Imbolc is a cross-quarter Sabbat, marking the waning of winter and the earliest stirrings of spring. The exact cross-quarter point occurs when the sun reaches 15 degrees Aquarius, although it is often celebrated from sundown February 1st to sundown February 2nd. Many of us are tired of the cold air, weary of being indoors, and we long for light and warmth to carry us through until the sun regains his full strength. Thus, we honor Brigid, the ancient Celtic goddess of the hearth, at this time of year. The Celts believed that it was she who wandered over the frozen landscape, melting the ice and snow with her sacred flames to wake the earth again.
The past week brought plenty of wintery weather into the southeastern United States, resulting in traffic woes and emergency situations for many. Even balmy Savannah got enough ice to shut down some of our bridges and close schools for a couple of days. The traditional focus of Imbolc is to drive winter away, so perhaps that is more relevant than ever after experiencing harsher conditions and colder temps. It’s time to light our candles, keep our hearth fires burning, and decorate our altars with flowers that remind us of better days ahead.
Mentally and emotionally, we also shift from the solitude and darkness of the Crone (which is necessary for personal growth) to the energy and enthusiasm of the Maiden (which spurs us to put our plans into action).
I had to smile when I saw the moon phases for Imbolc as well, because she will move from watery Pisces into fiery Aries. How perfect for Brigid, our goddess of sacred wells and flames. I love the idea of not only melting physical ice, but also melting the ice that builds up around our hearts. What conflicts need resolving? How can I live a more heart-centered life? What needs to be brought into the light to be healed? These are the questions I will be pondering as I create my ritual for Imbolc, which will no doubt involve candles and ice cubes.
Brigid is also a goddess of crafts, so I couldn’t let this Sabbat go by without making something in her honor. Here’s an incense recipe that I tried and liked. Cedar and pine are clearing, frankincense and orange peel are uplifting, cinnamon gives it just enough heat, and the rose lends a bit of sweetness—altogether perfect for Imbolc.
You’ll need a mortar and pestle to grind the pine and frankincense resins and a grater for the cinnamon sticks and orange peel. I’ll admit that this incense does take some work and elbow grease, but it’s worth it! You can dry orange peels in the oven at 250 degrees for about 20 minutes or until they start to curl up. Then allow them to cool and stiffen before grating. I obtained pine resin from Shaman’s Market, and I found dried, food grade rose petals from a supplier on Amazon. Why food grade? Because the roses you get from floral shops are often sprayed with chemicals to repel bugs, and you don’t want that in your incense.
After you grind and grate all the ingredients, you should have something like this:
When you mix all the ingredients, you get a lovely combination of scents and colors:
I recommend storing incense in glass containers. It keeps better, and it’s a great way to recycle. I like to save small jars that have an interesting shape and then crochet a pretty cover for the lid. Here’s the finished product:
Love, light, healing, and peace to all. Have a blessed Imbolc!