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The Llewellyn Encyclopedia

Imbolg Ritual

This article was written by Sandra Kynes on September 29, 2006
posted under Imbolc

Setup
The items needed for this ritual include: Six green candles for the altar; Enough candles to place at the perimeter of your circle; A white altar cloth (white is the predominant color to symbolize winterís hold, with the green candles representing the promise of spring); A chalice with milk (or milk substitute, if necessary); Oat cakes or oatmeal cookies and a plate to the set them on the altar; Straw or twigs cut to an even length; White yarn or string.

Background
Imbolg is half way between Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox. The time of quickening is at hand. We can see the days grow longer as the infant Lord increases in strength. Imbolg marks the lambing season when eweís milk flows. This is a time for gentleness and nurturing.

This time of quickening occurs at the crossroads of the year. No one knows what twists and turns lie ahead in the year that has just begun to unfold. As Goddess of the crossroads, Brigid will help guide your path. Brigidís cross symbolically unites the four directions, elements (and Irelandís four provinces) with the Otherworld/Underworld. As the goddess of crossroads, she is said to be able to see where someone has come from as well as where each road might take them. Because of this, Imbolg is a time for divination, a time to discern and perhaps choose our path for the year ahead.

Imbolg is also a time of divination. As you make a Brigidís cross in this ritual, ask for her to inspire you as to which path you need to follow in the months ahead.

The Ritual
Walk around and place candles on the floor to mark your circle as you say:
As the sun grows bright,
Welcome, Lord of Light.
As the days wax long,
Gloom of winter be gone.


Light a green candle on the altar as you evoke each direction or deity:
Spirits of North, powers of Earth, beneath the lingering snow, life stirs in your bosom awaiting the warmth of spring. I call on your power of quickening. Be with me this night to celebrate the light.

Spirits of East, powers of Air, blow away the dark clouds of winter. Whisper gently to herald the light. I call on your power of awakening. Be with me this night to celebrate the light.

Spirits of South, powers of Fire, rid the world of winterís icy grip. I call on your power to hasten the spring. Be with me this night to celebrate the light.

Spirits of West, powers of Water, bring soothing rains to melt the snow and wash away the staleness of winter. I call on your power to revitalize life. Be with me this night to celebrate the light.

Infant King, son of the Great Mother, you bring the growing light and the hope of spring. Part the darkness with your renewed spirit. Be with me this night to celebrate the light.

Great Lady Brigid, Goddess of healing waters and crossroads, dispel the gloom of winter with your shining love. Be with me this night to celebrate the light.


Raise the chalice of milk and plate of oak cakes in an offertory gesture above your altar, then say:
Tonight I celebrate this quickening time with milk and oat cakes. Sweet oats represent the sweetness of a motherís love. Milk represents the nurturing Goddess. I call on you, sweet Mother, to bless this food.

Before taking a bite of oat cake, say: May Brigidís love sweeten my life.

Before taking a sip of milk, say: May Brigidís love nurture my path.

Take half of the straw or twigs in each hand. Lay one set perpendicular to the other, creating an equal-armed cross. Wrap the yarn over and under at the center to secure them. As you work, chant:
As spell of winter soon will break,
This cross by candlelight I make.
With twists and turns, yarn drawn tight,
Brigid guide me through the night.


When you finish, close your eyes and hold the cross between your hands. Meditate on the path you feel drawn to follow this year. Ask Brigid for guidance. When you feel ready to move back to the everyday world, ground your energy.

Extinguish each candle on the altar as you speak:
Great Lady, Brigid, thank you for your guidance this night and for joining me in my circle. Stay if you will; go if you must. Farewell and blessed be.

Young son, bringer of light, may you grow strong and bright as the year progresses. Stay if you will; go if you must. Farewell and blessed be.

Spirits of West, powers of Water, thank you for the warming rains, and your presence this night. Stay if you will; go if you must. Farewell and blessed be.

Spirits of South, powers of Fire, thank you for piercing the darkness, and for your presence this night. Stay if you will; go if you must. Farewell and blessed be.

Spirits of East, powers of Air, thank you for a breath of spring, and for your presence this night. Stay if you will; go if you must. Farewell and blessed be.

Spirits of North, powers of Earth, thank you for safe-keeping life in your welcoming body, and for your presence this night. Stay if you will; go if you must. Farewell and blessed be.


As you put out the candles that formed your circle, say:
I extinguish the light of this circle, but its spark will remain in my heart. My circle is open but unbroken. May the growing light of the returning Lord remain kindled in my heart.

Blessed be
.

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