The Festival of Brighid
Imbolc is the festival of the goddess Brighid, pronounced "Bree" or "Breed" in Gaelic. The word Imbolc translates as "in milk" and it refers to sheep's udders filling with milk in preparation for the birth of their lambs.
It's the time of year when our attention shifts toward spring, as we are three quarters of the way through the dark half of the year. Imbolc falls halfway between the Winter Solstice-–the shortest day of the year, and the Vernal Equinox–when day and night are once again equal. Traditionally it's observed on February 2nd, but astrologically the date moves around a little. This year the astrological Imbolc is February 3rd at 8:27 p.m. EST.
Deep within the earth, the roots and bulbs and seeds that have been resting and dormant all winter long begin to stir and awaken. So, too, do the creative fires that live within each of us.
Brighid is the goddess of the forge and the keeper of the creative fire. It is She who inspires poets and writers and artists of all kinds. This is our holiday! And this is its message.
Everything Gets Better Now
Yes, it has been a dark winter. It always is, and this one has not been easy. Yesterday I saw a tweet that said, "It's not just you. Everyone is having a hard time right now." Reading it felt like a warm hug. But like everything else, hard times pass, and this moment, right now, is when that process begins.
We've been immersed in winter and all the energies associated with it; cold, darkness, scarcity, loss, and sometimes even fear. But it's temporary. Imbolc is like the rainbow after the rain, a reminder that bad times pass away and good times always return, and always outshine the bad.
Brighid is heating up the forge as we speak. She's pumping the bellows, and those cold, dark coals within are beginning to glow once again. She's blowing gently upon them with her breath of inspiration, and tiny flames are beginning to spring forth. She's adding fresh fuel to feed those newborn flames into a warm, crackling fire.
Our ideas begin to flow again. Our stories begin to take shape again and pour themselves onto the page. The paints seem brighter and the brushes fly over the canvas in the hands of the artist. Our inspiration returns. Blocks are broken. Dullness is replaced with light. We become vivid again. Our muses awaken and get back in touch. Our minds quicken with new ideas. Everything old is new again, reborn in it's brand new and improved 2023 version.
Imbolc is a fire holiday. Brighid is often depicted wearing a crown of lit candles. Her priestesses painted their fingernails red in her honor and tended to her sacred flame. The Christians renamed the holiday Candlemas and the goddess St. Brigid. But that really has nothing to do with anything. It is Imbolc, the time of the quickening of those hidden fires deep within us. Our passions ignite and creativity once again heats our inner forge so that our work can begin anew.
Today I will light candles in every room of the house. But mainly, I'll honor the goddess by honoring her inspirations. That's an interesting thought for a writer. We tend to have a solid idea in our minds about what we should be writing, and we sometimes ignore what our souls are yearning to write. Today, of all days, we must go with that yearning. Respect it as the gift that it is, and follow where it leads. No matter how wild!
Today, and all through February, the month of Brighid, we grant ourselves permission to create whatever we feel inspired to create, because that inspiration is the call of the goddess of creative fire. No matter how weird or "not marketable" the idea might seem, we honor the Goddess of Creativity by taking what She offers and running with it.
This is a good habit to cultivate all year long, because if we ignore inspiration long enough, it will dry up. But if we honor our "girls in the basement" and give proper attention, time, and respect to the stories they send up, they will increase their work a hundred-fold.
So light candles. Burn a fire in the fireplace if you have one. The weather certainly calls for it. Know that the darkness is fading. The fire in our hearts right now will power us forward into the warmth and light of spring.
Below: Lisa Thiel's song, IMBOLC, with gorgeous images. It's wonderful!
The Imbolc House Blessing
The tradition of spring cleaning begins today. This is a month for cleansing and decluttering.
Get rid of old candle stumps. Gather them up to be melted down and made into new candles, or to be buried with honor when the weather permits.
Spiritual cleansing comes after a good physical cleanup.
Smudge the House
You'll need a smudge blend. I like to use dried sage with lavender that I grew myself. Drip any oils atop the herbs to add their energies to your smudge. Light it up and get a good smoke going, and then move clockwise through your home, from bottom to top, room by room, always clockwise. Waft the smoke with your hands or with special feathers if you have them. This uses Air and Fire energies.
Asperge the House
Make some moon water in whatever way you desire. I have a ritual and recipe for that here:
I also have pre-made Moon water in the shop here:
Moving in the same way you did above, always clockwise, room to room, sprinkle the water very lightly around the house. Get it into every corner. I like to use a sprig of rosemary or pine. Dip and shake, dip and shake. There is salt in moon water, so this uses Earth and Water energy.
Light the House
Place a candle in the northernmost, easternmost, southernmost, and westernmost windows of your home. Choose any candles you like. Make sure curtains are nowhere near them. Take a fifth candle, red if you have one, and stand as near the center of your home as you can. Light that red candle, and speak your invitation to Brighid to bring her blessings upon your home, to fill it with light and love, prosperity and abundance, health and joy, creativity and inspiration.
Then move to the eastern window, and light that candle, then south, then west, then north. Let the candles burn until you feel it's time to extinguish them, keeping a close eye on them the entire time. When you extinguish, snuff, do not blow them out, with thanks and gratitude for all you have and all that you know is still to come. Do this in the same order you lit them.
The perfect time for this would be at the hour of Imbolc, but I feel more and more as if time is irrelevant. All time is now and now is all time. So really any time during the first week of February, or during the entire month of February, or any time your home's energy feels stale and in need of refreshing.
A note from Maggie
As you can see, I have not closed the magic shop as I intended to do at the end of the year. It turns out the cost for hosting the site does not change without the shop, as I thought it would, so it would not have helped with finances at all.
So far, the magic shop remains open, but new products might be a while coming in. I've been overcommitted with my books, re-launching a 24-book series almost entirely on my own, with a title dropping every other Tuesday from last June through this coming May. The lion's share of that work will be wrapping up by the end of March and I'll once again have more time to devote to this blog, which is the work of my heart.
I'm asking Brighid to inspire in me some other ways to help the Bliss Blog support itself, so stay tuned for new manifestations here on the site. Things should really get hopping again here, soon after Ostara.
Thank you for your continued support.
The High Holy Days and the weeks around them are excellent times for readings!