For those who follow the Wheel of the Year, Imbolc is approaching! Imbolc is the half-way point between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. It is celebrated on February 1 or 2nd. Historically, this Celtic festival marked the approach of spring in Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man. The name “Imbolc” means “in the belly,” and ewe’s milk, both images of pregnancy and new life. During the cold months of January and February, food was scarce in times past and the risk of starvation very real for those living on the British Isles. Imbolc was a reminder that hidden in the belly of the Earth was new life. This festival provided assurances that the cold of winter would soon give way to spring.
Imbolc was (and is) a time for preparing the land to be sown with new seeds. For this reason, water from holy wells was poured on land, as was milk, to bless the land ahead of it being sown. Imbolc is also associated with hearth and home. It is where the idea of “spring cleaning” originates.
The Celtic Goddess Brigid, a powerful triple goddess, was honored on Imbolc, as was St. Bridget– her Christian form. Brigid is associated with fertility, the protection of hearth and land, and is a goddess of poetry and craft. On Imbolc, food and drink were left for her as an offering.
The festival of Imbolc is also associated with another goddess – Cailleach – the goddess of winter and weather. It was believed that on Imbolc, Cailleach would venture out to collect firewood for the remainder of winter. If the day was sunny and pleasant, she would extend winter longer and use her firewood; but if the weather was bad, she would remain asleep through Imbolc and spring would soon come. If this reminds you of Groundhog Day on February 2nd – you would be correct! The story about Cailleach is where we get this tradition.
This Imbolc, I plan to prepare my land for sowing my personal seeds for the year through performing a land blessing and healing. It is easy to forget that our home and land needs to be energetically clear and well for the seeds of our personal intentions to have a nurturing and healthy place to grow and thrive. Our home and land are sacred spaces where we think, laugh, rest, play and dream our lives into existence! It is much harder to grow our intentions into strong vibrant realities if our home or land is heavy with unsupportive energy, conflict, or unhealthy dynamics that do not feed and support us. While we cannot control everything and everyone – we can take time to clear our land of any energetic gunk so that the ground is fertile for new growth.
Imbolc is a perfect time to do this – before we get too far into our year!
But how do we energetically prepare and bless our land so that it germinates our energetic seeds of harmony, good health, a happy home, and personal fulfillment? Well, like so many things in the intuitive and energetic world – it is best to do as you feel called. But that being said, before deciding what you are called to do – ask your land and home what it wants and needs to be a high vibrational and harmonious place for all who reside there – human, plant, animal and spirit – to thrive. Then do what your home or land asks – as well as what your intuition calls you to do
In all shamanic cultures there is a belief in “sacred reciprocity.” To the Andean shamans it is “ayni” and in the Northern European Shamanic tradition it is a “gift for a gift.” Our land and home gives to us daily, as does Mother Earth, and asking what it needs (and then doing what is asked) is a way to show gratitude, love and respect for your home, land and Gaia. It is just good manners! If we support and tend to our land and home – it will support and tend to us. Our best energetic home protectors (along with our ancestors), are our land and home spirits! If we feed them – they will protect our homes from unsavory energies and spirits.
My land was very specific as to what it wanted this year. My land spirits asked that I boil bundles of fresh rosemary in water and pour it on my land in different locations. This is to clear and heal the land, and to bless the land and spirits on it for the year ahead. I also plan to do a “spring cleaning” with strong intentions for clearing out old stagnant energies that have accumulated over the cold winter months; and to re-assert my commitment to remembering my land spirits through leaving offerings throughout the year. Life gets busy but I really have no excuse not to leave out a bit of bread, a small bowl of milk or mead, or a cut up apple with honey. It is not grandiose acts that are required – only small, sincere offerings of love and gratitude!
So, Happy Imbolc to all! And if called, please leave a comment on how you blessed and honored your land and home this Imbolc.
Copyright 2021 Vanessa Hanks, All Rights Reserved.