Simple Imbolc Rites for Wiccans: No Tools or Major Rituals
Imbolc is coming; the Feast of Waxing Light. On the Wiccan Wheel of the Year, it's a major sabbat. But big rituals and celebrations are not always possible.
What's Imbolc? Learn here.
Maybe you're new; you don't have tools, you haven't learned much about formal ritual and you're unsure what to do. Maybe you live with people who are not supportive of your beliefs. Maybe you have been Wiccan for years, but you are visiting your sick grandmother and don't have your ritual tools with you, or you're working overtime the week of the holiday and you are just too tired to set up and go through a major ritual. Whatever the case-- it happens.
You don't need to do anything major for the sabbat. Wicca is not a religion that teaches the Gods will be angry if you don't observe certain days. We observe the sabbats for our own benefit, our Gods don't need us to do anything. Don't get me wrong-- it's good to observe the holidays, and sometimes a huge ritual can be very meaningful. But just because you can't go all out doesn't mean you have to ignore it. Acknowledge it in a smaller but equally meaningful way.
Wheel of the Year: Imbolc
You Will Need
A candle (a sun color, such as red or orange, is excellent)
A paper snowflake (cut out a rudimentary one out of typing paper)
A pot or other heat-proof container
Any other altar tools or items you feel are appropriate
'Goodbye to Winter' Rite
Sit in a darkened room. Place your candle in a safe holder before you, and set the pot next to it. Don't light it just yet.
If you wish, you can have a night light or some other small candle or dim lamp on so it's just bright enough so that you can see. You don't want to hurt yourself stumbling around in the dark.
Take your snowflake and go outdoors for a while, or to a window. Experience winter's icy chill. Hold up your snowflake and contemplate the meaning of winter-- the time for the land to slumber while the Sun regenerates.
Return to your candle, keeping that thought in mind. Meditate on your snowflake in the dark (or near dark).
When you're ready, say these or similar words:
The days grew shorter and shorter; the darkness spread across the land
Winter’s grip grew tighter still, and the cold enveloped the Earth
The land froze over, and we watched life wither and fall by the wayside.
The chill set into our bones, and the days became bleak.
Yet we know the darkness is never total; we know the cold won’t last.
The spark of light from the womb of the Goddess always remains,
And always comes back to bring warmth, comfort and hope.
Light the candle; feel the light grow, filling the room. Envision the spark of the sun, growing and filling the land.
That spark of light, like the light at the end of the tunnel, is always there.
Even when we’re plunged in the depth of darkness and despair, we know it is there.
It is always promised to be there; and even when we can’t see it, we have only to
Remember it in our hearts… and, as promised, the light always returns.
It grows, and melts away the winter.
Light the snowflake on the candle flame and place it in the heat proof pot.
It melts away the cold. It grows and melts away the despair.
It fills the darkness, bringing the promise of hope, and a chance to start anew.
I can feel the light growing, in me and around me, to guide me through.
Meditate on the meaning of the season. Later, scatter the snowflake’s ashes outdoors to get rid of them.
Do you celebrate Imbolc with kids?
Turn it Into a Spell
You can actually use the above right as a spell instead of just a seasonal observance. Write the name of a baneful habit or situation you wish to get rid of on the snowflake. As you cast it into the fire, say a prayer that the habit or situation fade and you find a chance to renew yourself.
As it burns in the heat-proof pot, chant the following chant to lend power to the spell:
Burn fire burn, desire, desire,
Flame higher flame, now let the change come! (author unknown)
When you're done, finish with "It melts away the cold..."
Don't Forget the Music!
Music For Imbolc
To me, something is missing from a holiday if there isn't seasonal background music. This album captures the spirit of this festival perfectly for me. I had the pleasure of seeing Damh the Bard perform recently, and it was a real treat to hear him sing some of these songs. Highly recommended.
Imbolc Simple Purification Rite
Make some blessed water for this one. You can leave a bowl of water out to absorb the light of the full moon, or you can purify water with salt and bless it yourself. If you prefer you can use the Imbolc Hearthfire Purification Potion I give instructions to make here.
Take a bowl of blessed water, and something to use as an aspergil—a bundle of rosemary branches or snowdrop flowers, for example.
Say a prayer to your Gods. If you worship a hearth Goddess, this is a good time to invoke Her. Hold up the bowl. Ask Them for purification and blessings.
Dip the bundle in to the water and use it to sprinkle around the room to drive the dredges of winter away. Don’t forget to sprinkle yourself as well.
Bury your aspergil under a tree and pour out the water as an offering.
Wiccan Simple Feast
A Celebration of Earth's Bounty
Fasting is a good way to spend Imbolc to remember that winter was such a time of sore need, and why our Pagan ancestors celebrate this time of year.
Go for a walk through a natural area, or go sit outdoors for a while. Bring a cup of milk and a cream-filled treat, such as a Boston cream donut or cream puff. Alternatively, you can use some pudding, cottage cheese or cheese spread on crackers-- just make sure it's a cream or milk-based food product.
Meditate on the harshness of winter, and how our Pagan ancestors were once clinging to life at this time of year. The days were dark and frigid. Whole families could be wiped out by a flu bug. By this point, they're probably eating the last of rotted vegetables and dried meats to survive. There are no stores to go to, hunting and fishing are dangerous and there's not much to catch, and nothing is growing.
If you've been fasting, as you sit there hungry and cold, think about what ancient Pagans had to endure every year just to survive.
Just when things were at their bleakest, came the season of lambing and a new food source-- milk.
Imagine the joy at the sight of this warm, fresh new food source. Imagine the relief-- spring is around the corner, now. Winter's almost over.
Draw a pentagram over the milk in the air with your finger. Draw a pentagram in the air over the food. Hold them up and say:
The Earth's bounty continues to renew itself and give us the necessities of life.
As I do accept the gifts of the Earth, I freely give in return.
Spill out some of the milk onto the ground, then take a sip and savor it. Take some of the food and crumble it, sprinkling it over the floor. Take a bite and savor it.
Thank your Gods for the Earth's bounty. If you like, sprinkle seeds or bread crumbs as an offering to the animals.
Bless the Seeds
If you have an altar or a shrine, place your spring seed packets on top of it.
If you don't have a permanent altar or shrine, find a clean surface to do this.
Place a red candle in a holder on the center of the surface. If you prefer, you can put an electric or battery-powered 'flameless' candle, or put out a lamp or lantern.
Spread the seed packets around the candle or lantern.
Dedicate the candle or lamp to the Sun God:
Lord of the Sun, who grows stronger by the day,
I dedicate this light to you; for all lights are a spark of your Divine Power.
May it shine and bring forth it's blessings.
Light the candle or lamp. Dedicate the seeds to the Earth Mother:
Great Goddess, Mother Earth, from whose fertile womb all things spring forth,
I dedicate these seeds to you, that you may enfold them in your embrace,
Nurture them so they may grow and bring forth your blessings.
Leave the seeds there with the light on for a while, or overnight if you like. If you are using a candle, let it burn out and bury the wax in your garden.
© 2013 Mackenzie Sage Wright