BeetleMilk's Guide to Alternative Holidays: Imbolc/Candlemas
Welcome to the BeetleMilk Blog!
I’m Pope, and throughout the year of 2022, I’m going to give you the fast and dirty on many of the occult holidays that happen through the year. This blog is late due to a hefty mix of my own tech unsavviness and a tech issue, so... I'm sorry.
Before we get into it, I want it clear that my goal is not to be… like, Wikipedia or something. I just want to give you a primer that hopefully ignites your curiosity on the wonderful world that lies outside of mainstream holiday practice. I also would like to eventually branch out to world cultures as well, holidays like Diwali. Give it time!
Until then, let’s chat about Imbolc. Please know that I will have a hyperlinked list of sources on the bottom for further reading. Time to learn!
Out of the holidays of the year that I’d define as Pagan (which is itself an umbrella term that contains Wicca and other systems), Imbolc is the first of the year, taking place on February 1st and ending February 2nd. This point of the year is technically the halfway point between two celebrated occasions on the Pagan calendar - Winter Solstice (December 21 in 2021) and Spring Equinox (March 20, 2022 this year). It is also one of four festivals that are considered Gaelic, accompanied by Lughnasdh (Please don’t ask me to pronounce that), Bealtaine, and my personal favorite, Samhain.
I’ve seen a few different reasons that this holiday is celebrated, but the consensus seems to be that it is the celebration of the goddess Brigid, who is often invoked through fertility rites and is the goddess of Poetry. I’ve also seen other areas of hers listed, including smithing, and prophecy. To my ears, she sounds like a good all-rounder.
An interesting thing about Brigid is that she was canonized as a saint by the Catholics. Often, Pagan Gods are outlawed or demoted to the ranks of demon after a Christian takeover, and it speaks volumes to the impact of the Goddess Brigid that this fate did not befall her. So, today, she is known as St. Brigid.
How do you celebrate Imbolc?
With a little bit of a history primer out of the way, how is this revered day celebrated today?
Well, as you find so often is the case in Pagan worship, it depends. There is no unifying body dictating the way of doing things in Pagan practice, and overall the entire subsect of religions is very loose in how they approach holidays or other special days. This isn’t a bad thing - freedom of personal interpretation is one of the main benefits of following a Pagan path of some sort. Never heard of a war on Maben, have ya?
With that said, the first thing you should know is that Imbolc/Candlemas is one of the more lowkey of the celebrations on the calendar. It’s a good time for reflection, and is often celebrated alone. That doesn’t mean you have to, of course. Here are some suggestions:
Build a Brigid Cross: Remember that Paganism is generally nature focused, so using bundles of stick and twine generally works well.
Other ways to celebrate are similarly low-key, but the idea always remains the same. To focus on the coming year and give thanks for the seasons.
A Note from Jay
Also, here at BeetleMilk we are lucky enough to have a diverse staff with expertise in different areas. I ran this blog by my marketing manager, Jay, who had this to add (Fun fact, they also drew the cover image):
“A few other things that could be mentioned- Brigid is generally associated with fire. The fire of the hearth, the fire of the smithy, the fire of the imagination (poetry} and as such Imbolc is often also celebrated as a fire festival. Marsden, Ireland is famous for its Imbolc fire festival, and solitary practitioners of pagan religions often light candles in celebration. Even in Christianization, St. Brigid is related with fire, as nuns tend an eternal flame in her dedication. Although in Christianity Brigid has been removed from the celebration of Candlemas, which falls on the same day, several themes and common celebrations remain the same. Both holidays center around purification, renewal, and hope. Both are known to be celebrated with the lighting of candles, weather predictions (like groundhog day) and of course with feasting.”
Thanks for reading this blog! This is the first in a new series, and I plan to flesh them out and make them better as time goes on. If I got anything wrong or you want to make your own suggestions for how to honor Brigid, leave them in the comments!
Pope & Jay
My Current Playlist
Song: Elastic Heart (The cover by Written By Wolves, although the original is excellent as well)
Movie: Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (Penn Jillette Cameo!)
TV Show: Venture Brothers
Twitch Streamer: Ghostbody
Pope is a co-founder of BeetleMilk. In addition to writing blogs, he likes to spend his time yelling at clouds about how bad Jurassic Park 3 sucked. He has two podcasts, BeetleCast and Macabre Masters, with a third in the works. He lives in Minnesota with his wife and their two pets, Baphomet the Cat and Spartacus the Turtle.
Jay is a business student, digital artist, and marketing manager here at BeetleMilk. They’re fascinated with all things related to magic or fantasy and have a deep love for compelling storytelling. Their favorite animal is a spider, and they collect and hoard random knick-knacks like the delightful little goblin they are.