Southern Hemisphere August 1st - 2nd
Northern Hemisphere February 1st - 2nd
As we venture out of the mists of winter in our Southern Hemisphere we are greeted with a new season, the promise of hope, warmth and new life. A shedding of our winters coat now begins. For our ancestors, this time would have been a welcome sight as the new buds and growth began appearing from the ground and trees. Hunters would at last have hope in their hearts as the hunted would now begin to stir, while the woman would honor the Great Mother as she too began her journey back to the land.
Imbolc is one of the four festivals that fall approximately in between the Quarter Days and is commonly known as a Cross Quarter Day, a Fire festival, or Greater Sabbat. A festival of the Goddess that symbolizes her return, the thaw and the first day of Spring tidings. Traditionally a festival shared by woman, men have also joined in the celebrations.
When Imbolc surrounds us the God is portrayed as a young babe or the young sun. Candles and fire were important to lure back the Sun God and his full power. As the Sun rises, greet the new day with as many lit candles as possible, perhaps break your fast outside, weather permitting and honour the sun as he rises in our skies.
The new season also brings with it new scents and new opportunities. Imbolc is also a festival of cleansing and purification. Removing clutter and debris from ones life to allow new energies to enter. so recycle, and re-purpose items you no longer need.
To help awaken the Goddess from her slumber although I am sure she needs no help but more of a confirmation that you care and are speaking to her, tap the earth gently with your staff or foot. Dance around the circle, sun wise and chant or sing to her. Ask her return and as you do so you may even notice the small buds in the trees, the change in the air or the sound of the earth below your feet as she awakens and starts to stir.
Brigids Day, Candlelight festival, Candlemas, Disting-tid, Em-bowl/g, Feast of Brigid, Festival of Milk, Feast of Pan, Feast of the Virgin, Feill Bhrise, First Light, Hongonui, Imbolc, Imbolg, Lupercalia, Milk Festival, Oimealg, Oimelc, Oi-melg, Pakawera, Plough Month, Returning Light, Snowdrop Festival, St Brigids day, Winters End, Wives Feast Day, Wolf Month.
Activities - Banishing winter spells and magick, Brides bed, Brigit’s cross, burning Yule and winter greenery, candle making and learning candle crafts including candle crowns and wheels, making the Corn Maiden, craft circles, check on the wildlife and remember to fill their feed bowls, clean and check food and magickal pantry for ingredients needed, cleansing the home, work and sacred spaces as well as yourself, clean the hearth and rekindle the balefire, consecrate any new tools or ones that you always use, de-cluttering, donate to charities, fasting or feasting, (I know what one I prefer!) help someone in need, honouring womanhood, Deity, the Earth and Sun, the return of life and the Virgin/Fire Goddesses, initiation rites, learn to cook a new dish, magick preparation, pathworking, plan new ideas or a garden, prepare for new birth be it human or animal, purification rituals, torchlight processions, read a book or several, ritual baths, set up a circle for group meets, start a journal of your daily spiritual moments, start a new family tradition, storytelling and poetry reciting, visit the snow, walk in nature, witches stitches such as sewing, knitting, crocheting and making those cool animal sox! Women meets and gatherings, write up your own rituals for Imbolc and simply give thanks…
Animals - All newborns, badger, bear, boars, burrowing animals, cows, deer, dragons, eels, geese, groundhogs, hedgehogs, horses, lambs, larks, peacock, pigs, kiwi, kereru, ravens, sheep, snakes, swan, whitebait, white cows, wolf.
Colours - Surprisingly for what may seem like a feminine and gentle celebration, bold colours are at play here, with rich greens and gold with the traditional colours of white and red. White is the virgin, winter, the snow and purity, while red is for the warmth, fire, candlelight and the energies that have lain dormant under the earth until now. It is also the colour of rebirth and of our blood once it connects to the outside air. As far as the paler colours go, pinks, greens, yellow and silver are ideal.
Deities - A festival of the Goddess that symbolizes her return, the thaw and the first day of spring. However it is not just the Goddess who is celebrated here, the God is also present in many dedication, purification and Imbolc rites. All Virgin, Maiden, Fire and Fertility Goddesses, as well as all Flame, Fire and Fertility Gods are honoured.
Elements - Fire and Water
Foods - After the stodgey foods of winter we sometimes find ourselves wanting lighter meals but still with some substance to them. The pantries and store cupboard may have also dwindled leaving the cupboards bare and with thin pickings, maybe a few preserves left and a freezer full of the least favorite vegetable dishes. However we cannot be fussy and always make good with what we have and be thankful that we have it. Imbolc foods include red and white foods, ale, barley, beer, blackberries, butter, cream, eels, honey, hops, lambswool brew, lemon dishes, milky foods, potatoes, rice, whitebait, white cheeses, yoghurt.
Herbs and Plants - The herbs and plants of this Sabbat are basically anything that is around now including angelica, basil, bay, birch, blackberry, burdock, calla lily, calendula, catnip, cedar, celandine, chamomile, chickweed, chives, cleavers, cinnamon, coltsfoot, crocus, daffodil, dandelion, dill, evergreens, ferns, hazel, heather, herb Robert, hyssop, iris, jasmine, jonquils, lavender, leek, lemon, lemon balm, nutmeg, oak, parsley, primrose, red clover, rowan, rue, sage, snowdrops and the willow.
Moon - The Bear Moon or Chaste Moon.
Symbols - Anvils, bellows, blacksmiths tools, candles, candle crowns and wheels, balefires, Brides bed, Brigids cross, corn dollies, corn maiden, ewes, ewes milk, hammer, horseshoes, ice and snow, ice cubes, iron, iron nails, lactating animals and women, maiden energies, milk, phallic symbols, returning light, rice, sacred wells, waters and springs, snowdrops, the trinity, Triple Goddess, water, white crystals and stones.
This cake can be baked in honour of the Irish Goddess Brigid, whose sacred energies include fertility, healing, creative workings and protector of all. Serve this cake at your Imbolc feast and rituals.
2 Tbsp honey
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
250ml cream or ½ milk and ½ cream
100g dark raisins
50g chopped hazelnuts
Cream butter, sugar and honey, then beat in the eggs. Fold in sifted flour, baking powder, baking soda and spices alternately with the cream. Stir in the raisins and hazelnuts. Place mix into a greased and lined 20cm round tin. Bake on the centre shelf in a 180°C oven 35-40 minutes or until cooked when tested with the olde skewer trick. Remove cake from the oven and cool for 15minutes before tipping out onto a cake rack. Can be served warm or cold with butter. Cut into 10 wedges.