Thursday, January 31, 2008

Imbolc (or Candlemas) Primer

Imbolc (or Imbolg), as most pagans I know call it, is just days away. Though it is an astrological event, occurring each year when the sun reaches 15 degrees Aquarius, it is traditionally celebrated on the fixed date of February 2, with observances starting at sundown on February 1.

There are several traditional crafts associated with the holiday, including crafting a Brigit's or Bride's Bed, creating a Crown of Lights, and making and/or blessing candles for the year to come. But perhaps the most universal of Imbolc crafts is that of weaving wheat into a Brigit's Cross. The cross is then hung in the home for protection.

My personal tradition is to create a new Brigit's Cross each year after which I burn the previous year's cross in my family hearth with a prayer of thanks.

I'll be posting a detailed tutorial on creating a Brigit's Cross with photographs tomorrow. I'll also include variations for young crafters using pipe cleaners instead of wheat. If you'd like to make either version of this project, you'll need the following supplies:

  • wheat (available at most crafting stores in the flower section) or pipe cleaners (white or beige)
  • raffia or natural hemp twine (if you want an all-natural look) or any sort of ribbon, string, or floss to tie your ends off
  • clips (like laundry clips, large paper clips, or small chip clips) or rubber bands to hold the wheat together as you weave - this is optional as some find it more useful than others

That's it! This is a very simple and rewarding project. Check back tomorrow for details.

For an excellent article on the history and traditions associated with Imbolc, please read the article Candlemas: The Light Returns by Mike Nichols.

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