Sunday, January 16, 2011

Imbolc - Candlemas

Ahh yes nearing Imbolc or candlemas, when you know that the days will get longer, the sun stronger and Spring, yes Spring will really be here in a few weeks. Hard to believe when you see so much ice, snow & cold that there is new life just waiting to spring forward on this frozen desolate scape you see before you. I celebrate by lighting lots of candles in every room and also starting either seeds or cuttings from a houseplant.

February 1st/2nd (Greater Sabbat)

IMBOLC is a cross-quarter day, midway between the winter solstice (Yule) and
the spring equinox (Ostara). The holiday is a festival of light,
reflecting the lengthening of the day and the hope of spring and is also
known as: Candlemas, Imbolg, Bride's Day, Oimelc, and Brid's Day.

Imbolc was one of the cornerstones of the Celtic calendar. The success of
the new farming season was of great importance and as winter stores of food
were now getting low, Imbolc rituals were performed to harness divine energy
that would ensure a steady supply of food until the harvest six months later
Imbolc is a time of purification, new beginnings, a time for looking to the
future and deciding what you hopes, dreams and ambitions are for the coming
year. It is a time when the first fresh shoots appear, bringing the the
promise of growth.

The day is marked by the lighting of candles, symbolising Imbolc is believed
to have first appeared as a Celtic celebration, honouring Brigid, whose
name means "The Exalted One," queen and mother goddess of many European
tribes. She is also known as Brigid, Bridget, Brighid, Brighde, Brig or
Bride. She is said to have had two sisters: Brigid the Physician and Brigid
the Smith, but it is generally thought that all three were aspects of the
one goddess of poetry, healing, and smithcraft. She was a goddess of
regeneration and abundance, a provider of plenty.

The arrival of Christianity changed the Goddess into the 'Saint Brigid', and
like the goddess of old, Saint Brigid was renowned for her gift of healing.
She wove the first piece of cloth in Ireland and wove into it healing
threads which kept their power for centuries. Many healing wells and springs
were named after her.

Imbolc, is also called Oimealg by the Druids, it is the festival of the
lactating sheep. It is derived from the Gaelic word "oimelc" which means
ewes milk". Herd animals have either given birth to the first offspring of
the year or their wombs are swollen and the milk of life is flowing. It is
the time of Blessing of the seeds and consecration of agricultural tools. It
marks the mid point of the dark half of the year. It is the festival of the
Maiden, from this day to March 21st, it is her season to prepare for growth
and renewal.

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