Celebrating Imbolc: Creating an Alter & a Mini Ritual
Imbolc is typically celebrated on the first and second of February, but this year (astronomically) it takes place on the third. This means that today, tomorrow, and even the next day you can really tap into this new energy and celebrate. This year, imbolc is especially special because of the super blue moon from just a few days ago!
Honestly, these are the ‘best’ days to celebrate but if you can’t, then do it when you can (within a few days of course). While this alter and ritual was created specifically for imbolc, it’s important to remember that any ritual is the physical act of setting your intentions and it can be done at any time, in any location, and with whatever tools you feel called to use.
What “Traditionally” is Imbolc?
Imbolc is the halfway mark between winter and spring. From this date, there’s about six weeks until spring. Poor groundhog- someone’s been lying to them. The name itself comes from the Celtic “imb” which means “full bellies”. Our ancestors choose this name because it’s this time of year that their sheeps’ bellies were literally full- of babies! Lambs and other important baby animals are typically born at this time. These new mother animals are starting to lactate as other water (aka spring showers) also return to the world in the new cycle.
This is a time to think about sacred sexuality, that is, the beauty and divinity of new life. We’ve come full circle and are shaking off our winter ‘slumber’. Even if you live in a place that’s tropical all year, the Earth still seems to know that it’s time to rest and reflect. And since we’re connected to it, we’ll experience that too- even if just slightly. Which means, that imbolc isn’t just about new life, but also about shaking off the sleepiness of winter. Think of this purifying process as a spiritual and emotional one rather than you have to purge or punish yourself.
Create your Own Imbolc Alter
Making your own imbolc alter is like making any other sacred space. I highly encourage you to do what you feel called to do. If you want to include something that’s not in my alter, do it! If you don’t like an element (or maybe even anything) about my alter, that’s fine too! There’s no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to do this so just follow your gut!
This is a picture of mine and yes that is a Charizard. To me, he symbolizes fire and I like to place him on a rock that has burn marks on it. This is why I say theres no right or wrong way. Some people wouldn’t dream of putting a plastic figurine on their alter but for me, he has value and importance so he fits right in!
What you’ll need:
- Earth representative (like flowers, dirt, or a stone)
- Water representative (like seashells or even a bowl of water)
- Fire representative (like charcoal, collected ash, or something that reminds you of fire)
- Air representative (like incense or a feather)
- Jar of water
- White pillar candle
- Glass or clay smaller bowl
- Bay leaves
Find a place for your alter that it can receive direct sunlight and moonlight. I like to work from the middle out, so I began by filling my clay bowl with salt, some bay leaves, and added a tea light. Bay leaves are to release the negative, salt for protection, and a light to complete the mini alter. Oh yes- this alone could be your alter!
I took it a step further by leaving that in the middle and placing my representatives in their respective location. For earth, place your representative in the northern direction. Fire resides in the south which is where you should place that representative. Air resides in the east, place any incense or ash tray in that direction. For water, place your representative in the western direction. These are for your four elements and directions (obviously) but it’s a good way to also create your circle during the ritual. Follow the four directions clockwise as you make your circle.
As for the jar of water, use it to make moon infused water. It’s good for healing, drinking, or sharing with houseplants!
Mini Imbolc Ritual
The night before you plan on celebrating Imbolc, light the candles on your alter. The day before festivities, our ancestors used to have a bonfire and I’ve found that sticking close to the traditions while also creating our own makes it more meaningful and powerful. While your candles are lit, sit in silence, discuss your feelings with yourself or a journal or someone else whose celebrating with you. Breathe deeply. Let your inhale be filled with peace and light, on your exhale visualize all your stress leaving. As you inhale, raise your arms so your palms can meet above your head. On your exhale let them fall gently to your sides.
Repeat this a few times until you feel you are more at peace and present in this moment. Say any intentions, phrases, or sacred sounds (like ohm) that you want to. Blow out the candles when you’re done.
The next day, come back into the presence of your alter. Remember that doing a ritual is the physical act of setting your intentions. Along with any intentions that you have personally, keep the thought of shaking off the winter sleep and welcoming new life (aka new opportunities and adventures) into your own.
Light your candles and say this prayer while keeping those intentions in your mind:
Bless me, for I am one with you.
Bless my eyes, so I can see your signs.
Bless my ears, so I can hear your call.
Bless my lips so I can speak my truth.
Bless my heart so I can follow it’s guidance.
Bless my femininity so I can connect with my inner goddess.
Bless the amazing parts of your body by following this same process. Sometimes I even bless my toes since they have to handle my daily stumbling.
If possible, ring a bell when you’re done. Tell friends and family that are present of your intentions, express gratitude for what you have and who is in your life. I let my water soak in the moonlight near my favorite crystals to create ‘moon juice’ to drink or to water my plants with. I also let another one soak and take that water outside to share with the world around me.
What it all boils down to
Celebrate imbolc the way you feel called to! Try to incorporate fire and water especially. I love journaling to keep track of what elements I like working with the most- and it’s a great way to keep track of my intentions. Do what works for you and please share your pictures with me by using #myminimalistsoul!