Imbolc 2006 -
The Words of the Sabbat Sage
© 2006 Religious Order of the Circle of Isis Rising
The turning of the wheel now brings us to this day known as Candlemas, or by its
Celtic name Imbolg.
Imbolc has two primary meanings. One of these is "in milk", which refers to the time when cows and goats begin lactating for their new coming young - common this time of year. It has also been said that it means "in the belly", a reference to the womb of our Earth Mother, her stirrings yet hidden from us, but stirring just the same.
The name "Candlemas" comes from an old folk custom of many countries of lighting candles in all the windows facing the street beginning at sundown. They were burned all night. This was a cheery sight on a cold and dreary night, and brought warm thoughts of longer days to come.
This Sabbat is sacred to the Goddess Brigid, pronounced "Breed", the Goddess of Inspiration, Healing and Smithwork. The Goddess, and the moon stands above all for her threefold aspect of Maiden, Mother and Crone. Thus, the radiant triple- Muse Goddess who is also a fertility-bringer, is celebrated by Pagan folk during the feast of Brigid in her maiden aspect. She is the protector and preserver of all memory and knowledge, who empowers us with the wisdom and knowledge to protect, nurture and encourage fruitfulness of the land. On this night Brigid's Bed is prepared by the hearth. If there is a "footprint" in the ashes the following morning, it means the God has visited her and the year will be prosperous. Groundhog Day on February 2 is a modern continuation of this divination tradition at Imbolc.
There are other customs and beliefs played out at Imbolc. It is a time of cleansing and purification. Spring cleaning now prepares our minds and bodies for a resurgence of new growth. The Maiden Goddess sweeps away the debris of last year's growth with her new broom. She is filled with new ideas and new ways. Like her, we now prepare and clear the ground for something new. It is the time of youthfulness and of inspiration.
This is also the day to bless all the seeds saved from the year before, so that they may be ready to plant. It is also traditional for Witches to prepare grains saved from previous harvests, to be Blessed by the Light of Brigid for Beltane planting.
Like Yule, Imbolc has its traditions and symbols that seem to peek out at us from the past. February marks the Roman celebration of Lupercalia or the Feast of Pan. Also, we can't forget that cute little guy who is so well known and easily recognized this time of year, the one with the bow and arrows. Cupid of course!
Regardless of the tradition, the same concept of life hidden away, as if dead, and then brought back is seen in many stories. From the myths of Persephone and Demeter to Snow White, we are ever reminded of life being veiled, then brought forth into the light in its ever-turning cycle.