Imbolc means in the belly of the Mother. It refers to the space where all the seeds of creation are beginning to stir as they come into form. It harkens us to awaken to all that we intend to plant in hopes of harvest later in the year. It is a time to act in preparations for new beginnings and new growth. Imbolc marks the calendar as the point of gestation where we cultivate our intentions from the start of the year. Resolutions are gaining energy to come into a more visible form.
The idea of welcoming spring may seem far away still for many of us in the northern hemisphere where winter weather is still visible. However, listening to the old cycles on an intuitive level has some advantages. This time of year is filled with celebrations of springtime rites that signify the return of light. Springtime fertility and growth is stirring in nature. This is the season that presents the possibilities of fresh starts.
Traditionally, Imbolc began at sunset and continue through out an entire evening and day concluding on the following night. This supported the idea of moving through time differently with an intention to sustain a connection to nature. Honoring this connection helped to support the belief in sustainable practices, communal harmony and a respect for nature.
In our modern world we may not have the opportunity to gather in collective groups around bon fires. However, we can visit with our friends to celebrate and nourish each other. Most may not be aware of the Goddess Breosaight who blesses this transition from intention into birth, midwifing winter into spring. Still, there is a wonderful opportunity to reflect and connect to the inner rhythm we share with nature.
There are some interesting Imbolc traditions that are still practiced today. One of my favorites is called the Healing Shawl. It is thought to have been practiced for thousands of years and is attributed to the worship of the Goddess Breosaight. To practice this ritual you will need a nice shawl, a long piece of fabric or even a small blanket. The shawl is placed outside overnight during Imbolc. During the night it is believed that the spirits of Nature and the Tuatha de Danann (race of divine beings) come to imbue the cloth with special healing qualities. The healing shawl is then used to wrap around the ailing when needed through the year.
This type of simple gesture of preparing an object with the intention that will assist in the betterment of another is what is vital. The energy that is placed into the shawl could be arguable from the one who's creating the healing intention. Although it is nice to conceive of a great healing all powerful goddess assisting us in our intentions. What's most important is recognizing the generosity in the gesture and cultivating it.
I can attest to the magical healing qualities that a Healing Shawl may bring, as I've witness that special glow that the recipient gets when they're wrapped and told that it's a special healing blanket. Maybe it's just the love and tender care of being looked after when you're not feeling well. Or maybe, there is something extra special about that blanket. Either way, I encourage you to give it a try. You're loved ones will thank you. And may the Goddess bless you.
It's interesting that healing is a key ingredient in this celebration. As though it is meant to help transmute matters that will need to heal into order for new growth to be actualized. In alchemy, we begin in decay moving through gestation into birth and new growth. Being mindful. Remembering, taking time to release the old in favor of nurturing the new requires gentleness.
Another nice way to celebrate Imbolc is to light a candle representative of the flame of St. Brigit, or Goddess Breosaight as she was originally known. The eternal flame of the Goddess represents that passion and awareness of divine light in all things. As we light a candle with the intention to bring more light, love, hope, peace and proserity to all those we love and care.