Known by Christians as the feast day of Saint Brigid, or more widely known as Groundhog Day, Imbolc falls on the second day of February. It was traditionally the first day of the stirrings of spring. While it’s dependent on where you live personally, Imbolc may be a time where you can see evidence of life returning to the earth. Early blooming flowers such as snowdrops or crocuses will began to awaken from their slumber. Some can argue that Groundhog Day, with the groundhog seeing or not seeing his shadow is a modern day celebration of Imbolc – with everyone hoping that there will not be another six weeks of winter.
In ancient Celtic tradition, Imbolc was named for Brigid, sometimes called Bride or Brigit. She was a Celtic goddess that was associated with the light part of the year, and as a result, her presence at the end of winter was extremely welcomed. Due to the fact she was very well received throughout the British Isles and the general Celtic diaspora, she was widely revered and her status so strong that the church chose to make Saint Brigid’s feast day on the day of Imbolc, February 2nd.
Deities Associated With Imbolc
There are a number of deities associated with Imbolc from a variety of pantheons. While Brigid is one of the main deities, here are a couple of others that you may be surprised to know can be honoured at Imbolc.
Gaia is the overall mother Earth goddess, a name that has continued to be used to refer to Earth to this day. She was considered one of the primal Earth goddesses, worshipped widely throughout Greece as the mother of many of the gods. It was believed that any oaths sworn in the name of Gaia were to be the most important and strongest of all.
Cernunnos is one of the many names for the Horned God that represents the cycle of life, death and the seasons. He is considered to be the main consort to the goddess that begins at Beltane and lasts through to his death at Samhain and eventual rebirth at Yule.
Inanna is a goddess that represents the deep introspection that humans tend to do in the darker winter months. Inanna was considered the queen of heaven who, in the story of Inanna’s Descent, goes to visit her reverse counterpart and sister, Erishkigal, in her realm of hell. During her descent she is stripped and forced to meet her sister naked, powerless and alone. She is a real example of personal shadow work that humans must do in order to be more balanced.
Foods For Imbolc
The foods associated with Imbolc are very similar to those at Yule, but with more focus on early spring foods and flowers to help encourage spring to come. Baking cakes and muffins with flowers like lavender can be a great way to add a bit of spring to your table, and cooking stews and soups with leeks, shallots and animals like boar, venison or pork are great additions for an Imbolc celebration meal.
Here are several types of correspondences associated with Imbolc so you can bring more
energies of the season into your life:
- Colors: White, light blue, light green, yellow, spring colors.
- Deities: Pan, Osiris, Athena, Inanna, Brigid, Horned God, Gaia
- Herbs: Dandelion, rosemary, marigold, lavender, yarrow, mugwort.
- Animals: Lambs, ewes, cows,.bees, groundhogs, snakes
- Crystals: Quartz, onyx, turquoise, bloodstone, aventurine, citrine, topaz
- Incense: Benzoin, rose, lavender, vanilla, any lighter or fresh scents.
- Rituals: Make a bed for Brigid with rushes and invite her into your home. Leave clothing outside to be blessed by Brigid. Make a Brigid’s cross from rushes or different types of grasses. Dress a corn dolly in spring clothing and place in the home to represent the Goddess. Light candles and cook a healthy, hearty dinner to celebrate with friends or family.