Sometimes called Midwinter Day, Imbolc is the celebration of the beginning of the reawakening of the earth in the spring. It’s definitely not spring yet, so hold off on switching out your snow boots for sandals. But just like our ancient ancestors, if you live in the Northern Hemisphere, you are probably just starting to see slightly longer days and the promise of plant and animal life returning. Snow Drops are traditionally associated with Imbolc as they are often the first buds of spring to emerge from beneath the frosty snow. Even though the sun has not fully returned, we can feel it stirring in our bodies and the earth around us, giving us hope that we just might live through the winter yet again.

The etymology of the term Imbolc is somewhat contested, but the general consensus is that it comes from the Irish word “imbolc” which means “in the belly”, or that the earth is pregnant with the spring. Much like early pregnancy, this time of year is still unpleasant and rife with the struggles of winter, but new life is coming and we can begin planning for it. It is also thought that perhaps the association with pregnancy came from this being the time of the year when sheep would become pregnant with the lambs they would birth in the spring. Either way, it is a time of promised new life, fertility, and preparation for what is to come. 

 

While Imbolc was celebrated by many different names  all over Europe and eventually North America, the general focus and celebration of the holiday was much unchanged from location to location. People would welcome the signs of new life, look to the year ahead, and both literally and metaphorically begin to sprout the seeds for planting in the spring. 

 

Around this time, we see that many cultures turn to animals as oracles of what the coming months might hold. In America, the second of February is still Groundhog Day, in which all of America predicts whether or not there will be an early spring based on whether or not a groundhog in the state of Pennsylvania named, Punxsutawney Phil, sees his shadow. I am told there are several other groundhogs used in this practice in different locations throughout the country, but that Phil is the traditional groundhog for the day. And it’s no wonder this tradition is strong in the state and in Pennsylvania in particular, where many Germans settled and brought over the tradition of predicting the coming of spring based on the hibernation cycle of the badger. 

 

So aside from waiting with bated breath for an American groundhog to predict the spring, what can we witches do to celebrate this hope and light-filled holiday? Don’t you worry your witchy little head about it, because I have already shared plenty of ideas on my channel and have a few more below to help us all combine the traditional and modern aspects of this holiday.

Candle Making and Blessing

Imbolc is also known throughout much of the world as Candlemas and traditionally would have been the time when families would make and bless their candles for the year. Get crafty with it and make your own enchanted candles, roll bee’s wax tapers, or cleanse and bless your existing candles. You can anoint them with oils and herbs, or carve in sigils to help work your magick in the world.

Cleansing Rituals

Spring Cleaning didn’t come from nowhere! In fact the idea that you needed to clean out and cleanse your home after the harsh, wet, muddy winter months goes back centuries. After spending months inside with windows closed, sickness floating about, and smokey candles and fires burning, homes would have been quite disgusting if you can imagine it. While our homes are more prone to clutter and dust these days, we all know the psychological effects of having a clean and tidy home cannot be understated. It is also difficult for us to take on new projects, tasks, or goals when our lives are weighed down by pointless clutter. Take this time as a push to get your home decluttered, tidied, and clean for the spring when you will open the windows and doors to the world again. But don’t stop with the physical cleaning! Be sure to practice energetic cleansing once the clutter and dust are gone to clear away old, stagnant energies and infuse your home with whatever new energies suit your life and goals. Try smoke bundles, diffused essential oils, natural and eco-friendly cleaners  (I have a recipe for one in this video),  and sound cleansing.  Once your home is all set, treat yourself to a ritual bath with herbs, oils, and some of those newly made candles to clear off any remaining energetic gunk.

Planning for the Future

Now that our little caveman brains know we know we will likely survive the winter, we can begin planning for the future. Get out your calendar, plan with friends and family, and of course, do not forget to set goals. Now is a great time to create a vision board that will help keep you anchored and working toward the life you want all year round.

Fertility Spells

Whether you are trying for a physical baby, or a more creative one (like maybe writing a book or creating a work of art), Imbolc is the perfect time to do fertility or creativity spells. Think of the new life you want to bring into the world this coming year and plan rituals, dedications, and spell work around it. Get your planner out and time these magickal workings with the moon, sabbats, or seasons for added benefit.

Seed Sprouting

It’s not quite time to plant your gardens yet. But it is time to plan them and sprout your seeds. Whether you are working with acres of land and garden beds, or a few pots next to your apartment window, it’s time to decide which plants you’d like to grow this year and begin sprouting the seeds. You’ll need to plan the set up and care of your garden to ensure a fruitful harvest. Don’t worry if you’re a newbie to magickal gardening. I have a few tips and tricks for you to set up the perfect green witch’s garden this year.

Kitchen Witchery

Milk, butter, oil, goat cheese, rosemary, and protein rich meals are the order of the day. After a long winter with dwindling resources, it’s time to put a little meat back on our bones to plump up — mostly to increase our fertility and look less like a sickly Victorian ghost-child, but also to increase our strength for the coming planting season and the festivities of the spring. Get in the kitchen and whip up some fatty, cheesey, protein-packed recipes that will both please the gods and bring the color back to your cheeks. If you’re in the mood for something particularly fatty and sweet, I have just the recipe for you in last year’s Imbolc vlog

 

The hunkered down, darkened days of the winter are coming to an end. So take this Imbolc to chart your course, set your goals, and prepare for the work you will do to bring these plans to life!

Enchanting experiences

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