What is Imbolc? Ancient Celtic Festivals | Claddagh Design
“Imbolc, or Imbolg… was[is] one of the four most important festivals in the Celtic calendar. For this ancient society, the year revolved around two main points; on the one hand, since the Celts were an agricultural society, everything was based around the harvest.
“On the other hand, they also had an in-depth knowledge about the alignment of the sun and stars, which history suggests had great significance for them. [The Celtic’s] calendar was neatly divided up into four quarters, with a festival to celebrate reaching each one. The year started with Samhain at the end of October, when the harvest was in full swing, to prepare for the onset of winter.
“The name Imbolc originates from ‘i mbolg’, which translates as ‘in the belly’. This refers to livestock breeding season, particularly the pregnancy of ewes, which was one of the focal points of the celebration.
“Because the festival was so associated with this, it’s timing often varied – it could be anywhere from mid-January to mid- February depending on the weather and the animals’ behavior.
“It also appeared to have a more spiritual significance for the Celts too, as it’s no coincidence that more than a few megalithic monuments around Ireland are perfectly aligned with the rising sun around the dates of Imbolc and Samhain.
“Imbolc was celebrated across Ireland, Scotland, and the Isle of Man, with each region having slightly different variations in name and customs. Wales also had a remarkably similar version of the festival known as Gwyl Fair y Canhwyllau.
“Rather than a huge central bonfire at the center of the festivities, Imbolc was more about the home and each home’s hearth. Every home in the community would have their own fire burning right through the night, [or candles lit in each room].
[Fun Fact]: “The Celts were always concerned about the weather, so Imbolc was an important time to read omens and attempt to predict the weather for the summer. An unusual but widely popular omen was if the weather was especially bad on the day of Imbolc, which meant a great summer was on the way. This is because one of the more malicious creatures in Irish folklore, the Cailleach, would spend the day of Imbolc collecting firewood for herself if winter was to last a while longer.
“Visiting wells was another important custom for Imbolc, particularly holy wells. Visitors would walk around the well in the same direction as the sun traversed the sky at that point on the land, praying for health and wealth for the year.
“Offerings were left at the well once this was done; usually coins or ‘clooties’ (pieces of cloth). Special foods were also part of the festivities, usually consisting of bannock – a flatbread cut into wedges – as well as dairy products and meat.
“Imbolc is a pagan holiday celebrated from February 1 through sundown February 2. Based on a Celtic tradition, Imbolc was meant to mark the halfway point between winter solstice and the spring equinox in Neolithic Ireland and Scotland… Imbolc is just one of several pre-Christian holidays highlighting some aspect of winter and sunlight, and heralding the change of seasons.
“The celebration of Imbolc dates back to the pre-Christian era in the British Isles.
“The earliest mentions of Imbolc in Irish literature date back to the 10th century. Poetry from that time relates the holiday to ewe’s milk, with the implication of purification.
“It’s been speculated that this stems from the breeding cycle of sheep and the beginning of lactation. The holiday was traditionally aligned with the first day of spring and the idea of rebirth
Brigid the Goddess
“Imbolc celebrations took the form of a festival in honor of the pagan goddess Brigid, who was evoked in fertility rites and oversaw poetry, crafts and prophecy. Brigid was worshipped by the Filid, a class of poets and historians among the Celts of ancient Ireland and Britain.
“In pre-Christian times, Imbolc observance began the night before February 1. Celebrants prepared for a visit from Brigid into their homes by crafting an effigy of the goddess from bundles of oats and rushes. The effigy was placed in a dress and put in a basket overnight.
“The day of Imbolc was celebrated by burning lamps and lighting bonfires in tribute to Brigid.
“The modern celebration of Imbolc is… concerned with reconnecting with nature.
“Since it’s a climate-specific holiday, some followers of the Wicca religion adjust their celebration of it to correspond with a date more appropriate to the coming of spring where they live. Others embrace the symbolism of the holiday and keep to the February 1 celebration.
“The goddess Brigid is central to the celebration for modern Wiccans. In the tradition of the original Celtic festival, Wiccan groups that worship Brigid might include fire rituals on Imbolc.
“Traditions from both the pagan celebration of Imbolc and the Christian celebration of St. Brigid’s Day can be found in the modern Imbolc celebration. Celebrants sometimes make a Brigid cross out of reeds as well as a Brigid corn doll or effigy.
“Candlemas is a Christian holiday celebrated on February 2 that has aspects in common with Imbolc. Its celebration can be traced to 4th century Greece as a purification holiday and a celebration of the return of light.
“Candles have traditionally been used in its observance. It’s possible that Candlemas is a Christian adaptation of the Roman holiday Februalia.
Fun Fact! – Groundhog Day
“February 2 is also celebrated as Groundhog Day, which began in the United States in 1887. The idea is that a groundhog exiting its burrow can predict whether winter will stay or go based on whether the groundhog sees its shadow. The day was a stunt by a newspaper in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, that has endured.
My Celebration of Imbolic on 2.2.22 from my Instagram account @val.180
Archangel Hope “look for a cosmic gift from the universe. Remember, you deserve it.”
#angelaffirmation “may all of creation dance for joy within you.” Celebration, joy, allowing, celebration – sensuality
#bloodstone – let go of the past, assert your needs , cleanse/grounds lower chakras
#tarot #queenofcups – reverse, emotional healing/cleansing
An ending, to a rewarding beginning; surrender and allow.
#animalmedicine #whale – record keeper – sound – assertive voice, Earthly Vibrations “go within and unlock inner knowledge, trust your intuition”
Sacral healing, and root healing, pulling earth energy up through the #rootchakra and #sacralchakra and guide it into the #heartchakra , like a shooting star or #comet and allow it to release through between shoulder blades, and enter again through the heart 💫. Repeat, by allowing line of energy then, entering between the shoulder blades and out through the heart, front body. A torus of energy entering through. First begin with creating a root, harnessing to mother earth, and ask permission for guidance, and give back with appreciation and love. What flows through, flows back to you, and with the breath, enters your heart. Make offering to earth and water for their guidance, as the pull today, represents elements of water, earth, and air. Sacral, root, heart, and brother 🔥 within the blood stone.
Thank you intuition and spirit for these insights.
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