Imbolc Ritual for the Hedge Druid

Photo: © Hamish Burgess 2011

Feb 2- Happy Imbolc! Imbolc is a festival to mark the ends of the harsh winter, marking the first glimpse of the warmth of the spring and all that it promises for our year to come with the turning of the wheel of the year.

Imbolc means 'in the belly', im - within, bolc - belly, but has many variant names. Another possible source for the name is from the Irish 'imb fholc', washing oneself. This could result from the purification aspects of the holiday.

This Feast is thus known by many names to many people, for the Truth is reflected from many mirrors. It has been celebrated as Februa and Candlemas. Our ancestors called it by names long forgotten, and our children will call it by names as yet unconceived.

The Irish called it Óimelc (Middle Irish) or Ouimelko (Old Irish), meaning 'ewe's milk' (oi - sheep, melc - milk). Other spellings for the holiday include Imbolg, Oimelk and Oímelg. In Scots Gaelic, the holiday is called Là Féill Bhride (holiday of Brid or Brigit). Another Irish name for the holiday is Lá 'il Bríde (day of Brid or Brigit). In common modern Irish and Manx, the holiday is called Candlemas Day.

The name is not so much the importance of the feast, but instead the heart. The heart of Imbolc is that 'change is coming', rebirth, renewal, rejuvenation will happen if we just have the patience to wait through the time at hand. 

A celebration of one.

For the Solitary Druid such as myself, one may find the experience of ritual during the Feasts to be an opportunity to demonstrate thankfulness for all that one has been given and learned during the season past on the wheel of the year.  It allows one to show tangibly with physical participation to the Three Kindreds one's appreciation through the "sacrifice" of one's own time spent dedicated to celebrating Imbolc.

An Imbolc Ritual (for a Hedge Druid)

Initiation / Opening:

Voice your intention of the ritual out loud. You may use the quotation or one of your own.

"This ritual is to honor the changing of the Wheel of the year, for the celebration of Imbolc."

Light any candles and incense you have selected and previously set up.

Utilize colored candles and scented incense due that confirm with the limitations of space for your ritual that correspond with that of Imbolc.

Incense of Imbolc:
Basil, Bay, Wisteria, Cinnamon, Violet, Vanilla, Myrrh.

Colors of Imbolc: White, Pink, Red, Yellow, lt. Green, Brown.

Other offerings you may include:

Symbols of Imbolc:
Brideo'gas, White Flowers, Candle Wheels, Brighid's Crosses, and Ploughs.

Herbs of Imbolc:
Angelica, Basil, Bay Laurel, Blackberry, Celandine, Coltsfoot, Heather, Iris, Myrrh, Tansy, Violets, and all white or yellow flowers.

Foods of Imbolc:
Pumpkin seeds, Sunflower seeds, Poppyseed Cakes, muffins, scones, and breads, all dairy products, Peppers, Onions, Garlic, Raisins, Spiced Wines and Herbal Teas.

Rite of Purpose

Invoke the Three Kindreds:

"Honor the Three Kindreds: Write your own prayer of honoring, or utilize the following if you choose."  (Adapted from OakWyse 1997 "Prayers for Druid Beads")

"Ancestors, Ancient Ones, Remember me as I
remember you. Old Ones, hear my prayer, and accept my offering of love.

Fur and feather, leaf and stone, aid me as I aid you.
Earth Spirits hear my prayer, and accept my offering of love.

Gods and Goddesses, Shining Ones, honor me as I honor you.
First-Born of Earth, hear my prayer, and accept my offering of love."

Invoke the spirits of the Air:

"O Element of (Air/East, Fire/South, Water/West, Earth/North)... I ask your blessing and share this sacred space in your honor."

Voice the purpose for this ritual:

"The purpose of this ritual is to be touched by the Awen in the coming warmth of the spring, and to feel its energy, health, and hope."

Prayer and Centering: Becoming one with the purpose and place:

"This space is a sacred space. All space where positive energy flows, where we engage in ritual, and walk in harmony with the Three Kindreds is sacred space. It was sacred before we came and will remain that way once we leave. This is the belief of Druids."

Breathe deeply. Open your senses. Know the presence of the Spirits of Place:

Open your sense of touch. Reach out and touch a tree, leaf, the soil, wind, the sun on your face, etc. Feel a direct exchange of love. Sustain that feeling as you explore.
Open your sense of hearing. Listen to the song of the birds, the croak of the frog, the singing of the stream, the whispering of the wind, the creaking of the moving tree, or the rustling of leafs. Just sit and listen intently. Make no judgment of what you hear as it is all part of this place. Let your vibration become its vibration.
Open your sense of smell. Breath in slowly, deeply, and deliberately through your nose. Smell the scent of the fallen leafs, the grass below you, the soil that surrounds you, the perfumed air enveloping you. As you inhale, let it become part of you.
Open your sense of sight. Look around your ritual space and notice the smallest details. Pay attention to the things you did not notice before opening your other senses such as the tiny insect joining your ritual, the flower beginning to bloom even through the melting snow, allow this space to become a whole new world that you have not noticed before.

One may include walking the labyrinth in contemplation if you have chosen to construct one prior to one's ritual.

(If there is still snow on the ground, you may construct one easily by drawing one in the snow or on the ground if there is much dirt, or custructing one of natural material such as stone, sticks, etc.)


State outloud: "Consider what I offer."

"I will offer my druid studies to the shared network of those whose energy seeks to make our world a better place."

Make the offering:

"I seek to give of myself to those who are in need, starting first with those in nature who struggle to live lives of peace and harmony."

Blessing and Sending of Awen:

Intone the "Rite of Three Rays" (Raising one's hands high and slowly lowering them to one's side as one chants AAAAAAAAA- (sounds like AH as in the word 'father').
Do the same a second time intoning this time: WWWWWWW- (sounds like OO as in the last two letters of the word 'too').
And doing the same a third time while intoning : EEEEEEENNNNN (sounds like EN in the last two letters of the word 'Ten')
Thus we have in total AAAAA-WWWWW-EEEEENNNNN (AWEN)

Send the energy of awen into the world with intention of the benefit of all:

"May awen strengthen and work through me. May it guide my intentions and directions. May its flow cleanse me and allow me to share its energy with others. May it continue to work through the naturally world that surrounds me. May it help all beings in all directions to be well, happy, and peaceful."

Thank the Awen for that which is left with you when you leave.

So endeth the Ritual. Awen.

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