the home, and then treat them and the corn dolly with respect.

Brigid is said to walk the earth on Imbolc eve. Before going to bed, each member of the household may leave a piece of clothing or strip of cloth outside for Brigid to bless. The head of the household will smother the fire and rake the ashes smooth. In the morning, they look for some kind of mark on the ashes, a sign that Brigid has passed that way in the night or morning. The clothes or strips of cloth are brought inside, and believed to now have powers of healing and protection.

This seems to me a bit like an uncluttered Christmas… It’s just that you’re getting your clothes or whatever else you leave out blessed, and made a bit more special if you celebrate the holiday.

Copied from Wikipedia (XD Wiccapedia hahaa… I’m so funny :P), here are the festivals that are practiced.

Celtic Reconstructionist

Like other Reconstructionist traditions, Celtic Reconstructionists place emphasis on historical accuracy and cultural preservation. They base their Imbolc celebrations on traditional lore and customs derived from the historically documented medieval Irish texts, attempting to employ research into the older beliefs of the polytheistic Celts. They usually celebrate the festival when the first stirrings of spring are felt, or on the full moon that falls closest to this time. Many use traditional songs and rites from sources such as The Silver Bough and The Carmina Gadelica. It is especially a time of honoring the Goddess Brigid, and many of her dedicants choose this time of year for rituals to her.

Wicca

Main article: Wheel of the Year

Wiccans celebrate a variation of Imbolc as one of four “fire festivals”, which make up half of the eight holidays (or “sabbats”), of the wheel of the year. Imbolc is defined as a cross-quarter day, midway between the winter solstice (Yule) and the spring equinox (Ostara). The precise astrological midpoint in the Northern hemisphere is when the sun reaches fifteen degrees of Aquarius. In the Southern hemisphere, if celebrated as the beginning of local Spring, the date is the midpoint of Leo. Sometimes the festival is referred to as “Brigid”. Among Dianic Wiccans, Imbolc (also referred to as “Candlemas”) is the traditional time for initiations.

In Wicca, Imbolc is commonly associated with the goddess Brigid, and hence the Wiccan Goddess, and as such it is sometimes viewed as a “women’s festival” with specific rites only for female members of a coven.

Saint Brigid's Cross

Imbolc is usually celebrated on February 2nd in the Northern Hemisphere or the 1st of August in the Southern Hemisphere. I have also heard it being celebrated on the 1st of February, but more sources claim it on the 2nd.

So there’s a burst of Pagan information for you :D Just thought it’s be fun to share that with you… It;s also interesting to me that I should be hoping that the day before my birthday is a horrible day out, so that the hag won’t go out to collect wood :P

Figured I’d post this a couple of days before my Birthday, and a couple of days before this holiday so that if you want to even think on this holiday/celebration/bit of awesomness, you would be able to have the option. I think it’s interesting, but as much as I’m nnot liking my roommates, I’m not going to put ashes around to see if Brigid visited.

For more Wiccan/Pagan holidays, go HERE (general info) or HERE (shows 7/8 of the eight wiccan holidays)

2 thoughts on “Imbolc and Me

  1. Her Pagan Friend says:

    Hello! This is a great sum up of Imbolic my friend! Very well done and very percise. The only thing I really would like to add is these two facts; one is that Imbolic is sometimes refered to as the sprouting time, basicly refering to the time of year as a seed begins to crack through its seedy shell and dig up through the soil. You could think of the whole year as the growth of a cornstalk if you like, the way it grows, when it’s ripe, and when it is harvested. The second thing I would like to add is that in some traditions on Imbolic in the Brigid beds they would lay a wand or some other phalic symbol inside the bed beside the little corn dollie. I know it sounds weird, and its a little hard to explain, but the symbology of it goes waaaaay back, basicly to the creation of human kind and the duality of nature. By placing the wand/Athame/phalic symbol in the bed with her it invites both Brigid’s energy and good tidings aswell as the god’s presence aswell. This of cource all depends of the tradition, much like placing stockings round the fireplace at christmas; it doesn’t have to be done, but some people do it. I myself don’t feel all that comfortable making a corn dollie Brigid because I end up having this little dollie and a bed around the house that I can’t really do anything with. (Kind of like those christmas decorations christians have that they just put away for the rest of the year) I wouldn’t feel right throwing the doll away or burning it after the day is done, but there’s nothing you can really do with it afterwards, whereas the little blessed cloths and things can be very useful. Basicly, for practical reasons, I don’t make the dollie bed, but if you wish to, by all means, try it. It can be great fun :D

    • Doodled93 says:

      lol, putting the phallic imagery in bed makes me think this is also a wish for prosperity with men ;)
      I’m glad you liked this, as this was dedicated to you, my dear wickedly wiccan friend (in the good way, not the “BURN HER! Or, if we’re saving for the winter, SEE IF SHE FLOATS!” way)
      I didn’t make the corn dolly, or make the bed, but I did leave my sweater/jacket hanging, and I don’t know if it’s just warmer outside or what, but it was nice wearing it today :P
      As to your doll problem, I think you put a lot more effort into your life-like dolls (like the one you saw that looked like me XD)than you would into a corn doll (maybe), and haven’t you mentioned a bed you made for it before? I think that SHOULD count. Some traditions should be broadened.
      Again, glad you liked this, and hope you had a happy Imbolc :D

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