Imbolc, which means “in the belly” or “ewe’s milk”, is the day that marks the incoming Spring. Symbolically it marks the halfway point between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox and celebrates the rebirth of the sun as the days get longer. Traditionally it is a Northern Hemisphere Gaelic festival which falls on the 1st of February and celebrates the Feast Day of Brigid. It marks the time of the year when spring flowers start to emerge in nature and can be a date to celebrate women.
This year in the Southern Hemisphere calendar it falls on Saturday the 7thst of August at 4.53pm. Gods such as Brigit, Aenghus Og, Cerridwen, Hekate, Persephone, Demeter, Gaia, Hestia, Aphrodite, Eros, Pan, Bast, Aradia, Ceres, Faunus, Venus and Vesta can all be honoured during this time of year.
I have celebrated Imbolc with groups of people in various magickal settings and the one thing which I found linked them, was the coming together to celebrate the planting of seeds and sharing of food in a communal setting. Something which I have experienced time and time again during this festival day is the ritualistic act of planting physical and metaphorical seeds which symbolises set intentions for the coming season of Spring and Summer. Also feasting is highlighted during this time as so many religious festivals tend to celebrate this way.
One of the fondest memories I have during this time of year is celebrating Imbolc through planting seeds or seedling when I was starting out in my first coven. It’s something I never did before on my own and being able to watch something I planted with my own hands, grow and prosper developed my love of gardening. When I started studying herbalism a few years later I became obsessed with growing all the medicinal and magickal herbs I could. I spent years transferring my garden into a large organic one and creating special herb garden spaces dedicated to Hekate and A’set respectfully.
As an avid herbalist who likes to grow my own plants, herbs and trees I can use in my practice, I tend to always focus energy during this time planting organic heirloom seeds or seedlings for the coming season’s use. I also like to plant my intentions for what I want to grow in my life as I feel this is the perfect time to do so, to align with nature. Along with this, I also love to spend a lot of time in nature and honouring nature. From the seas to the mountains, I tend to go on a Imbolc hike coupled with a picnic/bbq if the weather permits.
I also tend to make a lot of candles as I am an avid candle maker and use various methods from set tapers and pillars, rolled wax to poured soy. I make them for my patrons (specifically Hekate, A’set and Sekhmet) which I then burn regularly on their shrines and altars during their devotionals. I also make a lot of incense for the same patrons as I find when I blend and grind up all the materials its quite easy to set intention for them as I find it an incredibly meditative and magical act.
Brigit represents the light and so does Hekate and I personally feel Hekate can guide us out of the darkness and into the light, like she did for Persephone.
I feel that Hekate resonates with this time of the year for various reasons. Hekate can illuminate what has been hiding in the darkness and ignite the flame within us. In this time she encourages and enables us to turn our attention to the presence of the promise of new opportunities to come. As the time of growth and movement is happening all around us Hekate encourages us to engage in this and use it for the power it contains – the promise of a light at the end of a dark tunnel and the promise of growth after a fallow period.
I personally like to honour Hekate during this time and make offerings of seeds, bread, apples, pomegranates, dandelions, primroses, grape juice, honey infused milk, onions, grains such as barley, wine, honey cake, seed cake and preserve cake.
In the garden now is the time to plant:
Vegetables such as lettuce, spinach, kale, collards, Asian greens, beetroot, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, leek, onions, sweeds, parsnip, turnip, peas, radish, rocket, garlic, potatoes, cucumber, eggplant and silver beet.
Herbs such as mustard, horseradish, curry plant, licorice, dandelions, parsley, feverfew, dill, mint, marjoram, oregano, lovage, and chervil.
Flowers such as, primroses, cornflowers, calendula, Siberian wallflower, nasturtiums and cyclamen.
Some things you can do to honour and mark Imbolc in your personal practice (or with a group of likeminded individuals) can be:
- Make the food usually consumed during this time: colcannon, sowans, dumplings, barmbrack or bannocks.
- Make oak crosses.
- Make corn husk or straw dolls.
- Visit local wells, rives or streams and collect the water for magick and ritual work. Use water to bless home, family and garden.
- Take a walk sunwise (clockwise) around a well and pray for good health or an ailment ensuring to leave an offering such as a coin.
- Hold feasts with loved ones.
- Divination such as candle (flame or wax), water and weather divination (cloud, sunset/sunrise).
- Sew seeds for the coming spring and plant what you want to grow into your life.
- Spring clean (such as home and altar/shrine) as it’s the time of purification which can be used to remove the stagnant energies and bring in cleansing new energies.
- Make offerings to the earth and sea.
- At sunset light candles to mark the passage of time from winter to spring and also to honour the Gods of this season (in gold, white, yellow and red colours).
- Light torches in your Gods names.
- Go for a walk in nature and take stock of what is growing and coming in for you.
- Initiation and self-initiation rituals can be worked during this time due to apt timing.
- A good time for fertilising things such as ideas, projects and even yourself with what you want to grow
So work your magick this Imbolc, honour the light and ask for what you want to manifest in your life.
(c) T. Georgitsis 2021