The celebration of Imbolc dates back to ancient times, and is one of the oldest celebrations known in the world. Simply put, it is is a celebration of spring. It is the first celebration of the New Year, a time of welcoming the return of the Sun God and all the glory that accompanies the beginning of spring. In the Celtic world, it was the time of year to pay divine homage to the Goddess Brigid, the Goddess of Spring, Fertility, and the Dawn. She is the matron of poetry, divination, inspiration, childbirth, pregnancy, and healing. It was said that Brigid wore a robe of sunlight and had flame red hair. In the Celtic world, the beginning of spring was not a specific date, but when the time when the frigid cold of winter had passed and there was signs of new vegetation. In the United States, we celebrate Imbolc on February 1st this year.
Preparations for the Imbolc Ritual
This ritual is designed to be done 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 (For this ritual, use a three wick candle for the Goddess)
Small candles for all participants
Gold taper candle
Goblet or ceremonial cup
Sacred Well Water (Use Moon Water or other Holy Water if unavailable)
Dull bladed knife for digging (or small shovel)
Seeds or acorns
Paper & Pencil for each person
Bonfire or fire circle
Any portion of the ritual that is bracketed with <> should be understood as instructional cues for the ritual leader and not spoken
<Opening Statement – A call to action for the participants to stop talking, gather, and prepare to begin the ritual>
“Let it be heard from mountain top and desert sand, mighty sea and tracts of land, our circle cast, both now and past, a sacred space, a holy place, for a gathering of the human race”
Join us as we Call the Quarters
This moment is an invitation all who have gathered to celebrate Imbolc, to first turn their sight to the East, the direction of the Great Spirits of Air. Join together in thought so that we may collectively coax them from their secret places high above this world to join us for the great celebration of Spring. We seek the gentle winds which help distribute the seeds, the cool breezes that bring a moment of pleasure to a working soul, and the stiff drafts which dry the soil in preparation for planting. <light yellow candle>
Now look towards the South, the domicile of the Great Fire spirits. We are surrounded by the teachings of Fire and the many lessons it has taught us throughout time. Fire is and always shall be the great regulator on this planet. From the tiny spark, we see the creation of life story, watching it grow until it becomes strong and powerful. But when left unchecked, it grows beyond its boundaries; consuming the good that surrounds it, but not becoming better, only larger, arrogant, and dangerous. Yet, even the largest fires eventually burn themselves out. With great respect, we invite the spirits to further our knowledge. <light red candle>
A moment of pause as we turn to the West, with a clear mind and visionary thought, visualize the great bodies of water that cover most of this world. The spirits of Water are indeed powerful and yet mysterious. Our most precious gift is given without expectation of return. The cycle of water is for our benefit as we grow our crops and nourish the living creatures in our world. Water washes away all dirt and never asks for tribute or sacrifice. Yet for all that is obvious, we still marvel at the rhythmic movements of the waves, and the speed at how quickly balance happens once water is present. We seek the secrets of balance in all that we do. <light blue candle>
And last, with a great reverence, we call out in glorious celebration to the the Great spirits of the Earth! Spring is approaching and all eyes are focused on the melting snow and the rich blackness waiting beneath it. We carry the blessings of the elements in our hearts and put our complete faith in the Gods and Goddesses that they will provide that which is necessary to allow us to bring forth food crops to life, so that we may thrive and prosper. We give thanks for the soil. the herbs, the berries, and all that which grows among them. Join us in celebration of Spring. <light green candle>
We gather tonight to celebrate Imbolc. We honor the Great Goddess Brigid, the Goddess of Spring, The Goddess of Fertility, and the Goddess of Motherhood. She who we call the Triple Goddess and reaches into each of the elements. She touches the fire and is the patron Goddess of smiths and metalworking. She touches water with her connection to many of the sacred wells across the land. She touches the air as the patron Goddess of those who make music, sound, playwrights and poetry. And she touches earth as the Patron Goddess of Agriculture and animals.
Great Goddess, despite snow being still upon the ground and a freezing chill in the air, we have gathered together to celebrate the coming spring. After our long hibernation period, we are ready to break ground and plant our crops. We ask for your blessings. Let the snows melt and the land drink. Let the sun shine bright and warm the soil. Let the grasses burst forth from the grazing lands and let the forage grow quickly and with great bounty. We honor you Great Goddess in all that we do. <light goddess candle>
Someone once said that music is life. Human beings have always made music and have always incorporated music into their most sacred and holy events. Words meant to stir the soul were chanted, called and sung to the Gods and Goddesses. Great groups would gather to sing a collective praise to honor and project the greatness of the ones they followed. Each month a song is chosen that compliments the ritual. Tonight’s selection is called Welcome Brigid, by Katy Taylor. It calls back a thousand years with a chants to the Goddess. I’m certain that you will be adding this to your collection.
Imbolc has its origins with the ancient Celts. Similar celebrations may have been practiced by their neighbors, but none had the longevity as Imbolc. Imbolc is one of the four great Celtic fire festivals. It means “in the belly” which referred to a period in the lives of our ancestors when ewes were fat with soon-to-be-born lambs. Fertility was everywhere. To celebrate this great coming of life, our Celtic ancestors would gather and sing praises to Brigid for the coming Spring and this great new life. The hardships of winter were over and soon food would be as well. Crops would be planted and hunters would enter the wooded lands seeking fresh meat. The great wheel is moving in the light half of the year and the days kept growing longer and the sun brighter. Unlike some of the other fire festivals, Imbolc doesn’t focus on the great balefires, but instead on the even greater and most powerful fire of all, the hearth fire.
Becoming One With Fire
In ancient times, the hearth fire would burn continuously in winter, yet on the eve of Imbolc, Celtic women would sleep next to the hearth and allow the fire to burn out. In the morning they would study the ashes for wisdom and marks to see if Brigid had visited their hearth that night. Markings would be treated with great celebration as they indicated that the Goddess had blessed the family and a prosperous year was on he horizon. It was understood by our ancestors that light was connected to knowledge. A spark of light could illuminate a room and illuminate the mind. Tonight we symbolically celebrate with a candle ritual.
<ritual leader should distribute candles to all participants>
We all seek the Blessings of the Goddess for a prosperous year. Her light shall be our light. We share the collective brightness and are blessed for our willingness to be one. The light of Brigid is more than just a light. It is a symbol of eternal hope and perpetual happiness. Imbolc is a time of new beginnings. A time when the past can be shaken off, just as they chill of winter. This light shall be your guide to the future. You shall gather strength and become a keeper of your own flame, a warrior for your own best and highest good, and a servant of your own quest for knowledge.
<Light the gold candle and offer the flame to each of the participants to light their candles – once everyone has a lit candle, proceed>
The flame of Brigid is in your hands
The light shall forever comfort you
The warmth shall forever wrap you
The magic shall forever illuminate you
The Goddess is your shield in troublesome times
The Goddess is your inspiration and guide
Trust in the Goddess
Trust in her teachings
Trust in her wisdom
Trust in her comfort and care
The flame of Brigid is in your hands
Now take a moment and blow out your candle – watch the smoke for marks, just as our ancestors would examine their hearth ashes. What do you see? Has the Goddess spoke to you?
Becoming One With Water
The Goddess Brigid was connected with water through the many sacred wells of the ancient world. These wells were scattered throughout the lands and were believed to be connected underground. Sacred Well water is considered one of the best cleansing waters in existence. As winter was coming to an end, people were ready to open their doors and windows and cleanse their homes of the winter soot and dirt. They were also ready to cleanse themselves and wash away the past while preparing for the next chapter in their lives.
This was so important that an actual traditional practice of bathing in sacred wells to pay homage to Brigid grew into existence. On Imbolc, people would flock to the sacred well and offer the Goddess an offering after praying. They would then use sacred well water to wash away the winter and anything that would be considered as baggage along with it. They would pray for good health, prosperity, and for the Goddess to cleanse their spirit of anything foul or negative.
<ritual leader should prepare the sacred well water for distribution>
This water is sacred. It is ancient and filled with the power of all waters from all corners of the world. This is holy water, this is cleansing water, this is the water of renewal and rebirth.
<offer each person a drink of the sacred water and pour some on their hands>
We seek to cleanse both inside and out. We taste the sacred well water and allow it to circulate within our bodies, cleansing the blockages and washing away the remains of winter’s cold and sickness. We symbolically wash our hands in the sacred well water. That which remains of the hardship and toil of winter shall be forgotten after this day and we only look ahead with positivity and a sense of renewal as the great wheel moves us into springtime.
You hold the water of life in your hands
You hold the water of life in your belly
You are Imbolc
You are filled with renewal
You are your own magic
You are coming out of the darkness
You are in the light
You hold the water of life in your hands
You hold the water of life in your belly
Becoming One With Earth
<Ritual leader should distribute seeds and acorns>
The Goddess Brigid was connected to the earth. She is the one who blesses the natural world with her gift of fertility, her gift that insures life will continue for as long as the great wheel turns. She is the light and the warmth and she represents all phases of life, as the maiden, the mother, and the crone. To honor her, we bring a small offering of adding to the great world we call earth by planting a seed.
<Instruct each person to plant their seed as best they can with the cold>
Brigid I make this offering
Small, but symbolic of my intention
As you are the guardian of agriculture
So too shall I be a steward of the land
I pledge to plant, to grow and to nurture
Whether seeds of new beginnings
Growth of my own spirit
Or nurturing the new and the young
Every day is a new beginning
A chance to plant another seed
Make positive change
Grow stronger in all ways
And bring your gifts as you travel
Brigid I make this offering
Becoming One With Air
Imbolc is a time of cleansing; our bodies, our houses, and our spiritual environment. It is a time of new beginnings, renewal of hope, healing, growth, and being our highest self throughout. It is known as a time of ‘going within’, when we are expected to take a hard and honest look at how we are living our lives. We need to look into dark corners and sweep out the negativity and shadowy parts. As we do on each full moon, we offer the opportunity to burn away that which no longer serves you and watch as the great and invisible power of Air, carries them away.
<distribute paper and pencil to everyone>
As we burn that which no longer serves us, 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.
<invite each person to step up to the fire and burn their paper 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.
We release that which no longer serves us
We give ourselves permission to be free
We release that which tries to rule us
We choose to be our own master
We release that which takes our energy
We choose to break bonds with the vampires
We release that which means us harm
We choose strength over pity
We are ready
We are renewed
Cakes & Ales
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, your presence tonight has been glorious and we thank you from the depths of our hearts for the gifts which we have received and are about to receive. As we plant our seeds, we also shall be wary to plant the seeds of knowledge with our young. As we till the land, we shall also refine that which we are teaching and never forget that which we are learning. And as we harvest, we harvest knowing that the Goddess Brigid has provided for us again and our faith and trust in once again renewed. <extinguish green candle>
Water spirits, as we leave, we leave with our spirits and our bodies cleansed in the mysterious and ancient waters of life. That which had been weighing us down is forever banished and we are in a state of renewal. We are honored to be looked upon with such kindness and each time we see the falling rains, will remember this night and the many blessings we have. <extinguish blue candle>
Fire spirits, we are honored by the return of the light. Our souls leap for joy at the prospect of warmer days and sunny mornings. We have witnessed the powers of the great flames and also the lessons taught to us by observation. We offer praises for your attendance in this circle and leave here with a great hope and great sense of peace.<extinguish red candle>
Air spirits, we have watched as you carry away that which no longer serves us. Our spirits are lighter and we yearn to do and feel and create and grow and watch and honor all that which brings greatness and glory to the world. We stand ready to make this year a year of personal growth and will go forth without fear, for the Goddess is with us each step of the way. <extinguish yellow candle>
Brigid, Triple Goddess, Maiden, Mother, and Crone, we honor you and thank you for all that you have bestowed upon your children. May you continue to open 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”
Full Snow Moon Ritual for 2022
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The History of Imbolc