Imbolc is one of the oldest celebrations known in the pagan world. It is a celebration of spring, a time of welcoming the return of the Sun God, the first celebration of the new year and a time to pay homage to the ancient Celtic Goddess Brigid, the matron of poetry, divination, inspiration, childbirth, pregnancy, and healing. In 2019, in North America, Imbolc is celebrated on February 2nd.
This ritual is an outdoor version, dress warm and enjoy!
What you’ll need to prepare for this ritual (as written)
Quarter Candles (4 total) in these colors – Red (South,) Yellow (East,) Green (North,) and Blue (West)
Goddess Candle – Large White Candle (I use a three wick candle for the Goddess) Parchment and pencils for everyone
Small candles for all participants
Gold taper candle
Goblet or ceremonial cup
Winter greens (pine, mistletoe, etc.)
Seeds or acorns
Bonfire or fire circle
Any portion of the ritual that is bracketed with <> refers to instructions and should not be spoken aloud.
<Opening Statement – A call to action for the participants to stop talking, gather, and prepare to begin the ritual>
“Let it be known from the skies above to the land below that this sacred circle is about to be cast – a sphere of mutual trust; absent of any judgment, criticism, or complaint!”
Join us as we Call the Quarters
Great spirits of the AIR – invisible, powerful, and unemcumbered by walls or barriers – grant us the knowledge to see wisdom when it feels we are surrounded by chaos, strength when all things point to weakness, and able to see past artificial barriers that are within our paths. <light yellow candle>
Great spirits of FIRE – the great regulator of all things on earth – from the initial creation spark of life to the spark of creation of each human life and to the spark of an innovative thought in our minds – grace us with the sight necessary to see both the magick in the creation, but also what magick follows in every life, every innovation, and every flame. <light red candle>
Great spirits of WATER – we see your presence everywhere and yet we also see how undervalued you’ve become – tonight we ask for a gentle reminder that without water, life would cease to exist – guide us in our efforts to conserve, to educate, and to balance all things in our lives. <light blue candle>
Great spirits of the EARTH – as spring approaches, our focus is on the fertile lands that we are provided – with each seed we plant, we ask for blessings; with each spade of turned soil, we ask for conditioning; with each new green shoot that emerges into the light, we ask for nothing, but rather offer praises instead. <light green candle>
Tonight we gather to celebrate Imbolc – on this night, despite snow being still upon the ground and a freezing chill in the air, we take time to celebrate the coming spring. After our long hibernation period, we are ready to break ground and plant our crops, gather early forage foods, and smile at the blessings we have been given by the Goddess <light goddess candle>
Hail Great Goddess and Welcome!
This is an absolutely beautiful piece that is perfect for a short meditation
Imbolc is one of the four great Celtic fire festivals; each with their own uniqueness. The word Imbolc loosely translates as “in the belly” when ewes were fattened with soon-to-be-born lambs. All across the lands of our Celtic forefathers, our ancestors would celebrate this coming new life, the ending of winter, and the lengthening light of each passing day. Each year, in this time of great change, our people would celebrate that the hardships of winter were almost behind them. Soon enough, food would be plentiful and fresh, game would roam the surrounding countryside, and farmers would break ground for crops.
The Celts were known to be great scholars of weather patterns and many tales followed that knowledge; some still existing to this day. One belief was that if the weather was particularly nasty on Imbolc, it meant a great summer was in the works. Each year, the crone Goddess Cailleach (kye-ya), would spend the day of Imbolc collecting firewood for herself as to project winter a while longer. To collect enough wood, she needed a dry and sunny day. If Imbolc was wet and windy, Cailleach had instead gone to sleep, rather than brave the elements, and winter would soon be over.
Fire was significant during the Imbolc celebration of old, but the focus wasn’t on a giant central bonfire as Samhain or Beltane; instead the focus was on the hearth fires in each home. We begin our ritual with a simple candle ceremony to honor the return of the sun.
Candle Hearth Ritual
<distribute candles to all participants>
In ancient time, every home in the community would have their hearth fire burning right through the night. If for some reason that was not possible, it was sufficient to have candles lit in every room instead. In the morning, the ashes of these fires were smoothed out to determine if a mark from Brigid was there, an obvious sign that the Goddess had visited the home during the night and blessed the family.
<Light gold candle and offer the flame to participants to light their candles>
This sacred fire burns bright in the dark of night
To surround, to protect, to save and to shield
Our hearth, our homes, our fields, and family
From this night to the next night and all nights
Bless us now Goddess Brigid; the keeper of the flame
Releasing Our Winter By Welcoming Our Spring
The coming of spring is a time of earthly cleansing; a time of purification and birth into the newness of the season. It’s when we look inside of ourselves and release the weights of negativity. Springtime is a season of optimism and hope, a time when positivity reigns supreme and all things shine under the light of the sun. Just as a newborn babe takes it’s first breath as an innocent; not yet tainted by anything impure, we must also prepare ourselves. Freeing our bodies and minds from the darkness of the past and stepping boldly into the light of a new day!
We remove the last of the Yuletide Greens from our homes and burn them in the sacred fire as an offering to the Goddess. This moment symbolically marks the eve of spring cleaning, when we begin the removal of clutter and stowage from the winter and make way for the growing power of the sun to penetrate every corner and crevice of the home. We use the smoke to purify ourselves and release that which no longer serves us.
<Pass out greens and have everyone participate in the Burning of the Greens>
These greens were once an important part of our homes; their scent lifted our spirits in the dark days of snow and wind; their color insured we’d not forget the fresh green that would soon be emerging from all across the land, and their beauty held space for greater things to come. And now, having served an honorable purpose, we choose to release them from our lives; to burn them in the great fire until nothing remains but smoke and ash which will drift silently upward and outward. Once gone, they are to be forgotten, as they no longer serve us. Envision them as a symbol of all your own baggage and watch as they burn away; bless yourself in the smoke as they burn.
<allow each person to step up to the fire and burn their greens and bathe in the smoke>
As we release, we create space for that which is new and necessary. Not all things will come immediately and our space may remain unfilled for days or even months. We must protect that space and not allow negativity to once again creep into it. For this we look to the coming spring and the Goddess Brigid for guidance. As Imbolc is a time for new life and mother’s milk the nourishment those new lives need to survive, we offer the first goblet to the Goddess as an oath on life; an oath that we shall follow the path of the Goddess.
<hold the goblet high and say the following>
“May Brigid bless you with her love and adoration this coming year and give you strength to hold space until you discover the elements which complete you in this turning of the great wheel”
<pour the libation into the fire or onto the soil>
Each spring, we prepare the soil for planting. After we’ve carefully stored and protected our seeds throughout the winter, they are finally ready to complete the great cycle of growth. This cycle of rebirth demonstrates that we can find renewal and we can bring about great and wonderful things, but only if we take the time and care to ensure success. We must protect our hopes and dreams through the periods of darkness, just as the farmer protects his seeds.
<pass out seeds/acorns to each participant>
“This seed represents the annual cycle of rebirth, a fresh start to our lives and the positive thoughts of potential for all that we do. Such as the seed starts out small and develops into something amazing, we consume it to allow that potential to develop deep within our very soul, awaiting the amazement which it will produce in the future in our lives.”
We cast these seeds into the wind, trusting the universe to place them exactly where they will do the most good.
<cast your seed into the wind and have everyone else follow>
And not to be forgotten, we pay great honor to the flames – the spreading light is our reminder that the sun has returned and with it warmer days and soon, the emergence of green shoots, new leaves, and abundance. Carry the sight of this sacred light as you leave the circle tonight – but more importantly, keep the fire burning within your soul and the souls of everyone you meet. Heal yourself with its light, share it respectfully with others, and never forget it’s mighty power to invoke change.
Imbolc is a time of blessing our homes, healing ourselves, connecting with the smallest things around us, and working on things inside of us to prepare them for their entrance into the world. Many areas of magick are very potent on Imbolc, including protection spells or the creation of protection talisman such as a Brigid’s Cross. Also purification magick, especially workings that use sacred well water, and healing magick on all levels; spiritual, physical, and emotional. It’s also a great time to sharpen up divination skills; a time to discover clarity in chaos and positivity in a negative world. Use your divination tools to speak to Brigid for guidance and empowerment.
Lastly, Imbolc is a time of “going within.” It’s a time when we need to honestly look at ourselves, especially the parts we usually keep hidden in the shadows. Here you’ll find the source for many behaviors or patterns which are holding you back from reaching a true enlightened state. Analyze those old hurts, damaged memories, and unhealthy behaviors – do this with a focus on releasing or altering them, so that they no longer hold you back from achieving the greatness which lies inside each and every person gathered here.
Cakes & Ale
If the weather is favorable, use this time to share food and drink around the fire before the circle closes (optional).
Closing the circle
Earth spirits, we are honored by your attendance in our circle – we shall soon kneel upon your rich soil to plant our seeds and watch them grow under the golden sun <extinguish green candle>
Water spirits, we are honored by your attendance in our circle – we look skyward in anticipation of the coming rains of springtime that cleanse the land, the forests, and our bodies <extinguish blue candle>
Fire spirits, we are honored by your attendance in our circle – we have witnessed the power of your cleansing flames and spiritual purification but also your healing light and illuminating aura <extinguish red candle>
Air spirits, we are honored by your attendance in our circle – we open our doors and invite you in to clear the corners from the darkness of winter, sweeping out the old and unneeded both in our houses and our hearts <extinguish yellow candle>
Great Goddess – She who provides us with everything, gives guidance, and opens our eyes to the path which each of us must follow – Thank you for your presence tonight! <extinguish Goddess candle>
“This Imbolc circle is open yet never broken”
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