During this time of the year many Pagans in the northern hemisphere are celebrating Imbolc. So I figured this would be a good time to cover what Imbolc means for not only a vast majority of Celtic focused Pagans but also many Christians out there, since in my practice I celebrate this overlap.
I want to first start with the significance of this time of the year. This is the time that we get the first signs of the spring season. This is seen by the onset of the lambing season, the beginning of the spring sowing, and the blooming of the blackthorn. It is also almost the midpoint between Yule and Ostara. The actual midpoint would be around the fourth of February but I’m not going to quibble over a 1-2 day difference because solstices and equinoxes can differ slightly. This is why in my practice I put a more hard line date to these days. We are also seeing the lengthening of days during this time of year as well. Because of this we see the lighting of candles playing a prominent role in practices and this reflects the increasing power of the sun.
In Christianity this time of the year is often referred to as Candlemass. I often interchange the words Imbolc and Candlemass in my practice. This celebration commemorates the presentation of Jesus at the Temple. This is a practice was done 33 days after circumcision along with a sin offering to purify the mother. Today in Christianity, candles are often brought to the local churches to be blessed for use during the rest of the year. In this practice the candles are a symbol of Christ being the light of the world.
This is also the time when the Catholic Church celebrates St. Brigid of Kildare whose feast day is the first of February. She is argued to be the Christianized figure of the Goddess Brigid who is the Goddess of healing, poetry, and smithery.
With that all mentioned let’s talk about the Pagan aspect. This in antiquity would be celebrated during the night of January 31st in the the day of February 1st. This could vary in the date due to the onset of the lambing season. This again would be celebrating the lengthening of days. Being a festival of hearth and home, some celebrations would include hearth fires, special foods, divinations, the lighting of candles, and purification. Holy wells were also often visited. During this visitation the visitor would walk around the well while praying for health. They would then leave offerings and get water from the well that would be used on the home, family, and fields.
With that very brief background on what Imbolc is, what does that mean for this witch?
This is one of my favorite holidays. I celebrate on the 2nd of February because that was also my grandfather’s birthday. He died when I was around six years old and he and I were buddies. So this has also become a way to honor him since he is in my ancestral pantheon. This is also the first sabbat that I ever celebrated. Those two reasons alone have been a driving force as to why it’s one of my favorite Sabbats.
This year I am also doing something I have never done for Imbolc. Since my practice is a blended one, I really want to bridge the gap that is often thought to be between Paganism and Christianity. My original thought was to bless my candles for ritual and spell use, but I have an ungodly amount of candles. So that idea needed to be changed since I’m in no way going to have a candle blessing marathon. There are just too many and they are all over the place so it is not really a feasible avenue for me. So what I’m doing for my practice on this Imbolc is still going to include blessing a candle but will also include making a candle. In the last year I have started making candles. I have made these for sale in the store or for regular use around the house if I’m trying out a new scent. I have not yet made one specifically for my practice though. This candle will be made with the scent of Frankincense, Myrrh, and my favorite, Dragon’s Blood. My intention of this candle is as the illumination candle during ritual or spellwork. When this candle is first lit it starts the process of setting the sacred space and it continues to be lit until the ceremony, ritual, or spellwork is concluded.
Following the creation of this candle I am then going to bless it by loosely using the Roman Ritual. I am taking the original verbiage of the Roman Ritual and adapting it to and for my practice. Below is a comparison of the portion of the Roman Ritual as well as the adapted blessing of candles prayer.
In the adaptation I have used the basic structure. I have taken out the pluralization since it is just me and since I am also a Mason I have included some masonic language as well as Pagan aspects.
From the Roman Ritual:
BLESSING OF CANDLES
P: Our help is in the name of the Lord.
All: Who made heaven and earth.
P: The Lord be with you.
All: May He also be with you.
Let us pray.
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, bless + these candles at our lowly request. Endow them, Lord, by the power of the holy + cross, with a blessing from on high, you who gave them to mankind in order to dispel darkness. Let the blessing that they receive from the sign of the holy + cross be so effectual that, wherever they are lighted or placed, the princes of darkness may depart in trembling from all these places, and flee in fear, along with all their legions, and never more dare to disturb or molest those who serve you, the almighty God, who live and reign forever and ever.
They are sprinkled with holy water.
My help is in the name of the Grand Architect of the Universe
Who made heaven and earth
Lord and Lady be with me in this moment of working
Jehovah and Sophia, emanations of the Grand Architect of the Universe, bless + this candle at my request. Endow it with you Holy + presence. Bless it from on high. Dispel that which does not serve me. Let the blessing received from this Holy + Cross be so effectual that wherever it is lighted or placed, those who I do not wish to stay must depart my sacred space.
So mote it be
Anointed with holy water.
If you are interested in how I create my version of holy water let me know and I will share the differences from the Roman Ritual and my version of holy water.