Imbolc means "in the belly, " because this is the time of year when the flocks begin to give birth. Other names of this Sabbat are Oimelc ("ewe’s mild"), Candlemas, The Feast of Waxing Light, The Feast of Flames, Laa’l Breeshey, Brigid, Brigantia, and La Feill Bhride.
At Yule the days begin to lengthen, but by Imbolc we can clearly see the change. Truly the sun’s light is with us longer each day. This is the first harbringer of spring, our assurance what the Wheel is turning and the long, warm days of summer will return.
This Sabbat has long been considered an especially appropriate time for initiation – for transformation, rebirth, and new beginnings.
Imbolc is particularly scared to women and to Brigid, the goddess of healing, inspiration, and smithcraft. Too often we remember only the goddesses of spring and summer, of flowers and warm sunlight. Brigid reminds us that the strength of women is also manifest as the invincible fire that burns steadily through the heart of winter, no matter how dark and cold the world. She is special not only to women generally, but also to all poets and artists, healers and midwives, and craftspeople of all kinds.
The Sabbat is a turning point, when we lift our eyes from inner remembrance and reflection and begin to envision the season of growth the lies ahead. Now is the time for cleansing and purification, for discarding the outworn things of the year past so that we may create room in our lives for the Goddess’ new bounty.
– Amber K from ‘Covencraft’
It is traditional upon Imbolc, at sunset of just after ritual, to light every lamp in the house – if only for a few moments. Or, light candles in each room in honor of the Sun’s rebirth. Alternately, light a kerosene lamp with a red chimney and place this in a prominent part of the home or in a window.
If snow lies on the ground outside, walk in it for a moment, recalling the warmth of summer. With your projective hand (to find out which of your hands is your most powerful, clasp your hands together and the thumb that is on top is your most powerful for projecting energy), trace an image of the Sun on the snow.
Foods appropriate to eat on this day include those from the dairy, since Imbolc marks the festival of calving. Sour cream dishes are fine. Spicy and full-bodied foods in honor of the Sun are equally attuned. Curries and all dishes made with peppers, onions, leeks, shallots, garlic or chives are appropriate. Spiced wines and dishes containing raisins – all foods symbolic of the Sun – are also traditional.
– Scott Cunningham from ‘Wicca, A Guide For the Solitary Practitioner