To the Bright and Fiery One! From whom inspiration flows and a sparkling flame glows. From the hills and dells, we go visit your wells. We honor thee Goddess Brighid on Imbolc day, may your light shine bright and ne’er go away! ©2013 Spiritual Spectra
We call upon thee Goddess Brighid! May your fiery glow guide us to our true calling and flame the courage in our following. May your wells heal our wounds and shower us with boons. May our lights shine bright, love and compassion ignite, be blessed with insight, and our courage be might! ©2013 Spiritual Spectra
Imbolc or Imbolg (pronounced i-MOLK or i-MOLG ), also called (Saint) Brighid’s Day is a Gaelic festival marking the beginning of spring. Most commonly it is held on February 1 or 2, or halfway between the winter solstice and the Spring equinox. It is one of the four Gaelic seasonal festivals, along with Beltane, Lughnasadh and Samhain. It was observed in Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man. Kindred festivals were held at the same time of year in other Celtic lands; for example the Welsh Gŵyl Fair y Canhwyllau.
Imbolc is mentioned in some of the earliest Irish literature and it is associated with important events in Irish mythology. It has been suggested that it was originally a pagan festival associated with the goddess Brighid and that it was Christianized as a festival of Saint Brighid, who herself is thought to be a Christianization of the goddess. At Imbolc, Brighid’s crosses were made and a doll-like figure of Brighid, called a Brídeóg, would be carried from house-to-house. Brighid was said to visit one’s home at Imbolc. To receive her blessings, people would make a bed for Brighid and leave her food and drink, while items of clothing would be left outside for her to bless. Brighid was also invoked to protect livestock. Holy wells were visited and it was also a time for divination.
Celebrations often involved hearthfires, special foods (butter, milk, and bannocks, for example), divination or watching for omens, candles or a bonfire if the weather permitted. Fire and purification were an important part of the festival. The lighting of candles and fires represented the return of warmth and the increasing power of the Sun over the coming months.
Holy wells were also visited at Imbolc, and at the other Gaelic festivals of Beltane and Lughnasadh. Visitors to holy wells would pray for health while walking ‘sunwise’ around the well. They would then leave offerings; typically coins. Water from the wells may have been used to bless things.
Imbolc was traditionally a time of weather divination, and the old tradition of watching to see if serpents or badgers came from their winter dens may be a forerunner to the North American Groundhog Day.
In Christianity, February 1 is observed as the feast day of Saint Brighid, especially in Ireland. There, some of the old customs have survived and it is celebrated as a cultural event by some.
Since the 20th century, Celtic neopagans and Wiccans have observed Imbolc as a religious holiday. It is a time of honoring the Goddess Brighid, and many of her dedicants choose this time of year for rituals to her.
Wiccans celebrate a variation of Imbolc as one of the eight holidays (or “Sabbats”) of the Wheel of the Year. Imbolc is defined as a cross-quarter day, midway between the winter solstice (Yule) and the spring equinox (Ostara). In Wicca, Imbolc is commonly associated with the goddess Brighid and as such it is sometimes seen as a “women’s holiday” with specific rites only for female members of a coven. Among Dianic Wiccans, Imbolc is the traditional time for initiations.