I’ve always loved the quiet nature of Imbolc. As someone who first discovered Witchcraft in the American Midwest, early February was always a time of cold, snow, and at least another month of winter. But despite the cold, Imbolc always spoke to me of possibilities. The longer days always felt like a reminder that warmer days were ahead, and even on the coldest and darkest nights, hope and life seemed to fill the air.
There was one particular Imbolc night in Michigan I remember more vividly than the others. We had a foot of snow on the ground and the mercury hadn’t gotten up above freezing in over a month, but as I opened my bedroom window that night, the breeze was wet and warm. It was just enough to remind me that the Maiden had begun making her rounds upon the frozen earth and saved me from the usual despair that’s often a part of the Midwestern winter experience.
For many of us, Imbolc is a time of transition, existing in a space and time between the seasons. Winter is still a reality for many of us, yet there’s something we can feel that lies just beyond what we’re experiencing. Imbolc is a great time for getting rid of the unwanted things we’ve carried forward into this new turn of the wheel and for preparing for the gifts we might yet receive. This ritual is about getting rid of the unwanted while preparing for what’s to come. In that sense, it’s much like the earth in winter. In the winter, things die, yet those deaths prepare for the new life that is to come.
To honor the Goddess and God and their reemergence into the world at Imbolc and to bring new blessings into our own lives, we’ll be melting snow or ice cubes during this ritual. If you live where there’s snow, you’re in luck. Right before you begin the ritual, take some of that snow and make two snowballs. In one, place a coin of some sort to represent the God, and in the other, place a flower petal for the Goddess. If there’s no snow where you are, simply put these items in an ice cube tray and let the water freeze, then fetch your ice cubes before the ritual starts.
I’ve chosen a coin to represent the God in this ritual because many gods of the earth, such as the Gallic Cernunnos, were also gods of commerce and money. I chose a flower petal for Persephone because the flower petal reminds me of her imminent return to most of North America at the spring equinox. If a coin or flower petal doesn’t represent the gods to you, don’t use them, and come up with something else. For magick to be truly effective, it should always resonate with you personally.
In order to melt snow or ice cubes, I suggest using an oil diffuser powered by a candle. Since the amount of snow you’ll be melting is small (as is an ice cube), a diffuser is usually just the right size. If that’s not something you have, a small ceramic or metal bowl placed near a few low-burning candles (such as tealight candles) should do the trick. If your ritual space is warm, both snow or ice will most likely melt pretty quickly.
You’ll also need a broom for this particular ritual. If you have a ritual broom, great! If you don’t, a normal broom will work just fine. We’ll be sweeping away the disappointments and despair of the past turn of the wheel, and any sort of broom will do the trick for this particular work. The ritual itself calls for simply sweeping your ritual space, but if you want to sweep everything in your home, that’s perfectly acceptable too!
• Regular altar setup
• Snow or ice cubes with a coin and a flower petal
• Extra bowls/candles or a candle-powered oil diffuser(s)
• Cakes and ale
The Ritual: Preparing the Way
Before starting the ritual engage in a rite of self-cleansing and/or purification. After you’ve removed all the negative energy from your body and are ready to start the rite take a centering breath and give your statement of intent:
“I come this night before the Lord and Lady to celebrate the sabbat of Imbolc. May this be a time of new beginnings and for ridding myself of things unwanted and collected over the last turn of the wheel. I celebrate winter’s height and spring’s soon return. So mote it be!”
Circle Casting/Calling the Quarters
Starting in the north, cast your circle with a sword, athame, or wand.
“Within this circle, only love, power, and transformation! With the blessings of the Lord and Lady, I cast this circle and create this magickal space. So mote it be!”
Again starting in the north, call to the elements to be a part of your ritual. If you have candles to light for them, be sure to do so.
“Spirits of bone and earth, I call you to attend this circle and stand watch over my rites. Blessed be!”
“Spirits of change and breath, I call you to attend this circle and stand watch over my rites. Blessed be!”
“Spirits of passion and flame, I call you to attend this circle and stand watch over my rites. Blessed be!”
“Spirits of womb and rain, I call you to attend this circle and stand watch over my rites. Blessed be!”
Calling to the Lord and Lady
Visualize the deities you serve. Picture them in your mind’s eye and reach out to them with your heart and spirit as you call to them. Light any candles you might have for them at the conclusion of your calls.
“Great Lady, be with me tonight as we welcome the growing light. May this turn of the wheel bring love and understanding into my life, and may I reciprocate those feelings with those around me. May the world awaken with your returning presence and take its first steps toward spring. Bless your child this night of Imbolc. Hail and welcome!”
“Great Lord, be with me tonight as I celebrate the longer days that have now arrived. May this turn of the wheel find me healthy, happy, and able to provide for myself in life. May I share those blessings with those I love and choose to call family. As your hooves touch the ground, may they bring us closer to the return of the green! Bless your child this night of Imbolc. Hail and welcome!”
Light the candles to place under your oil diffuser (or near the bowls in which you will melt your snow), then ask the Goddess and God to be a part of that light.
“I light this candle to bring forth the power of the Lord and Lady. As the heat of the sun shall soon melt away the snow and death that surround this earth, I ask that the heat of this candle melt away the obstacles that keep me from obtaining all that I wish for in my life. Let me be happy, healthy, wealthy, loved, and giving of my own love. Bestow your blessings upon me so that I might share them with those I care for. So mote it be!”
Place your snow/ice cubes in your bowl or dish and imagine the Goddess and God walking upon the cold earth. Visualize their steps bringing life to the world, and those
gifts bringing you happiness and security.
As that picture begins to fade in your mind, stand up in the center of your ritual space and begin dusting off your hands. As you do so, imagine all the setbacks and disappointments of the last twelve months falling away from them and onto the ground. If a memory is especially painful or troublesome, don’t be afraid to let those emotions escape and manifest as tears or a cry of pain. The point of this exercise is to rid yourself of negative and painful memories. Don’t hold back!
When all the bad and unwanted things have left your body and soul, take your broom and begin sweeping those feelings away and out of your circle. If you’re in a position to sweep those things outside, do so, through either a door or a window. If that’s not possible, at least sweep those energies out of your circle and away from you. As you begin to sweep, say:
“I sweep away the pain and heartache of the past year so that I may start the spring born anew. I am like the earth, reborn yet again in the closing days of winter and the opening of spring. I rid myself and my life of these things, and may they not trouble me again unless it is by my will! In the names of the Lord and the Lady, so mote it be!”
I find that when I’m using a broom dedicated for magick, I can easily sweep things out of my circle. However, if the broom is not enough, cut a small gateway in your circle and sweep through that, repairing the circle when you’re done. If dealing with your own pain has left you hurt and vulnerable, take a little time to engage in a purification or self blessing to remind yourself that you are a much loved Witch, a child of the Goddess, the God, and the earth itself.
By the time you’re done sweeping and ridding yourself of negative things, your snow/ice cubes should be melted. Take the coin and flower petal out of your dish and hold them in your hands for a moment. Feel the love of the Goddess and God flow through them. When you’re done, place them on your altar as a reminder of this Imbolc night, or carry them with you for good luck and to attract the things you desire and wish for.
Before moving on to cakes and ale, blow out the candles you lit to melt what was frozen, saying:
“The days are not yet long and the light is not quite yet strong, but what was begun here tonight shall only grow. So mote it be!”
Cakes and Ale
Take your chalice of wine/drink and hold it aloft, asking for the blessings of the Goddess.
“Even on the coldest night, my Lady walks with me and would warm my heart and soul. I gladly accept this blessing and gift from her. Blessed be!”
Have a generous sip of wine/drink, making sure to pour some into your libation bowl. When that’s finished, thank the God for the food you’re about to eat.
“Here in the darkest winter, the Lord stands with me and fills my belly and my spirit. I gladly accept this gift and blessing from him. Blessed be!”
Eat some of your cake, reserving a bit for your libation bowl. I like to sip and nibble in the silence of Imbolc for a bit, thinking about what is to come and letting go of the past. When you’re satisfied that your ritual has come to an end, begin by saying goodbye to the Lord and Lady.
Goodbyes to the Goddess and the God
“Great Lady, Great Lord, I thank you for being a part of my circle this night. May your blessings grow alongside the waxing days, and may I be free of that which keeps me from happiness. Walk with me as you walk over this earth, sharing your power, wisdom, and grace. Blessed be!”
If you’ve lit candles for the Goddess and God, now is the time to extinguish them before closing up your circle.
Dismissing the Quarters/Releasing the Circle
Starting in the west, dismiss the quarters. If you’ve lit candles for them, blow those out at the end of each quarter call.
“Spirits of womb and rain, I called you to attend these rites, and for your presence I thank you. Blessed be!”
“Spirits of passion and flame, I called you to attend these rites, and for your presence I thank you. Blessed be!”
“Spirits of change and breath, I called you to attend these rites, and for your presence I thank you. Blessed be!”
“Spirits of bone and earth, I called you to attend these rites, and for your presence I thank you. Blessed be!”
Take your athame, sword, or wand and release the circle you cast for Imbolc.
“This circle has been a place of love, power, and transformation, and now in the names of the Lord and the Lady, I release the energies created here and return once more to mundane space. So mote it be!”
Standing before your altar, signal an end to your rite.
“Winter behind, spring ahead, I walk forward upon the path of the Witch! May the gods ever preserve the Craft!”
If you can still feel the energy you swept up earlier, throw some salted water upon it or break it up using some cleansing incense until it is truly no more.
The Witch’s Wheel of the Year: Rituals for Covens, Circles, and Solitaries ©2019 Jason Mankey and published by Llewellyn Worldwide.