In the earliest part of February, some pagans celebrate Imbolc every year. The month of February and the sabbat are considered a time to purify, renew, and refresh. In some circles, the Full moon of this month is called the Quickening moon as this is the time things in nature begin to slowly become alive once more. February marks the earliest stirrings of the spring season. Ritual workings involve honoring the goddess Brighid (pronounced Breed) and magickal workings should be dedicated to things pertaining to renewal, new beginnings, fresh starts, cleansing and purification. Brighid is a fire goddess: One associated with fertility, healing, inspiration and she is a deity associated with healing springs and waters.
Writer Bruce K. Wilborn explains in “Witches’ Craft: A Multidenominational Wicca Bible,” Imbolc is known by a variety of names: “As the first of the four Greater Sabbats in the year, the holiday is sometimes referred to as St. Brigid’s Day, The Feast of Saint Brigid, Feast of Lights, The Great Spring Sabbat, Candlelaria, Oimelc, Lupercus, or Imbolg.” Wilborn also explains how the dating of the sabbat varies; according to Italian tradition the date occurs on Feb. 2, while in other traditions the dating of the holiday is set for Feb. 1.
According to author D.J. Conway in “Moon Magick: Myths & Magic, Crafts & Recipes, Rituals & Spells,” Feb. 1 to Feb. 3, were the days the ancient Greeks celebrated the Lesser Eleusian Mysteries: A festival involving the celebration of the return of Persephone from the depths of Hades. The later holiday involved honoring not just Persephone, but her mother Demeter as well. In ancient Roman pantheon, Persephone is analogous to Proserpina and Demeter is analogous to Ceres. Thus, the sabbat is associated with colors of white, for purity, and red: A color associated with Persephone because of the pomegranate.
The Hopi Indians named the full moon in February, which happens to be set for the day following Imbolc, the “Moon of Renewal and Purification.” Author Yasmine Galenorn writes something similar in “Dancing with the Sun: Celebrating the Seasons of Life,” when she explains this is an ideal time for a practitioner to conduct an intense spring clean of the home, witch’s cabinet and altar. The author suggests taking about a week and going from room to room to clean each area from top to bottom physically and spiritually. Galenorn explains the use of a wash made of vinegar and mugwort can be used to purify each room, and that purifying each room with pungent incense, while casting a circle and refraining from opening it, will help in renewing the energies in the home. Following the home purification, or every day one works on cleansing the home, the practitioner can take a ritual bath to purify the body and the self. For more information about Imbolc traditions, see “The sabbat Imbolc and its traditions: Part 2.”