The Celtic Sabbats in the Wheel of the Year, being Imbolc, Beltane, Lughnasadh, and Samhain, represent liminal spaces. We are no longer at the beginning of a season but not yet transitioning into the next season. It is the in-between, marking the halfway point. Imbolc in particular falls halfway between winter and spring, with themes of awakening from hibernation. It is not yet time to start new things but we are beginning to stir from our long winter’s sleep. It is still a time for laying low, a time for rest, but now is when we begin to prepare for beginning anew at Ostara, the Spring Equinox, our next stop on the Wheel of the Year.
Imbolc, A Time for Letting Go
In order to invite something new into our lives, we must first let go of what is no longer serving us. Think of what happens to a home that is never decluttered when you keep accumulating more and more stuff. The house gets so full of the old you eventually run of space for the new. This is not only a great time for some “spring cleaning,” but it is an essential time to cleanse yourself of the old stagnant energy of the past year.
An often overlooked step in the release process is grieving what you’ve lost. As witches, we understand that death is not to be feared. It is part of the natural cycle of life and benefits us to fully let go of things lost. Whether the loss was intentional or was taken from you, grief is essential to the practice of spiritual cleansing. It is okay and healthy to feel sadness when you remove something from your life that is not good for you anymore. Skipping the process of grief is often what keeps us from truly letting go.
The most accepted interpretation of the word Imbolc is, “in the belly of the mother.” But there are also speculations that it may translate to “mother’s milk.” Milk was an extremely important symbol of Imbolc, since in Ireland and Scotland, this was when ewes became pregnant, producing their first milk of the year. After a long and cold winter in times when you couldn’t just go to the grocery store for food, this was worth celebrating! Besides providing sustenance to survive the remaining winter, milk meant new life would soon be born and spring was on the way.
For the purposes of this sabbat, there will be an optional milk bath, but you can do this bath at any time of year without the milk. It is great for full moons when you need to release and move on with the lunar cycle. Milk added to a bath has benefits such as moisturizing and soothing the skin.
Imbolc & Full Moon Ritual Bath
You may have seen pictures of fancy ritual baths on social media — colorful, shimmering water, surrounded by crystals and candles — which is all fine and beautiful. Still, a true ritual bath is more about the intention. If you want to do this, you do you, witch! Arranging corresponding crystals on the bath edge and lighting colored candles to match your intention can be a powerful form of magick. This bath ritual will be back to the basics. Feel free to add anything that makes it feel magickal for you!
- Epsom salts
- Flowers: calendula, rose, and/or chamomile (optional)
- Essential oils of your choice
- Powdered milk or oat milk
If you are using oils or powdered milk, combine them in a bowl will your Epsom salts. You will want enough salts for your whole body.
Before you step in the bath as the water is running, get clear on what you are ready to release. You can even journal if that helps you strengthen your intention. What cycle is coming to an end so a new cycle can begin?
After you run the bath or turn on the shower, visualize yourself stepping into an energetically cleansing space and begin to rub the salts in downward motions on your body in the bath. Visualize whatever it is you need to release sloughing off your body and into the water below.
Stand under the shower or submerge yourself in the water, allowing it to wash the salt off, along with the things that no longer serve you. Allow yourself to grieve the things you lost during this ritual. Crying is a release ritual involving water and is just as valid and important. Notice it swirling down the drain, leaving you. And so it is.
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