Imbolc, Sweeping and Bad Banishing Broom Powder

   February in North America can be cold and bleak with chilling winds that make it very easy to want to remain indoors, curled up in a burrow of blankets. Honestly, that doesn't sound like a bad idea. Enjoy the chance to rest and regenerate, to pause and wonder. It's a good time to stay inside and bury yourself in baking and brewing, but don't miss the first signs of life beginning to stir on the outside. I tend to notice the tiny green shoots of nettle and wild garlic beginning to appear beneath my feet. This is a reminder that winter is at its turning point; with the darkest days behind us we know spring is on the way.

Imbolc, held on 1-2 February*, marks the halfway point between the winter solstice (the longest night of the year) and the spring equinox (21 March). For most who celebrate, it is a festival of fire, purification and new beginnings. Imbolc is a Celtic word meaning 'in the belly' or 'in the womb'. This is believed to be in reference to the approaching birth of lambs and more commonly with the seeds growing withing earth, primed for germination, waiting to burst into life.

Fire is the element of creation, and a fire festival is a time to forge inspiring plans in the hearth fires of winter. Bring light into the darkness of winter by surrounding yourself with candles, or light a bonfire and hear it crackle as you watch the flames. Think about how you would like to see your future while letting go of the past. What adjustments will you make to revitalize your life? A simple way to start is with spring cleaning and purifying your home. Give it a good sweep and burn some sage.

It's really easy to dismiss sweeping as just another household chore but it can be more than that. It has the power to shift negative energy and prepare the ground for new things. For a special Imbolc sweep, take a broom and begin at the front of your home (start on the front porch if you have one) and work your way towards the back. Treat this as a meditation as you go. Imagine sweeping away the bad, the stale energy, and making room for good, fresh energy to come in. This is a simple act symbolizing letting go of the past and making room for new and better things.
So, let's tidy up and get rid of any clutter that has been sitting for far too long. A cleaning ritual will help banish stagnant energy, dispel anything 'heavy' that might be hanging around and get your home (your sacred space) looking clean and ready for the year ahead. I have included my basic floor sweep below.  Also, check out my recipe for Imbolc Cake and give it a shot. You may decide to make this a new tradition.

Bad Banishing Broom Powder
1 cup salt. Sea salt or Pink Himalayan salt work well
1 tablespoon ground sage or around ten dried leaves
1 teaspoon bee pollen (optional)
1/2 handful dried flower petals (see Chart for details)

Grind the salt, sage and bee pollen (should you choose to include it) together with a mortar and pestle. As you grind, concentrate on clearing the stale energy from your home and welcoming new, fresh energy in. Add this mixture and your dried flower petals in a bowl and lightly toss. You can start in the front rooms of your home and work towards the back or start in the north facing rooms of the house working your way south. 
Begin by LIGHTLY sprinkling your broom powder onto the carpets and tile/hard floors. All the while holding your intentions in mind. If you don’t have pets or small children, leave the floor broom powder for as long as you’d like. For me, I had to lay it down and then turn right around to sweep it up because my cat will literally eat anything on the floor. When you’re ready, sweep up the broom powder and visualize bright energy flowing through your home as you go along. You could empty your dustpan into the waste basket, but I like to dispose of broom powder outside.

Imbolc is less than two weeks away! Now is the time for purification, renewal, and preparing for the coming of spring with fire as the cornerstone of this festival. Think about what you can burn away with that fire. The Full Moon happening this week also invites you to LET IT GO. What is ready to leave your life?  It’s time to cut the cords!

*In the northern hemisphere, Imbolc falls on or around 2 February. In the southern hemisphere, it will be on or around 1 August.

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