In Pagan traditions there are eight special holidays, or Sabbats, that are celebrated throughout the year. While still honored by modern witches and Pagans, the Sabbats are also a great way for non-practitioners to celebrate the season and connect to nature on a deep level.
The next upcoming sabbat falls on February 1st and is called Imbolc. A Gaelic festival celebrating the beginning of spring, Imbolc has since been translated into variations like Groundhogs Day and Candlemas.
In the name of inspiring and uniting witches everywhere (and opening the conversation for those who might be witch-curious) here are seven simple ways to honor our upcoming holy period of Imbolc.
1. Clear and Release
We already know this idea as “spring cleaning.” If you’re feeling the desire to purge and cleanse, that might be some Imbolc energy stirring. The onset of spring calls us to release the stagnant energy of winter and make room for something new. Clear out your closets; sweep and mop your floors; all the little things you keep telling yourself you’ll “get back to,” do them now. This is a cleansing process not only for the home but also the mind. With less clutter taking up your space and attention, the more energy you’ll have to give to upcoming endeavors. If you’re feeling extra witchy, you can top it off with an herbal smudging ceremony. Burn a mix of vervain and sage to give your space a total reset.
2. Set up an Altar
Having an altar is one of the first steps to a witchcraft practice (or any spiritual practice for that matter). Find a space that can go mostly undisturbed, but where you’re likely to see it often. The great part is, the rules basically stop there. You’re creating a space that makes you feel calm, sacred and inspired. Whatever your altar holds is totally up to you. If you’re interested in keeping it traditional, Imbolc is usually associated with the colors of white (for purification) and green (to honor the awakening of nature). Aventurine and Sunstone could make great crystal aids, and basil or angelica can be helpful herbal allies. Bring in some of the earliest spring flowers and anything else that invokes the sense of clarity and renewal for you.
3. Start a Garden
Imbolc literally translates to “in the belly,” as the stirrings of spring are rustling deep in the belly of the earth. One of the best ways to connect with nature is to interact with it on a daily basis and start your own garden. If it’s still too cold in your area to begin planting seeds at this time, start some propagation indoors. As you plant the physical seeds, think of all the internal dream seeds you’d like to plant as well. Take the time to nurture them! Chamomile, Sage and Lavender all make wonderful, soothing plants both indoors and out. Plus, they’ll double as herbal medicine when the time comes to harvest. If you don’t have a green thumb, start with a more resilient plant like Aloe Vera or a Snake Plant. Enjoying the presence of nature can be for anybody!
4. Make a traditional Imbolc meal
This time of year places a little more emphasis on domesticity and nurturing the family and the home. For our early ancestors, milk and butter were invaluable resources of nutrition during the long winter. You can make your own butter and bread for a more simple celebration, or try Gather Victoria’s amazing recipe for Lavender and Rosemary Seed Cake or other seasonal recipes.
For Imbolc libations, try this warming Celtic cream whiskey from Danu Forest‘s The Magical Year:
Celtic Cream Recipe
- 1 tsp almond extract
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp coffee powder, dissolved in a little hot water
- 1 cup of fresh cream, warmed
- 1 1/2 cups of condensed milk
- 1 1/2 cups whisky
Combine almond and vanilla extract, dissolved coffee powder and hot cream in a large bowl. Let it cool completely. Add the condensed milk and whisky and blend or stir vigorously. Perhaps say a blessing before drinking and sharing with loved ones.
5. Practice a purity meditation
Spring represents the energy of purity. Through cleansing and renewal, there’s a beautiful innocence to this time of year. For a different spin, we can also practice purity of mind. In the yogic traditions this is called Saucha. It refers to purifying our mind from the clutter of distractions and scatteredness, “so we may gain clarity to meet each moment with integrity and freshness,” (Adele). Take this time to mentally catch up with yourself. Try to sit in meditation for 10 – 15 minutes every day this week, and be purely with each moment as it comes to you. Give yourself this space of purity in your mind and your heart, and see how you feel. For some awesome meditation resources check out Sally Kempton or Tracee Stanley.
6. Do something inspirational for yourself
Put all your fresh intentions and energy to use for yourself. Take the time to do something creative that gets you excited . Imbolc is also a celebration of creation. What can you create in your life to inspire yourself? Maybe you’d like to make a vision board for all your dreams for the upcoming year. Maybe you feel like dancing barefoot until you’re out of breath. Maybe you make yourself a flowered headdress to wear around the house while you clean because why the hell not. Creating raising our energy levels, opens our minds and overall leaves us feeling great.
You can perform your imbolc ritual however you’d like. Some witches like to get together outdoors and have a communal ritual, others prefer to practice in solitude. Do whatever feels right for you at this time in your life. Imbolc is associated with the goddess of birth Brigid, so perhaps an honorary ritual asking for her blessings feel right. Fire scrying is another big seasonal magickal tool. Or you can simply meditate on the themes of awakening and clarity and see what comes up for you. If you live in New Orleans we’d love to have you at our Imbolc Celebration.
I’d love for you to reach out to me with any questions or thought you have about the Imbolc Sabbat or the Pagan practices. I hope this has inspired you to honor yourself and the season.
Merry magick making my loves,
Xx Sierra xX