In the pagan world, Imbolc is one of the oldest and most important celebrations. It is a celebration of spring, a time of welcoming the return of the Sun God, the first celebration of the new year. The celebration is based on Celtic tradition marking the halfway point between winter solstice and the spring equinox. It is also a pivotal time for followers to pay homage to the Goddess Brigid, the matron of poetry, divination, inspiration, childbirth, pregnancy, and healing.
In ancient times the people would prepare for a visit from Brigid, the night before the celebrations. They would make an effigy of the goddess from bundles of oats and rushes, which would be kept in a basket or small homemade bed overnight. On the day of Imbolc, bonfires and lamps would be lit in tribute to Brigid. In the modern world, we celebrate on February 1st.
This Imbolc 2020 ritual is written to be performed outdoors, so 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
Winter greens (pine, mistletoe, etc.)
Bonfire or fire circle
Any portion of the ritual that is bracketed with <> refers to instructions and should not be spoken aloud.
The Imbolc 2020 Ritual
<Opening Statement – A call to action for the participants to stop talking, gather, and prepare to begin the ritual>
“Let it be known across the skies and the lands that this sacred Imbolc circle is about to be cast – a sphere of mutual trust and mutual love.”
Join us as we Call the Quarters
Great Eastern spirits of the AIR – we cannot see your power, but we know it exists as we feel it on our faces and watch as the trees shake and the reeds bend – grant us the understanding to believe in that which is invisible and the knowledge to seek logic and wisdom when we feel surrounded by chaos. <light yellow candle>
Great Southern spirits of FIRE – we see that the flames can be both positive and negative, productive and destructive simultaneously and realize that this great gift requires us to be always vigilant – open our eyes so that we can see the two sides of everything and not to rush to a hasty judgement. <light red candle>
Great Western spirits of WATER – we see your presence everywhere in one of your three forms and have come to understand that we cannot predict how things will be presented to us as we walk this land, but that with faith and trust, all things will come to us as we need them to – guide us in our efforts to conserve that which we do not need and to share that which we are able to. <light blue candle>
Great Northern spirits of the EARTH – as spring approaches, all thoughts are on the land, the flocks, and the hope of long sunny days and warm nights – we look for guidance in our efforts to ensure that our actions are harmonious with nature and the natural order of things. <light green candle>
Great Goddess Brigid, 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 you have given us. <light goddess candle>
Before we begin, it’s become a tradition that we take a few moments to enjoy a musical selection. No one does pagan music like Lisa Thiel – enjoy this piece entitled “Imbolc”
Each of the four annual Celtic fire festivals has their own uniqueness and attraction. After a long, and usually brutal winter, the ancient Celts were ready to get back to their flocks and crops. Imbolc was a time when our people would gather to celebrate new life. Each day was longer and more light shown through. The ewes were fat and ready to give birth. The ground was beginning to thaw and thoughts were on planting and the first harvests of the season. Soon, food would be plentiful once again and fresh herbs and grains would be part of the evening meal.
Some scholars have speculated that this holiday was closely related to the management of sheep herds long ago. It’s a reasonable theory when the entire breeding/lactating process of sheep is reviewed as a whole. In fact, the word Imbolc loosely translates as “in the belly” which could easily be tied to the fattened ewes carrying their soon-to-be-born lambs.
Fire was significant during the Imbolc celebration of old, but the focus wasn’t on a giant central bonfire as with Samhain or Beltane; instead the focus was on the returning of the light. The lighting of candles, lamps, and bonfires represents the return of the Sun and all it’s glorious blessings. We begin our Imbolc 2020 ritual with a simple candle ceremony to honor the return of the sun.
Candle Hearth Ritual
<ritual leader should distribute candles to all participants>
In ancient time, across every Celtic village, each home 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 smothered (or “smoor”) and then raked smooth to determine if Brigid had payed them a visit overnight and left a sign in the ashes.
Tonight as we stand gathered around the community fire, we symbolically welcome the sun with our candlelight vigil and pray for Brigid’s blessings to cross our hearth’s as we sleep.
<Light gold candle and offer the flame to participants to light their candles>
Imbolc 2020 Welcoming Prayer
Sacred light in the darkest night
Our beacon in the cold of winter
Our guide to the dawning of spring
We hold vigil on this sacred day
Welcoming the Goddess Brigid
Welcoming the return of the sun
Asking for protection and abundance
To our hearth, our homes, our fields, and family
On this night and every night thereafter
Bless us Brigid, the keeper of the flame
Spring Purification Ritual – Burning of the Greens
The season of spring is nearly upon us and it’s a time of purification. It’s a time to release negativity from our homes, our hearts, and our community. Springtime is also the season of optimism and hope and we must free ourselves from the clutter or winter and prepare for the light of a new day. We welcome the sun and all the power it brings to the land.
The Yuletide Greens which have decorated our homes symbolize winter and the holiday season; both of which are behind us. As we usher out the winter and welcome the spring, we symbolically mark the occasion by burning the last of the greens as an offering the the Goddess. Ironically, this moment also marks the eve of traditional spring cleaning, when most of us clear away the clutter and chaos of winter.
<Pass out greens>
“As we burn the last of the winter greens, we offer praises to Brigid as the smoke rises to the sky. We choose to release the clutter and noise of winter and exchange it for the beauty and tranquility of spring. With that clutter we also release all negativity in our lives.”
<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.
<distribute pencils and paper to everyone – two pieces as one will be needed for the next two steps>
Brigid’s Divine Femininity – Origins
The Celtic goddess Brigid, which means “exalted one” is one of the most venerated deities of that race of people. She embodies the element of fire, born at sunrise to Dagda, the great earth God, and Boann, the Goddess of fertility. These beings belonged to the Tuatha Dé Danann (people of the Goddess Danu), an ancient tribe of magickal beings. They arrived to Ireland from the West and then settled in the misty clouds around the island. It was said that Brigid had flames shooting from her head at the time of her birth. These flames were more than just regular fire. They allowed her to become one with the cosmos.
She is known as the “Triple Goddess” and represents healing, poetry, and smithcraft. Triple Goddesses like Brigid presided over the life/death/rebirth cycle. Modern pagans celebrate her Triple Goddess status as different manifestations: the maiden, the mother or the crone. Many people also call her the Goddess of the Well, as she also has ties to the element of water and the West, the direction from which her people originated. Across the ancient lands, many wells were considered sacred, coming from the very heart of the earth.
Imbolc is the time of the year for hope and renewal. It’s a good time to place a reaffirmation of life, and a time to plant seeds and dreams for the future. It’s also a time for affirmation and wishes. Write down your wishes, or what things you’d like to accomplish in the coming year. Once you’ve completed your list, burn it in the fire. The smoke will carry your wishes to Brigid.
<Ritual leader should allow time for each person to burn their wishes>
Imbolc 2020 Magick – Scrying
Scrying, or “seeing” is a very old metaphysical art which amounts to looking into a specific medium in hopes of determining a message or sign, which may come in the form of a vision or observation. The results may provide the individual with personal guidance, prophecy, revelation, or even inspiration. Many people will use a reflective surface for their work, such as a mirror, a crystal ball, or even still water. Tonight we’ll learn how to use fire to accomplish real results.
In order to make this happen, everyone must be committed to silence and have no distractions. We’ll build up the fire before starting so that the circle area stays still and no one needs to move. Relax and find a comfortable position which allows you to stare directly into the flames without obstruction. Focus your vision on the flames; watch as they dance and move to an unknown orchestra. Breathe deeply and relax your vision but don’t close your eyes or allow yourself to get drowsy. Draw the primordial energy of the flames toward your sphere and allow yourself to feel the heat, almost to the point of becoming one with the fire.
Without trying to predetermine anything, watch for shapes to emerge – it’s important to let the fire speak to you and not the other way around. Listen to the snapping and crackling of the embers; are they speaking to you in any manner? Can you hear whispers or music? Do the images you see have a soundtrack that helps you to identify them? Keep focused. Do not look toward others as the message isn’t something found in another direction.
Continue this until you find yourself becoming unsettled or anxious. You’ll know that it is time to stop the session when concentration becomes tougher. Try to retain as much as you can about this scrying session; some suggest writing things down to aid in recall later. You may see things that you cannot explain or understand, but they could be revealed to you days or even weeks later, so recording them is very useful. Not all messages are sent for immediate consumption. Once you’ve reached a finish point, simply relax and wait until the rest of the group is finished before moving or making any noise, including conversation.
<ritual leader should allow as much time as necessary for the group to engage and explore this opportunity to be gifted with a sign or vision>
Once everyone is finished, we’ll relax for a few minutes and conclude this ritual.
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 Imbolc 2020 Circle
Earth spirits of the North, we are honored by your attendance in our circle – as the days grow in length, so does our anticipation of planting the crop in the spring – we ask for your blessings of a bountiful harvest. <extinguish green candle>
Water spirits of the West, we are honored by your attendance in our circle – as the snow becomes rain and the land is cleansed we anticipate renewing our fields and pray for continued moisture. <extinguish blue candle>
Fire spirits of the South, we are honored by your attendance in our circle – we have witnessed the power of your cleansing flames, stared deeply and discovered their secrets – continue to teach us your secrets. <extinguish red candle>
Air spirits of the East, we are honored by your attendance in our circle – we have opened our doors and invited 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 Brigid, we ask for your continued blessings in all that we do – Bless us with fertile fields, ample rain, and robust seed as we once again work the land – Thank you for your presence tonight! <extinguish Goddess candle>
“This Imbolc 2020 circle is open, yet never broken”
Please browse my complete collection of rituals at this link
- Hunter’s Moon 2021 – Looking Toward the Future - October 20, 2021
- Mabon 2021 – Celebrating the Second Harvest on the Fall Equinox - September 20, 2021
- Full Harvest Moon – Looking Forward Rather Than Behind - September 17, 2021