Welcome to the Order of the Sacred Star! This Pagan/Wiccan group, based in Winnipeg, Canada, is committed to teaching the Craft to all those who wish to learn. Our goal is to provide a complete and fulfulling learning experience. Our public classes are offered through the Winnipeg Pagan Teaching Circle.

Friday, January 27, 2012

The Wheel of the Year: Imbolc and Its Lore

Imbolc, also known as Oimelc, the feast of Bride, and Candlemas, takes place around February 1st and is the first day of spring in the Pagan calendar. The first signs of life are seen returning to the earth, the sheep are in lamb, and spring will soon be evident.

Imbolc is also the feast of the Irish Fire Goddess Bride (pronounced "Bre-ed"), known as "Brigantia" to the Celtic Britons; the name evolved into "Bridget" when she was Christianized.

The Themes and Practices of Imbolc

Imbolc is the first rite of spring. The dark of winter is in the past and now the Goddess takes on the robes of the Maiden and the God is seen as a young boy, ready and eager to explore the world. This is a time of initiations, and many Wiccan groups will initiate new members on this day.

There are many ways to celebrate the season of Imbolc. Black or dark red candles (for the Goddess as Wise One) and white candles (for the Goddess as Maiden) can be lit. This can be a part of a greater ritual, or simply a rite of its own. Golden candles, if they can be found, are sometimes used to represent the God as a young boy; otherwise, light green is appropriate. Time should be spent thinking about the season to come as the candles burn down.

An alternative is to make some ice, a large piece if possible, and hold it above a bowl of warm (not boiling) water. After considering what the coming of spring represents, the ice can be dropped into the water. It will slowly melt, which is a representation of how slowly spring comes after a long, cold winter. Once the ice is fully melted and the water has warmed to a reasonable temperature, it can be poured on a favorite plant, indoors or outdoors.

As a part of the Wheel of the Year, Imbolc is the time when the Goddess reawakens after her long slumber in Wiccan lore. She is energized and ready to bring warmth back to the Earth.

Some symbols associated with the Winter Solstice include:
  • Purification
  • Initiation
  • Healing
  • Candles and fire
The Feast of Imbolc

People of old would have been would have been glad of this season, for there is suddenly some food available that is not preserved from the previous fall. There are many dishes that are appropriate for Imbolc.
Some of these popular Imbolc dishes include:
  • Butterflied Lamb
  • Young fresh vegetables
  • Omelets
  • Quiche
  • Pancakes
  • Champagne jelly
  • Frozen fruit bombe
  • Candle cake
Beverages for Imbolc

The drinks should represent the freshness of the season and should be full of life and enthusiasm. Champagne is ideal, but sparkling white wine, lemonade or mineral water are all suitable alternatives. Sparkling water is very appropriate, as this is the time when the spring thaw commences and ice-cold bubbling water would have been one time when of the signs in some regions. As mineral water is not most people’s idea of a celebratory drink, try adding a squeeze of fresh juice, such as lemon, orange, lime or grapefruit, white grape or apple.

As the weather is still not warm in early February, at least is the northern hemisphere, fruit teas are also good at this season and can be chosen for either their properties or taste.

Celebrating Imbolc

At Imbolc, the coming of strength and spring is celebrated. However, it is still not warm in most regions of the northern hemisphere, so outdoor activities may be limited. A walk through the snow to spot the first signs of life may be all that can occur, depending on the temperature. However, sledding, skating, skiing, or any winter activity is appropriate for this time of year.

A traditional practice is the Crown of Light. This was, quite literally, a crown of candles. This is certainly not practical for most people, and can be replaced with a circlet of flowers instead, representing the flowers of spring. Real flowers are ideal, but silk or paper flowers work just as well. Some Wiccan groups choose to use electric candles instead of real ones, and this is also acceptable.

Children can make their own candle crown with cardboard, and using cardboard candles. This should all be painted white and the crown part can be decorated with yellow and silver flowers to represent spring. Orange tissue paper can be used for the flames.

Many Wiccans and Pagans celebrate this season with a powerful ritual. As Sabbats are celebratory in nature, magick is generally not worked at these rituals.

Dressing for Imbolc

Fancy dress is an excellent way to get everyone into the spirit of Imbolc. Some Wiccans feel most comfortable in their ritual robes. Others prefer simpler clothing. There is no firm rule here, but it should be something special. Traditional colors for Imbolc include red, white, yellow, and light green. These can, of course, be incorporated into dress or celebration.

Imbolc is regarded as a wonderful time of celebration for Wiccans around the world. It is a time of merriment and feasting, and a time to rejoice in the coming of spring.

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