Imbolc is our collective season of hope and renewal. I liken it to the star card after the tower. We’ve been deep in the cauldron throughout Samhain and Yule, and with the arrival of Imbolc, we can start to see the slightest stirrings of life and an increase in sunlight. Imbolc brings a palpable sense of renewed energy in the air.
In this share, you’ll learn more about what Imbolc is, common correspondences, and ways to connect with the Goddess Brigid through ritual for the season.
What is Imbolc?
On the wheel of the year, Imbolc is the midway point between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. It occurs on February 1st and 2nd in the Northern hemisphere and August 1st and 2nd in the Southern Hemisphere. Imbolc translates to “in the belly,” which refers to a couple of things for this season. This season is often called “the quickening,” which relates to the time in utero when the mother first begins to feel movement from her baby. The earth is starting to show signs of first stirrings as well. The second reference is that ewes often gave birth during this season, which was of utmost importance to our ancestors as it provided nutrient-rich milk to those in the community.
Imbolc is a time to tend to your hearth, home, and physical well-being on a personal and energetic level. It’s also a time to tune into feelings of hope and renewal. Imbolc energy aligns with the early stages of a freshly waxing moon. It’s a time to explore what’s inspiring you and cultivate more of that inspiration. If you have specific goals or intentions in mind for the year ahead, this season is the time to form a solid plan and begin taking action. Like all seasonal celebrations, there’s also a theme of community that weaves through Imbolc, which I find is often overlooked but important.
Listen to this post on my podcast, Awen Guided by Spirit, here.
The Goddess Brigid, who we’ll discuss in more detail, is strongly tied to this season. She is a Goddess of healing, fire, and the hearth. She brings inspiration and a renewed sense of hope like the season itself.
As always, I encourage you to honor these shifts when you feel called. There are no hard rules for honoring the wheel and the seasons. Trust your intuition. Your connection with nature is the most important part of working with the wheel. Each season is unique to you and your climate.
I live in Arizona, and people often ask how I connect with the seasons here when it’s just sunny all day every day. Especially for seasons like Imbolc, when my ancestors were likely dealing with bitter cold and snowfall. The short answer is that I can assure you that if you’re spending regular time outside, you will see shifts and changes for every season on the wheel.
For example, not all trees lose their leaves here, but many do, and it is around Imbolc that those trees begin sprouting new growth. Another way I notice the shifts in each season, which has nothing to do with the temperature outside, is the length and orientation of the sun. No matter where you live, the sun is beginning to shine a little longer each day. In my house, I can see the sunrise from our kitchen window, and for a couple of hours every morning, we have to close our blinds a bit because the sunlight comes in so brightly. It’s a physical reminder that the season of Brigid is coming. If you live in a climate that differs from Northern Europe, I invite you to begin noticing subtle changes like where the sunlight comes in your windows at different times of the year.
Now, let’s take some time to explore the Goddess Brigid and her role in this season.
Who is Brigid
Imbolc belongs to the Goddess Brigid, the Goddess of home, healing, fire, and smithcraft (among many other things.) Brigid is one of the most well-loved and recognized Goddesses of the Celtic pantheon. So much so that she survived the test of time and Christianity she even was adopted into Christianity as St. Brigid. She goes by many names, and you’ll likely hear other pronunciations that may include Brigid, Brighid, Brigantia, and so many others. All of them are correct options. I’ll be referring to her as Brigid here today.
There are two translations associated with Brigid. One is “exalted one,” and the other is “fiery arrow” as you’ll see, she lives up to both of these names. She was said to have been born with light radiating out from around her and fed milk from a sacred cow as a baby. Both milk and light are sacred to Imbolc and Brigid. She is a Goddess of birth and fertility and is often called upon during childbirth as a protective aid. Healing is another strong theme for Brigid. There are sacred fires and healing springs dedicated to Brigid throughout the British isles.
Here’s an excerpt from the book Brigid by Courtney Weber that beautifully captures Brigid’s robust and contrasting energy.
This is the Goddess of the forge and the anvil, of poets, painters, and prophets. She is a Goddess of healing as well as battle, of fire but also water, love and death. She blesses small animals, guards orphaned children, and challenges authority. He has crossed the chasm of regional land Goddess to Christian saint and back again to contemporary Goddess of global scope. Distinct as the multitude of tongues that speak her name, and deeply rooted in creation, destruction, regeneration, and sometimes contradiction – this is Brigid.Courtney Weber, Brigid
Brigid essentially took a “demotion” to continue to live on as St. Brigid as Christianity spread throughout Europe. Perhaps she knew she’d be reborn again in her full sovereignty in the hearts and minds of people across the globe. Another interesting point about Brigid is her connection to the sun and fire, which are often associated with Gods and masculine energy. She offers us a reminder not to become so rigid in the masculine vs. feminine energy binary or perhaps to let it go completely. We all contain these elemental energies regardless of how we identify ourselves. The forceful and action-oriented energies associated with fire can and should be owned by all. Brigid holds the power of fire, the inspiration of air, the healing powers of water, and the regenerative power of earth. She uses these elements from a seat of power and wisdom and invites us to do so.
We’ll discuss more ways to connect with Brigid through ritual this season but first, let’s explore common correspondences because they will very much come into play for the rituals.
Correspondences for Imbolc
Understanding the correspondences of each season brings in so many additional layers. It also empowers you to craft your own rituals each season. In this section, I will share some common correspondences for the season and dive a little deeper into the overlaps between Imbolc, tarot, and astrology.
Think of this list as a buffet of options to choose from to help you build personal meaning around the season of Imbolc. As always, if there are seasonal things unique to your environment, add that to your list of correspondences for the season. For example, here in the desert where I live, all of the citrus trees are fruiting and ripening at this time. Citrus fruits are certainly not a standard correspondence for this season, but they are for me.
Themes: Renewal, new beginnings, hearth, home, cleansing, health, inspiration
Colors: White, green, yellow
Moon phase: waxing crescent
Herbs & Plants: rosemary, basil, bay leaf, angelica
Crystals: moss agate, quartz, green aventurine, kyanite, citrine, green opal
Foods: Milk, cheese, butter
Tools & items: Brigid’s cross, white cloth, candles, fire, besom
Elements: Fire, earth, air
Cardinal direction: North East
Runes: Uruz, Kenaz
Ogham: Birch, Rowan, Ash
Tarot card: The Star
Most of these come from my book, Understanding the Wheel of the Year. Grab it here if you’d like a handy physical guide of the correspondences for each season.
Bringing in physical objects, like the ones I mention, in your altar or even as decorations in your home is a way to invite in the energy of the season. Working with altars in this way is a powerful way to build relationships with each season.
There are ways to work with these correspondences on an energetic level. At the beginning of this share, I brought up how Imbolc is much like the start card in the tarot. I find that Imbolc carries the same energy as the star card. Imbolc also falls within Aquarius season, the astrological correspondence for the star card. In the tarot, the light increases after the tower card. We start with the star, the moon, and then the sun. If we compare this to our seasons, we have the sun’s increasing light with Imbolc, the Spring Equinox, and Beltane.
I find that this season, and the coming seasons, are a potent time to explore themes surrounding the increasing light after the tower card in the tarot. There are a lot of layers to explore, and I think exploring the star card more deeply through meditation, journaling, or reading, can be a great place to start. I know that was a bit of a departure from the rest of this share, but I wanted to bring it up.
Let’s talk rituals for this season because there are so many! You can already find a few Imbolc rituals on past blog posts. Here are some favorites.
Rituals for Imbolc
In this section, you’ll learn a few ways to connect with the energy of this season through ritual. We’ll discuss candle magic, a ritual to connect with the Goddess Brigid, and some suggestions for cleansing yourself and your space in preparation for this season.
Candle Magick for Imbolc
Imbolc has a strong theme of fire and inspiration, which makes candle magick a powerful option for this season. The sun’s light is finally increasing at this time, it’s a season of inspiration and taking action, and the Goddess Brigid embodies the energy of fire.
One of the simplest and most powerful ways to connect with the energy of this season and Brigid is through candle magic. Something as simple as lighting a candle with intention can help you call in inspiration, honor Brigid, and honor the sun. Last year, I shared a full blog post and reel with steps to perform an inspiration ritual to call on Brigid for inspiration. Find the past blog post here and the reel here. If you’re feeling uninspired, don’t know what direction to go, or are experiencing a creative block, I encourage you to explore themes of inspiration through working with candles.
Watch a reel of this candle ritual here.
Here’s an excerpt from The Magical Year by Danu Forest about working with candles of this season.
To call in inspiration is to begin to see our life infused with spirit, to discover a new or renewed vision for greater creativity on all levels. To call in healing is to resolve the things that hold us back or limit our potential. We all have parts of our lives and bodies that need healing, and to give this aspect of ourselves a boost at this time of the year sets us up for a more empowered and happier future. To call in the blessings of the hearth or the forge at this time summons greater positive energy for our families, friends, and communities, with all our relationships, strengthened and blessed.Danu Forest, The Magical Year
Who doesn’t need a little bit of that right now? This is one of the reasons I love candle work so much. Candles are such a powerful way to foster inspiration. Working with candles for ritual can also be so creative. You can keep it simple, or you can anoint your candles with oil, dress them with herbs, or add crystals on it or around it. There’s a lot of room for play and experimentation with candles. If working with candles is new to you, I have some great past posts on the blog to get you started. Click here to check them out.
Brigid Healing Ritual
As we discussed above, Brigid is also a Goddess of healing. One of the many reasons she was associated with the season of Imbolc is because this was a very challenging time for our ancestors living in Northern Europe. It is still quite cold this time of year for many people. For our ancestor’s food may have been in short supply at this point of the year, and disease may have been spreading as well. Imbolc is a season of hope because nature shows its first signs of waking up. A celebration dedicated to the healing powers of Brigid would be warmly welcomed for our ancestors at this time.
A common ritual at Imbolc is to place a white cloth outside on the eve of Imbolc. Brigid is said to bless and infuse these white cloths with her healing energy. The cloths may then be used as a form of comfort, healing, and a reminder of Brigid. Try this for yourself by placing a white cloth outside on the even of Imbolc for Brigid to bless. You could use the white cloth as part of your altar spread, sleep with it, hold onto it to clean wounds, or give it to someone who’s sick.
The final ritual I’d like to share with you is a renewal bath. I love using baths as a form of ritual and energy clearing, and this is a beautiful season to use baths for the purpose. It’s common to cleanse your space and yourself for the arrival of Brigid at Imbolc. This is one way to offer yourself a deeply nourishing and cleaning experience, both physically and spiritually.
This ritual is adapted from a “Lustral Bath” recipe in “The Magical Year” by Danu Forest, which I highly recommend! I made some additions to my version. Don’t sweat it if you don’t have everything you need. Use what you have. A bath with some table salt, a candle, and an intention to be renewed can be just as powerful.
Watch a reel of the bath ritual here.
Renewal bath recipe
1. Fill a cloth bag with cleansing herbs of choice. About a 1/4 c. will do. I used lavender, sage, and mint. Let the bag soak in the tub as you fill it or hang it from the faucet to let the water run over it.
2. Light some candles to call upon the healing powers of the Goddess Brigid or to honor the increasing light of the sun. White, green, or yellow candles are great options. I adore the beeswax candles by Lit Rituals.
3. Add about 2 cups of dried milk powder. Use coconut milk powder to make it vegan. Give it a good stir. Milk is strongly associated with Brigid and Imbolc. It will also make your skin super soft!
4. Add some fresh spring water, structured water, or charged water. Just a little will do. Water talks to water. By adding it to the bath, it will have a positive influence on all of the water in your bath.
5. Add 1-3 cups of Epsom salt or any salt you have available. Plain or a scented blend works. I love the bath salt blends by Herbonyx.
6. Optional, make it extra decadent by adding some fresh flowers. Whatever is in season or you can find is great.
7. Set an intention to be cleansed and renewed. Enjoy!
8. Add some cleansing smoke if you feel called. I used a renewal wand you can find in our shop here.
9. When you’re done, collect the herbs and flowers, thank them, and consider using them as an earth offering or compost.
There are so many ways to honor this season and Brigid. I hope you’re feeling as excited about this shift as I am and empowered to bring it to life with ritual. I am wishing you a bright and hopeful Imbolc.
Find more rituals for Imbolc here.
Cassie Uhl is the author of five books and two card decks, an artist, intuitive energy healer, and death doula. Her lineage and practices are rooted in pagan earth-based spiritual practices of Northern Europe. She approaches her work and clients with trauma-informed support through all phases of life. She currently resides on the land of the Myaamia people in so-called Indiana of the US.