Imbolc

In the introduction to one of her books (my memory fails me as to which one), Ursula K. LeGuin commented about the importance of thresholds.  She talked about sacredness of those places of transition — the doorway to a home where the outside meets the in, the edge of the woods where the field meets the forest, the bank of a river where the land meets the water — and how they have a power unto themselves. In the Wheel of the Year, each sabbat marks a threshold of change from one season to the next.

Imbolc marks the beginning of the end of winter.  As a cross-quarter day, it stands between Yule (the Winter Solstice) and Ostara (the Vernal Equinox).  It has associations with several other holidays, both sacred and secular such as Candlemas, St. Brigid’s Day and Groundhog’s Day.  As the threshold of the first warming weather, Imbolc serves as a time to monitor, celebrate and focus on change — both in the world at large and in your own personal life.

The Story

As I discussed in the post on the Wheel of the Year, each sabbat marks an event in the story of the God and Goddess and their cycles of growth and  change, waxing and waning.  At Imbolc, the God grows in strength and stature as he nurses at the Goddess’s breast, while the Goddess, having fully recovered from giving birth the the God at Yule, now transforms from the Crone to the Maiden.

The holiday as you may already know it

As I mentioned at the beginning, Imbolc ties in with several other celebrations that likely grew out of older celebrations at this time of year that later cultures and religions appropriated into their own celebration:

Celebrating the Sabbat

Representing the transformation of the Goddess from Crone to Maiden and the warming of the earth, Imbolc serves as a time of personal transformation — a spring cleaning of the soul, if you will, or a time for New Year’s resolution that puts a little bit of time and reflection between the big meals of Thanksgiving, the Yule feast and New Year’s Eve and the start of actually practicing change in your life.

As far as rituals, About.com’s article All About Imbolc has a variety of rituals that can work for a group or a solitary.  They focus on a variety of aspects ranging from Brigid worship to weather changes to cleansing.  You can take them wholesale or use them as a launching point for developing your own way of celebrating and worshiping for this festival.

Other Resources

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