February 1 or 2 or the first moon in Aquarius
The basics of ImbolcAlso Called: Candlemas - in American traditions; Imbolgc Brigantia - in Caledonia traditions; Imbolc - Celtic traditions; Candelaria - in Mexican Craft; Lupercus - Strega traditions; Disting - in Teutonic traditions.
Imbolc is the first of the Spring holidays that ring in the festivals for fertility. Imbolc is the celebration of things yet to be born for the new year. Those things that are hidden under winters last snows. It is a time for preparation. Look over your supplies for the coming year and make a list of what you might need. It is a time to take stock. For this festival, lavender and white candles are burned to represent the divine (white) rebirth and preparation for ones spirituality (the lavender).
In traditional ceremony Imbolc is the festival of the Goddess aspect of the divine spirits. The Goddess Brid or Bridget, the bride who is waiting for the return of her groom, the sun God. In original Celtic traditions, it is the preparation for the rebirth of the sun God.
Today the Irish know this festival as St. Bridget's Day.
Span the shades of lavenders and white for your decorations. Early spring flowers are a nice touch, but in most places February is not the beginning of the growing season. So you might stick with the silk flowers or spend a little money at your local florist. If you decide on the later, we like to purchase arrangements that are geared toward wedding bouquets, to represent the Goddess Bridget. We chose lavender roses, sprinkled with white babies breath. Being the Festival of Lights we also take extra efforts in picking out the candles we'll use on and around the alter. We also add a fairly large number of candles for the actual ceremony as well, flooding the our circle with warm flickering lights.
Lastly, we make small pouches as gifts for anyone who joins our circle. Inside we give seeds for the coming planting season, such as sunflowers, spring beans, potatoes and a variety of herbs.
Traditionally Sabbat festivals begin at sun set on the eve of the Holiday. You can use the daytime hours of this holiday eve to clean up your ritual area and set the alter. We like to use this day to bake cakes and prepare our ritual wines for the evening ceremonies. We like to symbolize the spirit of the festival in the offerings we prepare. On this holiday we bake small muffins of carrot cake or corn bread made from the harvest of our garden in the fall.
As for the alter, choose a special white candle as your center piece to represent the Goddess. Along side chose a lavender candle to represent the dawning of the suns rebirth. Around the circle we like to place off white and vanilla scented candles, to represent the Mother and Crone aspects of the Goddess. As if they were watching their daughter prepare for her wedding. We also set darker purple candles on each directional corner of the circle (i.e.: north, south, east and west). These candles represent the sun God's sleeping state, much like the darkness of the sky just before the slightest hint of light touches the clouds.
A purple table cloth covered with a vanilla colored lace is also an attractive addition on you alter or celebration table. Some witches include crystals of Lithium to represent the dawning of the new spiritual year and Moonstone which represents the Goddess in all her femininity.
Gold or brass serving trays and goblets for ritual offerings are also placed on or around the alter for easy access. Along with the bridal flower arrangements you've chosen.
There are several ways of conducting a ritual. Each witch should learn many different methods and then construct your own within the boundaries of the festival