The ancient Celts celebrated the first day of spring on February 1st. The Irish climate is milder than ours and around this time the earth begins to thaw, hardy plants send up their first tentative shoots, more birds are singing, and pregnant sheep start to lactate.
We may not be able to see many of these first signs of spring, but we can feel a stirring of seeds deep in the soil and an awakening in our spirits as the days grow longer and brighter. Imbolc is the halfway point between winter and spring. It represents the turning of nature's clock from the dark, frozen days of winter to the lighter, airy days of spring.
Also known as Brigid's Day, Imbolc is devoted to both the ancient fiery goddess Brigid and Saint Brigid of Kildare. Some believe these are actually the same person, and the latter is a Christianized version of the goddess adopted by the church in the sixth century, but both are revered for their healing miracles and eternal, sacred fires.
I've been reading a lot about Imbolc lately as it plays a part in my next Seal Island story. In The Selkie Sorceress, both Glenna and Moira have the ability to wield fire, but while Glenna uses her magic to protect the ones she loves, Moira uses hers only to destroy. The color of their enchanted roses reflects this theme--Glenna's are orange, Moira's are black.
I am VERY close to finishing The Selkie Sorceress, and tentatively plan to release it in March, but I'll announce a firm date in the next few weeks. In the meantime, I've created a board of magical images for the story on Pinterest that offers a few hints into the storyline and some beautiful images for Imbolc. :)
There are many ways to celebrate Imbolc. You can do a bit of spring cleaning in your home, light a sage stick to cleanse a favorite room, build a fire in Brigid's honor, or light a candle and give thanks for the gifts of winter. I am celebrating Imbolc by stepping out of my writing cave for a few days and reconnecting with all of my wonderful online friends. I have been very quiet these past few months while writing this story, but I can't wait to hear what everyone's up to!
What will you do to celebrate Imbolc? Are you ready to chip away at the ice of winter and welcome in a renewed sense of energy, or do you still need a few more weeks of rest before you're ready to come out of hibernation?