I’m writing this tonight as I’m thinking I won’t have time tomorrow considering I just found out my computer lost my Imbolc ritual from last year. Eeek!
In my path I celebrate Imbolc and Candlemas as two completely separate holidays with similar themes from two different religions. Imbolc being Irish Celtic/Wiccan, and Candlemas being Catholic.
Imbolc is sacred to the goddess Brighid (ironically it’s also St. Brighid’s day in the Catholic Church) and is celebrated on either the first or second of February depending on your tradition. Imbolc, also spelled Oimelc (literally, “Ewe’s milk”), was celebrated by Gaelic Celtic cultures (Ireland and Scotland). The holiday’s name comes from the fact that agriculturally farmers were preparing for the spring lambing. Lambs are a traditional Imbolc symbol, and milk a traditional offering. Because of the holiday’s connection to Brighid, spring cleaning and purification rites are perfect, as are lighting a bunch of candles or a bonfire. In my tradition, purple and white are the traditional colors. She was also a goddess of creativity, so creative pursuits are good as well. According to Patti Wigington at About.com:
"Before going to bed each member of the household should leave a piece of clothing outside for Brighid to bless. Smoor your fire as the last thing you do that night, and rake the ashes smooth. When you get up in the morning, look for a mark on the ashes, a sign that Brighid has passed that way in the night or morning. The clothes are brought inside, and now have powers of healing and protection thanks to Brighid."
Candlemas: This is the celebration of the Purification of the Virgin Mary after giving birth to Jesus. Women had to wait 40 days after childbirth before they could be cleansed of the symbolic impurity it gave (This tradition, called Churching, lasted in Christianity until after the Renaissance). It’s also celebrated as the Presentation of the Lord because on this day, seeing as Mary is pure and can enter the temple again, Mary and Joseph present their son to the temple. Traditionally candles would be blessed because Jesus was “a light to the revelation of the Gentiles” and a procession with the candles would take place through the church. Ironically, Jesus is symbolized as the Lamb of God. The Feast is celebrated on February 2nd as well.
Brighid, Lambs, and candles are central to both holidays, and the U.S.’s Groundhog’s Day has it’s roots in both celebrations.
This year to celebrate, I started my Spring Cleaning a day early. I have lovely White and purple flowers sitting on my altar right now, reminding me that Imbolc is the first of the spring sabbats. In the morning I’ll take a ritual bath and spend some time meditating and communing with Brighid before getting into craft mode and making some Brighid crosses. I’ll also be writing a new ritual before my covenmates show up. Following ritual we’ll be attending Catholic Mass. I also intend to catch up on the rest of my Pagan Blog Posts, but who knows what else!
Sunday I’ll continue with my celebration with Mass again in the morning and keeping lots of candles lit. I might actually do a blessing for my altar candles.