For Wiccans, Druids, and many others, this sabbat is called Imbolc. For Asatru folks, it is Disting, the Assembly of the Goddesses and the Charming of the Plow. For Slavic Native Faith or Rodnovery, it is Gromnica. There are some distinctions between the customs, but the energy and nature of this sabbat remain the same throughout many different pagan paths. We celebrate the first signs of early spring and recognize the divine feminine in the form of Mother Earth that is slowly awakening. Traditionally, Imbolc falls on February 2nd, while the astrological date is when the Sun is at 15 degrees of Aquarius. For more about sabbats in general and to read about the pagan Wheel of the Year, check out Pagan Sabbats.
The word “Gromnica” comes from the word “grom” which means thunder. Perun, the thunder God, begins showing his force because from this day forward we expect to see more and more thunder. It is a very good sign if you hear thunder and see lighting around this time. The Goddess Mokosh rejoices in this fertilization of her lands and begins showing signs of the spring that will soon come. Traditionally, people light a thunder candle dedicated to Perun as a symbol of the light visibly starting to conquer darkness. They cleanse the house with that light.
In honoring the coming spring, we celebrate Frey and Nerthus. We thank them for the gifts and ask for their blessing. We honor the disir – female gods, land spirits, and ancestors. This is the time when laws are made, grievances adjudicated, and contracts sealed. It is also the time when women plow the borders of the land to ward off sickness and anoint the plow with herbs and oils. Some areas are unplowed so that our landvaettir (spirits of the land) have an undisturbed place to inhabit.
Traditionally, this is a great festival that honors the goddess Brigid, the goddess of agriculture, dawn, and fertility, the female sage, and the protector of poets. At this peak of winter, we banish the cold and move from hibernation energy to survival. It is a time of hope and anticipation. Translated, Imbolc means “in the belly.” It is a promise of rebirth and the return of the light. Underneath the ground, seeds are breaking apart and transforming into something new. Imbolc is a festival of awakening, dedication, and rededication, a perfect time for various initiations.
Energy and meaning
Imbolc marks the midpoint between the winter solstice and the spring equinox as a cross-quarter day on the pagan wheel of the year. Animals, plants, and humans have been in one way or the other hibernating and staying calm during the winter, which is still the season we are in. Not only is the winter still lasting, but it is also at its peak. This, however, means that it will now slowly begin to fade and give its place to spring.
The breaking point, the shit, the change, and the awakening.
The intentions that were set at Yule now need to be turned into action because the growth cycle is soon to begin. It is time to declutter the physical and spiritual space. We clean not only our houses but our minds and personal energies too, and we light a candle as a form of sympathetic magick to lure the sun back. You will notice how there is a certain stirring happening all around you and how creative juices are beginning to flow. Looking at the Triple Goddess, She is now transformed from her Crone form into Maiden and brings gifts of inspiration and songs.
Table of correspondences
|Symbolism||Initiation, insight, creativity, inspiration, rebirth, renewal, patience, pureness, shifting, youth, cleansing|
|Colors||White, green, yellow, brown|
|Gods||Perun, young Sun gods, Cernunnos, Pan, Frey, Nerthus|
|Goddesses||Brigid, Aradia, Venus, Diana, Mokosh|
|Herbs and incense||Basil, angelica, yellow flowers|
|Animals||Bear, lamb, deer, all hibernating animals|
|Crystals||Gold, silver, amethyst, garnet, onyx|
|Food and drink||Dairy products, raisins, seeds, pancakes|
|Decorations||Brigid’s cross, candles, lanterns, acorns, fire, sun wheels, soil, seeds|
|Customs||Cleaning, lighting candles, finding signs of spring, collecting stones, creating Brigid’s cross, house and temple blessings, initiations, fertility magic, self-discovery rituals|
|Names||Imbolc, Gromnica, Disting|
It seems like this winter is lasting forever, and it was a weird winter indeed, gray. I was looking forward to snow, longing for it actually, but it didn’t come, and it doesn’t seem like it will. There is something magical and calming when everything is covered in millions and millions of tinny little crystals. The world slows down and gives place to silence.
I’ve been in the “Imbolc mood” for days now and feeling the change of energy, feeling the shift. Yule decorations are still everywhere in the apartment looking at me as if they want to say they don’t belong here anymore. I know they don’t. The plan is to take them down today and do some serious cleaning. My windows need to be washed. How am I to look into the world and see all of its beauty through dirty windows? The world seems dirty if you are looking at it from a dirty standpoint, doesn’t it?
Yesterday was “give plants food and water” day. I have a lot of plants that hibernate and only need water and food once a month during winter. I’m similar when it comes to social activity during winter and spend much less time with family and friends than I do during the warmer months. As I was giving my plants some food, more soil, water, and trimming them a bit, a small spark was lit in my mind. And from that spark, a fire grew. I began planning to make a balcony garden with cherry tomatoes and strawberries. I began planning to create a birdhouse for those nightingale birds that sing so beautifully every morning. I began planning to cook meals for friends and family, laughing with them, and enjoying their company. The energy of Imbolc created a breaking point, as it always does. I am awake.
I am awake
The shift is here.
Oh, Imbolc spark,
carry me away from where I’ve been.
The journey begins
with cleaning the outside
and cleaning from within.
I am awake.
Oh, long-forgotten Sun,
I allow you to come in.
And so the wheel has turned once again. The promise of spring seemed like an empty one for so long, but hope strengthens the patience, and it is much easier to look forward and anticipate what is to come with a smile than with a frown.
This is a perfect time to enjoy the process of cleaning. Clean the outside, and clean from within. Clean and charge your crystals, and cleanse your house with sage. Have a bubble bath to clean your physical body, meditate to clean your mind, and sing to clean your soul. Prepare yourself and everything around you for the spring that is soon to come. Gently shift your focus from stagnation to planning and doing. Celebrate the deities whom you find dear, and go for a walk in nature to look for early signs of spring.
- Clean and organize your home
- Clean and charge your crystals
- Have a ritual bath
- Honor the deities
- Make Brigid’s crosses
- Look for early signs of spring in nature
- Light a candle to invite the Sun
- Cook meals with dairy products and seeds
- Perform an initiation or a reinitiation ritual
Enjoy the music from some of my favorite pagan artists Damh The Bard, Lisa Thiel, S. J. Tucker, and Kellianna. May they inspire you and bring you joy on this sabbat.
Merry meet, and merry part, and merry meet again my dear pagan soul. Rejoice in life, and life will rejoice in you. May God and Goddess bless you in everything you do and spirit guides follow you wherever you go.
In love and light,