Imbolc, also sometimes called Oimelc or Candlemas is the celebration of youthful potential. The Goddess is in her maiden phase and the Horned God is still in his infant or child phase. During this time the Goddess has returned to Earth from the Otherworld and nature is awakening with her magical touch.
Usually between Feb. 1 and 2, Wiccans celebrate the sabbat of Imbolc and the return of the Goddess in her maiden or virginal form. This form is present in the Celtic goddess Brigit, who is also known as High One, Bride or Brigid. She was sanctified by the Christians under the name Brigid. In Ireland, Brigit was seen as the protector of livestock, bringer of fertility to the natural world, promoter of healing and a patron of poetry and black-smith arts. Oimelc means "ewe’s milk" and this was the day that ewes would normally start to lactate, which created the Goddess’s association with milk.
The celebration of Candlemas has ancient roots. In Pagan Europe the fires were kindled at this time of the year to reflect and encourage the growing strength of the sun. In Christianity, however, the holiday is derived from the tradition of blessing the candles for use in the year to come. Some Pagan traditions will also bless their candles on this day. This is also the day of the feast of the purification of the Virgin Mary and presentation of baby Jesus. This parallels the relation between the Pagan Goddess in her maiden form with the infant Horned God and the Virgin Mary with the baby Jesus. The similarities between the two are unmistakable.
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