Rising to Imbolc

The morning in the garden is bitterly cold.

These are the days before Imbolc.


We have endured the long sleep and are ready to waken to Imbolc…


Magical days, filled to the brim with anticipation, a sense of urgency too, as the precious days of sleep and hibernation in the gardens comes to a close.


As I walk around the gardens this morning, I become increasingly aware of short time left in which to prune and cut back, clear and prepare, the gardens for Spring and Summer.


Ah, Summer, just the thought of Summer on this cold, white morning of late Winter, comforts the bones.


The days of walking barefoot in the damp grass lie ahead of me.


The promise of a warm Summer makes the cold of the day recoil.


Imbolc heralds Spring here in the West of Ireland.

It is one of the four big Celtic celebrations in Ireland.


Imbolc was also Christianized into Saint Brigid’s Day.


Imbolc is a festival of purification, hence the “Spring Cleaning” and a celebration of the first signs of Spring.


Walking along the paths that wind through the gardens, the colours of an all year round planting scheme are evident.


Here and there are stacked reminders of work to be completed, in this case, wood to be taken up to the barn, to be cut and stacked for the next winter.


As the snow melts on the upper hill of Ballyfermoyle, so the water flows through the ponds to be carried further into the mighty Shannon and beyond into the Atlantic Ocean.


Coming round once more to Imbolc, reminds one of the eternal cycle of renewal and one we are all a part of, though less understood today as by our ancestors of past millennia.


Willows, Birch and Dogwoods fill ground where once only the Rush held sway. This is the new cycle here of regeneration and renewal…a return to a fertile Earth.


And, where clean water flows, so does life!

To the ancients peoples of this sacred isle, the water was life and honoured in such a way.


The starkness of these remaining days are etched with beauty…a rare kind of ethereal beauty that is both proud and alone.


In a garden so welcoming of the sunlight, for this all faces north, each tree receives these low rays with grace.


The old name Imbolc occurs only in the very old literature, as many have forgotten it’s magic as the move towards modernity was embraced…but what is lost?


The Ancient Ways have been suppressed by all invaders and religions, and much dogma of uniformity, without thread of meaning.


For many in the western world this is now Candlemas in non-Gaelic speaking areas.

However there appears to be a revival of many traditions as people seek to understand their tribal ancestry and re-establish the threads of the tapestry to an older time.


And so we rise to Imbolc, as our faces seek out the sun and count the lengthening days.


We strain our necks to peep out onto sunsets, remarking on the time that’s in it.


Rising, from our long darkness, to Imbolc.


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  1. Beautiful post, as always. Imbolc is such a special time of year – although of course every day is special and sacred. Here in my part of the world we are coming up to Lammas/Lughnasadh, which is one of my main measures of summer; eg, apples are going to become cheaper, the temperatures are going to get hotter. Living the year through the old celebrations of time and nature is a beautiful way to passage through life.

  2. I’ve only just discovered your lovely blog Colette. How many acres do you have, and is it possible to visit? I’m hoping to start a permaculture garden/orchard in the west of Scotland, and as I’m new to this I’m wondering how much land one person can manage.

  3. Your words and pictures are food for the soul as I too feel that urgency for Spring to arrive , so lovely to have this information to illustrate where that urgency stems from.
    Kind Regards Kathy.

  4. Beautifully and poetically well said. I agree – it is heartening that so many people are attempting to connect to the old threads that tie them to their ancestry.

  5. Lovely write up again, thank you. The St.Bridgits cross, is that also connected to Imbolc? Or is that mainly to do with the modern celebration of St.Brigit that replaced Imbolc? I am wondering?

    • St Brigid’s Cross is linked to Imbolc as the church superimposed the Christian Brigid on this celebration…but there were 3 Brigids and all interconnected. Goddess worship simply transferred onto female saints. it’s all tangled but connected nevertheless! Blessings X

  6. I love the sense of history and mystery you bring to this place and your blog. Being in America, I feel like much is lost from us in that way. Our ancestors were pilgrims on foreign soil. This sense of deep connection with the earth only brings us so far. The modern is king here, finding no developed places more than a few hundred years old. While they are sometimes beautiful and can have their own magic, many (to me) tell the story of war, pain and suffering. This place bears that pain in the earth. I hope through changing our ways we can create a better energy here for our future generations.

    • Ravenna…you carry the atoms of all your tribe from the beginning of time…we are all connected, all from only seven women I have been told. Draw out your ancients and honour them in your space in time. Blessings x

  7. Interesting how meanings reflect context. Imbolc here is dead-winter and candles lit against the dark. Down in the Southeastern USA it was indeed the first flush of spring, with leafless forests but first flowers.

    • So true! Here in Northern Indiana, Bealtaine is more the energy of Imbolc in Ireland. I am hosting an Imbolc celebration this year where we are honoring Brigid and her creative and healing fire, as well as asking her blessing on a mother to be who’s due on Ostara, conceived on Summer Solstice! I love following the Wheel of the Year in context of both the old ways and our current spot on the Earth. It all comes together. Thank you, Colette, for such lovely photos and reflections! Gorgeous as always, but maybe even more so in this Winter light.

Your comments are welcome!