Out of all the sabbats I think it’s Imbolc that is the most variable. For some it’s most certainly the start of Spring, and for others it simply marks another month and a half of Winter. Because of its traditional associations with cleaning, light, Brighit, and new growth, it offers lots of different opportunities for reflection.
This ritual is a combination of many of those facets. The quarter candles in my coven’s temple space need to be replaced so this ritual is partially built around that. In the Catholic Church the traditional celebration of Candlemas was when church candles were blessed and consecrated. It’s an idea that works within Modern Paganism too, and who knows? It might even stem from the same source original pagan source.
Replacing candles also goes along nicely with the idea of the returning light. Not every ritual needs to be about personal growth and empowerment, sometimes you have to look at how to keep coven operations running smoothly. My coven also lights a candle in honor of spirit or “The Center;” that unknown that binds both us and the gods to this world. Since that candle sits in the middle of our altar we like to keep it impressive looking, which means it’s also due for an upgrade.
More Imbolc Rituals at Raise the Horns:
A California Imbolc Ritual-An Imbolc ritual designed for warmer climates. If Spring begins in Feruary where you live this is the ritual for you.
Growing of the Light and Candle Blessing Ritual-This ritual is just what it says and was co-written with a member of my coven. This might very well be the best Imbolc ritual on the interwebs.
I’m also a big fan of Brighit and started including her in our Imbolc rituals last year. Since most of us in the coven had pretty amazing years I think it’s wise to keep that going. She also seems very at home in our Temple Shrine and I don’t want to interrupt that. So this ritual is a combination of all those things. I hope it lends a little inspiration to your own Imbolc rites. Happy ritualizing!
(In my circle we cleanse with a pitcher and water. Other circles wave incense and splash salted water at everyone. Use whatever technique works for your circle.)
(It’s important to get yourself in the right head space for ritual. Some groups like to use a guided meditation “your feet are the like the roots of a tree . . .” others chant and sing. It probably depends on how good the singing is in your particular group.)
Statement of Intent
High Priestess: “We gather this night to celebrate the sacred festival of Imbolc. We welcome the return of the light and the Lady Brigid, goddess of healing and the light of the forge. This evening we prepare the coven for the warmer and longer days to come. Long may the light of our circle shine! Blessed Be!”
Casting the Circle
“I conjure thee oh circle of power, that thou may serve as a gathering place for truth, love and joy. By our will your walls shall keep out all evil and negativity and serve us an entry way between the worlds where we might walk with the gods. Wherefore do I bless thee and consecrate thee in the names of the Lord and Lady. So mote it be!”
East: “I call to the spirits of the East, Spirits of Air and the winds that turn the seasons. Spirits who rule the realms of intuition and inspiration, yours is the creative soul of nature. Join us tonight as we celebrate new beginnings and the coming of Spring! Blessed Be!”
South: “I call to the Spirits of the South, Spirits of Fire and the light that guides our way. Spirits who rule the ecstasy of the spirit, yours is the cup of the wine of life. Join us in our circle tonight as we celebrate the return of the Light and the coming of Spring. Blessed Be!”
West: “I call to the Spirits of the West, Spirits of Water and the gifts that give us life. Spirits who give the blessings of rain to the parched and hungry land, yours is the promise of life renewed. Join us tonight as we celebrate the rain and the coming of Spring! Blessed Be!”
North: “I call to the Spirits of the North, Spirits of Earth, you from which all things proceed and to which all things return. Spirits who are the beauty of the green earth, yours is the peace and serenity for which we long. Join us tonight as we celebrate the growing green and the coming of Spring! Blessed Be!”
Call to the God
High Priest: “This night of Imbolc we call to the Great God. Lord of the Sun, Horned One of the wild places join us in our circle! Let us feel and see your growing power. Stand with us tonight as we renew the light of this coven. Be with us as we work our will! Hail and welcome!
Call to the Goddess
High Priestess: “This night of Imbolc we call to the Great Goddess. Mistress of the Waters, Lady of the Moon and Mother of all join us in our circle! Let us feel the the awakening Earth in the ground beneath our feet and upon the breeze that touches our cheeks. Be with us as we renew the light of this coven and help guide us ever forward in your name. Hail and welcome!
Welcoming of Brighid
High Priest: “Once more we welcome the goddess Brighit to her rightful place in this Temple. Tonight, upon her night, we honor her once more. We present her to you so that you might know her and honor her mysteries. For the last year she has watched over us and will continue to do so on this turn of the Wheel.”
High Priestess: “Great Brighid join us in our rites this night and in the nights to come! We salute you unconquerable Goddess! When the invaders came and drove out the old gods it was you who stood by your folk. You donned a different cloak but remained our Goddess, a goddess of the people and the Earth. We are honored to have you as a part of our rites! Hail and welcome!”
(A “Brighid’s Bed” is carried around the coven so that everyone might pay homage to the image of the Goddess. After she has travelled the length of the circle she is put in a place of honor upon the altar or whatever other altar space your coven uses.)
High Priest: “As the days grow longer this is the now the time to renew our Temple and prepare it for the rites and rituals yet to come. That this Temple Room may ever be a space of love, joy, and truth we must replace the candles that give us light in the darkness. As these candles represent not just the power of the Watchtowers, but also of this coven, together we should charge and bless them.”
High Priestess: “Before we bless the candles that shall light this Temple we must properly prepare and cleanse them for use in ritual. To do that we call upon the powers of the elements and the tools of our Craft.”
(Candles should be placed on the altar pentacle either individually or all together.)
High Priestess: “I cleanse this candle with the powers of water and earth, I remove from them all negativity and darkness. May your light shine brightly in this coven.”
(Candles are sprinkled salted water.*)
(Candles are run through incense smoke.)
High Priest: “Before these candles can be placed around our circle they must all represent the chosen of this coven. In order that we should mark these candles as our own I offer you a chance to add a Witch Mark to the bottom of each candle. May your movements be precise and quick and help us make these candles ours.”
(When I mark a candle I tend to use a pin or needle. Some like to use their athames or a special knife dedicated to the task of cutting during ritual. Marks on the candle should be small, a rune, a symbol, and no more. Pass each candle around the circle and let each member of the coven mark it. When everyone is done return the candles to the pentacle on the altar.)
High Priestess: “Four candles, four quarters. Four directions, four points of light. These candles each represent a different element and a different emotion. In the East is Air and Knowledge, to the South there is Fire and Desire. The West brings us Water and the mysteries of Initiation, and the North gives us Earth and Strength.”
High Priest: “So far this night we have cleansed and marked our candles, but now is the time to put a bit of our will into each one. When the Eastern Candle comes to you share with it the knowledge you hope to gain in our rites over the coming years.** The Candle in the South is a place to put your Craft desires, and with the Western Sentinel share your wonder of the mysteries that are our Lady and Lord. Finally to the North lend a bit of strength to our Guardian and this coven. So mote it be.”
(When the candles have all gone around the circle they should return to the altar. The High Priestess will then take each candle individually to its new place in the circle, transferring the light already burning in those candles to the ones just blessed and consecreated with a taper. If you use an individual quarter caller at each cardinal point this is a good time to get them involved. After the light has been transferred to the new candle the old one should be blown out and placed upon the altar. Since we generally let individual coveners invoke the Watchtowers we are going to have them do the actual transferring of the candles. The High Priestess reads the words below first and then they are repeated by the one moving around the candles.)
“May our light and that of the gods ever shine in the East.”
(“Hail the East!”)
“May our light and that of the gods ever shine in the South.”
(“Hail the South!”)
“May our light and that of the gods ever shine in the West.”
(“Hail the West!”)
“May our light and that of the gods ever shine in the North.”
(“Hail the North!”)
High Priest: “While these candles will no longer bring the Watchtowers to us, they may still be of service to this coven. I place them here upon this shrine that may continue to add their light to our rites. So mote it be!”
(Our coven works entirely by candlelight and as a result we have a few candles that we light before ritual starts. Those have almost always been old quarter candles. As many of those have died in the last year, our now de-commissioned quarter candles will take their place.)
High Priestess: “And now we come to the center, the place from which all hope springs. May the light brought to us from the Prime Mover ever shine upon this coven and those who walk the path of the Witch. Connected to all we are and that connection is symbolized and made manifest here upon the altar. Ever shining light renew yourself this night of Imbolc.”
(Taper is used to transfer the light of Spirit from the old candle to the new. When the light has been established in the new candle the old one is blown out. The old candle is moved to another place in the Temple Space if it remains usable.)
High Priest: “And for your service these last two years oh candle I shall set you in this place of honor so that your light may continue to be a part of this coven. So mote it be!”
(It’s possible that I have too much of an attachment to things, these are a lot of words for new candles in a ritual space!)
The Great Rite
High Priest: “Life is more than a gift, it is a promise. All that dies shall be reborn.”
High Priestess: “We now celebrate the most ancient of magicks, the magick of joining.”
High Priest: “The athame is to the Lord.”
High Priestess: “As the cup is the Lady.”
Both: “United in life and abundance. Blessed Be!”
(Athame is plunged into the chalice.)
Cakes and Ale
High Priest: “In the names of the Lord and Lady we bless this bread.”
(Touches athame to either the bread or the plate it is being served upon.)
High Priestess: “In the names of the Lord and Lady we bless this drink.”
(Touches athame to the top of the cup. The drink is then passed around first with the bread following.)
Goodbye to the Lady and Lord
High Priestess: “We thank the Great Lady, Goddess of the skies and seas for joining us tonight in our rites. Look over us as the light grows and change manifests its self in our lives. With love and devotion we walk this road with you. Blessed Be.”
High Priest: “We thank the Eternal Lord, God of the earth and the wild places, for joining us tonight in our rites. We will feel your touch with our every step upon your world. With love and devotion we walk this road with you. Blessed Be***.”
Dismissing the Quarters
North: “Spirits of the North, Spirits of Earth, thank you for being with us this sacred night. Thank you for all of your gifts, the green grass, the fertile soil, and new life. And now we say to you, hail and farewell!”
West: “Spirits of the West, Spirits of Water, we thank you for being with us this sacred night. Thank you for all of your gifts, the rains which make all possible, the ocean that calls to us. And now say to you, hail and farewell!”
South: “Spirits of the South, Spirits of Fire, we thank you for being with us this sacred night. Thank you for all of your gifts, for the longer days, the return of the light, and the passions that burn within us. And now we say to you, hail and farewell!”
East: “Spirits of the East, Spirits of Air, we thank you for being with us this sacred night. We thank you for all of your gifts, for the winds that turn the seasons, and the ability to feel joy and happiness. And now we say to you hail and farewell!”
Unwinding the Circle
“I conjured thee o circle of power to serve as a meeting place of truth, love, and joy. By our will we shaped your walls to keep out all evil and negativity, and you have served us well in that purpose. We have journeyed between the worlds and walked with the gods. All is now as it once was and all that has joined us this night has been dismissed in the names of the Lord and the Lady. So mote it be!”
High Priestess: “We have journeyed to the boundary between Winter and Spring. There we have prepared our coven for the rites to come and met with our lady Brigit. The Earth stirs and prepares to wake! And now I say to you, Merry Meet, Merry Part, and Merry Meet Again and May the Gods Preserve the Craft!”
*Many covens begin their rites by preparing the water and salt. It’s actually how my coven does things, but I don’t generally include those rites in the rituals I post publicly. If you are looking to do that in your own rituals I generally do it before casting the circle. “Preparing the Elements” is a part of my published Samhain ritual from last year. Click the link to see the rite.
**Our quarter candles last about two years.
***In the Mankey household there is some disagreement on how to properly say goodbye to deity at the end of ritual. My wife tends to use “hail and farewell.” I agree that it sounds better, but I’m not sure the gods every truly leave. My gods are always with me so I’m not sure that saying “farewell” is truly appropriate. Instead I say “Blessed Be,” and when we do ritual with the coven my wife says “Hail and farewell” to the Goddess while I say “Blessed Be” to the God. It’s probably all pretty inconsequential but I spend a lot of time thinking about this stuff.
This is all stuff from our Ritual Room. Up first is our Brighid in her place of honor on our Temple Shrine. My wife and I prefer Greek gods but Brighit just seems like a natural in that spot so we keep here there now. The second pic is one of our soon to be decommissioned quarter candles, they are dripping wax on the floor, time to change. The third pic is again of Brighit. Since our shrine is a bookshelf we can’t burn real candles there, hence the electric ones. The fourth pic is one of our new candles on a pentacle, that’s followed by our center candle of the last two years. I wanted to a shot of blade, salt, and water earlier in the piece but I like to space out the pictures, so it’s here for no particular reason.