Imbolc By Any Other Name…

It’s that time of year again, Imbolc right around the corner.  And every year for several years now, I ask why?  I go through the motions, but truthfully, feel nothing for this high day.  I am not Celtic nor am I drawn to Brid, even though I have lots of Irish and Scotts blood in me, there is no connection to this hearth.  So every year I ask myself why?  Why must I honor Imbolc? Just because I am told its tradition?  Aren’t there other ways to honor this high day?


This year I decided to ask others why instead.  I posted a question on ADF General Decision board and got some very interesting answers that, truthfully, are helping me with this high day.  So I thought I’d share my thoughts and the answers that were giving to me.


It is interesting all the different traditions that go along with this day, many that I had never associated with it, but now a light bulb is going off in my head.  The tradition of spring cleaning and preparing for the upcoming spring season seems to be a big part of the high day. This makes some sense to me but I think what made more sense was when a grove mate suggested including the Cailleach with our working of Brid.  After reading the myths that link these two goddesses together it does make sense and adds a depth that I hadn’t felt before.  I must admit though, the one big thing I enjoy about honoring Brid on Imbolc is all the crafty items you get to make, sorry, that’s just me.  I love making these kinds of things.


Several people had mentioned ways of honoring their own pantheon at this time of year.  Some honored deities associated with healing or plants, example Airmid, Epona and Demeter.  Demeter and Epona are associated with plants and the harvests to come while Airmid is an Irish goddess of healing, specifically herbs.  I find the Airmid the most interesting of the three because of her link to herbs, which I am teaching myself and have been for years.  Another person had mentioned that their grove honored Perkunas and Gabija, both Baltic deities.  Perkunas purifies the earth, getting it ready for spring will Gabija is also the goddess of hearth and fire. In the examples giving me, I find it interesting that they all share the aspect of preparing for spring, the coming of plants or are a hearth goddess, in the case of Gabija.  I had never before thought of this time along the lines they have and truthfully, it brings up a lot of interesting thoughts and ideas.


The Norse hearth cultures honor Disting, also known as Ewemeolc, on Feb 1 or 2.  The common tradition of this high day is blessing objects or tools and starting new projects.  Disting is very similar to Imbolc.  I’m curious as to why they are so close, could it been a case of neighbors influencing each other?


While all these traditions are still based on the assumption that spring is beginning, I still have to agree with the comment that had been made that being in Michigan, it’s the middle of winter, spring isn’t coming yet.  But what is coming is little more sunshine every day.  Maybe that’s why I don’t connect so much with this high day.  It doesn’t feel like spring is coming, to cold and dark, but it is the mid-point and it is getting lighter out sooner, the days are starting to get longer.  Maybe by only a few minutes, but it is happening.  That part I can connect with.


Another tidbit mentioned, that I thought was interesting was the fact that a lot of people refer to the high days as Solstice, Equinox or Cross-quarter (add seasonal description) not Imbolc because of the fact they do not celebrate it.  This makes sense because you are describing what you are doing but not calling it something it isn’t.


After taking notes, looking up different deities mentioned and different practices, I’m glad I asked this question.  It’s helped me define what I want in my own practice and helped me understand a little more about different groves way of handling this high day and different ways to honor Imbolc itself.


2 thoughts on “Imbolc By Any Other Name…

  1. It was a good reality check for Gen to mention that when she was first actively studying Celtic practices, her readings gave no indication of Brid being a centrally important deity. I honestly wonder the extent to which the prominence of St. Brigit in the Irish Catholic tradition shaped our modern concept of her ancient importance.

    Thanks for posting this!

  2. Some of these are totally new to me, and very interesting! I’ve been honoring Imbolc since before I knew of Brid (ok, I was a tad uneducated back then), but overall the same themes keep coming up. I admit, sometimes I think of Imbolc as Candlemas, even now! I’ve always wondered if the old Catholic tradition of bringing the household’s candles to be blessed on St. Brigit’s Day was derived from some ancient pagan practice.

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