Pronounced im’molk, Imbolc is the second of the Greater Sabbats. It celebrates the official end of ‘dead time,’ the period from 31 October to 2 February. We can see the daylight hours are visibly longer and celebrate the awakening of the Earth’s energies.
With extended daylight comes the promise of spring and the renewal of life. It is recognising the first stirrings of the Earth even if the ground is still frozen. The return of light signals the long-growing season with Summer still a long way off.
Brigid, the goddess of wells and springs, is the patron of Imbolc. She brings fertility to life. The literal meaning of Imbolc is ‘in milk.’ Herd animals usually give birth and suckle their young around this time. This period of lactation is also a signal of the Earth’s energies turning towards Spring. A small offering of dairy food can be made to the fairy folk in return for their blessings on the fields and magic for a good crop.
When we reflect on Imbolc and decipher its meaning on our own lives it is vital to consider the name of the sabbat – Imbolc. One of the primary themes of the great wheel of the year is succour, the consumption of nourishment from Mother Earth.
Milk has a powerful symbolic value as basic nourishment. As children, whether nursed by breast or bottle, milk is our first food. Just as infants rely on their mother’s milk, we rely on Mother Earth to sustain us.
In love and light