Updated 07:01 PM EDT, Tue, Jun 19, 2018

Witchcraft in the US: Imbolc 2015 History, Facts & Celebration Ideas

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Wiccans, pagans and practitioners of the "ancient religion" will celebrate one of the four Major Sabbats of the Year, Imbolc, on Feb. 2, 2015.

Also known as Oimelc, Imbolc is a celebration which marks the midpoint of winter, ReligionFacts cited. The name was reportedly derived from an Irish word meaning "in the belly" or "ewe's milk."

The festivity serves as a reminder that Spring is coming soon -- winter will be over, and the earth will become warmer.

As told by BBC, Imbolc is one of the Celtic calendar's cornerstones. It is the time of the year when rituals are performed to draw divine energy, done to ensure stability of food supply before the time of harvest.

Interestingly, a Christian celebration in Ireland can be linked to an "old god," About Religion noted. This happened when the Church reportedly allowed people "to worship the goddess Bridghid as a saint" because they had a hard time letting go of their old beliefs while they converted to Christianity. St. Brigid's Day is being celebrated by Christians on February 1, which is also the feast day of Saint Brigit of Kildare.

Depending on geographic location and / or religious culture, Imbolc is called by many names in various spellings. Wicca.com listed several of them, including Imbolgc Brigantia (Caledonni), Imbolic (Celtic), Disting (Teutonic, Feb 14th), Lupercus (Strega), St. Bridget's Day (Christian), Candlemas, Candelaria (Mexican), the Snowdrop Festival, The Festival of Lights and the Feast of the Virgin.

Deities celebrated within Imbolc include all Virgin / Maiden goddesses, primarily Brighid, Aradia, Athena, Inanna, Gaia and Februa. Gods of Love and Fertility such as Aengus Og, Eros and Februus are also given importance, Wicca.com wrote.

In another article, About Religion described different ways of celebrating Imbolc, but most have been geared through ritual. Generally, setting up an Imbolc altar is applicable to solitary and coven practitioners, and there is no one-rule as to how large this sacred space could be. Candle rituals, family rituals and initiation ceremonies may also be done on this occasion.

About Religion added that Imbolc's proximity to Valentine's Day marks people's exploration on love magic. The outlet informed that Imbolc is particularly related to the feminine aspect of the goddess. The occasion is also seen as a ideal time to develop divination and psychic abilities.

For Wiccan practitioners, rituals always involved magic, and such activities often require a handful of materials and chants / prayers. For Imbolc, Raven and Crone cited a basic "House Blessing" ritual, where the following items are needed: salt, water, incense (for fire and air),milk and honey, oil (for anointing) and wine (for offering), among others.

For those who may not know, Wicca has been claimed as America's fastest growing religion. Schools for aspiring witches also exist, and you can check some of them here, here and here.

The Indiana University of Pennsylvania has documented Wicca as one of the eight largest faith groups in the U.S.

Check out the following videos for more information.

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