Imbolc marks the beginning of spring on the Pagan wheel of the year.
It’s the first festival – or ‘sabbat’- of 2015.
Awareness of the wheel of the year and the eight sabbats is helpful when reading tarot – particularly for those who lean towards Pagan tarot decks and card interpretations.
I wanted one simple place to be able to look up these dates, so I’ve created a new page on Little Red Tarot for us. It shows the dats of the eight sabbats, plus the full and new moon dates for 2015.
Imbolc is on Sunday 1st February
In Celtic tradition, it’s the beginning of spring, and a festival of fire.
Fire burns away the debris of winter, snow melts and new shoots appear. It’s a time when you notice that the days are getting just that little bit longer, and spot tiny signs of life. In farming, it’s the beginning of the lambing season. The ‘quickening of the year’, some call it, as everything suddenly seems to come to life.
The original word Imbolg means ‘in the belly’, and therein you have the underlying energy. All is pregnant and expectant – and only just visible if at all, like the gentle curve of a ‘just-showing’ pregnancy. It is the promise of renewal, of hidden potential, of earth awakening and life-force stirring. Here is hope. We welcome the growth of the returning light and witness Life’s insatiable appetite for rebirth.
This is also a time when the Celtic goddess Brigid was honoured. She is known as a fertility goddess, but also as a goddess of healing, poetry and smithcraft. Smithcraft! Of creating from fire and metal. She sounds like the Queen of Wands to me.
She is, of course, a goddess of fire, celebrated and honoured with bonfires, candles and special wood being burned on the hearth. Here’s a beautiful collage Ellen made to celebrate Bridid and her fiery creativity!
Here she is faceless and fiery, caring for her eternal flame with nurturing attention, She inspires me to rekindle my own fire and start creating again…
Imbolc is a time for hope.
In terms of tarot suits and their elemental and seasonal correspondences, we are moving from the earthy, heavy season of winter into the clear air of spring – or from a season of hard-working pentacles into one of thinking, planning swords…but right now, we are mid-way between them. We’re thinking ahead, we can feel that change coming and in that change, a personal shift, a new breath of life. It’s exciting, but right now, it’s still rooted in the cold earth.
That feels good to me – like thinking big, whilst keeping it real. Coming up with strategies that are firmly rooted in where we are right now.
Here’s a three-card Imbolc tarot spread I created a few years ago:
Light a candle, take a moment to appreciate its warmth and light. Let it symbolise the coming of spring, more warmth, more light, and the lengthening of days.
Shuffle your cards. Lay the cards out in a simple row of three.
1. Where am I now? | 2. What should I focus on? | 3. What can I leave behind?
Simple, and powerful – a moment to appreciate your own new shoots and think about what they might become.
Meanwhile, Imbolc blessings, and happy first-day-of-spring!
PS Here’s a longer, ‘quickening’ Imbolc tarot spread on Worts and Cunning.
If you liked this post, you’ll enjoy my hand-drawn poster, which shows the eight sabbats and dates, plus the elemental and tarot suit correspondences (it’s available in the shop!)
I’m a 30-something writer, artist, tarot reader, and perpetual explorer of the space between thought, feeling, and action.
I believe that spirituality and ritual are for everybody. I’m about the journey, in all of its messy, non-linear, chaotic iterations. I am excited by anticapitalist business and living with my whole entire self present. I use tarot cards to bring forth hidden truth, and ritual to affirm my commitment, over and over, to my ever-shifting path.