During the peak of winter lies Imbolc. As the wheel turns and the fierceness of winter is upon us, we celebrate the fire that keeps us warm and the fertility that keeps us alive. Imbolc is a holiday that marks the halfway point of the dark season with the concept of renewal and rebirth. As the spring is on its way, so is new life both through physical birth and the figurative birth of new ideas and projects.
Imbolc is a time to celebrate the hearth and home. And what better way to celebrate home, than with the members of your spiritual home. A great way to celebrate Imbolc is with your coven mates as you come together at the height of the darkness to bring forth the light of Imbolc.
There are several ways to celebrate Imbolc as a coven. Each one honors various aspects of the season and Brigid, the Irish goddess of the fire and fertility. And while best done with a coven, these ideas can also be applied to groups of solitaries coming together for an Imbolc celebration.
Imbolc is wonderful for an initiation ritual as it is a time of beginnings and renewal. This time of year is perfect for new members to dedicate themselves to the coven and be welcomed into the group. Take this time during the turning of the wheel to incorporate new members, allow them a great space to dedicate themselves to the craft, and your coven during this time of new beginnings.
If there are no new initiations, consider a group re-initiation ritual to confirm each person’s position within the coven and bond together as you pledge to work with one another in perfect love and perfect trust.
Imbolc is a great time to plant seeds and watch them begin to grow. As the plant sprouts, a new beginning arises. All projects and ideas come from an initial seed just like plants. Use the plant as a symbol for nurturing your new project or idea. You can physically plant seeds in a garden during this holiday or plant them in individual pots for members to take home.
Here’s a different take on planting seeds and growing a new idea. Think about inviting new practitioners to check out the group on Imbolc as a way to start new beginnings. What better way to begin something new than to bring a new potential member into the coven? They will be able to grow their pagan practice and spirituality while at the same time, the coven grows in numbers and strength. Perform an open Imbolc ritual and then have a meet the coven night where new potential members can greet and learn about your group. Or have a closed ceremony and then bringing potential members in afterward. If your coven doesn’t require new members or has reached capacity, reach out to other covens and ask them to join you in a massive group celebration.
As a time marking new crops and the beginning of life for plants and animals alike, it is a great time to have a feast. Imbolc is a milk holiday, so focus on dairy for this particular feast. Ask each coven member to bring in a different type of cheese and cracker and celebrate with a delicious spread. Add in spicy foods to compliment the dairy and round out the feast. Consider garnishing the table with raisins, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds. Bake cakes, breads, pancakes, or waffles to either eat alone or with the myriad of cheeses. Wash it all down with hot herbal tea, and you have an easy feast that honors the season.
Making straw or corn dollies are the perfect way to celebrate Imbolc as a coven. Make them before the ritual and use them as part of it to connect your energy with coven members. Or make them during the ceremony to celebrate the power of the feminine. Either way, corn, and straw dollies are not only fun to make, but they make a great gift to exchange with or give to someone. A fun idea is to invite the children in the coven to celebrate Imbolc by making or decorating dollies as well as creating acorn wands for them.
Saint Brigit of Kildare is the patron goddess of Imbolc. Brigid’s crosses are made from wheat stalks and exchanged as symbols of prosperity and protection in the coming year. Many people keep their crosses hanging on the back of a door at home, in their offices, or on their altar all year long. As a coven, you can make crosses together as part of the Imbolc ritual. Weave them all together on a long string or exchange them with one another for protection and prosperity.
Another great way to celebrate Imbolc together as a coven is to make candles. Candles are the light used to honor Brigid. Have each member of the coven donate some materials such as wax, wicks, or molds to use for making candles. Choose colors or scents that appeal to you and have each member make their candle. If you don’t have time to make your candle, you can always have each member of the coven bring several candles for the Imbolc ritual. Light all of the candles during the ritual to welcome back the light and honor the solar goddess Brigid. The High Priestess may want to wear a crown of candles to symbolize the return of the goddess to her maiden form.
Imbolc is closely tied with the sacred feminine, so your group may want to pay homage to the women within the group. If you are a co-ed coven, allow the women to take the significant roles in the holiday as the power of the goddess grows very strong this time of year.
Incorporate various symbols of Imbolc into each of the rituals above in a way that works best for your group. Consider color, herbs, incense, and food along with other magickal tools when designing your specific coven celebration. Weave the many ways to celebrate as a coven into your individualized Imbolc and feel the magick flourish around you and your coven mates.