Hydrangea from may yard during Imbolc

Imbolc 2024: Honoring the Pagan Blessings of Midwinter

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Imbolc 2024 is a fire festival celebrating the home, hearth, and the halfway point between Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. It is quite literally mid-winter, and while everything seems dark and frozen, the days continue to grow lighter every day.

During Imbolc, we celebrate the return of the sun and the growing light. Its meaning honors this magical moment between the coldest days and the arrival of spring.

Many Pagans, Witches, and those interested in Nature Spirituality celebrate the seasonal cycles. Sometimes referred to as the Wheel of the Year, it consists of eight celebrations. Four of these festivals (Imbolc, BeltaneLughnasadh, and Samhain) are rooted in Celtic history and origins.

The other four (Spring EquinoxSummer SolsticeAutumn Equinox, and Winter Solstice) represent the sun’s location. I created a complete guide to each season, including history, traditions, symbols, correspondences, ritual ideas, and how you can celebrate.

Please note that I make every effort to ensure this information is correct and accurate through my own experiences and referencing sources throughout AND at the bottom of this article. (Sources are indicated with numbers).

Posts on this site may contain affiliate links that allow me to earn a small commission from your purchases (at no extra cost to you!)

When is Imbolc 2024?

The Pagan holiday of Imbolc 2024 begins at sundown on January 31st and lasts until sundown on February 1st. However, some people choose the exact halfway point between Winter and Spring.

Remember, the ancient Gauls celebrated the start of a new day once the sun went down. This has been highlighted by Caesar’s writings about the Gallic Wars.

All the Gauls assert that they are descended from the god Dis, and say that this tradition has been handed down by the Druids.

For that reason they compute the divisions of every season, not by the number of days, but of nights; they keep birthdays and the beginnings of months and years in such an order that the day follows the night.

C. Julius Caesar (translated) (5)

How do you pronounce Imbolc?

Imbolc is often pronounced im-bowl-k or im-bol-g.

This holiday is also known as Oimelc (pronounced oy-melk or im-olk in Old Irish, with a silent B).

What is Imbolc?

Imbolc is a fire festival celebrating the halfway point between Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. It also honors the hearth, home, sheep giving milk again, and themes of renewal.

Imbolc is Old Irish, meaning in the belly or milking, and refers to pregnant ewes (female sheep over one year of age) this time of year.

Imbolc, also called Oimelc, (Middle Irish, probably literally, “milking”), ancient Celtic religious festival, celebrated on February 1 to mark the beginning of spring.

The festival apparently was a feast of purification for farmers and has been compared to the Roman lustrations. [similar to Lupercalia festivities]

Britannica – Imbolc ancient Celtic religious festival

The Spiritual Meaning of Imbolc 2024

Imagine the world covered in snow, and then picture a soft, golden light starting to shine through. That’s what Imbolc is like—a beautiful blend of winter’s chill and the hope for warmer days. It’s like finding a tiny flower pushing through the snow.

The spiritual meaning of Imbolc is transformations, purification, fresh beginnings, and celebrating the return of the light.

During Imbolc, we stand at the edge of winter and feel the balance between darkness and the slow, gentle return of light. It’s a time to appreciate the small victories in life and the idea that, even in the quietest moments of winter, there’s a promise of renewal and the cycle of new beginnings.

After months of self-reflection, planning, and goal setting, your ambitions are beginning to stir. The tiniest bits of enthusiasm are awakening beneath the surface. Goals and dreams that you’ve created over the dark cold nights are now being lit by the flames of Midwinter. Let your creativity and imagination help manifest these dreams!

Imbolc Traditions

Imbolc is a pre-Christian Celtic holiday and was first mentioned in Irish poetry around the 10th century. It marked the time when ewes gave milk, providing essential nutrients during the scarce winter months.

Traditions and celebrations observed around Midwinter are all focused on awakening Nature from its sleep and dormancy. In modern times, we celebrate Spring in March. However, ancient Celtic people saw Imbolc as the beginning of Spring. Although we still have a while until Spring, we know warmer days are ahead of us, and we can feel the happy energy they’ll bring.

Think of Imbolc as a time for fresh starts and new goals. Shed old layers that no longer serve your best intentions. Imbolc traditions echo the anticipation of warmer days, a promise felt in the air, and its lovely energy awakens Nature from its wintry dreams.

The Imbolc Celebration of Brigid

Imbolc is linked to the Celtic goddess Brigid (also known as Brigit, Bríde, or Brighid). She is the daughter of the Celtic God Dagda, a Fae leader of the Tuatha dè Danann. Check out this post if you’d like to know more about Fae’s meaning and mythology.

Brigid is a solar Deity associated with the beginning of Spring and is one of the most popular Celtic goddesses. Her name means the high one or the exalted one. She’s often depicted with fiery hair and a sunbeam cloak; she was born at sunrise with rays of sunlight radiating around her head.

The Goddess Brigid is honored during this Imbolc due to her connections with Spring and a story involving her chasing away Winter. She is known for many things but is often referred to as the goddess of illumination, fire, renewal, and creativity.

People placed crosses and corn dollies in their kitchens for Brigid’s protection from fire. They’d also make food offerings of milk, oats, butter, seeds, or bread outside on the eve of Imbolc for abundance in the coming year. As Christianity grew throughout Ireland and adopted pagan practices into their culture, she became known as St. Brigid.

Learn More About the Goddess Brigid and Her Beautiful Celtic History

How I Celebrate Imbolc 2024

I once heard Imbolc referred to as a cozy day of relaxation and self-care, and the idea of that deeply resonated with me. Nowadays, Pagan holidays are often presented as a grand day of celebration, but they don’t have to be! A day embracing slow living and rest can be so lovely!

One of the best ways to celebrate Pagan holidays is by mirroring Nature around us. The earth is slowly returning to life in my area, so my Imbolc celebrations reflect that. I encourage you to pause and reflect on how you can mirror Nature in your area or climate.

How I Celebrate Imbolc 2024

Imbolc Candle Ritual to Welcome Renewal

During midwinter, the simple act of lighting a candle becomes a profound ritual – an homage to the returning light. A simple candle flame is a symbol of hope and warmth. Its dancing light echoes the ancient rhythm of Nature’s seasons.

When you light a candle, imagine the sun waking the earth and signaling the return of brighter days with each gentle flicker. This Imbolc cord-cutting ritual allows you to release the burdens of the past year so you can embrace the promise of new beginnings. If you’d like a start-to-finish tutorial, watch my Cord-Cutting Ritual video.

Gather Your Supplies

  • Two Candles (the type is up to you, but taper or chime candles are popular choices. If you need help deciding, check out my video Candle Magic Basics)
    • The candle color is up to you! I’d recommend one white candle to represent hope and renewal for the upcoming year. The other black to release negativity and barriers from the past year.
  • Piece of Paper (aka petition paper)
  • Lighters or matches (I like to have two on hand so I can light my wicks at the same time)
  • Fire-safe dish or bowl
  • Salt
  • A cord of your choice (string, twine, hemp, etc.)
  • Journal, notebook, or grimoire (optional)

Prepare the Imbolc Ritual

Find an uninterrupted area where you can create a sacred space, preferably a place where you burn a candle safely. Cleanse the space in the method of your choice (the article linked is specifically for crystals, but the methods used still apply)

Play any music you feel drawn to (I typically like to wear headphones and listen to binaural tones or any music that I feel embodies my intention). Remember to open at least one window so any negative energy you remove has a place to leave.

Find a place to sit comfortably in front of your candles, and allow yourself to enter a tranquil state of mind. Take several deep breaths to center your awareness and connect yourself. At this point, I like to grab my petition paper and write a short sentence describing my intention or purpose. This will help make your purpose clear and add a bit of extra oomph to your ritual.

Dress or Anoint Imbolc Candle

Dressing or anointing your candles isn’t necessary (which is why I didn’t include these items in the supplies list above). Simply choosing a corresponding candle color will be fine.

However, I prefer to anoint my ritual candles because I believe it adds even more of my magic and spiritual intent to the candle. For a complete step-by-step guide, read How To Dress or Anoint Your Candle

Begin the Cord Cutting Ritual

Place your fire-safe dish or bowl somewhere you can keep an eye on it, and somewhere it’s safe to burn a candle. Create a ring of salt on your dish (feel free to add additional herbs as well). Melt the bottom of each candle slightly using your lighter. This will allow each candle to stand upright on your dish. (Note: some spiritual practitioners prefer to place their petition paper under the candle that represents what they’re severing ties with)

Now comes the hard part: tie your cord in a loop and wrap it around both candles. Ha! Getting these to stay in place is easier said than done. I try to place mine about 2/3 of the way to the top of the candles.

When you’re ready, use your lighters to light both candles at the same time to begin the ritual. At this point, I prefer to release the intention of my petition paper in the flame of the candle that represents what I’m severing ties with.

Observe Your Active Spell

This allows you to observe any emotions, sensations, or insights that come up during the ritual. Remember to write down any feelings or thoughts that come to you during the ritual in your journal or grimoire. (I like to record myself on my phone so I don’t get distracted during the ritual, but this is my personal preference.)

Closing and Final Steps

Allow the candles to burn down completely. Take a moment to feel the shift in energy. Express gratitude for the release and welcome the positive changes ahead.

When your cord-cutting ritual is complete, it’s important to dispose of it in a trashcan outside your home once everything has cooled down. Since you’re trying to banish or remove a person, place, or thing, you must remove the spell remnants from your home or area.

Imbolc Candle Ritual to Welcome Renewal

Create a Brigid’s Cross

If you incorporate Brigid into your spiritual practice, creating a Brigid’s cross is a wonderful Imbolc ritual! Brigid’s Cross is a protective symbol that is typically made a few days before Imbolc.

On January 31st, handmade crosses are placed outside your entry door, so Brigid may bless them. On February 1st, the crosses are brought inside for home protection. (FYI, you can also place clothing for her to bless!)

They are typically made from straw, but you can use whatever materials work for you! I sometimes save my dried lavender stems for this project. Here’s an awesome YouTube tutorial with detailed instructions.

Create a Brigid's Cross

Imbolc 2024 Journal Prompts

Taking some time to work in your Grimoire or journal during Imbolc is such a lovely way to slow down and connect with the current season. A time to focus on where you currently are in your life and what changes and goals you’d like to accomplish in the future.

Explore the concept of hibernation as a form of self-care and rejuvenation. What does it mean to you?

Write a letter to your future self for the next Imbolc

What does the return of the light mean to you, and how can you celebrate it in your own way?

Consider the significance of Brigid, the goddess of illumination, in your life. How does she inspire you?

Consider the small, intentional steps you can take toward a big goal.

Share a mantra or affirmation that resonates with your Imbolc intentions.

How can you infuse simplicity into your routines to enhance clarity and focus?

Reflect on the lessons winter teaches about patience, stillness, and mindful consumption.

Start seeds

Depending on where you live, now can be a great time to start some seeds for your indoor or outdoor garden. Using a bay leaf or small piece of paper, write your wishes, goals, or intentions and bury them beneath the seeds.

Remember to practice gratitude and act as if the intention has already happened. Be positive and creative! As your seeds sprout, they will carry your hopes and intentions to fruition.

Remember to focus on your intentions every time you water them. You can even devise a mantra to say to them each time! You can also try planting seeds into eggshells, as I did in my Spring Equinox ritual ideas for Ostara.

Start seeds

Divination at Imbolc: Insights for the Year Ahead

Imbolc begins the subtle transition from Winter’s slumber to the awakening of Spring. This is a perfect opportunity to see what the upcoming year.

As the earth stirs beneath the frosty ground, the sacred art of divination is a great way to connect with your spiritual path and the Universe. Here are a few divination techniques to help get you started!

Scrying Divination
Magic Beginners Need To Know

Casting Bones
How To Read and Throw Bones

Pendulum Board 101
An Ultimate Guide For Beginners

How To Make a Sigil
Powerful Sigil Magic For Beginners

How to Read Smoke Divination
The Forgotten Art of Libanomancy and Capnomancy

Ouija Board
Everything You Need To Know

Egg Cleanse Meaning
and Powerful Ritual Interpretation

Ogham Alphabet
Meanings, History, and Divination For Beginners

Candle Wax Reading
Revealing Hidden Meanings and Magic Symbols

Dice Divination With Numerology
Roll To Reveal Your Powerful Fate

Imbolc 2024 Correspondences

Imbolc correspondences are very helpful when creating an altar, planning your food and meals, or decorating your home for the Imbolc season. Here are a few ideas to get you started, but please feel free to use whatever resonates with you!

Imbolc Spiritual Intentions

  • Creativity
  • Awakenings
  • Introspection
  • Inward focus
  • Fresh beginnings
  • Perseverance
  • Patience
  • Renewal
  • Pureness
  • Personal development
  • Shifting
  • Revision
  • Healing
  • Frugality
  • Self-care
  • Youth

Imbolc Food and Drink

The corresponding food and drinks for each Pagan holiday generally include foods that are in season at that time. Feel free to adjust accordingly to your local area.

  • Root vegetables
  • Dried fruits
  • Stews
  • Mead
  • Fermented foods
  • Grains
  • Dairy
  • Cider
  • Herbal tea
  • Canned foods
  • Oats
  • Pancakes (round and golden like the sun)

Imbolc Colors

The colors white and silver symbolize purity and the final days of the Winter season. Green and pastels represent the coming of Spring and the lovely flowers to come.

  • Light green
  • Soft pink
  • Pale Yellow
  • White
  • Gold
  • Silver
  • Pastel Colors

Imbolc Botanicals

Many of the trees associated with Imbolc stem from their meanings in the Celtic Ogham Alphabet.

  • Snowdrops (this is one of the first flowers to blossom and a sign Spring is on its way)
  • Cinnamon
  • Cedar
  • Rowan
  • Angelica
  • Sycamore
  • Bay laurel
  • Chamomile
  • Dandelion
  • Blackberry

Imbolc Symbols

  • Candle Flame / Light (this is due to its association with Brigid)
  • Seeds
  • Besom/broom
  • Brigid’s cross
  • Serpent
  • Sheep (due to Imbolc’s association with ewe’s milk)
  • White flowers
  • Snowflakes
  • Flowing water and springs (representing purification)
  • Sunwheel (due to the strengthening of the sun’s power)
  • Star
  • Evergreen

Imbolc Animals Correspondences

  • Deer
  • Cow
  • Sheep
  • Lark
  • Swan
  • Bear
  • Wolves
  • Groundhog
  • All burrowing and hibernating animals

Crystals, Metals, and Stones

  • Gold
  • Silver
  • Brass
  • Amethyst
  • Moonstone
  • Garnet
  • Ruby

Incense, Candles, and Scents

  • Cinnamon
  • Rosemary
  • Basil
  • Cedar
  • Mint
Imbolc Correspondences

I hope this post about Imbolc 2024 was helpful! Lots of love to you, and remember, as always…

Sources

1. Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. “Dagda”. Encyclopedia Britannica, 15 May. 2020, https://www.britannica.com/topic/Dagda.

2. Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. “Imbolc”. Encyclopedia Britannica, 24 October. 2013, https://www.britannica.com/topic/Imbolc.

3. Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. “Candlemas”. Encyclopedia Britannica, 8 December. 2022, https://www.britannica.com/topic/Candlemas.

4. History.com. Staff. Groundhog Day: History and Facts. 2 February 2012. https://www.history.com/news/groundhog-day-history-and-facts

5. C. Julius Caesar. Caesar’s Gallic War. Translator. W. A. McDevitte. Translator. W. S. Bohn. 1st Edition. New York. Harper & Brothers. 1869. Harper’s New Classical Library.

6. The Book of Celtic Myths. Adams Media, a division of F + W Media, Inc. 2017

7. Walter, Phillippe. Christian Mythology: Revelations of Pagan Origins. Inner Traditions. 20 November 2014.

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