Today we celebrate Imbolc, the first glimpse of the beginning of spring and the promise of the earth’s renewal in the coming months. Imblog means “in the belly” - all around we can see the first stirrings of new life. Imbolc, pronounced EE-Molc, is a sacred sabbat that sits at the halfway point between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. It is one of the four Celtic fire festivals centered around the movements of the sun (Imbolc 2/1, Beltane 5/1, Lammas 8/1, and Samhain 10/31). The ancient Celtics revered the halfway points on the wheel of the year to be the most powerful transition times. And today, we feel this too.
The goddess is pregnant, the gentle curve of her belly is just now showing. It is Brigid’s Day - Feile Brighde - the quickening of the year. This goddess is the pagan guardian of poetry, healing and craftsmanship. Goddess of fire, the sun and the home, she brings fertility to the land and all of its inhabitants. Brigid watches over pregnancy, birth and midwifery. She watches over newborn babies and the transition from maiden to mother.
Today we celebrate the hidden potential being manifest, the gentle awakening of our life force energy that is still incubating the ideas and energy that will spring forth in the next few months. New seeds of life have been planted and are silently sprouting in the darkness of the earth below.
It is a time to work with all matters of the heart - clearing and opening, loving and grieving. We begin softly “spring cleaning”, working with aspects of the heart that have arisen since Yule. What is your heart calling? What is it that you are grieving? How can you find comfort in the process of working with the heart? Listen to your heartbeat, step into the rhythm of your own song. Use the breath during this time to move through any thing that might come up. Sit with it, listen for that still small beat, the rhythm of your life. Step into the heart, work with the emotions that have gathered in your chest. This incredible muscle can be nurtured and massaged from within. Let the energy of this fire sabbat spark the flame within your heart. There is deep metaphor to work with on this holy day.
Plants and herbs have been used for thousands of years in traditional ritual practices across the world. They have both metaphorical and physical uses during these times of celebration and I encourage you to employ your fellow green friends to support you throughout the year. I’ve created a special collection of hydrosols that support heart-work. Here is a short morning ritual to perform with your hydrosol.
After you rise from bed in the morning, drink a tall glass of water.
Notice how soft and smooth the water is, how it quenches your thirst after a restful night.
Inhale. Stretch. Wake up.
Sit quietly for a few moments in a comfortable position.
Take a few breaths, in and out naturally.
Mist hair, face and neck liberally with your hydrosol.
Slowly, inhale, and exhale.
Place your hands over your heart and close your eyes.
Let the scent move through the caverns of your heart, permeating each membrane. Let it flow through your blood stream, enlivening every cell it touches. Imagine each droplet moving through your heart, softening the muscle, relaxing its grip. Let the plant touch your heart, let it soothe and comfort you. Work with whatever emotions arise.
Release judgment about what should be and simply allow what is.
When you are ready, gently open your eyes.
You are awake.
You are alive.
You are loved.
Repeat daily for one month. Note any changes in your sleep or morning mood. You may integrate other modalities such as yoga or personal affirmations to this simple morning ritual.
This multi-layered saint is an important figure in Irish tradition. St. Brigid hovers between historical and mythical, a patron saint watching over newborn children, midwives, poets, scholars, travelers, healers and farmers, even fugitives and blacksmiths. This Christian figure shares many traits with the pagan Goddess of Imbolc, some even say she is the original Brigid, later adapted by the Catholic church as St. Brigid. The roots of the traditional Brigid’s Cross also point back to pagan times, further entangling the two celebrated women.
Brigid's cross closely resembles the sun wheel which was ritualistically crafted each year as a centerpiece to be hung on February 1. The hanging of the cross is a blessing to the earth, calling forth fertility and new life. It is said to protect the home from dark spirits and to drive fire and hunger away. The cross hung on each door reminds us of good will, the faith of nature to spring to life in the coming months. Gather some reeds, even small sticks or long grasses, and create your own Brigid’s Cross to ritualize this potent day.
The cross is traditionally made from rushes around 8-12 inches long. You can use any natural material that is malleable yet durable. Before you begin collecting your materials, take a moment. Tune into your breathe. Clear your mind and set your intention. With gratitude for each plant, collect your materials.
Fold one reed in half around another reed and hold the center, overlapping tightly between thumb and forefinger and rotate it once to the left.
Add another reed with its ends facing out to the right and rotate it to the left again.
Add another and rotate to the left and continue this process.
Once you reach your desired size secure the arms with twine and trim the ends to the same length.
Sit for a moment with your intentions.
Hang the cross somewhere visible and revisit your intentions each day.
However you choose to celebrate today, Imbloc blessings to you! I’ll light a candle at the alter of Imbolc and find comfort in knowing the sun will soon return. All of life will spring forward with immense energy. As we emerge from the darkest part of the year, we prepare for the return of the light by clearing and cleansing the space within.