Imbolc: Its traditional themes

celticgateway02Imbolc is the season of inner receptivity in readiness for new beginnings, the festival which celebrates the lighting of the re-vitalizing Brigid fire. At Imbolc, it is good to focus on the IN breath.   Life begins with an In breath.  Imbolc is the time when the year first breathes in. First we receive, and then we give.  This is the breath of in-spiration. The Celts associated inspiration with the goddess Brigid (Brigit), the Goddess of the fire that forges, and of all forms of creativity that flow from inspiration — of both arts and crafts.  She is also the keeper of the sacred wells, especially in Cornwall and in Wales.
Another way we approach  Imbolc is to think of it as the time of re-membering after the dis-membering of Autumn and Winter. Traditionally, the shaman’s journey begins with dis-memberment. As we descend  from the Upper world of manifestation into the Lower world of Dreaming, we let go of form.  In Inuit myth, the youth whom the Elders have picked out  as their next shaman is first dismembered and left in a dark cave, so broken that no bone touches another. But now, at Imbolc, the year is turning, and we begin to move  upward towards  the light again, towards the world of manifestation. In the Inuit myth, before he is ready to emerge from the cave as the new shaman the initiate must first re-member every bone. Re-membering is the inner stuff of transformation that we must set about in the dark before we can emerge again at Spring Equinox into the world of light.
At Imbolc, then, we have a timely opportunity to explore the experience of beginning the return from pure formlessness to re-connect with the body.  The first step in this process is to be open to receive the gift of Brigid’s fire.  Opening to receive the spark  of inspiration, awakening to the creative spark of sexual  fire in the pelvis, beginning to climb towards the light — all these are steps in the movement from the dark formlessness of Dream Time to the world of manifestation and embodiment.