Imbolc is one of the eight Pagan Sabbats that form the Wheel of the Year. The equinoxes and solstices form four of these holidays, and the others are called Cross Quarter days because they fall at the midpoint between an equinox and solstice. As the first Sabbat in the calendar year, Imbolc is sometimes called the Pagan New Year or the Witch’s New Year. This pagan festival falls in early February, halfway between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox, and celebrates the fact that winter is nearly at an end.
The word “Imbolc” comes from the Old Irish word meaning “ewe’s milk” or “in the belly.” This festival focuses on the end of winter and the rebirth of life into the world. For Goddess worshipping pagans, Imbolc is the point when the Goddess transitions forms from Crone to Maiden.
The Celtic goddess Brigit or Brigid tends to take center stage for Neopagns on Imbolc. This goddess is associated with fire, fertility and healing waters. As such, many Imbolc rituals and celebrations involve candles, bonfires or holy water. Paganism is extremely individualistic, so different Pagan traditions will favor different rituals, and individuals within each tradition will have their own personal favorites. Whether you are a Pagan looking to honor the Maiden or a non-Pagan looking to celebrate the ending of winter, here are five ways to celebrate Imbolc.