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 Imbolg (February 2)
Imbolg, also known as Candlemas, comes six weeks after Yule and six weeks before the Spring Equinox. At this time, Witches honor the Celtic Triple Goddess Brid (pronounced Breed) in her maiden aspect. Brid or Brigid is goddess of fire, inspiration, healing, craftsmanship, and midwifery. She is patroness of the hearth, poets, smiths, craftspeople, healers, and priests.

Imbolg is the winter Festival of Lights. It is the quickening of the year, the first fetal stirrings of Spring in the womb of Mother Earth. Spring lies within sight and the seed is prepared for sowing. It is a fire festival, but emphasis is put on light rather than heat -- light as it begins to pierce the gloom of winter.

February 2 is also Groundhog's Day (USA). The groundhog is a manifestation of the God. He has been sleeping since Samhain and stirs in his slumber to get a take on the coming light.

If Candlemas day be sunny and bright, Winter again will show its might.
If Candlemas day be cloudy and grey, Winter soon will pass away.
(Selena Fox)
Imbolc is a time of purification itself. The concept of Spring Cleaning came from this Sabbat. Traditionally the greens of Yule that are left in place for our protection during the deepest Winter months are now removed and burned in a sacred fire. The home is physically cleaned from top to bottom. But its not only our outward surroundings that we can spring clean, but also a time to look with in ourselves and 'clean out' our insides too. To look at our relationships ~ is there any 'unfinished business' that we need to take care of? Have we hurt someone and not made recompense or sought forgiveness?  Should they choose to forgive us or not is their choice, but we can forgive ourselves and learn by our mistakes. Are there old issues from the past that affect our present and hinder our spiritual growth? Free from unnecessary baggage we are ready to face the Spring Rites which are only a few weeks away. 

The herbs of Imbolg play both a practical and spiritual role, in some cases fortifying your strength and endurance, and in others making you feel good about yourself emotionally and spiritually. (Laurie Cabot from _Celebrate the Earth_)

Imbolg's symbolic tree is the ash tree. Herbs of the season are:

Heather, dried sage, celandine, lemon, honey, dried chamomile, coriander seeds, garlic, rose hips, ash leaf or wood, witch hazel or hazel leaves, sunflower seeds, dried sunflower petals, vervain,violets, wheat, corn, grains, myrrh, storax, balsams, dragon's blood, benzoin, mastic
    Brigid in her maiden aspect.
The Three-Fold Fire of Brighid

Fire in the forge that shapes and tempers
Fire in the cauldron that nourishes and heals
Fire in the head that incites and inspires

Traditional foods are from dairy products and spiced with onion, leek, garlic, shallot, and/or olives. The wine may be spiced and the food may contain raisins. Bread puddings and creamy soups are typical.

Asparagus Spears With Herb White Sause
Boiled Custard
Imbolc Biscuits
Faery Wine
Wise and Creamy Salmon Soup

Campanelli, Pauline, Wheel of the Year, Llewellyn Publications 1997
Moorey, Theresa, Paganism, A Beginners Guide, Hodder and Stoughton 1996
Kightly, Carlo, The Perpetual Almanac of Folklore, Thames & Hudson 1987 

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