For Samhain 2016 I started a series of sabbat celebration posts. I haven't done one for Imbolg yet though, so here it is. :)
Note: If you're in the Southern Hemisphere then Lammas is coming up for you. :) You might like this post on Lammas celebration ideas: https://livingseasonal.blogspot.com/2017/07/lammas-celebration-ideas.html
Imbolg or Imbolc, also known as Candlemas is on Friday 2nd February this year. (Some people celebrate it on 1st Feb because it begins at sundown on the 1st and lasts until the end of the 2nd). Candlemas is now a Christian festival but I believe it has pagan roots. Imbolg is a fire festival, first spring festival and also the feast of Bride or Brigid (pronounced something like "Breed") the Irish Fire Goddess, who became Christianised as Saint Brigid. The Irish Gaelic word "Imbolc" or "Imbolg" is thought to translate as "in the belly" meaning the ewes who are pregnant at this time of year. There is another word "Oimelc" which is said to mean "ewe's milk".
Imbolg is the time when the land is waking and the first signs of spring start to appear. It's one of the "transitional" sabbats because while we're still in winter, spring is coming. Although it won't officially be spring until Oestara/the Spring Equinox around 21st March (I like to think that it's spring when it's my birthday at the beginning of March, but technically it's the tail end of winter!) things are shifting.
It's also about healing, purification and fertility. In the Wheel of the Year myth the Goddess (who gave birth to the God at Yule/Midwinter and then became a crone), is now a maiden again.
Here are some links with more information about Imbolg/Imbolc:
(Also contains info for Lammas/Lughnasadh): https://naturalrhythmsrevolution.com/february-cross-quarter/
Check out these links for celebration ideas:
I shared this article in last year's Imbolg post:
http://www.witchywords.com/2018/01/february-eve-imbolc-ten-ideas-for.html (Now a private blog)
And here are a couple of posts with purification ideas:
I will try the ritual Demi mentions in the Rockstar Priestess article. I also like Nos 1. and 2 in Tess' post- meditating in front or a fire or flame and lighting your partly burned candles. (See below for more on lighting candles). And No. 3 in the Tess post (Add Epsom salt and sea salt to your bath and burn a candle) is another good one. I added some Epsom salt to my bath just the other day for a cleanse.
I wrote a bit about energy clearing and healing on my other blog if you're interested in that: https://fallingpetalsuk.blogspot.com/2017/01/spiritual-toolspractices.html
Light a candle
Since Imbolg is also Candlemas a simple thing to do to celebrate is to light a candle. I usually light a white one but other suitable colours would be pastels like pale blue, green, yellow etc. (spring type colours). You can sit and meditate on it if you like, or just relax by candlelight. I like Tess Whitehurst's idea for lighting leftover candles (see above for link) at sundown on 1st Feb.
Make food and drink
As you'll know if you follow this blog, I like to celebrate the sabbats by making food and drink. I usually make pancakes for Imbolg (inspired by The Real Witches Kitchen by Kate West). I make either English pancakes (also known as crepes) or American pancakes. I'll do that again this year, I'm thinking of English ones but not entirely sure yet. Pancake Day isn't usually long after Imbolg (although next year it will be later, I think because Easter will be late April in 2019). It's 13th February this year.
Here are American style pancakes I made in 2014: https://livingseasonal.blogspot.com/2014/02/imbolg.html
I was happiest with the pancakes I made for Imbolg 2016: https://livingseasonal.blogspot.com/2016/02/imbolg-2016.html
For Imbolg 2017 I made English pancakes but they didn't come out so well. Never mind! lol. I also made potato and leek soup for lunch a couple of days after Imbolg, using a recipe from Soraya's The Kitchen Witch. I may do it again this year but I'm not sure. Here's last year's post: https://livingseasonal.blogspot.com/2017/02/imbolg-2017.html
I'm planning to bake soda bread this Imbolg, using a recipe from The Kitchen Witch. I normally associate baking bread with Lammas but it will be good to do it for Imbolg. I don't actually make it very often because it can be quite complicated, but this is an easier recipe that uses bicarbonate of soda and cream of tatar.
As for drinks I usually have some kind of sparkling, lemonade type drink. I regularly drink lemon and lime sparkling water but I like to have lemonade or something similar at Imbolg. I'm also going to make a milk drink since milk is associated with this festival. It will either be some variation on the spicy milk I made for Yule in 2015, or hot chocolate. Here's a recent post I did on winter drinks: https://livingseasonal.blogspot.com/2018/01/winter-drinks.html
If you can't or don't have dairy then you can substitute soy, almond milk etc. :)
Look out for signs of spring
This is a fun one to do. A couple of weeks ago I noticed some daffodils in my area. It seems a bit early because they tend to come out more February/early March time, but I also went for a walk earlier today in my road and saw another couple just coming up. I've seen daisies in the park as well. Snowdrops tend to come out around this time.
Depending on where you live it may be hard to get outside because of the cold weather, especially if you've got a lot of snow (we've hardly had any in Sussex this winter but it's been cold) but if you've got a milder day it's good to get out for a bit for some fresh air. :) The picture at the top was taken when I went to Lancing Beach in mid January. It was really cold and windy that day, so I literally walked on the beach, took a few pics and came off! But at least I got some fresh air, lol.
While it's still cold, the days have been getting gradually longer since Yule. The sun is now setting around 4.42pm, compared to 3.58pm a month ago.
Start spring cleaning
Although it will be awhile until spring is actually here, Imbolg is a good time to start thinking about spring cleaning, even if you don't feel like doing much yet! You could make notes and lists about what needs to be organised and cleaned. (I need to do this!). Then you could make a start if you'd like to.
This is an inspiring post about preparing for spring: http://themagickkitchen.com/preparing-spring/
It was written over a month after Imbolg but I think it's useful to have a read of it now. I'm planning to do a post on preparing for spring in future, so I'll link to it again then. :)
Intentions and goals
Now is also when you could start thinking about intentions and/or goals, review your old ones and set new ones. It's the time to "plant seeds". I mostly took a rest with goals and that over Yule and Christmas, then set a few loose ones after New Year. I chose "Love" as my "Word of the Year". You can read about more choosing words for 2018, goals and intentions over on my Falling Petals blog:
Another thing you can do is start something new. I recently started a Food and Mood course at a local mental health resource centre.
Hope that gave you some ideas. :) A few more suggestions are put away any Christmas decorations that are still hanging around, study chakras/do some chakra work and learn about Brigid. I did some studying about chakras last year and I just came across this post from Tess Whitehust about unblocking them with affirmations, so I'm going to check that out: https://tesswhitehurst.com/unblock-your-chakras-with-these-empowering-affirmations/
Tess also has an Imbolc blessing meditation which I'm going to do.
And finally in her post on 7 ways to celebrate Imbolg, Demi of Rockstarr Priestess suggests learning about Brigid and provides a link (see further up in this post or
Happy Imbolg! Hope you have a good one. (Or Lammas depending where you are). :)
Photo: Lancing Beach. Copyright Moonsparkle 2018.