Imbolc (pronounced 'im-molc') is the cross-quarter festival that falls between Yule and Srping Equinox and it heralds the start of the spring quarter of the year and the end of the winter quarter. Even though Imbolc occurs at the coldest time of the year, it marks the time at which days become noticeably longer. Oimelc, an alternative name for this festival, means "sheep milk", as this is the lambing season. One myth tells of the waking of the White serpent. The White serpent awakens about this time emerging from it's sleep much as the Earth wakes from her sleep. It is the earth "dragon" that does not want to be detered on it's course but that offerings of milk and honey were given (and still can be given) to appease it's waking temper, give it strength and yet not deter it's course and path.
Imbolc is a festival of waxing light and purification, heralding the potential of spring. It is associated with the Celtic goddess Brid. In terms of the Goddess cycle, Imbolc is the point at which the old, winter aspect of the Goddess, the Crone, is transformed into the Maiden.
Bridget is the Goddess associated with lambing and calfing as it starts around this time of the year. She is the patroness of healing, smithcraft, and poetry, which represent the mysteries of renewal,transformation, and inspiration. She is also associated with fertility as she presides over the birthing of lambs.
Imbolc it the time of washing away the old things, purifying and cleansing the soils of our spiritual lives and readying ourselves and soils to new seeds to be sown. It is important at this time not just to think ahead to the planting but back to see what crops and ideas failed. We must prepare our soil be careful to leave the plants that will return, because if you uproot all the things that worked, are you really growing? When the urge for "spring cleaning" hits, be careful to remove only those habits, and things from your life that you no longer need. This is an appropriate time to cleanse or bless your house, to seek inspiration, and to purify yourself of limiting thoughts and negative attitudes. Imbolc asks us to cleanse ourselves and the soil of our minds and souls. This is not an easy prospect but we can choose to do so or to wait until the cycle forces the changes on us.
Now we are in the end of the dormant time, when something's still lie dormant or things are beginning to awaken and our souls ask for renewal of vigor and the purification needed for the new planting after the time of dormancy and reflection. We are leaving winter dormancy and moving toward spring as life begins to spring frrm it's sleep. What seeds that have been planted in you, that have been laying asleep through the winter, have just moved on their own in your life? Can you sense an impending something in your life? Is there something that is yet to manifest above ground into physical reality, yet it lies there just sprouting under the dark covering blanket of Earth in side you? How can you nurture this seedling in the coming days and months? What things in your life became burdensome during the long winter and now need to be cleansed and purified from your life?
This festival is often marked by feasting with "white" foods. Milk and honey, bread, and other dairy products.