Significance of the Wicca Sabbat – Imbolc
Imbolc is one of the most important festivals of the Wicca and Pagan religions. The word Imbolc is derived from Irish-Gaelic i mbolg (In the belly).
Imbolc – First Planting of Spring
Date: February 2nd
Important Elements: The Solar God Child growing in strength as a young child, first birth after winter
Related Holiday(s): Brigit’s Day, Bride Day, Candlemas
Symbols: Evergreens, The Candle Wheel, Grain Dolls, Ritual Fires
Related Deities: Brighid, Aine
What Is the Wicca Sabbat Imbolc?
It represents the first true signs of Spring, after the long winter. This was the time when the ewe’s milk first started to come in, in preparation for the new year’s birth.
The history of Imbolc is thought to go back quite far, based on evidence from existing megalithic sites that have specifically marked the day of the year. Reference the Hill of Tara and the Mound of the Hostages, where the sun rises on the dates of Samhain and Imbolc, shedding light into the inner chambers. (An introduction to Wicca).
After the long dark of winter, the sun has returned enough that homes can be opened and purification of the long stagnant air can occur. Livestock were often run between two bonfires to purify them, and special foods were eaten to celebrate the time. With the return of milk, and butter, treats made with both were now available again after a long winter without.
Aine is a goddess associated with wells, and often during this holiday, wells that were considered to be special are blessed. Gifts were left, and the water from the well was used to bless things and purify them for the coming year. (3 Goddesses of prosperity).
Altar and Home:
Symbols of spring are very important at this time of year. Any flower that has bloomed is hung about the house, candles to represent the strength and warmth of the growing sun god. The altar itself would be decorated with bright and cheery colors, welcoming the warm light of spring into the house. (What Is Candle Magic?).
To help bring the blessing of the Goddess Brigid into the home, a bed would be made for her, encouraging her to visit and bless the house for the year to come. In Mann, it was proper to gather rushes and invite Brighid into the home while standing at the door.
And chant “Brigid, Brigid, Be welcome in my house tonight. We open the door to let you come in!”. After this, the rushes would be cast upon the floor as a carpet or bed for Brighid.
This was also the traditional time of year for the construction of a symbol known as “Brigid’s Cross”. These would be made at this time of year by young girls, who would carry them in a parade. They would sing praises to Brigid, and then hang the cross in the home over the hearth, until the next Imbolc when they’d be taken down and burned and replaced by fresh crosses.