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Sunday, January 18, 2015

Countdown to Spring: Imbolc Traditions

The sabbat of Imbolc is known for being a time of purification and the anticipation of spring. Here are some customs that have long been associated with this sacred holiday. 

Spring Cleaning

This is the time to give your home a good thorough cleaning in preparation for a visit from Brigit. If you happen to have a fireplace, it especially should be cleaned very well. As a part of the magical purification of the house a birch branch should be used to symbolically sweep the floors. Birch has strong associations with Brigit, and has long been used for rites of purification and new beginnings. All of this should be done prior to the eve of Imbolc, when a small dish of butter should be placed on a windowsill and a fresh fire kindled in the hearth or a candle lit in honor of Brigit.

Making the Brideog/Brigit's Doll

Long pieces of straw or rushes should be gathered and fashioned into the shape of a doll. The image should be dressed in white doll clothing or merely wrapped in a white cloth in the manner of a dress. Her image should be decorated with bits of greenery, early flowers, shells and pretty stones. An especially pretty shell should be placed over her heart. When finished, she should be consecrated with a few sprinkles of sacred water while invocations to Brigit are spoken. The process is called a Brideog (BREE-JOG), or "little Brid" and is an important part of the traditional Imbolc celebration.

Brigid's Crosses

This is the most widely practiced custom associated with Imbolc. Following the making of the Brideog, the extra straw should be gathered up and saved, for use at the family or coven feast on the eve of Imbolc. These are weavings of straw that can be as simple as a few strands or perhaps even more elaborate. At the end of the evening, you should sprinkle it with a bit of sacred water and speak a request/prayer of Brigid for blessing and protection of the home and family. Crosses that were woven by the children should be hung on the wall over their beds. 


The eve of Imbolc is the best time of the year to perform divinations, specifically pertaining to the future welfare and prosperity of your family.

Imbolc Feast

On the eve of Imbolc, a feast should be held. The doll should be placed on the outside of the home next to an open door. Begin the feast with a prayer of thanks.

Brid's Bed

As the evening of the Imbolc feast winds down, gather up the last of the straw and place in an oblong basket in the shape of a cradle called "leaba Brid" (LAWA BREE) or "the bed of Brid". Place the bed on your altar (or near the hearth if you have one). Then place the Brideog into the bed and place a small straight wand of birch with the bark peeled in the bed beside the figure. This wand is called "slatag Brid" (SLAH-TAHG BREE) or "'the little wand of Brid.

In folk practice, it appears mostly as a holiday centered on the household, but it can easily be turned into a community celebration as well.  

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