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The Feast of Lights - August 1


The Southern festival on the 1st August is Imbolc, the fire festival that induces the Goddess of Spring to drive away darkness and bring warmth to the soil. Imbolc is also called Brigantia, Imbolg, Oimelc, the Feast of Torches, the Feast of Lights, Snowdrop Festival, the Feast of Pan, the Feast of the Waxing Light, the Bride Festival or Candlemas (Christian from around 6th century). 

For thousands of years, 40 days after the Winter solstice was a special festival sacred to women.  Imbolc is the re-awakening of the Earth after the cold winter.  It is about birth, and new beginnings.  Celebrated in the Northern hemisphere on 1 February; the corresponding time south of the equator is 1 August.

As this is the time to welcome the Maiden aspect of the triple Goddess of the Celts, celebrants wear white. We light a white candle to symbolise the maiden aspect of the Goddess, a green candle to symbolise the Green God.

This is the time of the thaw and the first snowdrops. 

The traditional Songs of Cycle give “Can Cairn” as the englyn for Imbolc, which is known in popular form as “The Huron Carol”.

Imbolc is a time for spring cleaning, for purification in preparation for growth and renewal in your life, as well as of the Earth. On a magical level, this is the festival of the Triple Goddess. Use cinnamon or oranges and orange candles to call joy into your home & life.

As well as normal preparations before ritual, ie cleaning, clearing and grounding yourself, for Imbolc you are also asked to meditate on your life and what you wish to remove from your life to create room for growth in the coming warmer months. If you write a physical list of what you wish to give up, you can physically burn your list during the Imbolc ritual to add emphasis to your decision to clear your life of that which no longer serves you.

If you celebrate in your own home, all you need to do is turn on all the lights in your home at sundown. Let them blaze for a minute or two before you turn them off, to ritually welcome Spring and the lighter months.

If you invite friends to celebrate Imbolc, appropriate foods for this time are white: perhaps an old-fashioned North-of-England cheese-and-potato pie with layers of potato, sliced onions and cheese layered in a casserole with milk or cream.