End January/beginning February in the Northern Hemisphere.
End July/ beginning august in the Southern Hemisphere.
This is the celebration of the returning Fire of the Sun and the beginning of the outer growth phase. We become aware that the Earth is stirring. It is still cold but the first buds are beginning to show on the trees and Spring bulbs are pushing up through the Earth. Our acceptance of Winter is giving way to an urge to move forward into Springtime energy.
We can use this time to prepare for the changes ahead. Now is the time to bring out the wisdom and insights we have gained on the inner journey. Now is the time to express our creativity through art, craft, poetry and songs. These were seen in the past as a way of accessing our ancestral memory.
This is the time for initiation and healing, for reclaiming what has been lost, and seeking new ways forwards. It is a time for working with our intuition, with inspired leaps of understanding, and for expressing our deepest wishes, beliefs and feelings. Be open to communication from within, heed the signs and omens when you notice them and follow what has significance and meaning to you.
Imbolc is sacred to Love, to the young fertile force in all of us, to the quickening of new life and new beginnings. Imbolc reflects the stirring of the life force and the potency of action that is fired from within.
*Gather with friends at the New Moon when the Moon energy is also fertile and rising. Ask everyone to bring a candle, food and drink to share and their own poems, songs, artwork, craftwork and any winter project they have been involved with, for all to share and celebrate each other's accomplishments and uniqueness. Bring drums, percussion and instruments to play.
*Ask those who can to bring fresh cuttings of stems that can be woven, such as Willow, Winter Jasmine, Honeysuckle, Forsythia, Dogwood, Flowering Currant, Almond and Cherry. Lay them on an old sheet or blanket for ease of clearing up at the end and sit around this to weave an 'Imbolc ring'. To begin, choose a long length and create a circle the size of a small dinner plate, with the thicker end of the stem. Use the thin end like a needle weaving in and out until it holds firm as a ring.ontinue weaving in different twigs, anchoring the thick end into the circle and weaving with the thin end until you build up a ring of different plants. As you work, focus on what you have learnt during the Winter months and where you wish to take this into the new active season.
* With focus, light a candle in a bowl of sand inside your ring and speak out your new intentions. The Imbolc rings can be taken home and placed in a shallow dish of water. Over the next few weeks they will flower, giving energy to your visions and new directions.
*Sit together and share your poems, craft and artwork, your achievements from the Winter months.
*Gather everyone together with a chant or song around a central large bowl of earth or compost piled high in celebration of the fertile force of the earth. Ask everyone to place their unlit candles around this, each in a small bowl of sand.
*Open the circle by bringing focus to each of the 5 Elements and their awakening energy at this time. Do this poetically, focusing on their power and beauty. Choose a sentence at each Element and weave this into a new co-created chant.
*Lead the circle into a spiral, circling round the unlit candles and bowl of Earth at the centre, singing the new elemental chant.
*At the centre gather round the bowl of Earth and unlit candles and focus silently on what you wish to grow within yourself, what seeds you have been nurturing and what you wish to plant into the fertile energy of this newly emerging season. Symbolically plant them in the bowl of Earth and as you do so, let out sounds and notes that resonate with these seed wishes and intentions. Let all the sounds resonate together sending them down into the Earth and then up and outwards in a cone of power and vibrant energy. Spiral back out again, reconnecting to the elemental chant
*Once everyone is back in the circle, each person goes to the centre and lights their candle as they name and celebrate their seed wishes.
*Close the circle by thanking each Element for the part it will play in the new growing season.
*Drum and dance together, releasing your inner Fire into the fertile power of the life force.
As the Earth's energy is activated, the elemental energy of the land and water reawaken. This is a traditional time for pilgrimages to healing wells, holy wells and springs. Set out in a sacred manner, with spring water, fruit and nuts, focusing on the earth and your intention to seek clarity and vision. Use it as a way of connecting to what you wish to bring out into the world, using the power of water to make fertile, bring healing and bless.
Some wells and springs have a special tree connected to them. In the past, a pilgrim seeking healing would soak a rag form their clothing and tie it to the tree. As the rag rotted away, they believed their illness would disappear. This practice could be revived using 'pledge' or 'prayer' ribbons. Take a piece of ribbon with you, dip it into the water as you state your pledge of intent, prayer or wish, and tie it to the tree. Here they will flutter in the wind, like prayer flags, carrying messages of hope and healing.
Use the water for baptism, as a rite of passage, to wash away the past, the winter, the old 'you', and to bless a new beginning, new hope, healing affirmations and heartfelt intentions, leave an offering to the spirit of the water and the spirit guardian of the well. This may be something made of clay or wood, a crystal, some fruit or nuts, or a pattern you make from the natural materials you find nearby. One of the best gifts you can make is to clear up any rubbish you find there and take it with you.
Make the most of the pale sunlight to get outside and reconnect tot the awakening Earth. There is still time to plant or move your young trees before the growing season gathers momentum. Plant a fruit tree and dedicate it to someone, or a project. There are many dwarf varieties that can even be grown in a large pot if space is short. Coppice willows and dogwoods, having enjoyed their bright coloured stems during the winter months. Save these for woven projects in the garden by storing them bundles together on a north hedgerow to keep them pliant. Or plant them immediately straight into the Earth to grow living woven fences or new trees.
Plan to create a Moon garden, a place to sit in quiet contemplation, and keep a connection to the watery flow of your unconscious mind, especially during the active half of the year. If you haven't a garden, create it in a large pot.
Choose silvery plants such as Lavenders, silvery Thymes and Sages, and plants that have white flowers that will grow in the moonlight. Bring in a bowl for water and crystals.