February 2nd for most people is considered just the day that the Groundhog will or will not see his shadow. After that, we will either have 6 more weeks of Winter or Spring will be just around the next corner. For Pagans and Celts, we celebrate this day for a very different reason. We call it Imbolc, Brigantia, Lupercus, Oimelc, Brigit's Day or The Feast of Brighid, there are even some Pagan's that call it by it's Christian name of Candlemas.
Imbolc means, very literally, "in the belly" (of the Mother) Earth. For there are stirrings deep within the womb of The Mother Earth, hidden from our sight, yet for some of us, we are able to feel these stirrings on a higher level, sense them with our keener visions, and know that the seed that was planted in her womb at the solstice is quickening and the new year grows. At Imbolc, the newborn Sun God is seen as a small child nursing from his Mother.
As I also stated, this day is also called Brigit's Day, in honor of the Irish Goddess Brigit, who was considered a goddess of fire, patroness of smithcraft, poetry and healing. The Roman Catholic Church really couldn't call the Great goddess of Ireland a demon, so they canonized her instead. That is how "Saint" Brigit, patron SAINT of smithcraft, poetry, and healing came to be. They "explained" this by telling the Irish peasants that Brigit was "really" an early Christian missionary sent to the Emerald Isle.
Now today with the way we use it to foretell the weather is still the way in which our ancestors used this day, for this custom is ancient. An old British rhyme tells us that "If Candlemas Day be bright and clear, there'll be two winters in the year." Actually, all of the cross-quarter days are used as "inverse" weather predictors, whereas the quarter-days are used as "direct" weather predictors. Imbolic involves celebrations of banishing the winter and welcoming the spring. We nurture the new beginnings as we sweep away the old. Some Wiccan groups favor this time of year for initiations into the Craft. It is traditional at Imbolic to light every lamp in the house for a few minutes in honor of the Sun's rebirth.
Herbs: Snowdrop, Bay, Heather, First Flower of the Year.
Incense: Basil, Myrrh, Wisteria, Rosemary, Cinnamon, Frankincense
Colors: Brown, Red, and Pink, White, Orange
Crystals: Amethyst, Garnet, Onyx, Turquoise
Decorations: Lamps, Brooms, Yellow Flowers
Folklore: Traditionally this is the time for Initiations. Basil tea is appropriate in preparation.
Food: Think Fire!!!-Garlic, Curry, Hot Peppers; All Dairy Products, Onions, Chives, Spiced Wine, Seeds, Herbal Tea.
-If you used real pine for the Yule wreath, burn them to send winter on its way.
-On Imbolc eve, leave buttered bread indoors somewhere for the fairies who traveled with the Lady of the Greenwood. Next day place it outside.
-Place 3 ears of corn on the door (like the corn in the Fall) to represent the triple Goddess. Leave until Ostara.
-Cleanse the altar and all its equipment.
-Make dream pillows
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