Traditionally Imbolc is the time for extinguishing old ceremonial fires and lighting new ones (representing renewal), while celebrating the return of the light symbolized by the slowly lengthening days. For some parts of the world, winter is loosening its hold and the Winter Solstice seeds are stirring, breaking free of their shells, and showing signs of growth.
The Gaelic name for Imbolc is Là Fhèill Brìghde nan coinnlean translated as Brìghde’s Feast Day of the candles. Bìghde or Bridget (meaning “exalted one”) is a Celtic goddess associated with fire and the hearth connecting her to the Greek Hestia and the Roman Vesta. Interestingly, women who are about to marry are called Brides in honor of the blessings bestowed by the Goddess of Brides (Bridget).
Imbolc is currently celebrated starting around sundown on February 1 and throughout the next day. This holy day, or seasonal cross-quarter marks the half way point between the December Solstice and March equinox continuing through February 2.
Many translations of the Celtic word Imbolc suggests it means “in the belly of the Mother” where the seeds of new life are stirring – readying for the spring – a time of rapid growth and renewal.
Candlemas (from the Catholic tradition celebrates Mary of the Candles) and was the Catholic way of replacing what they viewed as a Pagan holiday with a more christian story. February 2 is also Ground Hog Day having originated in Europe featuring a Hedgehog – but the New World didn’t have Hedgehogs so Ground Hogs were used instead. The belief is if the Ground Hog sees its shadow on Ground Hog day there will be 6 more weeks of winter. If the Ground Hog doesn’t see its shadow – spring is coming early.
This modern day divination practice of using a Ground Hog to predict when winter will end – links us to a much more ancient tradition of divination often practice at one of the cross-quarter days (also in May, August and November) when the veils between the worlds are thin making access to other dimensions and timelines easier to explore.
In the 1993 movie Ground Hog Day Bill Murray is sent to Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, where Punxsutawney Phil (a Ground Hog) is used to determine how many weeks of winter are left. Bill Murray’s character (Phil Conors) is a reporter assigned to the story. He is skeptical and cranky about having to report on this so-called prediction. Then Bill Murray’s character finds himself stuck in a time loop repeating the same day over and over. At first he is angry and frustrated by this experience until he realizes he can use it to his advantage.
Ideas for Connecting with Imbolc
We can also use this time to our advantage through our willingness to be open to messages the universe is sending us. To access these messages it might help to drum, dance, chant, sing, pray, invoke, meditate, journey, journal, spend time in nature. Also ask your higher self, spirit helpers, guardian angels etc. for insights and guidance. Or perhaps re-state and re-commit to current intentions or come up with new ones that are more aligned for you now.
It might help to work with symbols associated with Imbolc including letting go of the old, making room for new growth, renewal, and fertility. Some herbs and flowers that might be helpful are Basil, Rosemary, Myrrh, Thyme, Iris, Violets, Heather. Gems stones to place on your altar or to cary with you once they are infused with your intentions are Quartz, Amethyst, Bloodstone, Garnet, Ruby, Onyx, Turquoise.
As part of your ceremony be sure to light candles or other lights that symbolize the return of the light and the days growing noticeably longer.
If you want to work with the Astrological Cross-Quarter when the Sun reaches 15 Aquarius or the exact half way point between Zero Capricorn (December Solstice) and Zero Aries (March Equinox) this usually occurs on February 3 and occasionally on Feb 4 as shown below.
2020 Feb 4
2021 Feb 3
2022 Feb 3
2023 Feb 3
2024 Feb 4
2025 Feb 3
2026 Feb 3
2027 Feb 3
2028 Feb 4
2029 Feb 3
2030 Feb 4
Here is a reminder of the Solar Feminine energies present at Cross-Quarter
- The February Cross-Quarter celebrated the Mother’s (Solar Feminine) power to give life including the life giving light of the lengthening days.
- The May Cross-Quarter celebrated the Solar Feminine in her passion for intimate pleasure and the beauty of life in great abundance.
- The August Cross-Quarter celebrated the Solar Feminine for her abundant life giving gifts of Food and sustenance for the coming winter season.
- The November Cross-Quarter celebrated the Solar Feminine power to live through death and be reborn to a new life.