Some Pagans celebrate the Feb 1 or 2 holiday as Imbolc, which is Old Irish for “in the belly” (i=in, bolg=belly). Old Irish is the Gaelic language introduced to Ireland from Scotland in 500 AD, until it evolved into Middle Irish, sometime around 900 AD. Others may celebrate this cross-quarter day as Oimelc (which means “ewe’s milk”), although this seems to be a name that is less often used. Candlemas is another common name for this day, although some Pagans aren’t terribly keen on it, since it originates from Catholicism.
In contemporary Paganism, Brigid is the goddess most often honored at this time of year. I’ve never been all that in tune with the Celtic deities (or the Norse ones, for that matter), so we celebrate it a bit differently…including appropriating the Catholic term for the holiday, Candlemas (candles are a great symbol of the strengthening of the sun), borrowing a tiny bit from the Roman holiday of Februalia (mainly honoring Vesta-as-Hestia and cleansing everything from the house to ourselves), and honoring Sedna in her role as mother-of-the-cetaceans (this is the time of the year when the humpbacks make their appearance off our shores).
As with every Sabbat, there are a ton of Imbolc rituals and holiday histories and all sorts of other ideas of what to do for this time of year (this site has one of the most comprehensive starting points I’ve seen yet). I recommend perusing around a bit to find what suits you are your family’s practice and beliefs (or not), rather than buying into something that doesn’t work for you (of course, sometimes, the only way to be sure, is to try it anyhow!).
Some of my plans include:
Super cleaning the house for a family blessing ritual
Doing some basic cleansing and blessing of myself…I’ve gotten a bit lax and I can feel it Reaffirming my commitment to my self, via my newly established dietary needs
Re-reading T. Thorn Coyle’s Evolutionary Witchcraft
Thinking about some things and doing a little divination work for inspiration on what to do about them
Some of our family plans include:
Ceromancy–Technically, ceromancy is a form of divination using melted wax in a bowl of water, in which the reader interprets the shape and the meaning of the shape. We do it as a form of story telling…the shape you see has to feature in the story you tell.
Making Vestas–We already did this one yesterday…making dipped candles is a great way to charge the candles as you make them!
Baking Sun Cake! we are going with cream cheese icing this year though, and I’m making our cake in a springform pan because I don’t have a bundt cake pan (when we made it last year, we were at Grandma’s house).
Home Blessing…now there’s a post I should blog about again, that one’s from 4 years ago!!
Family altar cleaning, cleansing, and rededication, and building Chickadee her own personal altar (she and Collin have a “baby altar” that mom handles right now)
Also, I’ve been reminded that you all need to meet Citrine! …You may remember the Sabbat faeries, but if you don’t, this post might help refresh your memory!
I’ve never met Citrine, but Chickadee tells me that she is the faerie that oversees Candlemas. I have it on good authority that Citrine lives in a stand of my second favorite tree (Emerald apparently lives in my favorite tree, but Chickadee won’t tell me any more than that until Beltane), the Live Oak (its called the Live Oak because it is an evergreen oak tree). In the winter, she shares the home of a rabbit friend in a burrow at the base of the branchiest Live Oak of them all. If you’ve never seen one before, Live Oak trees are very branchy…and very gossipy; they are always ready to tell a good yarn about someone or something that has passed them by! In the summertime though, she stays in a hammock that sways in the breeze from one of the tree’s many branches.
According to Chickadee, Citrine is friends with The Shining Ladies–you know, those goddesses that some people choose to celebrate at this time of year, who usually have something to do with candles and flame and coziness and inspiration and all sorts of stuff like that, who have given her a number of tasks to organize for this time of year? Citrine checks on the hibernating animals to make sure that they are still snug and hidden, and she makes sure that the the birds and other animals that are not hibernating have enough food to last them a little while longer. Citrine, if asked (and left a treat of oats, or dried fruit or nuts), will also bless candles made at this time of year, and will send her friends to add a little faery sparkle to newly cleansed and blessed homes.