As the days get longer, and snow slowly melts winter away (in some places), we can get the first glimpse of spring. For centuries, the time between Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox has been celebrated as Imbolc – the Celtic holiday of light, fire, and new beginnings.
There is something exceptionally beautiful about observing the seasonal changes. Wherever you are in the world*, I encourage you to look for the firsts signs of waking life. This will be different for each person, as we live in various places, and Imbolc will be celebrated contrastingly whether you are in Canada or California.
*speaking about Northern Hemisphere where Imbolc is celebrated between 31 January and 2 February. In the Southern Hemisphere, these dates fall from 31 July – 2 August
Imbolc rituals should be personal and attuned with nature around you. These ideas are just general guidelines for this sabbath’s energies. You can twist them and make them into your personal experience that will suit your needs, feelings, and energy during that time of the year.
Without a prolonged introduction let’s jump to the list of 15 Imbolc rituals!
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What is Imbolc? Meaning, symbols, herbs, crystals, and foods
Northern Hemisphere – 31st January – 2nd February
Southern Hemisphere – 31st July – 2nd August
- Imbolc – meaning: “in the belly” – connected to lambing season
- other names: Imbolg, Bride, Brigid’s Day, Brigit’s Night, Oimelc (meaning: “Ewe’s Milk”), February Eve, Candlemass, Groundhog Day
- Brigid’s Cross – symbol of protection
- First Spring flowers (especially white) – symbols of waking life, new beginnings, beauty, and love
- burrowing animals: groundhog, hedgehog, badger, bear
- candles: symbols of life, creativity, hope, fatefulness, safety
- lambs – symbols of gentleness, innocence, youthful energies,
- broom – symbol of cleansing, fertility, and abundance
- elements: fire and water,
- The Sun – symbol of warmth, light, lengthening of days, bringing life
Herbs: Angelica, basil, bay laurel, blackberry, clover, cinnamon, grain, heather, reed, tansy, wormwood,
Trees: blackthorn, cedar, rowan, sycamore, willow
Flowers: celandine, chamomile, crocus, daffodil, dandelion, hellebore
Incense: basil, rosemary, myrrh, frankincense, vanilla, cedar, peppermint, styrax, cinnamon,
Amethyst, bloodstone, garnet, onyx, moonstone, turquoise,
grains, pickled and preserved foods, root vegetables, all things milk and dairy-related, cheese, dried/salted meats, cornmeal, grains, dried fruit, nuts, eggs
drinks: dairy products, ale, mead, cider
✧ Connect with the Goddess Brigid
Goddess Brigid is highly connected with Imbolc rituals and traditional, Celtic practice. In old times people were inviting her during that time to bless their home, livestock, and fields.
Brigid, also known as Bride, Brid, Briganti, Brigantes, Brighid, Bridget is a Celtic Goddess of fire, hearth, healing, smith working, fertility, childbirth, sacred springs and wells, animal livestock, poetry, creativity, divination, feminine mysteries, and magic. She was a matron of healers, midwives, poets, bards, craftspeople, and artists.
Brigid sacred animals are cattle, horses, livestock, snakes, and wolves.
If you want to honor Goddess Brigid, you can make Brigid’s cross and leave it outside the front door for the night of 31st January/1st February to receive her blessing.
You could also leave her a snack, maybe an oat cookie and a piece of straw for her cow companion. She also likes anything blackberry and poetry written in her honor.
The nine gifts of Brigid are poetry, reflection, meditation, lore, research, great knowledge, intelligence, comprehension, wisdom
If you are interested to learn more about Goddess Brigid, check out these books: “Brigid: History, Mystery, and Magick of the Celtic Goddess” by Courtney Weber or “Tending Brigid’s Flame: Awaken to the Celtic Goddess of Hearth, Temple, and Forge” by Lunaea Weatherstone.
✧ Bath – Soak and Rebirth
As we move from the winter stagnation, Imbolc rituals are centered around renewal, potential, a fresh start, and new blessings. If you have a possibility I would highly recommend doing a cleansing bath, that would rinse away all the worry and negativity, giving you the space for what’s yet to come.
Traditionally this holiday is connected to rebirth. The literal meaning of the old word “Imbolc” is “in the belly” and marks the time when livestock was pregnant and ewes starting to give milk again.
Let’s celebrate the new life with this ritual bath. Imagine the healing potential of water. Soak yourself in it and purify your whole being. To make this bath more special, add some salts, favorite essential oils, oats, milk, or flowers.
Cover yourself with warm water from head to toes and give birth to a new you! Without worries, anxiety, fears, and negative emotions. Envision the element of water taking it all away from you and transforming into something truly magnificent and positive!
✧ Making Candles + Anointing and Dressing
There is no way we could we celebrate the fire festival without the candles!
No matter what Imbolc rituals you will choose to do this year, one of them should involve some candle burning.
Another option would be to make some rolled candles from natural beeswax sheets. Working with beeswax is truly magical! It literally feels like the spring is just around the corner.
If making candles sounds a bit too much (or you just simply don’t have enough time this year) mark this article and try to implement it for Imbolc celebrations in years to come.
When your candles are ready, or you have some store-bought ones that you wish to burn, you can start anointing and dressing them.
This activity makes candle burning a bit more intentional and magical. You can simply choose some essential oils that suit your intentions, or make a personal oil blend. When you anoint your candles with oil, you can dress them in herbs, glitter, crystals chips, etc.
Make sure to enchant the candles with intention of new beginnings, creativity, or cleansing. Let this time be a celebration of light and fire, lengthening of days, and welcoming the warmth of the Sun.
✧ Doing Shadow Work
Just as the darker half of the year is slowly fading away, we can use this time of transition to work on our Shadow.
Shadow Self is the part of you that you don’t really show to the world. Sometimes you’re not even aware of that part of your being. It’s all the trauma, negative self-talk, fear, resentment, wounds, neglected issues, forgotten inner child… You name it!
It’s great to include some basic Shadow Work in your Imbolc rituals.
You can for example get your journal and focus on these prompts and questions:
- In which areas I need to forgive myself?
- Am I being honest in my speech and actions?
- What negative habits do I hold onto?
- What my inner child would tell me at the moment?
- What are my insecurities?
- What is my biggest fear at the moment?
There are many ways to acknowledge your shadow and bring it into the light. If it’s something that you want to explore further, let me know in the comments and I will write a separate article on the subject!
✧ Imbolc Tarot Spread
- With the end of the Winter I let go…
Imbolc is the best time to focus on transition and transformation. The same way as the colder half of the year goes to oblivion, we can release old patterns and unwanted energies from our lives. This card will tell you what things you need to let go of. If it doesn’t make sense, try reading the reversed meaning.
2. With the beginning of Spring, I welcome…
There is no better season to start new ventures than now! This card will describe the potential that hides in the months to come. Let it be your guide in choosing what’s most important in this phase of your life.
3. What should I plant in the nearest future?
In the same way as we plant our seeds in the ground, we can also bring something new to life by planning and taking action. This particular cart will help you to find a priority. Something that will grow over the course of few months and you will be able to reap the benefits during harvest season. What do you think it will be?
✧ Imbolc Altar
During each Sabbat, it’s important to honor the current season. Nature is beautiful and should be embraced in a way it’s present in your location.
If you still have lots of snow outside, you can bring it inside in a container and place it on your altar. It will represent the melting of all the ideas and potential that have been sleeping during wintertime.
You could also get some branches with first buds or maybe even the flowers that pierce through the ground during that time. It all will be very unique to your place on the Earth.
Currently, I live in the South of Portugal and February is way different from what I remember when I lived in Norway. Your altar can be a representation of what you can find outside. And that’s great!
Other things that are symbolical for Imbolc are… candles. Lots of candles! The colors you can use are: white, red, yellow, pink, light green, brown.
On top of that, you can put on your Imbolc altar Brigid’s Cross, Corn Dollies, Picture of Goddess Brigid, Cauldron, Broom/Besom.
✧ Cleaning the House
Usually, around the beginning of February, the days are significantly longer. We can spot the sun piercing through the skies and fresh air moving the branches outside. In my opinion, cleaning is a great activity to include in your Imbolc rituals and practice.
Symbolically cleansing can indicate getting rid of stagnation, old patterns, and negativity. It’s a really great thing to do before we will welcome the new life and possibilities.
Some people like to use their magical broom for sweeping away the old.
✧ Reflecting on your magical path
Some covens initiate their new members during Imbolc time. Even if you are currently a solitary practitioner, you can use that time to reflect on your witchy path.
It’s a great idea to journal about your plans and intentions for an upcoming year.
You can ask yourself questions like:
- What does magick mean to me?
- Why did I decide to follow this journey?
- What have I learned already?
- Is there any area I would like to explore further?
- How do I feel about my magickal work?
- Have I reached some desired outcomes?
- What improvements could I make in my ritual- and spell-work?
✧ Developing Psychic Gifts
Every one of us has some special gifts that can be developed further. As kids, we are open to the spiritual world around us. We can read the emotions of people and sense the unseen energy.
What if that would be still possible in your adulthood?
Would you like to read auras? Sense the imbalances in your body? See (with your third eye) what parts need healing?
Maybe you could help others by tuning into their energetic field and showing their potential?
To do so, you just need some practice. Grab the amazing book “Psychic Witch” by Mat Auryn, and start doing the practical exercises today.
Anyway, the first step would always be meditation. For any kind of magical or psychic work, we need undisturbed focus. And to train that, you need to meditate! Five or ten minutes a day in the beginning. Doesn’t really matter for how long, just start today! And you will see some great results pretty soon.
✧ Making Lanterns with intentions
At least one of Imbolc rituals should involve candles. I thought that making intentional lanterns would be a great idea to incorporate at the beginning of February.
What you will need?
- A glass jar
- Glass paint, acrylic markers, or nail polish
- A candle that will fit in the jar
Whenever you feel a bit of peace and creativity, find a nice place and prepare your items.
Try to tune into your being and center your energy. Think about one thing that you’d love to see fulfilled in your life during this year. It can be one of your new year’s resolutions or some other intention that you want to bring in.
Think about a symbol that will represent this intention. It can be a sigil crafted with the words, maybe a spirit animal that’s representing this value, or a scene when you finally accomplish it. See it with your third eye and visualize the positive outcomeand feelings. What do you see?
Now with special markers, a small paintbrush, or a toothpick paint this symbol on the glass jar. Pour your energy into it and try to keep your focus on a positive outcome.
When you finish, place your hands around the jar and activate it with your personal power. Visualize the energy flowing from your palms and charging the lantern magically.
Now you can light a candle inside. Keep this lantern throughout the whole year and each time you use it, the intention will be activated.
✧ Organize a Feast with these Imbolc foods
This specific idea would suit the best to my Kitchen Witches out there!
If you haven’t found your perfect Imbolc rituals yet, maybe this is the one.
I think that any Sabbath should be celebrated with some traditional food. For the Imbolc we can use:
- dried fruits
- root vegetables like potatoes, carrots, parsnips, etc.
- grains and cornmeal
- milk and dairy products – this has been a huge tradition back in the days when at the end of winter these were the only fresh products people had. During our modern age is completely fine (and even recommended <wink>) to substitute for vegan options
- meat (again… this is a traditional list. Not saying you have to include it!)
- pickled and canned food
If you would like to honor the Goddess Brigid you could get some fresh blackberries or blackberry juice as this is one of Her favorite foods!
Other than that you can also celebrate with traditional drinks: ale, mead, or cider of your choice*
*Only if you are legally able to do so!
✧ Walk to find the first signs of Spring
Sabbats are honoring the natural seasons. And what is the better way to celebrate than to observe the change with your all senses?
Try to reserve some time to wander in nature. Walk mindfully and allow yourself to feel the change. The days are getting longer, the Sun shines a bit warmer, maybe there are some fresh smells around you? What do you see?
If you are lucky, you might be able to observe some first signs of waking life. You might want to collect some nature treasures for your Imbolc Altar. Always make sure that the plants and things you collect are not endangered and ethically sourced.
I like to ask for permission before I pick a living plant. If you will have a negative feeling about that, say thank you and leave it alone. Even our little brothers and sisters that can’t speak for themselves have the right to live!
✧ Making the Brigid’s Cross
This is one of the most popularized Imbolc rituals out there! But if you feel called to do it, why not try it this year?
Traditionally Brigid’s Cross was made from the straw taken from the last harvest. People then would prepare it on the 31st of January and hang it in the front door for a Brigid to bless it. They would also leave some cookie and straw for Goddess and Her cow companion.
Brigid’s Cross is a symbol of protection and was hung close to the door to prevent misfortune from coming into the household. It is also known to guard against fires and lightning.
To wove your Brigid’s Cross you will need:
- straw, dried grass or long stems (around 5 inches or more (15 cm) long),
- thread or wire
- a dish to soak the dried straw in order to make it softer
Here, I would recommend looking at some youtube videos.
I could try to explain the process, yet I know that the best results for getting it done you will get through watching an instructional film.
✧ Trying Hydromancy
Imbolc rituals resolve not only around the element of fire and candles but also around water.
I assume it’s because Brigid has been known as a guardian of sacred springs and wells.
To try Hydromancy (water scrying) you will need a dark dish that will represent Brigid’s well and small crystals or pebbles.
Whenever you energetically ready and centered, pour some clean water into your container. Then try to soften your gaze and look deeply into the water. At this point, you can ask Brigid to assist in your divination.
Gently drop some pebbles into the water and try to read the ripples. What images come to your mind? Do you have any specific feelings emerging to the surface? What messages come through?
If you feel like you’re done with your reading, thank the Goddess for Her assistance, pick up your pebbles and discard the water.
✧ Weather divination
On the 2nd of February people in America celebrate Groundhog Day. It is said that when the groundhog can see his shadow, meaning that it is sunny during that day, there will still be few weeks of winter. If the day is dark, cloudy, and gloomy the spring will come earlier that year.
If you’d like to incorporate this weather prediction in your Imbolc rituals practice, you can simply observe is the day of the 2nd of February is sunny or not. What we are really hoping for is the grey sky and loads of clouds, which will predict warmer days coming our way!
Books about Sabbats (and Imbolc)
- “Celebrating the Seasons of Life: Samhain to Ostara” – Ashleen O’Gaea
- “Llewellyn’s 2021 Sabbats Almanac: Samhain 2020 to Mabon 2021”
- “Year of the Witch: Connecting with Nature’s Seasons through Intuitive Magick” – Temperance Alden
- “Witch’s Wheel of the Year: Rituals for Circles, Solitaries & Covens” – Jason Mankey
- “Practical Magic: A Beginner’s Guide to Crystals, Horoscopes, Psychics, and Spells” – Nikki Van De Car
- “Witchery: Embrace the Witch Within” – Juliet Diaz
- “The Modern Witchcraft Guide to the Wheel of the Year: From Samhain to Yule, Your Guide to the Wiccan Holidays” – Judy Ann Nock
- “Encyclopedia of Witchcraft: The Complete A-Z for the Entire Magical World” – Judika Illes
- “Seasons of Witchery: Celebrating the Sabbats with the Garden Witch” – Ellen Dugan
- “Imbolc: Rituals, Recipes & Lore for Brigid’s Day” – Carl F. Neal
Imbolc Book of Shadows Printable Bundle
Would you like to add 9 ready Grimoire pages to your personal Book of Shadows? I spent the last couple of weeks researching information and creating this pdf printable bundle from scratch.
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My name is Eva Maria and I love to create magical content based on my own studies and experience. Merkaba Study is an online grimoire where you can read about crystal healing properties, spells, tarot, and more!