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Wheel of the Year: Imbolc, Winter's First Thaw

Each year on February 2nd, pagans celebrate the Celtic holiday of Imbolc, or Candlemass, also sometimes called Brigid's Day. It marks the approximate half-way point between the Winter Solstice (Yule) and the Spring Equinox (Ostara).

Imbolc is considered to be Winter's "first thaw," meaning it was around this time when we would start to see the very first signs of new life, evidence that the Spring will eventually arrive. It was celebrated by our ancestors to honor the power of Nature becoming reborn once again, even though snow likely still covered most things.

Imbolc is often celebrated in Europe with bonfires as it is one of the four fire festivals. This essentially means that the celebration revolves around the Sun being in the sky for longer periods of time as the Earth begins to warm up once again.

I tend to shy away from discussing pagan holidays and practices in general due to the fact that I do not consider myself to be pagan. I still honor the turning points of the year, but not in a religious way. If you would like to celebrate pagan holidays such as Imbolc by honoring gods and goddesses, by all means do what you feel to be right for you.

With that said, I would like to share how I acknowledge Imbolc. I still call it Imbolc out of habit, and it's nicer than calling it Groundhog's Day! However, I do not honor any deities on Imbolc. Instead, I focus on purifying my thoughts, improving my health and letting myself slowly "wake up" from the long slumber of winter. Things can go stale over the winter, so it's a time of renewal and rejuvenation.

And since Imbolc is one of the fire festivals, instead of building a bonfire, I perceive the fire as illumination of thought and inspiration for new passion and desire. I use this time to focus on new ideas, new beginnings, a fresh look at old ways of doing things. It's almost like a personal or spiritual "spring cleaning" of sorts.

The way I do all this is to get into my sacred space and light a white candle dressed with my Imbolc oil. I may burn some herbs associated with the season such as Rosemary, Frankincense, Myrrh and/or Cinnamon . While holding my favorite piece of Selenite or Moss Agate, I journey within while concentrating on the themes of purity, renewal and abundance, allowing myself to dust off Winter's cobwebs and start anew.

Check out our Imbolc Ritual Set here!

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