Imbolc is a special time of year. The faint whisper of Spring is in the air, and a celebration to honor the goddess Brigid (Brighid, Bride, Brigit) is soon to arrive at the first of February. Imbolc to me is red and gold, clouties, blackberry leaves, milk and butter, tending the fire, candles, preparing the hearth and home, clearing out the old, magical moments, drinking beer, writing poetry, and celebrating all that is the goddess Brigid.
I’ve written previously about ways to celebrate Imbolc, and how Brigid called to me. I am a devoted follower, and I love and appreciate that I am joined in celebration with people both locally and around the world as we honor the goddess Brigid.
How to celebrate? Her day of celebration is February 1st. If you are not familiar with Brigid, I would suggest research on the internet, find some Brigid books to curl up with, read blogs, go on YouTube, and connect with Brigid communities online to learn more. Her history is beautiful and fascinating, and there is much to discover. As you are learning, spend some time in meditation, maybe in front of some red, gold, white or green candles, to see where your intuition leads you to honor Brigid and celebrate.
Below are a few suggestions for the days leading to, during and after Imbolc:
Altar A few weeks before February 1st, her altar is cleared, cleaned and freshly assembled. Along with a Brigid’s Cross/Wheel from Ireland, (people use either of these phrases, whatever they are comfortable with saying) I usually have a new 7 day red candle that I have decorated, adorned with images of Brigid and her symbols (I print out images from the internet). If you don’t have a fireplace, this is a great substitute. I light the candle every night for the seven days before Imbolc, and the seven days after. It’s your preference as to when and for how long you light it. You can leave the candle lit all night, or light it at a certain time each day if that is preferred. Also on my altar is a small container of dirt I brought back from my visits to Ireland, a red and gold bag filled with blackberry leaves and ginger as offering, and a Brigid prayer card sent to me by a fellow Brigid devotee, along with red and gold candles. Your altar can be as simple or as ornate as you would like. Perhaps you would like a statue of Brigid, or you can print out an image you prefer online. Etsy is also a great resource for Brigid art and altar items.
Imbolc Eve The night before, I lay a green ribbon outside where it is safe, for the bhrat brige. Known as Brigid’s cloak, Brigid is said to come by during the night, blessing the ribbons, cloaks and material left out by her faithful ones. The dew which falls during the night is said to imbue the cloth with powers of healing and protection. I do this every year, and use the ribbon to help with illness. I also leave out an offering of whiskey, bread, and homemade butter on the hearth, along with a small broom and another Brigid’s Wheel to decorate the mantle. More candles are lit throughout my home, to signify the returning light. There have been times I have stayed up all night, talking with her, writing Brigid poetry, or meditating on this celebration and what it means to me.
Imbolc The day itself is greeted with much joy, as I prepare for both online rituals with community, as well as in person with the local goddess temple. It is a lovely time to connect with everyone at our public rituals, usually our first after the busy holidays and the winter hibernation that often happens. We bathe our triple goddess statue in milk, and tie clouties (Irish prayer flags made of plain muslin) on branches, tying knots in magical numbers of 3 or more. Sometimes there is a healing session, and there is much music, singing, wistful reflection and celebration.
After Imbolc I tend to celebrate Imbolc in the days and weeks beyond, inspired by my strengthening connection with Brigid. I visit the local spring in her honor, and tend to more homeward activities, such as clearing out any clutter that has built up, getting organized for the year ahead, getting my calendar firmed up, and taking time to rest. Winter will soon be over, so I take this time to prepare for the seasons ahead. More nourishing whole food home-cooked meals, deep breaths, peaceful meditations, warm baths, soothing music, and cozy books. I am reminded by Brigid to listen to my intuition more closely, to not rush, to move through my days and nights with purpose. I tend to socialize less and write more, as I savor the darkness of the remaining Winter days.
Throughout the year Brigid is never far from me, as I keep an altar devoted to her all year ’round. I also wear a necklace with a Brigid’s wheel and Celtic weave daily in her honor. I read as much about Brigid as I can, and daydream/plan for a future visit to Kildare, site of her Eternal Flame. Follow what calls to you during Imbolc, and see where your journey with Brigid leads you. It may change your life, as it did mine.