Sunday, February 02, 2014

Blessed Imbolc

Here we are at the midpoint between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox known as Imbolc. Imbolc is one of four major pagan sabbats, or holidays, along with Beltane, Lughnasadh and Samhain. For some it is also called Brigid's Day, Imbolc honors the Celtic goddess of fire, fertility, midwifery and the young.

The term 'Imbolc' derives from Old Irish and means "in the belly," or alternately "ewe's milk." The interpretation lends significance to the holiday as a celebration of fertility, reproduction and the young -- all overseen by the goddess Brigid.

Imbolc observes the waning of winter and approach of spring. Pagans often use fire and other forms of light to encourage the lengthening of day.

Imbolc is also called Oimealg by the Druids, and 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 into their teats and udders.

Now is is the time for the Blessing of the seeds and the consecration of agricultural tools.

Today marks the center point of the dark half of the year. It is the festival of the Maiden, for from this day to March 21st, it is her season to prepare for growth and renewal. Brighid's snake emerges from the womb of the Earth Mother to test the weather, (the origin of Ground Hog Day), and in many places the first Crocus flowers began to spring forth from the frozen earth.

For those of us that try and follow the old ways and are focused on our gardens and our own little bit of the earth this is truly a high holy day and a very important time for us. Spring is just around the corner and we will soon be placing the first of our seeds and tubers in the ground.

Have a blessed day and wondrous spring. Don't forget to light a candle today to encourage the increasing light.

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