Imbolc is taken from the Irish-Gaelic which is translated as “in the belly” (of the Mother) and falls around 1 August in the Southern Hemisphere. It represents the quickening of light and life and around us we begin to notice the first stirrings of Spring as the first flowers begin to appear. These seeds have lain dormant within the Earth over the cold Winter months now begin to stir with life. All around us there is evidence of the Earth's slow awakening to the growing power of the Sun, and we may find in ourselves this awakening as we venture more and more outdoors.
Being a festival of fire, Imbolc celebrates the light of Spring piercing the darkness of Winter. As new life flows through the world of nature, we celebrate the waking of the soul as our spirits begin to quicken. Now is the time look toward the future.
In traditional Wiccan lore, at Imbolc the Goddess awakes from her slumber in the Underground and emerges youthful, bright eyed and virginal again. She is the Flower Maiden and while there is an air of innocence about Her, this is coupled with a degree of knowing, similar to retaining knowledge of a past life. She is aware of Her powers of potential and is unrestrained and full of the energy of youth. There is an air of innocent about Her, however She is not naive. It is the young God who tends to be the naive one, as He begins to understand His sacred purpose and is initiated into the mysteries of His sex.
Imbolc is a good time to contemplate what needs to take root and grow in our life, and what to be swept away in order to make room for our new plans. In doing this, it is a good idea to sit down and ponder on some searching questions, to get in touch with what is seeking the light of day within us and to be prepared to let go of anything outworn. However, it is best to proceed cautiously for it is a time to design and plan, to dig foundations rather than to build. Imbolc is the glimmering of the year's increase, but only the first glimmering for, as in nature, the weather can still change and nip new life in the bud.
Imbolc is a good time also to cleanse ritual tools, consecrate items we have not consecrated yet, and even rearrange the altar. Add a small vase of spring flowers or a fresh white candle to capture the essence of Imbolc.