Imbolc: Feast of the Goddess
Imbolc, also known as Oimelc, Laán Arragh, Bridget's Day, Candlemas, Gwyl Forwyn, Gwyl Fair, Feast of the Maiden, and Feast of Mary, is celebrated on February 2. Some groves celebrate on the night before. Orr says Imbolc rituals can be held when the first lambs are born or upon first sight of snowdrops or hyacinths, the first flowers to bloom. A final alternative date is the full moon of the sign of Aquarius, which lasts from January 21 to February 21.
At Imbolc, the crone is resting and her child is growing. She is a mother, but also a crone because the earth is not yet fully awake. The fire at this festival symbolizes the awakening child and new growth that comes from the warming sun. Candles are also symbols of inspiration, and the fire at this ritual might be smaller than other fires.
On the earth, the snow may begin to melt, lambs are being born, and the earth is shaking off the debris of winter, but it is a gentle shaking. Gentle incenses like sandalwood are best for Imbolc rituals. A bowl is used to symbolize the womb of the earth and the mother.
It is customary to honor only the goddess at Imbolc. Brighid is the most commonly worshipped goddess. Here she is recognized as a fire goddess, and the goddess of inspiration. It is also acceptable to honor mother goddesses at an Imbolc ritual.
Imbolc is a time for planting seeds, whether they are actual or mental. It is a time to recognize one's duty to nurture inner seeds of growth and the physical seeds of the earth. It is the time to consider personal goals and dreams, and to embrace inspiration. It is common to bless and burn candles of inspiration at Imbolc rituals.
Imbolc rituals are usually small and private. They are typically held indoors because the earth is still very cold. Thanks are often given to the winter spirits, who provide many lessons during this dark, inward period. By spring, new spirits will have taken over.
Pageants or plays held during Imbolc rituals are often based on myths of inspiration, something involving Brighid. Some Druids weave Brigit's Crosses while they tell her stories or share poems, songs, and other artistic expressions as tributes to her as the Patroness of the Arts. Storytelling by the hearth is yet another way to honor her.