Date: February 2 (Traditional), February 3 (Astrological).
Although the days grow colder, and the winter winds grow sharper, the days gradually lengthen. The Wheel turns and we arrive at Imbolc.
Imbolc is a fire festival that is traditionally celebrated on February 2 – the mid-point between Yule (Winter Solstice) and Ostara (Spring Equinox).
The Astrological date of Imbolc occurs when sun is at 15 degrees of Aquarius, which is on February 3 (2021).
What Imbolc Represents
Imbolc is typically associated with the return of spring.
At this time of year, the days grow perceptibly longer as the sun’s path arcs slightly higher in the sky from where it was at the Winter Solstice.
It’s a time of hope, anticipation, and looking forward to spring and summer – the seasons of growth.
If you’re located in a southern climate, spring IS right around the corner.
For Tracy and I, however, it will be winter for at least a couple more months here in upstate New York.
Keywords: Hope, expectation, preparation, action, hustle, birthing.
Moon Phase: Imbolc corresponds to the Waxing Crescent Moon, a time of hope, anticipation, and taking the first steps toward manifestation.
Colors: Light green (new growth), white (purity), as well as the “fire colors” of yellow, orange, and red.
Crystals/Stones: Clear quartz is my go-to stone at Imbolc.
I use the same quartz crystal that caught the first rays of light of the rising sun on the Winter Solstice, as it helps me maintain my clarity of intention as I begin the work of planning and manifestation at Imbolc.
Amethyst, garnet, ruby, and bloodstone are also good crystals to work with at Imbolc.
Herbs: Bay, basil, and rosemary are my favorite Imbolc herbs. You can also use lavender and chamomile at Imbolc.
Coltsfoot is traditionally associated with Imbolc, although where I live, it won’t bloom for at least another month.
Incense/Essential Oils: Cinnamon, frankincense, lavender, vanilla, myrrh, rosemary, and jasmine.
Other Magickal Earth Items: Brigid’s cross, white flowers, cauldron, potted bulbs, seeds.
Imbolc Rituals: How To Celebrate Imbolc
Imbolc is a low-key holiday for Tracy and I since we’re still in the midst of winter in upstate New York, and spring is still months away.
However, we notice that the days have grown slightly longer at this point.
It’s not unusual to get few days of unseasonably warm weather in February, and the stores have begun stocking up on garden supplies, seeds, and spring bulbs.
Here are a few ways we celebrate Imbolc:
Home Purification & Smoke Cleansing
Even though it still IS winter, and the urge to hibernate and slow down are strong, Imbolc gives us a nudge to re-activate our energetic flow.
One of my favorite ways to do this is through home purification and smoke cleansing.
Step 1: Clean and declutter your home (as much as you can).
Step 2: Light a smoke cleansing stick (aka “smudge stick”) made with sage and/or cedar and waft the smoke through your home. This helps to break up and move stagnant winter energy.
I light a LOT of candles over the dark winter months. Most evenings, I have at least one candle burning from dinnertime until I go to bed.
Light a red, orange or yellow candle to appreciate and give thanks for the returning sun, the lengthening days, and the coming spring.
Light a green candle if your intention for the coming growing season deals with abundance and prosperity, or something in your life that you wish to grow and expand.
Light a white candle to purify and cleanse your space.
Create An Imbolc Altar
In addition to white, green, and fire-colored candles, we decorate our Imbolc altar with evergreens, sun symbols, white flowers, and potted flower bulbs (hyacinth, amaryllis, etc…).
Set a geode half or a small cauldron on your altar and place a written intention or wish inside. This provides a symbolic place for your intention to incubate and be nurtured until it is fulfilled.
One of the most prominent symbols of Imbolc is the Brigid’s cross.
The Celtic goddess Brigid is associated with the spring season, fertility, healing, and poetry.
A Brigid’s cross is typically made with rushes, but you can make one with any materials you have on hand – even green construction paper.
Place the cross on your altar, or hang it over doorways and entry points to protect your home from negativity.
Turn Intentions Into Action Steps
Imbolc is a time to shift from intention to hustle. To avoid overwhelm or getting off track, spend some time breaking your big goal/intention into smaller steps.
Write down each milestone, or mini-goal, in your planner or calendar. Don’t forget to choose a way to reward yourself as you reach each milestone.
Phenology is the study of cyclical patterns in the natural world around you, and plays a major role in my own nature-focused spiritual practice.
As I celebrate each holiday on the Wheel Of The Year, I take note of the changes in the environment around me, which helps connect me to the land I live in.
Even in my northern, Zone 5 garden, there are stirrings of life – little glimmers of what’s to come (still many weeks away). When I brush away the snow from around my perennials, there are green leaves poking out of the ground.
It’s not uncommon to see certain winter insects this time of year, like the Winter Dark Firefly, or winter stoneflies perched on sunny sides of trees.
Massive winter flocks of starlings and crows mingle along the river outside my window, and hawks are never far away – swooping in to catch a meal when they can.
While I begin to gather my seed starting supplies and browse seed catalogs, I still must wait to plant for another month-and-a-half.
Patience is also a theme that resonates with me at Imbolc.
How Do You Celebrate Imbolc?
Please post a comment below and share any traditions or rituals that you do during Imbolc!