A simple ritual for Imbolc of self-reflection and self-care

What is Imbolc—a self-reflective candlelit altar inside from the winter weather

Seasonal rituals are a natural way to harness the energies of the cycles of nature to support your inner growth and healing. Imbolc is a powerful marker of the year’s spiral which you can embrace with a simple ritual of self-reflection and self-care.

What is Imbolc?

 First things first—what is Imbolc? Also known as Candlemas, Imbolc is the seasonal marker at the halfway point between the winter solstice and spring equinox. While we are past the longest nights of the year, Imbolc is still a time when the natural world is pulled inward. The energies of the plants are concentrated in the roots, animals are in hibernation and the landscape is open and bare.
 
Traditionally, Imbolc would be a time of uncertainty as supplies of food, firewood, and candles may be growing thin. Today's Groundhog Day predictions are an artifact of divinations done at this time of year, “How much longer will the winter last?”

Food supplies from last fall's harvest are getting low. This time of year, we are naturally drawn to pay attention to our basic sustenance needs including food, warmth, shelter and safety. In earth-based cultures, this is also the time when animals begin to give birth and milk begins to flow again.

In that way, Imbolc can be a pivot point when we begin to move from a place of scarcity towards a place of growth. As part of our Imbolc rituals in my community, we tend our sacred spaces and also bless the animals on the land. Soon the chickens will begin laying more eggs as the days lengthen.
 
In Celtic traditions, Imbolc is often associated with candles and with white clothing or dresses. It is a time to celebrate Brigit, also known as Bridgit or Bride (pronounced Breed). In our modern world, we associate the word "bride" and the color white with weddings, with making a commitment to another person.
 
My personal theory is that in ancient times, at the women-only temples devoted to Bridgid, this time of year may have been a time when women made commitments to themselves, even to marry themselves.

A simple ritual for Imbolc of reconnecting with yourself

 A simple ritual for Imbolc is to carve out time for self-reflection and pause to focus on your self-care with the reflective questions below. 

 To begin, create a sacred space for your Imbolc ritual. There are many ways to do this—keep it simple, such as...

  • Clear a space for yourself. It can be a corner or a table or a whole room.  Try to create privacy for yourself and anyone who may be joining you.
  • Take time to ground and draw your focus inward. Put your hands on your heart, close your eyes, and take some deep breaths. 
  • You could burn dried herbs like rosemary or sage to clear the space energetically and bring yourself into a liminal space.
  • Create a small altar. Add objects that represent actions you do to take care of yourself
  • Ask yourself or discuss with a trusted friend some of the reflective questions below

Reflective questions for your Imbolc ritual:

  • What needs are alive for you personally? 
  • How have those needs shifted in the past year? 
  • Notice which aspects of your own self-care need tending. 
  • You may even want to carve out commitment to yourself for the year.

As women, we have been socialized to put the needs of others before ourselves, often disconnecting from our own needs and desires in the process. You may be feeling depleted or exhausted. Carving out time to focus on our own needs and feelings allows us to live more fully and to thrive in our relationships with ourselves and others. 

My encouragement to you–while we are still in the midst of winter–is to allow yourself to sink into a place of self-care and a slower pace. The late winter is often hard for many of us. You may realize you’ve been “on alert,” with needs for safety and security rising to the surface. 
 
Want support around reconnecting with your own needs? I’ve got something for you, sister!  I invite you to download my free worksheet: It’s Your Time Now!

And remember, like the plants, we’re still in the “roots” time of the year. Give yourself permission to sleep more while the nights are still long, to rest as the plants do below the ground. 

Some traditions even consider Imbolc the beginning of the new year. Imbolc is certainly a powerful time to set an intention to take time for self-care this year. You are worth it. It’s your time now!

Corinna Woodseasoned teacher and mentor along the wise woman path–from herbs to self love

"I was initiated into the Wise Woman Tradition at the tender age of 22, by Susun Weed and a beloved patch of nettles. Today, I support women with inner growth and healing tools to ground you in your own innate wisdom, needs and desires. My teachings on heart and soul healing draw on earth wisdom of our foremothers––the shoulders on which we stand––to navigate the challenges we face as women in the world today."

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