2nd February

Also celebrated as: Oimelc, Candlemas, Brigit's Day, Feast of Torches, Feast of Pan

Imbolc is a celebration of new life and regeneration. The alternate name for this festival is Oimelc which translates as "ewes' milk" and indeed it is around this time that sheep are lambing. The corresponding Christian festival is Candlemas which was probably put in place to subsume the Celtic festival which was both a fire festival and a celebration of the goddess Bride, who was herself adopted by Christianity as St. Brigid.

The symbols of this time are candles, which represent both fire and the light of the returning Sun, and the early spring flowers like snowdrops and crocuses

The underlying theme of this festival is "hope" and it is a good time to make plans and start anew.

In my ritual I like to share a toast of milk, both to echo the title of Oimelc and because it is the food of new life. I don't actually drink sheep's' milk as it is not available locally, however nowadays I usually drink goats' milk on a day to day basis and that is fine. Before I switched to goat I used to use cows' and have little doubt that soya would also be OK should the need arise.

In the story of the Goddess and the God, the God is the newly reborn Sun bringing light and warmth back to the world, while the Goddess, having recovered from the stress of giving birth, has begun her journey back from the underworld.

A Rhyme for Imbolc
(and other times when the world seems dark)

Sap begins to rise,
As does the Sun.
One circle has ended,
A new one begun.

For despair has triumphed,
Night eclipsed day.
But that was then,
And now light's on its way.

In bleakest times,
And though darkest night.
The wheel keeps on turning,
So keep that in sight.

Though things seem depressing,
And out to get you.
Remember the circle,
And hope springs anew.

© Kev the Cosmic Fool Imbolc 2005
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