Depending on where you are in the world, spring seems to be right around the corner! Imbolc falls on February 1st in the Northern Hemisphere and on August 1st in the Southern Hemisphere and is basically the celebration of the impending spring season. I know here even in Houston, Texas the birds are back at it with their incessant chirping and we’re seeing buds on the trees and little dandelions pop up. Temperature wise it’s never really felt like winter but now we’re actually starting to see spring!
Imbolc admittedly is the only sabbat that I have reservations about celebrating for several reasons:
- Traditionally marks the Gaelic start of spring. Now, I live in Houston and aside from a 2 day ice storm in January we went from fall to spring, completely skipping over winter as far as I can tell. It is the day before Imbolc as I write this and I have my patio door wide open, heat off, and birds have been happily chirping all day.
- Celebration of the goddess and Christianized Saint Brigid. As a secular witch who does not worship or officially recognize any deities, this one is a toughie. How do you celebrate a sabbat without centering the day around a deity?
The main goal of this site will always be to provide inclusive information about witchcraft to the masses. I want to educate and create a forum for witches just starting their path, more experienced individuals, and the skeptics. Today, we’re going to learn how to celebrate this interesting Gaelic holiday from a variety of perspectives!
How to Celebrate Imbolc the Traditional Way
This is a traditional Gaelic cross quarter holiday meaning, “in the womb”, “ewe’s milk”, or simply Brigid’s Day. The honored goddess, Brigid, oversaw fertility, healing, poetry, smithcraft (talk about a renaissance woman), and domesticated animals to name a few.
Brigid is said to visit homes at night and bless livestock, clothes, and the homes themselves if people made up a bed for her to rest and left food offerings. Fire ashes would be patted down smooth to see if anyone visited the house during the night. Sounds eerily familiar, no?
Traditional activities included making Bridgid’s crosses (here’s a super cute tutorial from Lavender Moon), having a huge special feast, bonfires (another pagan holiday must have), spring cleaning and cleansing, and visiting holy wells.
I’m leaving fertility magick off the correspondence list, because what pagan holiday isn’t about making more pagan babies amirite.
How to Celebrate Imbolc the Secular Way
Mabon is also almost in the same boat as Imbolc, with traditions dictating worshiping a god, but Mabon marks the autumnal equinox which I am on board with partying for. The celebration of the “promise” of spring was a tricky one for me when I was first learning about the sabbat.
While I don’t plan on paying any homage to any goddess on February first, I do think it’s a fabulous idea to practice magick traditionally tied to the sabbat. We’re usually cooped up inside all winter so now is as good a time as any to open a few windows and really cleanse and clean the house. Get rid of all that psychic debris and any bad vibe gunk not only from the house, but out of your mind. Light up all the candles in your house and make it a magickal evening. Take a hike outside and find signs of spring. Have a floral flavored cocktail or French macaron to taste spring. Buy a few new little succulents or potted plants. Take your dogs out for a long walk or to romp around a dog park, weather permitting.
Because this is my first year really diving into all things paganism and witchcraft, I’m giving all the sabbats a go. Will I be celebrating Imbolc at all in the future? Who knows! I am finding these cross quarter holidays to be a bit redundant to my practice (except for Samhain), but who doesn’t love an extra excuse to celebrate anything and make some magick.