Here we are at another Sabbat; and I must confess that this one is just as difficult for me to place as Mabon was. As someone who was not raised Pagan (in fact, I was raised Catholic), I have all the experience in the world with the common secular holidays and religious ones. I can tell you all about Ash Wednesday and what you should and shouldn’t do during Lent (the roughly 40 days leading up to Easter). Groundhog’s Day is an underwhelming, yet present, part of February for Americans. Then there’s the saccharine Valentine’s Day, which I actually have a great fondness for (I love pink and hearts). As for Imbolc, however – this holiday has no obvious equivalent in modern Christian or secular culture. At least with Yule, Ostara, and Samhain, I have some kind of basis for the traditions and how to celebrate. Imbolc is a bit of an enigma.
Therefore, I’ve tried to make it my duty to look up ways to celebrate this Sabbat, especially since it is, actually, one of the four greater Sabbats. That includes the playlist I’ve taken it upon myself to build for each Sabbat – with lots of input from other Pagans (I’ve been heavily inspired by Ozark Pagan Mamma). I started back at Beltane, and so far, I’ve created playlist for each holiday. Now we’re at Imbolc, and then there’s just Ostara left to do.
So, whether you enjoy this playlist or not, I think that it speaks to the feeling of the season. Some hopefulness, some dreariness, a lot of Brighid, and light-filled themes. As usual, I’ll put the full list, and then below, the list plus reasons why I chose each piece.
I hope you enjoy. Again, these are no particular order (other that what I find pleasing), and they are all currently available on Spotify.
- Dante’s Prayer (Loreena McKennitt)
- The Wild Song (Anuna)
- Shepherd Moons (Enya)
- Candlemas Song (Lisa Thiel)
- Return to The Mother (Reclaiming)
- Banish Misfortune (Erutan)
- The Quickening (Spiral Dance)
- Song to Brighid (Lisa Thiel)
- Born of Water (Lila)
- Eiri na Greine/Sunrise ( Eamonn Cagney)
- Imbolc (Lisa Thiel)
- The Dove’s Return (Aine Minogue)
- Deeper Well (The Wailin’ Jennys)
- Brighid’s Kiss (La Lugh)
- No One But You (Erutan)
- Brighid (Damh the Bard)
- Maiden, Mother, Crone (Kellianna)
- Siochain Shuthain (Lukasz Kapuscinski, Adrian Von Ziegler)
- Hearth Blessings (Lisa Thiel)
- Imbolc (Threefold)
- Have you seen but a white lily grow? (Evelyn Tubb, Michael Fields, David Hatcher)
- Brighid (Kellianna)
- Triple Goddess Blessings (Lisa Thiel)
- Tiny Geometries (Ray Lynch)
Here’s the breakdown why I included each song:
- Dante’s Prayer – This song is a really great opener for any playlist. I’ve talked about how much I love putting instrumental music at the beginning of a playlist, and while this isn’t instrumental all the way through, it starts with some really great choral singing, as if from a deep, quiet cathedral, or maybe slowly stealing through the still, wintry woods. Loreena is gorgeous here, as always. This song is about finding the light, sometimes in other people, when everything seems lost in the darkness.
- The Wild Song – An equally complex and simple song, this number brings to mind the first few sounds of springtime after the winter starts to thaw. The lyrics of this piece will bring you to beautiful places, and the vocalizations are quite something.
- Shepherd Moons – When I was a kid, my dad and I used to listen to Enya in the car. So, when I saw that this song was on Ozark Pagan Mamma’s list, I couldn’t NOT put it on mine. The quiet hesitations of the melodic piano line are so in-tune with the way that spring slowly winds into being, awakening from under the snow.
- Candlemas Song – Always the thoughtful lyricist, Lisa Thiel reaches out with a simple chant/song to Birgita, an aspect of Brighid. She asks Birgita to awaken the flame within each of us, to relight and rekindle that which has been lost in the darkness of the winter.
- Return to the Mother – The great thing about this song is that another song by this group, Sun King, was on my Lammas playlist. The solid beat underneath this song matches up perfectly with either song. It’s a great mirror between the death of the father sun and the reawakening and returning to the moon mother. Almost as though it’s all a circle, isn’t it?
- Banish Misfortune – Although I absolutely love Erutan, hers is not the old rendition of this popular, dance-y strings number. I just love the idea behind even the name “Banish Misfortune,” since it calls to mind dancing through the brutally cold winter and still dancing as the springtime peaks out and the first birds start singing.
- The Quickening – Spiral Dance has quite a few interesting pieces on their various albums. This one starts out as a fast-paced dance number, then the vibrant vocals come in, celebrating Brighid and the spring being born from the winter Crone.
- Song to Brighid – I realized that I put an awful lot of Lisa Thiel on this playlist, and that tells me that she might have a special thing for Brighid. In this piece, Lisa calls Brighid a “blessed woman” and asks her to guide her. It’s such an authentic invocation of the goddess, and you can almost hear the pleading in her voice. I’m pretty much a soft polytheist, but I’m not immune to the devotion some of these musicians have to their spirituality.
- Born of Water – There is no way that you won’t sing along to this song. It starts off with some simple birds chirping, a rain stick, a flute…and the chant comes in, simple and memorable, empowering women and anyone who associates with the element of water. “Born of water, cleansing, powerful, healing, changing, I am.”
- Eiri na Greine/Sunrise – Just some lovely instrumental music. I looked up the first part of the name before realizing that it was already translated: “Sunrise,” in Irish. This is the time of the year that we celebrate the sun coming up earlier and earlier, and bringing back its warmth with it.
- Imbolc – More Lisa Thiel! This song was part of her Circle of the Seasons album, in which she did a song for each Sabbat. However, this piece is again, a dedication to Brighid, as the keeper of the home.
- The Dove’s Return – I think this is meant to be a Christmas song, to be honest, considering the album that it falls under on Spotify is “Celtic Christmas II,” but the ethereal sounds of the harp and the vocals bring this bright melody right into the first touches of springtime.
- Deeper Well – I am a big fan of The Wailin’ Jennys. They’re actually Canadian, which you can tell on this song due to the lack of a British accent. This isn’t my favorite song of theirs, but I can appreciate the message of looking for something more – instead of “drinking” shallowly in life, you need to “drink” from a deeper well.
- Brighid’s Kiss – It’s not too often that I have something from a Celtic Woman album on here. But, there can’t be any doubt that their voices blend so well that they deserve a spot on any playlist. This song isn’t entirely in English, but the parts that are talk about nourishing the people with the sunrise and the epiphany.
- No One But You – Here’s another piece by Erutan. Fun fact about this musician – she has recorded in her closet before, using the coats as acoustic dampeners. Anyway, her clear voice is oddly haunting, and I feel like in this playlist it gives us a reminder of the sweetness of springtime, but the iciness that can still overtake the land at this part of the year. Where I’m from, spring is still dragging its feet as Ostara and sometimes even Beltane. So, Imbolc is only the tip of the iceberg.
- Brighid – This playlist reminds me of all the songs that were called “Mabon” around that Sabbat. Brighid is everywhere on this playlist! Damh, of course, treats us to some guitar and introduces us to Brighid as the Triple Goddess of fire, healing, and spring.
- Maiden, Mother, Crone – I hadn’t previously had Kellianna on one of my lists, but looking back, I have heard about her. In this gorgeous song, lined by some simple piano, she sings about the Triple Goddess in her three aspects. Her voice also gets fuller as the song progresses, going from the Maiden onward.
- Siochain Shuthain – I think this song is about a lot of ducks floating on the water (as far as I could tell by the translation…or it’s about peace? Help me out, Google translate). Anyway, it’s a gorgeous instrumental piece using Celtic guitar.
- Hearth Blessings – Even more Lisa! Brighid is the goddess of the hearth, and while Lisa doesn’t mention Brighid in this piece, she does talk about the blessings of the house and the home. Since Imbolc is a time of spring cleaning and purifying our space, this blessing for the home seems like a perfect addition to this list.
- Imbolc – Threefold is a really curiously awesome group that has very instrumental pieces that incorporate vocals as though they’re chanting instruments, kind of in the background. This song is quite lovely but has almost rock-genre beats to it. It will definitely get you in the mood for spring.
- Have you seen but a white lily grow? – The interesting background to my choice of this piece is that I sang it back when I was in voice lessons as a kid. Sometimes I still sing it in the car when I don’t put any music in. Somehow, this song seemed perfect for Imbolc, hinting at the purity of the flower, its comparison to snow before anyone has walked on it. There’s something about the white softness, the sweetness of the imagery, that made it a shoe-in for the Imbolc playlist.
- Brighid – Yet another piece of Brighid! This one is by Kellianna again. In this song, Kellianna almost likens the Triple Goddess to an actual flame herself, leading the people out of darkness and into Love and Light.
- Triple Goddess Blessings – Here’s the last Lisa Thiel piece for this playlist. In the past I’ve had some hit-or-miss moments with Lisa, so I was pleased that her soft vocals made it onto this list so much. Again, with this piece, you can tell Lisa’s dedication to the Triple Goddess and the ebb and flow of the circular progression, going from Maiden, to Mother, to Crone, and back again.
- Tiny Geometries – Just like my father and I listened to a lot of Enya in my youth, we also listened to Ray Lynch. This is the first time I’ve included Ray on a playlist, but I can’t believe it’s taken me so long. The beautiful thing about Tiny Geometries is that you can imagine anything with the pulsing, tender, electric-sounding energy that this music creates. It could be a sunrise. It could be ice crystals melting. Perhaps it’s the birth of a lamb. Anything is possible at this wondrous time.
Thank you, and Blessed Imbolc to you.