Imbolg, also known as Candlemas, comes six weeks after Yule and six weeks before the Spring Equinox. At this time, Witches honor the Celtic Triple Goddess Brid (pronounced Breed) in her maiden aspect. Brid or Brigid is goddess of fire, inspiration, healing, craftsmanship, and midwifery. She is patroness of the hearth, poets, smiths, craftspeople, healers, and priests.
Imbolg is the winter Festival of Lights. It is the quickening of the year, the first fetal stirrings of Spring in the womb of Mother Earth. Spring lies within sight and the seed is prepared for sowing. It is a fire festival, but emphasis is put on light rather than heat -- light as it begins to pierce the gloom of winter.
February 2 is also Groundhog's Day (USA). The groundhog is a manifestation of the God. He has been sleeping since Samhain and stirs in his slumber to get a take on the coming light.
If Candlemas day be sunny and bright, Winter again will show its might.
If Candlemas day be cloudy and grey, Winter soon will pass away.
The herbs of Imbolg play both a practical and spiritual role, in some cases fortifying your strength and endurance, and in others making you feel good about yourself emotionally and spiritually. (Laurie Cabot from _Celebrate the Earth_)
Imbolg's symbolic tree is the ash tree. Herbs of the season are:
Heather, dried sage, celandine, lemon, honey, dried chamomile, coriander seeds, garlic, rose hips, ash leaf or wood, witch hazel or hazel leaves, sunflower seeds, dried sunflower petals, vervain,violets, wheat, corn, grains, myrrh, storax, balsams, dragon's blood, benzoin, mastic
Carnation, vanilla, vanilla musk
Clear quartz, citrine, yellow tourmaline,green tourmaline, rose quartz, hematite, lodestone, ruby, garnet, red zircon, pearls
Candles: white, sometimes red
Incense: Chamomile, myrrh, heather. Also benzoin, vanilla, dragon's blood, carnation
Decorate the altar with white flowers. Have a white votive candle within the cauldron. Lay your besom upon the altar.
Brigid in her maiden aspect.
The Three-Fold Fire of Brighid
Fire in the forge that shapes and tempers
Fire in the cauldron that nourishes and heals
Fire in the head that incites and inspires
At Imbolg, witches cast for fertility and protection in their lives. Imbolg is a good time to get your life in order, spiritually,mentally, emotionally, and physically.
Burn the Yule greens to send winter on its way.
Make the Bride's Bed using the corn or wheat doll make the previous Lughnasadh.
Make a Candle Wheel
Create a sun wheel or Brigid's Cross for each room in the house. Burn the old ones.
Hang a scarf outside on the eve of Imbolg and Brigid will bless it with healing powers.
Place three ears of corn on the door as symbol of the Triple Goddess and leave until Ostara.
Imbolg is a traditional time for Witches' dedications, rededications, and initiations.
Cleanse your sacred space and altar tools with a simple Imbolg besom rite.
For a simple Imbolg observance, light a white candle and burn sandalwood.
Cleanse the area where you do card readings or scrying with a censer, burning rosemary or vervain, and say:
By the power of this smoke, I wash away the negative influences that this place be cleansed for the Lady and her babe.
Make dream pillows for everyone in the family.
On Imbolg Eve, it is customary to leave food and drink out for Brigid -- buttered bread, milk, grains, or seeds. Also leave buttered bread in a bowl indoors for the faeries who travel with the Lady of the Greenwood. Next day, dispose of it outside as the "essence" has been removed.
Let this be the traditional time that you make candles for the coming year, infusing them with color, power, herbs, and scent depending on the magickal purpose. Bless candles that you will be using for rituals throughout the year.
Imbolg is the traditional time to collect stones for new magick circles and general magickal use. Use your BACK button to return this site. Here's a lesson on magickal stones I wrote for a spellworks class.
Traditional foods are from dairy products and spiced with onion, leek, garlic, shallot, and/or olives. The wine may be spiced and the food may contain raisins. Bread puddings and creamy soups are typical.
Creamy Salmon Soup
Asparagus Spears with Herb White Sauce
Magickal Cream Puffs
1-1/2 cups milk per serving
1 tsp. honey
1/4 tsp.vanilla extract
Warm milk, being careful not to boil. In each glass or mug, add honey and vanilla. Sprinkle tops with cinnamon.
1 tsp. granulated sugar
1 cup evaporated milk or cream
1/4 cup melted butter
1-1/2+ cup flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
Prepare and preheat waffle iron.Mix all ingredients until mixture takes on a slightly puffy appearance. Pour the batter into a hot waffle iron and bake until done (about 3 minutes). In Sweden, it is traditional to use preserves or honey to top the waffles. Butter and/or whipped cream are suitable dairy toppings for the season.
WISE AND CREAMY SALMON SOUP
The salmon is the wisest and most ancient of living creatures. Brid is guardian of all knowledge and keeper of all memory, so this soup seems appropriate.
1 pkg. cream cheese, cut into cubes
1 cup milk
2 tsp. dijon mustard (to bring wealth)
1-1/2 tsp. chopped fresh dill or 1/2 tsp. dried dill (for protection of home and job)
2 green onions with tops sliced (for purity)
1 can chicken broth
12 oz. smoked salmon, flaked, or 1 can, drained and flaked
Heat cream cheese, milk, mustard, dill, onions, and chicken broth in a saucepan over medium heat until cheese is melted and smooth. Stir in salmon and heat until hot and ready to serve.
ASPARAGUS SPEARS WITH HERB WHITE SAUCE
Asparagus spears are for grounding; ruled by Earth and Venus. Snap ends and steam asparagus for 6 to 8 minutes, or until tender in a vegetable steamer.
2 Tbl. margarine or butter
2 Tbl. flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1/6 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. dill
1 cup milk
Heat margarine over low heat until melted. Stir in flour, salt, pepper, dill, sage, and nutmeg. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly; remove from heat when mixture is smooth. Stir in milk. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly for 1 minute. Pour sauce over spears when ready to serve.
MAGICKAL CREAM PUFFS
For the puffs:
1 cup water
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1-1/4 cups flour
Bring water to a boil in a saucepan. Lower heat and add flour. Stir on low heat until batter forms a ball shape. Remove from heat. Add eggs and beat until smooth. Drop, using a tablespoon, onto greased cookie sheet. Bake for 30 minutes until golden brown at 375 degrees.
For the filling:
1/2 cup sugar
2 Tbl. cornstarch (ruled by the Sun, brings health and wealth)
1/4 tsp. salt
2 cups milk
2 egg yolks
2 Tbl. butter or margarine
2 tsp. vanilla extract
In a saucepan, slowly bring sugar, cornstarch, and salt to a boil, stirring constantly until thick. Add milk, egg yolks, and boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat and add butter and vanilla. Let cool. Fill puffs with cream and sprinkle with Confectioner's sugar.
(References: _Sabbats_ by Edain McCoy, _Green Witchcraft_ by Ann Moura, _Celebrate the Earth_ by Laurie Cabot, _Ancient Ways_ by Pauline Campanelli, _The Witches' Goddess_ by Janet and Stewart Farrar)