Hi, my loves and welcome to WiccaNow. I’ve been covering one of my favourite Sabbats, Imbolc, recently. So far we’ve gone over the history and origins of Imbolc, my favourite Imbolc ritual, ideas for your Imbolc altar decorations and some delicious Imbolc recipes to cook at your celebratory dinner. Today I want to cover one more topic, Imbolc Symbols!
Symbols are an important part of Wicca, using them can increase the potency of your spells and will help to increase the power of your magic. Read all about Wiccan symbols in our previous blog post if you’re interested in learning more. Using Imbolc symbols, whether this is in your altar decorations or in your Imbolc rituals, will not only pay tribute to the goddess of the sabbat but will also increase the potency of any rituals you perform.
So, how do you use these symbols? Well, as mentioned above, why not place a couple on your Imbolc altar? Don’t have an altar? No problem, find a nice candle, take a pin and inscribe a couple of symbols onto it before you burn it during your Imbolc celebration.
Don’t have time to have a celebration? Don’t worry! Being Wiccan means that there is a lot of flexibility in how you want to do things. If you can’t celebrate because you’re still not letting people know that you’re Wiccan (this is more common than you realise), why don’t you wear an Imbolc colour as a way of honouring the sabbat. No one will ever know why you wore that red hair clip or a yellow t-shirt yet you are honouring the Sabbat anyway!
My Top 8 Imbolc Symbols
Here are my 8 favourite Imbolc symbols, use as many or as few as you like in your celebrations and remember that being Wiccan means flexibility. If there is a symbol that speaks to you of spring and the Goddess Brigid, please don’t think you can’t use that instead of my suggestions!
Imbolc Symbol #1 Blackberry
This is a plant that is sacred to the Goddess Brigid. The leaves and berries attract healing and prosperity, something that fits well to Imbolc. If you have a garden, you could plant out a blackberry cane (although to be honest it’s probably still too cold). Otherwise, why not bake a blackberry pie and add it to your altar? Then you get the pleasure of eating it on the evening (or day) of Imbolc!
Imbolc Symbol #2 Brigids Cross
This is one that we’ve mentioned before and might be one of the most well-known Imbolc symbols. It’s a traditional fire wheel symbol which is typically woven with rushes and has 4 equal length arms with a woven square into the middle. While a cross is typically seen as a Christian symbol, the origins of this particular cross pre-date Christianity.
Making these crosses was often a group activity, and enough would be made to hang over every door and window of the home. This would provide the house with protection and keep the inhabitants safe from harm. Another common place to hang a Brigid’s cross was over the hearth. Brigid is the Goddess of the Hearth so hanging a cross over the hearth was considered a great way to honour her and also invoke her protection in preventing harmful fires.
Fun fact: The Brigid’s Cross is a common symbol in Ireland, it’s as well known as a shamrock. It used to be the symbol of the department of health and is still the logo of “An Bord Altranais” which is the Irish Nursing Board.
Imbolc Symbol #3 Brigid Doll
The Goddess Brigid is often seen as a manifestation of the Triple Goddess. At Imbolc, she is seen in her Maiden aspect and is a symbol of good luck and fertility. A traditional Brigid Doll was made with corn husks and then placed on the Imbolc altar or near the hearth or kitchen. By having a Brigid Doll in the home you are inviting in fertility and abundance. Don’t worry, if you are currently in a fertility avoidance, i.e. birth control, phase of your life, think of the fertility she brings as a form of luck and plenty rather than fertility relating to pregnancy and children.
Make Your Own Brigid Doll
- Corn husks. Fresh corn might not be available at this time of year, so check in a craft shop or you could look for a place which sells Mexican ingredients and use corn husks meant for Tamales. If the husks are dried and brittle, soak them in water for a bit to soften them up and to make sure that they don’t crack when you bend them. If you can’t find corn husks, don’t worry because it’s also common to use straw to make these dolls.
- Ribbon or string
- Cotton Balls
- Decorations of your choice like beads or coloured ribbons etc
- Take a strip of corn husk and fold it in ½. Take a couple of cotton balls and place them at the ½ way fold. Twist the husk and then tye it with ribbon or string to make the head. Leave the husks below the head there, they will make your torso.
- Take a corn husk and make arms by folding the husk in ½ and then tying the ends of the husk into hands.
- Place the arms underneath the head, making sure that they are equal in length and then tie them into place. You’ll be creating here torso here at the same time. If you would like your doll to be a little plumper, add a couple of cotton balls to her torso before you tie it with ribbon.
- Take a few corn husks and arrange them just above the doll’s waist. Overlap them so that there are no gaps as this will form her skirt. Tie them into place carefully. She’ll look like she’s had her skirt blown around her ears at this stage.
- Fold the husks down so that they form a skirt and hide the yarn you’ve used to tie them into place.
- Trim her skirt if you like, or leave it uneven for a more rustic doll.
- Let the Brigid Doll dry out completely
- When the doll is dried, you can decorate her. Draw on a face if you like, make her a dress, give her a necklace. Decorating isn’t necessary but can be a fun activity if you have kids.
- Congratulations, you’ve made your Brigid Doll!
Imbolc Symbol #4 The Flame
Brigid the Goddess of fire. Imbolc is a fire festival. A flame is a natural Imbolc symbol! Add candles to your altar or light a fire if you are lucky enough to have a fire-place. The hearth (or fireplace) is another one of the more common Imbolc symbols, but most people don’t have one these days so using a candle is a wonderful substitute.
Imbolc Symbol #5 The Sheep
Because Imbolc happens at around the same time that the first sheep start lambing, ewes and lambs are another one of the important Imbolc symbols. They represent fertility and the beginning of spring. The first lambs show us that spring has well and truly arrived. They symbolise abundance and good fortune. Ewes having lambs meant that the long winter without fresh food was finally over as now there would be sheep’s milk available.
Imbolc Symbol #6 The Sun
Because Imbolc is a sabbat which celebrates the coming spring, it’s important to acknowledge the important part that the sun plays in our lives. Without the warming of the sun, everything would stay frozen and we wouldn’t have spring let alone summer. The sun is a powerful symbol. It chases away the wintery darkness and we honour the spring by honouring the sun which provides us with warmth and longer days.
Imbolc Symbol #7 The Snowdrop
This sweet flower is the first flower which heralds the spring. It manages to pop is head up through the snow and is a sign that the days are getting longer and the sun is warming up. Having these flowers on your Imbolc altar is a really pretty addition and also has a lot of meaning too it. Because they are a symbol of Imbolc they will also help to increase the potency of your rituals. Carve the shape onto a candle when performing Imbolc Candle magic for extra strength. Some people even celebrate Imbolc when the first snowdrops come out rather than on a particular date.
Imbolc Symbol #8 The Serpent
According to ancient Celtic mythology, the hibernating serpent of the world would emerge from its lair at Imbolc. Brigid is closely associated with serpents in her role as a Goddess of poetry and wisdom as the serpent is a symbol of creativity and inspiration. While you obviously don’t have to have an actual snake on your altar, why not carve one into a candle? The snake of the world which eats its own tail while continually growing longer represents the eternal cycle of life and death and is an ancient Norse myth. For my this is one of the more powerful Imbolc symbols.
Imbolc Symbol #9 The Triple Goddess
Another wonderful Imbolc symbol is the sign of the Triple Goddess. I will often make this symbol on my Imbolc altar with tealights. Brigid is an embodiment of the Triple Goddess so any tribute to the Triple Goddess is fitting for this spring Sabbat.
So, my loves, I hope this provides you with some inspiration for which Imbolc symbols you could use in your festivities! I tend to use a mix of multiple symbols by carving some into candles, adding one or 2 to my altar (I have suns embroidered onto my altar cloth at the moment) and using some representations of these symbols in the foods I make such a baked sheep’s cheese or a blackberry pie.
Until next time,