Crafts for the Imbolc Sabbat

Imbolic oil
Blend a batch of Imbolc oil for your late winter rituals and ceremonies. Synergee/E+/Getty Images

 Imbolc falls on February 2, and it's a time to celebrate the goddess Brighid, as well as rejoice in knowing that the end of winter is coming soon. This is the season when the ewes are nursing their newly born lambs, and spring and the planting season are right around the corner. However, it's still dark and chilly, and for many of us, Imbolc is a fallow time. It's when we stay indoors, warm by our fires, and nourish our souls and spirits. For a lot of people, it's when we're at our most creative. Embrace your muse as Imbolc approaches, and mark the season with these simple craft projects.

01
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Make Your Own Fire Starters

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Image by Heath Korvola/Taxi/Getty Images

Brighid is a goddess of fire, but let's face it—sometimes getting a fire lit on a chilly, windy winter evening can be tricky. Put together a batch of simple fire starters to keep on hand, and you'll be able to get a blaze going at any time!

  • A cardboard egg carton
  • Drier lint
  • Paraffin wax

Heat the paraffin wax in a double boiler. While it is melting, roll the drier lint into balls and stuff it into the cups of the cardboard egg carton. Squash it down so that you still have cardboard above the top of the lint ball. Pour the melted paraffin wax over the top of the lint-filled cardboard pockets. Allow to cool and harden. Cut the egg carton into separate cups, giving you twelve fire starters. When it's time to start your fire, simply light one corner of a cardboard cup. The paraffin and lint will catch fire, and burn long enough to get your kindling going.

For another popular method - one that will seem familiar if you've had a kid involved in scouting - use a flat, short can, like a tuna can.

Take a long strip of cardboard about an inch wide, and roll it into a spiral and then place it inside the can. Pour melted paraffin over it, and once it cools and hardens, you've got an easy-to-transport fire starter that you can take with you anywhere.

02
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Make Ice Candles

Use ice and wax to make ice candles for Imbolc. Image by s-cphoto/E+/Getty Images

Ice candles are a lot of fun and easy to make during the winter months. Since February is traditionally a snow-filled time, at least in the northern hemisphere, why not make some ice candles to celebrate Imbolc, which is a day of candles and light?

You'll need the following:

  • Ice
  • Paraffin wax
  • Color and scent (optional)
  • A taper candle
  • A cardboard container, like a milk carton
  • A double boiler, or two pans

Melt the paraffin wax in the double boiler.

Make sure that the wax is never placed directly over the heat, or you could end up with a fire. While the wax is melting, you can prepare your candle mold. If you want to add color or scent to your candle, this is the time to add it to the melted wax.

Place the taper candle into the center of the cardboard carton. Fill the carton with ice, packing them loosely in around the taper candle. Use small chunks of ice—if they're too large, your candle will be nothing but big holes.

Once the wax has melted completely, pour it into the container carefully, making sure that it goes around the ice evenly. As the hot wax pours in, it will melt the ice, leaving small holes in the candle. Allow the candle to cool, and then poke a hole in the bottom of the cardboard carton so the melted water can drain out (it's a good idea to do this over a sink). Let the candle sit overnight so the wax can harden completely, and in the morning, peel back all of the cardboard container. You'll have a complete ice candle, which you can use in ritual or for decoration.

Be sure to read up on Candle Magic 101 to get some great ideas for color and scent combinations to use!

03
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Make a Brighid Corn Doll

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Make a corn husk doll to honor Brighid. Image by Doug Menuez/Stockbyte/Getty Images

In one of her many aspects, Brighid is known as the bride. She is a symbol of fertility and good fortune, and is seen as yet one more step in the cycle of life, death, and rebirth. Traditionally, the Brighid doll is made of woven grain such as oats or wheat. This version, however, uses corn husks.

If you make a doll at Lughnasadh, you can re-use it in six months, dressing it up in spring colors for Imbolc. This way, the Harvest Mother becomes the Spring Bride. Some traditions, however, prefer not to re-use their harvest doll, and instead choose to start fresh and new in the spring. Either way is fine.

To make this simple doll, you'll need some corn husks—and clearly, in January or February, you probably won't be able to find a lot of those growing outside. Check your grocery store's produce section to get husks. If you're using dried-out husks, soak them for a couple of hours to soften them up (fresh husks need no special preparation). You'll also need some yarn or ribbon, and a few cotton balls.

Take a strip of the husk, and fold it in half. Place two or three cotton balls in the middle, and then twist the husk, tying it with string to make a head. Leave a bit of husk in the front and back, below the head, to create a torso. Make a pair of arms for your doll by folding a couple of husks in half, and then tying it at the ends to make hands. Slip the arms between the husks that form the torso, and tie off at the waist. If you like your dolls plump, slide an extra cotton ball or two in there to give your Brighid a bit of shape.

Arrange a few more husks, upside down, around the doll's waist. Overlap them slightly, and then tie them in place with yarn—it should look like she has her skirt up over her face. After you've tied the waist, carefully fold the husks down, so now her skirt comes downwards, towards where her feet would be. Trim the hem of the skirt so it's even, and let your doll completely dry.

Once your doll has dried, you can leave her plain or give her a face and some hair (use soft yarn). Some people go all out decorating their bride doll—you can add clothing, an apron, beadwork, whatever your imagination can create.

Place your Brighid in a place of honor in your home for Imbolc, near your hearth or in the kitchen if possible. By inviting her into your home, you are welcoming Brighid and all the fertility and abundance she may bring with her.

04
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Brighid's Bed

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Place Brighid in a place of honor near your hearth. Image by Catherine Bridgman/Moment Open/Getty Images

One of the things many people find most appealing about modern Paganism is that the deities are not distant entities who never interact those who honor them. Instead, they drop in on us regularly, and Brighid is no exception. To show hospitality to her on Imbolc, her day of honor, you can make a bed for Brighid to lie in. Place it in a position of comfort, as you would for any visitor. Near your hearthfire is a good spot—if you don't have a fire burning, in the kitchen near the stove is equally welcoming.

The Brighid's bed is simple to make—you'll need a small box or basket. If you want to keep things basic, just line it with a towel or a folded blanket (receiving blankets are perfect for this). If you want to put a little more effort in, stitch up a "mattress" by sewing two rectangles of fabric together, and stuffing them with down or fiberfill. Place this in the basket, and make a pillow in the same manner. Finally, place a warm blanket over the top, and put the bed near your hearth fire.

If you've made a Brighid doll, even better! Place her in the bed before you go to sleep at night. If you don't have a Brighid doll and don't wish to make one, you can use a broom or besom to represent Brighid instead. After all, the broom is an old symbol of female power and the fertility that Brighid represents.

If you want to bring fertility and abundance into your home this year, make sure Brighid doesn't get lonely in her bed. Place a Priapic wand in there with her to represent the god of your tradition. Remember, fertility doesn't just mean sexuality. It also applies for financial gain and other abundance.

Once Brighid is in her bed, you can gather around the hearth fire with your family, and welcome your guest with the traditional greeting, spoken three times:

Brighid is come, Brighid is welcome!

Leave candles burning beside Brighid throughout the night - place them in a dish of sand or dirt for safety considerations. If you need inspiration in a matter, or wish to work some divinatory magic, stay up throughout the night and meditate, asking Brighid for guidance.

If you're trying to conceive a child, place the wand across Brighid in an X shape. This forms the rune "gifu," which means "gift." Another option is to place nuts and seeds in the Brighid's bed as well.

05
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The Brighid's Cross

St. Brigit's Cross
Richard Goerg / Getty Images

The cross has long been a symbol of Brighid, the Irish goddess who presides over hearth and home. In some legends, the girl who became St. Bridget wove the first of these crosses as she explained Christianity to her father, a Pictish chieftain. In other stories, the cross is not a cross at all, but a wheel of fire, which explains why it's a bit off-center in appearance. In parts of Ireland, Brighid is known as a goddess of the crossroads, and this symbol represents the place where two worlds meet, and the year is at a crossroads between light and dark.

In Ireland, homes traditionally had a hearth in the center of the house. This was where much of the household activity took place—cooking, washing, socializing—because it was a source of both light and warmth. A Brighid's Cross was hung over the hearth as a way of honoring Brighid at Imbolc. Most people today have multiple sources of heat and light, but because Brighid is a domestic sort of goddess, you may want to hang your Brighid's Cross over the stove in your kitchen. A Brighid's Cross hung over a hearth traditionally protected a home from disasters such as lightning, storms, or floods, as well as keeping family members safe from illness.

While these can be purchased in many Irish craft shops or at festivals, it's actually pretty easy to make your own. You can incorporate the creation of your Brighid's Cross into your Imbolc rituals, use it as a meditative exercise, or just put one together with your kids as a fun craft activity.

To make your Brighid's Cross, you'll need straw, reeds, or construction paper—if you're using plant material like straw or reeds, you'll want to soak it overnight so it's pliable when you go to make your Cross. Your end result will be about the length of one piece of your material—in other words, a bundle of 12" reeds will yield a Brighid's Cross just slightly longer than 12". For a super-easy, kid-friendly edition of this project, use pipe cleaners. Use the excellent tutorial from Scoil Bhríde NS in County Laois, or Joe Road's YouTube video to learn how to make your own cross.

Once you've completed your cross, it's ready to hang up anywhere in your home, to welcome Brighid into your life.

06
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Brighid's Floral Crown

Image by Westend61/Getty Images

Brighid is the goddess who reminds us that spring is around the corner. She watches over hearth and home, and this craft project combines her position as firekeeper with that of fertility goddess. Make this crown as an altar decoration, or leave off the candles and hang it on your door for Imbolc.

You'll need the following supplies:

  • A circular wreath frame, either of straw or grapevine
  • Winter evergreens, such as pine, fir or holly
  • Spring flowers, such as forsythia, dandelions, crocus, snowbulbs
  • Red, silver and white ribbons
  • Optional: Candles at least 4" long—tapers are perfect for this - or battery operated lights
  • A hot glue gun

Place the wreath form on a flat surface. Using the hot glue gun, attach the candles around the circle.

Next, attach a mixture of winter greenery and spring flowers to the wreath. Blend them together to represent the transition between winter and spring. Make it as thick and lush as you can, weaving in and around the candles.

Wrap the ribbons around the wreath, weaving between the candles. Leave some excess ribbons hanging off, if you plan to hang this on your door or a wall, and then braid it or tie in a bow. If you're using it on an altar, light the candles during rituals to honor Brighid.

Safety Tip: If you're going to wear this on your head, don't use candles! Pick up a set of battery operated tea lights instead, or use a string of battery-powered twinkle lights.

07
of 09

Make a Priapic Wand

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Use acorns and a branch to make a Priapic wand. Image by Chris Stein/Digital Vision/Getty Images

Priapus was a god of fertility, and was always depicted with an erect phallus. In some traditions of Paganism and Wicca, a Priapic wand—phallus-like in appearance—is made, and used in ritual to bring forth the new growth of spring. You can easily make one out of a few outside supplies and some bells. This is a simple project for children as well, and they can go outside at Imbolc and shake the bells at the ground and the trees, calling for spring's return.

First, you'll need the following items:

  • A stick
  • An acorn
  • Craft glue (hot glue works fine as well)
  • Ribbons or yarn in brown, green, yellow, and gold
  • Small bells (get little jingle bells at your local craft store)

Strip the bark from the stick, and create a small notch on one end. Glue the acorn to the end of the stick.

When the glue is dry, wrap the stick in the ribbons or yarn beginning at the acorn—leave extra ribbon at the end to hang down like streamers. Tie the bells on to the end of the streamers. 

Use the wand by going outside around the time of Imbolc. Explain to children that the wand symbolizes the god of the forest, or whatever fertility god exists in your tradition. Show them how to shake the bells, pointing the wand at the ground and trees, in order to wake the sleeping plants within the earth. If you like, they can say an incantation as they do so, like:

Wake, wake, plants in the earth,
spring is a time of light and rebirth.
Hear, hear this magical sound,
and grow, grow, out of the ground.

08
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Brew a Batch of Imbolc Oil

Blend a batch of Imbolc oil for your late winter rituals and ceremonies. Image by Synergee/E+/Getty Images

If you're unfamiliar with blending magical oils, be sure to read Magical Oils 101 before getting started.

This oil blend combines Ginger, Clove, and Rosemary, representing the elements of fire, with Cypress, associated with the astrological sign of Aquarius. To make Imbolc Oil, use 1/8 Cup base oil of your choice. Add the following:

  • 3 drops Ginger
  • 2 drops Clove
  • 1 drop Rosemary (you can, alternatively, use a sprig of fresh rosemary instead)
  • 1 drop Cypress

As you blend the oils, visualize what the Imbolc season means to you, and take in the aroma of the oils. Know that this oil is sacred and magical. Label, date, and store in a cool, dark place.

09
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Imbolc Incense

Smoke Emitting From Incense By Tree
Gautam Rashingkar / EyeEm / Getty Images

Many of us use incense as part of sacred ceremonies. In fact, recently scientists got on board the incense bandwagon and agreed that there are indeed physiological benefits to using it. For thousands of years, we've been burning dried plants and berries in our homes or outside, as part of ritual. When Imbolc rolls around, we've been cooped up in the house for a couple of months, and although we know spring is around the corner, it's not quite close enough for us to get out and enjoy just yet. Make up a batch of Imbolc incense that combines the scents of the season with the anticipation of the warmer weather to come.

Before you begin making your incense, first determine what form you’d like to make. You can make incense with sticks and in cones, but the easiest kind uses loose ingredients, which are then burned on top of a charcoal disc or tossed into a fire. This recipe is for loose incense, but you can always adapt it for stick or cone recipes.

If you haven't yet read Incense 101, now's the time to do so.

As you mix and blend your incense, focus on the intent of your work. This particular recipe is one which evokes the scents of a chilly winter night, with a hint of spring florals. Use it during a ritual, if you like, or as a smudging incense to purify a sacred space. You can also toss some into your fire just to make the house smell like the Imbolc season.

You’ll need:

  • 2 parts cedar
  • 2 parts frankincense
  • 1 part pine resin
  • 1 part cinnamon
  • 1 part orange peel
  • 1/2 part rose petals

Add your ingredients to your mixing bowl one at a time. Measure carefully, and if the leaves or blossoms need to be crushed, use your mortar and pestle to do so. As you blend the herbs together, state your intent. You may find it helpful to charge your incense with an incantation or chant as you blend it. Store your incense in a tightly sealed jar. Make sure you label it with its name and date. Use within three months, so that it remains charged and fresh.