It’s about that time of year—the winter air is still swirling around us, but we can see signs that spring will return, if only we look closely. For practicing pagans and for many witches as well, this time of year is marked by Imbolc.
From the Celtic tradition, Imbolc is the celebration of the beginnings of the return of spring and is usually recognized from the evening of February 1 to the evening of February 2. Also called Candlemas, it is traditional to involve fire in the celebrations—candles, bon fires, and the like—to signal the return of the sun.
Another tenet of Imbolc is rooted in the idea of the rebirth that spring brings forth for the Earth. Planting early seeds, cleaning and organizing the home, baking breads and cleansing your self—physically, emotionally, and spiritually—are all fantastic ways to practice mindfulness and honor the work the Earth is doing during this midwinter season.
At Arcane Trine Alchemists, each of us has a different way of practicing in daily life as well as in celebration of the pagan sabbats. We don’t believe in prescribing a way to celebrate, but we would like to share some of our personal traditions with you. You are welcome to try them yourselves, but, with all things spiritual, the most important thing is that you are being true to you. If you do decide to try any of our rituals, we recommend you meditate on ways to imbue yourself and your personal practice into them.
For example, Pauline, ATA’s resident rune reader, doesn’t have any specific rituals for Imbolc. For every pagan sabbat and full moon, she does a full tarot and rune reading for herself.
“Because it’s February in Western New York, I usually do something inside,” she says. “And it also depends on the day of the week; I have to arrange my rituals around whatever is going on.”
Andrea, ATA’s astrologer, is quite the opposite. She sets up an Imbolc altar, decorated with amethyst crystals. She also lights a white candle—representing the light in spring’s return—in a salt bowl—representing the snow—and dresses the bowl with basil, dill, and rosemary.
“I spring clean my house leading up to Imbolc, and on the day it’s on, I enjoy a cleansing ritual bath with chamomile, lavender, and rosemary,” Andrea says. “I also do some shadow work leading up to the holiday, and then I burn it to release anything I need to do to receive spring’s abundance.”
Similarly, Hannah’s practice centers on cleaning and renewal. Imbolc is the catalyst to begin her spring cleaning, so that when the snow finally melts and the air is warm, she can take all her donations to a local charity or halfway house.
“Clearing space for new things to come into my life is important but making sure those things are leaving my life in a sustainable and helpful way is even more important,” says Hannah, ATA’s primary oracle reader. “If you are just throwing things out, you’re creating more waste. Find ways to repurpose or upcycle things. If you can’t, then find ways to reduce your use of those items in the future and donate them where they can be used—if they are donatable and will bring happiness and dignity to someone to have them.”
Cooking is also a large part of Hannah’s practice, and she tries to incorporate a beautiful dish into every occasion. This Imbolc, she’s planning a lemon pound cake.
“The brightness of lemon flavor and the sweet indulgence of the cake really screams Imbolc to me. That tart sweetness of lemon feels very springy to me, and incorporating a little sweet-toothed self-care can never hurt!”
Between the alchemists, the most important part of celebrating Imbolc is recognizing the rebirth. By manifesting through tarot readings, shadow work, or cleansing rituals, we recognize the transformation happening right before all of our eyes. As the crunchy snow beneath our boots turns to mud, and the snowdrops and daffodils being to brighten our neighborhoods, we can see the light coming and the death of winter that will see the Earth once again reborn.
Here at ATA we are dedicated to providing you with the best of ourselves. We are using our skills and talents and our dedication to our practice to guide and entertain you. We are sharing our knowledge, love and light to inspire, empower and challenge you.