Celebrating Imbolc can be as easy as saying a prayer or as complicated as doing an elaborate ritual. The thing to remember is that it be meaningful and done with intent. Remember also that the Imbolc season runs through the actual day of Imbolc until the Spring Equinox; if you miss the exact day, you haven’t missed out on celebrating. The following is a list of activities to do alone, with a partner, or with your child to honor nature and deity as we travel ever closer to spring.
Activities for Imbolc
- Create a family Imbolc altar, using the correspondences of the season
- Pick a God or Goddess that is traditional to the season, and create a page about him/her for your book of shadows.
- Create an art journal page for your chosen deity.
- Help your children create a poster about the season to display.
- Create a feast using the traditional ingredients of Imbolc
- Imbolc is a time of new beginnings. It’s also a good season for divination. Choose a form of divination you are interested in, and start learning how to practice it.
- At sunset on Imbolc, light as many lights, lamps and candles as you can, to inspire the sun to shine and spring to come.
- If you still have greens in your home from Yule, now is the time to add them to your ritual fire.
- Leave buttered bread out in your home on February 1st to feed the faeries who are traveling on this night. Dispose of the bread in the morning, as the essence of the bread has been consumed. (This is especially fun for kids, similar to leaving cookies out for Santa.)
- Create a door decoration containing three ears of dried corn, representing the Maiden, the Mother and the Crone. Leave it up until Ostara.
- Make a wand. Priapic wands (those topped with an acorn) are especially traditional.
- Make dream pillows for each member of your home.
- Take the kids out for a walk, and look for signs of spring: bulbs starting to come up, birds or squirrels out, grass starting to grow, etc..
- The goddess Brigid is said to walk the earth on Imbolc Eve. Leave out strips of cloth outside to receive her blessing. The cloth is said to then contain the powers of healing and protection.
- Rake the ashes in the hearth smooth before bed on Imbolc Eve. It is said that if the ashes are disturbed in the morning, Brigid has visited to give her blessings.
- Make candles for the year.
- Anoint your candles for the rest of the year with consecration oil. A simple, all-purpose anointing oil can be create with 2 parts frankincense essential oil, and 1 part myrrh essential oil.
- Make a corn doll.
- Create Bride’s bed (also known as “Brede’s bed, or Brighid’s bed). Bride’s bed is a small box or basket in which you place a cloth liner and a corn doll. Bride’s bed can be left on the altar throughout the festival or left out until Ostara. Between seasons, it can be placed in the home for protection. The attic of the house is a perfect spot to place the bed.
- Spring clean your home and follow with a ritual cleansing or smudging.
- Cleanse and reconsecrate your ritual tools.
- Bless seeds that are headed for the garden in spring.
- Do fertility work.
- Cleanse and consecrate your gardening tools.
- Do weather predictions (see box).
- Cleanse and consecrate your divination tools.
- Make and display Brigid’s Cross.
- Help your kids make butter and discuss the importance of dairy on this sabbat.
- Imbolc is a time of new beginnings; a great time to start new family traditions involving the sabbats and seasons. Whether you use the above suggestions or create something new, getting family and kids involved can make the sabbat even more meaningful and joyous.
This article is the third part of a three part series. For part 1, focusing on the history of Imbolc, click here. For part 2, focusing on the traditional correspondences of Imbolc, click here.
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*Weather divination for Imbolc
- In Gaelic folklore, Imbolc is the time when The Cailleach gathers her firewood for the rest of the winter. As she does not wish to stay out in bad weather gathering wood for a long winter, tradition says that good weather on Imbolc is a bad sign. Bad weather, accordingly, is a sign that spring is on it’s way.
- “Red sky at night, sailor’s delight; red sky at morning, sailor take warning”. This weather rhyme is a quick way to remember that dry particles in the air causes the sky to look red. Dry air in the west (the night sky), the weather will be dry. If the sky is red in the east (morning sky), wet weather is headed your way.
- “Circle round the moon, rain or snow soon.” A “circle” around the moon indicates moisture in the air, brining precipitation.
- Catch the cat cleaning it’s ear’s on Imbolc? Tradition says that this means a storm is coming.
- Check out the pine cones. If they are closed, it means wet weather is on it’s way. Open cones predict dry weather.
- Crickets have been shown to be very good indicators of air temperature. Count the number of chips a cricket makes for 14 seconds. Add 40 and the sum of the two numbers will equal the temperature to within 1 degree 75% of the time.