Imbolc Rituals and Ceremonies

Redhaired woman outdoors in spring
foxline / Getty Images

Imbolc is a time of celebration and ritual, often honoring Brighid, the goddess of the hearth. This is also a time of new beginnings and of purification. Celebrate the Imbolc season by performing rites and rituals that honor the themes of the end of winter.


Imbolc Altar with Flowers and Candles
Patti Wigington

Wondering what to put on your altar? Here are some great ideas for symbols of the season. Depending on how much space you have, you can try some or even all of these. Use what calls to you most! More »

Redhaired Woman Outdoors
Brighid is well known as a goddess of healing. foxline / Getty Images

If you're looking for prayers or blessings, here's where you'll find a selection of original devotionals that bid farewell to the winter months and honor the goddess Brighid, as well as seasonal blessings for your meals, hearth, and home. More »

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Group Ritual to Honor Brighid

Woman Holding Candle Amidst Snow Covered Branches
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This ritual is designed for a group of individuals, but could easily be adapted for a solitary practitioner. At this time of returning spring, our ancestors lit bonfires and candles to celebrate the rebirth of the land.

In many areas of the Celtic world, this was the fire feast of Brighid, the Irish goddess of hearth and home. Set up your altar with the symbols of Brighid and the coming spring–a Brighid's cross or dolly, potted daffodils or crocuses, white and red yarn or ribbon, young fresh twigs, and lots of candles.

Also, you'll need an unlit candle for each participant, a candle to represent Brighid herself, a plate or bowl of oats or oatcakes, and a cup of milk.

If you normally cast a circle in your tradition, do so now. Each member of the group should hold their unlit candle before them.

The HPs, or whoever is leading the rite, says:

Today is Imbolc, the day of midwinter.
The cold has begun to fade away,
and the days grow longer.
This is a time in which the earth is quickening,
like the womb of Brighid,
birthing the fire after the darkness.

The HPS lights the Brighid candle, and says:

Bright blessings at midwinter to all!
Brighid has returned with the sacred flame,
watching over home and hearth.
This is a time of rebirth and fertility,
and as the earth grows full of life,
may you find abundance on your own path.
Imbolc is the season of lambing, of new life,
and a time to celebrate the nurturing and warmth of Brighid.

At this time, the HPs takes the cup of milk, and offers a sip to Brighid. You can do this either by pouring it into a bowl on the altar, or by simply raising the cup to the sky. The HPs then passes the cup around the circle. As each person takes a sip, they pass it to the next, saying:

May Brighid give her blessings to you this season.

When the cup has returned to the HPs, she passes the oats or oatcakes around in the same manner, first making an offering to Brighid. Each person takes a bit of the oats or cakes and passes the plate to the next, saying:

May Brighid's love and light nurture your path.

The HPS then invites each member of the group to approach the altar, and light their candle from the Brighid candle. Say:

Come, and allow the warmth of Brighid's hearth
to embrace you.
Allow the light of her flame
to guide you.
Allow the love of her blessing
to protect you.

When everyone has lit their candle, take a few moments to meditate on the warmth and nurturing nature of the goddess Brighid. As you bask in her warmth, and she protects your home and hearth, think about how you will make changes in the coming weeks. Brighid is a goddess of abundance and fertility, and she may help you guide your goals to fruition.

When you are ready, end the ceremony, or move on to other rituals, such as Cakes and Ale, or healing rites.

Woman with Candle in Snow
Combine fire and ice for some Imbolc candle magic. Lana Isabella / Moment Open / Getty Images

Hundreds of years ago, when our ancestors relied upon the sun as their only source of light, the end of winter was met with much celebration. Although it is still cold in February, often the sun shines brightly above us, and the skies are often crisp and clear. On this evening, when the sun has set once more, call it back by lighting the seven candles of this ritual. More »

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Family Ritual to Say Farewell to Winter

Boy Running With Giant Snow Ball
Annie Otzen / Getty Images

This simple ritual is a fun one to do with your family on a snowy day, but can also be performed by a single person. The best time to do it is when you have a fresh layer of snow on the ground, but if that's not possible, never fear.

Find a big pile of snow to work in. Try to time the rite so you begin it just before dinner–you can actually start it while your meal is cooking.

Prepare a collection of things to make noise with–bells, clappers, drums, etc. Make sure each person has one form of noisemaker. You'll also need a candle in the color of your choice (tall enough to stick in the snow), something to light it with (like a lighter or matches), and a bowl.

Go outside, and create a symbol of spring in the snow. You could draw a picture of the sun or some flowers, rabbits, anything that means spring to your family. If you have a lot of space, feel free to make it as big as you like. Another option is to have each person make their own symbol in the snow. One family member calls out:

Old man winter, it's time to go!
Take with you these piles of snow!

The other family members stomp around the symbol in a circle through the snow, banging their drums, ringing their bells, and chanting:

Melt, snow, melt!
Spring will soon return!

Light the candle, and place it in the center of the circle. Say:

A flame, a fire, all the warmth it brings,
melt the snow, cold be gone, welcome back the spring!

The rest of the family stomps through the snow once more, in a circle, making lots of noise and chanting:

Melt, snow, melt!
Spring will soon return!

Leave the candle to burn out on its own. Fill your bowl with snow and take it back inside with you. Place it in the center of your table and eat your meal. By the time you're done, the snow should be close to melted (if you have to, put it near the stove to hurry things along). Hold up the bowl, and say:

The snow has melted! Spring will return!

Make lots of noise with your bells and drums, clapping and whooping it up. Use the melted snow water to water a plant, or save it for ritual use later on.


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End of Winter Meditation

Woman in Winter Forest
Hugh Whitaker / Cultura / Getty Images

This meditative journey is one you can read ahead of time, and then recall as you meditate, or you can record yourself reading it aloud, and listen to it as a guided meditation later on. You can even read it aloud as part of an Imbolc group ritual. The ideal place to perform this meditation is somewhere outside; try to pick a day that's warm, or at the very least sunny. Go out in your garden, or sit under a tree in a park, or find a quiet spot near a stream.

Visualize yourself walking along a path. You are traveling through a forest, and as you walk, you notice that the trees are covered with the vibrant hues of autumn. There are reds, oranges, and yellows everywhere. A few leaves have fallen on the ground beside you, and the the air is cool and crisp. Stand for a moment, and take in the scent of fall.

As you continue down the path, you see the sky getting darker as the Wheel of the Year turns. The air has become more brisk, and the leaves are gently falling around you. Soon, the trees are bare, and there is a crunching sound beneath you. When you look down, the leaves are no longer bright with autumn's colors.

Instead, they are brown and brittle, and there is a light touch of frost on them. Winter has arrived. Breathe deeply, so that you can smell and taste the difference in the air.

The darkness is full now, but above you there is a full moon lighting your way. A snowflake falls in front of you, drifting down ever so slowly. Soon another drifts down, and another. As you walk further, the snow begins to fall heavily.

The crunch of your feet on the leaves is muffled, and soon you can't hear anything at all. A blanket of pure white snow covers the forest floor, and everything is quiet, and still. There is a sense of magic in the air–a feeling of being in some other, special place. The real world has vanished with the sun, and all that remains now is you, and the darkness of winter. The snow glistens in the moonlight, and the night is cold. You can see your breath before you in the moonlit air.

As you continue through the forest, you begin to see a faint glimmer of light ahead. Unlike the silvery light of the moon, this is red and bright.

You are beginning to get colder now, and the idea of warmth and light is promising. You walk on, and the red light draws closer. There is something special about it, something of relief and change and warmth.

You walk through the snow, up a steep path, and the snow is now up to your knees. It is becoming more difficult to travel, and you're cold. All you want, more than anything, is a warm fire, and some hot food, and the companionship of your loved ones. But it seems that there is nothing but you and the snow and the night. It seems as though the light has grown closer, and yet is still unreachable. Eventually, you give up–there's no reaching it, and you just keep walking through the snow.

As you come over the hillside, though, something happens. The forest is no longer surrounding you–in fact, there are only a few trees left on this side of the hill. Off in the distance, to the east, the sun is rising. You continue on the path, and the snow fades away. No longer are you walking through great drifts–instead, you are on a muddy track, crossing an open field. In the meadow are tiny buds. Grass is peeking up from the dead, brown earth. Here and there, a cluster of bright flowers appears beside a stone, or beside the path. As you walk, the sun rises higher and higher, bright and orange in its glory. Its warmth embraces you, and soon your night of cold and darkness is forgotten.

Spring has come, and new life abounds. Flowers and vines are beginning to grow, and the earth is no longer dead and brown, but vibrant and fertile. As you walk in the sun's warmth, you realize that winter has truly left you, and that you are renewed and reborn once more.

Stand and bask in the light for a few minutes. Meditate on what sort of abundance you are looking forward to this season. Think about what you will plant in your own garden, and what new life you will bring forth.

Sunrise ritual at Tara Hill
Steve Ryan / Getty Images

If you're part of a group, you may want to use Imbolc as your season for initiation of new members. This simple ceremony will help you get started. More »

Two women cleaning window together
Westend61 / Getty Images

Start your spring off with a good thorough cleaning, and then follow that up with a spiritual cleansing. This is a great ritual to perform at Imbolc–remember that for many of our ancestors, washing came only a few times a year, so by February, a house was probably smelling pretty ripe. Pick a bright sunny day to do a clean sweep, and then invite friends and family to join you in a blessing of your home. More »

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Your Citation
Wigington, Patti. "Imbolc Rituals and Ceremonies." ThoughtCo, Jan. 10, 2018, Wigington, Patti. (2018, January 10). Imbolc Rituals and Ceremonies. Retrieved from Wigington, Patti. "Imbolc Rituals and Ceremonies." ThoughtCo. (accessed March 18, 2018).