Imbolc is one of my favorite Pagan festivals. It is all about preparing for spring and for new possibilities. This time of year, you will notice that the days are getting longer and while it is still cold everything is beautiful and snow covered.
The deity associated with Imbolc is Brigid, the Celtic goddess of of inspiration, wells, the sacred flame, and healing. Continue reading →
Imbolc, Brigid’s Day, or Candlemas is the season of coming spring, new beginnings, and cleansing. This is the time of year in which the Goddess is recovering from the God’s birth, who is growing a little bigger and stronger every day. The days are lengthening, even as we weather some of the coldest moments of the year. Milk products, such as cheese and cream, are the center of this feast. For vegan practitioners, research the best brands of soy milk and cheese to create variations of these recipes.
Spinach, Artichoke, and Cheese Dip: A classic bar food, this spread incorporates many different forms of cheeses, making it a perfect starter for this time of you. Use garlic bread or tortilla chips to scoop.
Curried Lamb: This is the time of year when new life comes to Earth. Lamb is one of the strongest symbols of this phenomenon. I like this particular recipe because it is a lot of taste with only a few ingredients.
Quesadillas: For the vegetarians in the room, let them make their own quesadillas. Provide green onions, cooked bacon (for those who don’t enjoy lamb), guacamole, salsa, and plenty of cheese.
Spiced Carrots: Carrots are one of the best vegetables for winter because they have a long shelf life. For this recipe, you’ll need a bag of carrots, an orange, lemon juice, olive oil, cumin, ginger, 1 clove of minced garlic, parsley, salt, and pepper. Put a small pot of water to boil, adding a little zest from the orange so the veggies will keep their color. Slice the carrots in quarter-inch rounds. Place in boiling water and cook until desired consistency. Meanwhile, whisk the juice from the orange, a tsp of lemon juice, a big drizzle of olive oil, cumin, salt, and pepper together. Drain the carrots and toss in dressing. Top with herbs.
Baked Potatoes: Preheat the oven to 400 Degrees F. Wash and fork the potatoes. Lightly oil and salt the skins and wrap the spud in aluminum foil. Place in oven and bake for 1 hour. Top with sour cream and chives.
Creme Brulee: This is my all time favorite dessert. The caramelized sugar on the top of this creamy custard make it a perfect ending to this fire festival’s feast.
Honey Bees: This cocktail was a happy accident one night while I was in college. Put 1 shot of Jack Daniel’s Honey Whiskey in a glass. Top it with chilled ginger ale and enjoy!
Cakes and Ale: While a Honey Bee is an option for ritual, milk and mead are appropriate choices as well. For cakes it would depend on the ale since there are so many sweet options for this sabat. If you want something savory buy or make croissants. If you decide to use a sweet option, this honey cake recipe is perfect.
Most witches, Wiccans, and Pagans follow the Eight Great Celtic Sabat model (although there are thousands of other traditions. Read The Grandmother of Time by Z. Budapest and The Pagan Book of Days by Nigel Pennick for more information). The benefit about following the natural world is the major holidays are nicely spaced throughout the year. Getting bummed after Yule? Imbolc is right around the corner. We are constantly celebrating life and the Earth and our faith.
Yet, I have found that try as I may to celebrate every holiday, I have noticed a pattern about how I approach the Wheel of the Year:
Yule: Christmas (a very important day in my family) is a few days away and since that’s such a high stress holiday I am too wiped to stay up with the Goddess as she births the God.
Imbolc: Very informal celebration. This year I had my friends over for mead.
Ostara: I always seem to forget about it.
Beltane: One of my favorites, but it always falls on finals or reading days. I do make an effort to do some sort of ritual, though.
Litha: I go to a local farm festival with my mom every year and go home for a late night ritual. One of the best days of the year.
Lammas: So. Much. Baking. Always a laid back holiday.
Mabon: I adore Mabon. Never miss it.
Samhain: I celebrate it, but I always seem burnt out due to a variety of reasons.
I do not treat them all with the same amount of pomp and circumstance. I mean, it’s not practical for me. I have school, work, family, friends, boyfriend, extra curricular activities, taking care of myself, etc. The prep time is not always there.
What ultimately drives celebratory worship is the connection to particular times of the year. For me, I feel at home in summer and fall holidays. They speak to my soul in such an empowering way, which is what matters the most about sabat celebrations. That connection is key because that is what allows the worshiper to benefit spiritually from the ritual.
In a few days in the Northern Hemisphere, Pagans and witches will celebrate the festival of Imbolc. It’s strongest aspects are love and fertility celebrating the Celtic goddess Brigid.
The most well known part of the holiday is it as the “Festival of Lights.” You probably have been noticing the lengthening days, the growing strength of the sun. For anyone sitting on the edge of their seats waiting for spring, feel free to begin watching for robins and first shoots. It’s a good holiday to build a bonfire or fill a room with candles. Feel free to interpret light in personal ways. For example I am a writer, so for me Imbolc is the festival I use to celebrate inspiration and the creative self.
Imbolc also comes at the time in which life is starting to stir. You know what’s in a few weeks? Valentine’s Day. This is a time for find love and life. Do not restrict it’s meaning to romance, but use the holiday to celebrate what you are passionate about, whether it’s a partner, a career, a family, etc.
Because of the growing life and light, I also think it is a good time of year to look at your life and finally clean out some negative aspects. In just a few weeks it’ll be Ostara and the world will be fresh and clean. Why not use this time of the year to do some spring cleaning, literal or spiritual?
I hope everyone has a bright Imbolc and beautiful start of spring.