Imbolc (pronounced em-bowlk) was essentially a torch-light festival to celebrate the coming of springtime. Imbolc is usually on February 2 and is associated with Persephone and various other goddesses of fire such as Vesta, along with Brigid, the goddess of fire and inspiration.
It’s a time to celebrate the lengthening of the days and the beginning of the bulbs sprouting. The goddess is pregnant again and the Holly King will soon be reborn. Imbolc means “In the belly” and it is because the goddess is expecting. Every year when I celebrate Imbolc I think of the Kiowa Proverb that says “Walk lightly in early spring, Mother Earth is pregnant”. Springtime will be the celebration of birth, but right now it is the celebration of the Goddess, Mother Nature, and Mother Earth being pregnant.
Imbolc comes from the Gaelic word oimelc, which means “ewes milk”. To the Druids this was a festival of lactating sheep. This was because herd animals wombs were swollen and the milk of life was flowing into their teats and udders. Most people think this is just an ancient Celt celebration, but the Egyptians celebrated this day too. If you know my work you understand the connection here.
Imbolc is celebrated with food, music and candles. Dishes tend to incorporate seeds, milk, cheese, and other spring-evoking foods. This is a time to spring clean your home and declutter your mind and life. This was believed to create space for the goddess to come into your life. If you have read my Magic post you understand the meaning of that last part.
The christians hijacked this festival with Candlemas. It was established in the favor of the Virgin Mary and the purification of Christ in the temple. This was stolen from Egypt with Isis and Horus being in their festival. Candles were lit for Horus, “The Light of the World”. Christians said that the candles represented the arrival of Jesus as the Light of the World. Jesus and Horus both being the Sun and the inner sun.