(February 1st or 2nd)
also known as: Candlemas, Imbolg, Imbolgc brigantia, Lupercus, Disting
IMBOLC: The earliest whisperings of Springtide are heard now as the Goddess nurtures Her Young Son. As a time of the year associated with beginning growth, Imbolc is an initiatory period for many. Here we plant the "seeds" of our hopes and dreams for the coming summer months.
The primary purpose of Imbolc is to celebrate Spring's impending replacement of Winter. In this sense, Imbolc may be seen as a spiritual alternative to the secular celebration of New Year's Eve.
At New Year's Eve, we often see the image of old, bearded Father Time replaced with a young baby. Father Time represents the old, outgoing year, and the baby celebrates the year just born. At Imbolc, we have similar imagery; an old crone represents the outgoing year, and turns things over to a young maiden.
Fertility, of course, plays a part here. The frozen earth is incapable of growing things, just as the old crone has grown incapable of producing offspring. This barrenness is replaced by the warm return of Spring, making the earth once again fertile, symbolized by the fertile young maiden.
How to Celebrate Imbolc