Imbolc: spring’s coming — plant seeds and intentions

Imbolc: spring’s coming — plant seeds and intentions February 1, 2024

St. Brigid’s Well, Killare, Co. Westmeath BY BRIDGET NEVILLE

So, Imbolc is around the corner. My CUUPs group Sacred Wheel celebrated it this past Saturday, Jan. 27. We gathered in person and through Zoom at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Montclair, New Jersey for our ritual. Some may say that this is a bit too early to celebrate Imbolc. However, our ancestors never had a calendar to go by back then.  

Jour de la marmotte — Groundhog Day BY GILLES GONTHIER

Christians celebrate Candlemas and in the United States and Canada it is Groundhog Day. Groundhog Day is a German tradition which was brought to Pennsylvania by settlers. There was a belief that the hedgehog could predict if winter was six weeks longer on Candlemas. Since there are no American hedgehogs, groundhogs were substituted.

Imbolc is the midway point between Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox. Now I know, it is celebrated on or around Feb. 1 in the northern hemisphere. Additionally, I know when they say around Feb. 1 they mean Feb. 2. In my case, this was the best time for myself and the group to honor the sabbat. As I like to say, life happens, just roll with it. 

During the ritual, I shared  music videos, with ads attached at the end. Each time to do so required me putting the laptop outside the room to prevent echoing.  Nothing wrong with that, for one I’m Druid and that does not require we cast a circle. However, I had no one controlling the laptop. This meant I had to run out towards the music’s end and stop it before the commercial, which didn’t work well. Multi-platform is not easy, but I believe it is necessary to be inclusive. The ad blurbs did get a few chuckles. As I said before, hey, life happens. I bet the deities laughed as well. Nothing is perfect and we sure are not, things happen.

Imbolc altar by Sacred Wheel CUUPs. PHOTO BY ANN TRIP

The most important thing isn’t when we celebrate, or that the ritual is perfect, but that the intent is there. The time and tools are not exactly important. No, I don’t mean celebrate Yule in July but that up to a week off-date is fine. Imbolc is a time to celebrate, not be nitpicky on the date or tools for that matter. My elder, the Rev. Foxxy (Sher) Pullen once used a plastic knife for her ritual. In fact, she gave us an assignment in Three Fires Grove, a Druid learning community, to find tools in nature. I created a whole ritual in my pool using pool toys and such around me.

Imbolc is also a time to do some spring cleaning to cleanse the space; prepare your home for Brigit. Our ancestors had to do a deep cleaning after they brought animals indoors for the winter. Chimneys especially should be cleaned well. Symbolically, a birch branch should be used to sweep the floor. Birch, the first letter of the Ogham, is strongly tied to the goddess Brigit and is used for purification rights and new beginnings.

This is the lambing season. Most lambs are born between February and early March. Ewes only have a five month pregnancy and usually they are impregnated in October.

New life being born is a major sign of spring. This is a time to think about those new beginnings — new goals. I asked my group to write down their goals and to picture themselves carrying them out from spring through fall. I suggested they set it under a light/candle on their altar. Each person physically there received a bulb to plant, along with their intentions. So plant those seeds literally and metaphorically. As you start your garden, indoors or outdoors, plant seeds aligning with your hopes. Reflect on your growth as you nurture the seeds.

So it’s a time for physical and mental cleaning. Moreover, maybe it’s a time to renew your spiritual intent as well. 

First signs of spring. BY WOUTER DE BRUIJN

Take a walk outside and look for the first signs of spring. Go and see what you can find that clearly shows that spring is coming. Maybe it’s bird’s returning or something else such as bulbs blossoming. I grow parsley in the summer. Usually by now it’s dead, however this year it seems to still be alive. I am watching to see when it will start growing again. 

Clean off your altar, dust it, wash it and then prepare it for Imbolc. Place items that are symbolic of Brigit. A vessel of water for her well, Brigit’s cross and a candle are good starting points. Create a Brigit doll out of straw and then place it into a little bed next to a fireplace or a candle.  Brigit is the Celtic goddess of fire, poetry, healing, childbirth and unity. She has many names, including that of Saint Brigid to the Catholics. She is, perhaps, the most powerful religious figure in Irish history.

Oh and remember, if you cannot celebrate on the sabbat’s date, there’s no reason not to celebrate the following weekend.

And so the wheel of the year turns once again.

See also: Spring Is Coming!  Emerge From Your Shell And Transform

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