Imbolc, Brigid, & the Coming of Spring
One of my favorite celebrations (and there are many) featured on the Wheel of the Year is Imbolc or Saint Brigid’s Day in the Gaelic tradition. This holiday is celebrated February 1st or 2nd of each year. I like to celebrate both days. In America, this is also Ground Hogs day and I’ve also heard the day called Candlemas. It’s time to celebrate the coming of Spring!
Imbolc marks the halfway point between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox which hints at the rebirth of the sun as it rises higher in the sky. This closeness to Spring gives us all something to look forward to instead of the harsh winds and cold of winter.
“Imbolc is mentioned in some of the earliest Irish literature and there is evidence it has been an important date since ancient times. It is believed that it was originally a pagan festival associated with the goddess Brigid and that it was Christianized as a festival of Saint Brigid, who is thought to be a Christianization of the goddess. At Imbolc, Brigid’s crosses were made and a doll-like figure of Brigid, called a Brídeóg, would be paraded from house-to-house by girls, sometimes accompanied by ‘strawboys‘. Brigid was said to visit one’s home at Imbolc. To receive her blessings, people would make a bed for Brigid and leave her food and drink, while items of clothing would be left outside for her to bless. Brigid was also invoked to protect homes and livestock. Special feasts were had, holy wells were visited and it was also a time for divination.”Imbolc: Wikipedia.com
Who is Brigid?
Brigid (which means exalted one) is the Celtic goddess of home and hearth. She is also beloved by all poets. Brigid represents rebirth and fertility, the return to spring, healing, poetry, and smithcraft. It has been suggested that Brigid was a triple deity: poet, healer, and the smith.
She is often depicted as the maiden, mother, crone. The crone mirrors “winter” and Brigid signals the return of spring and depicts the goddess in the maiden form.
This is the time when many women began their spring cleaning as they freshened up their home for the new season. Of course, many modern women don’t have time for that anymore. Yet, I can’t help but feel like there is something exciting about cleansing the energy in my space.
There are many ways to celebrate Imbolc. I’ve left some reading links because everyone should celebrate in a way that is most meaningful to you.
Just like all the other celebrations, Imbolc centers around certain foods dedicated to the goddess, Brigid. Woman as healer.com has you covered:
Butter is a traditional food that celebrates the lactation of the ewes. Cake, bread, butter, or porridge are placed in the window as an offering to Brigid’s White Cow.
The next morning these blessed foods can be eaten by the family. Butter or oil left out on Imbolc Eve is used to make healing salves and ointments throughout the year.
The herb blackberry is sacred to Brigid and blackberry pies, jams, jellies and wines are eaten in honor of Brigid.
In Scotland a bonnach bride or bannock of Bride with hidden fruits and nuts was made at Imbolc – a large one for the whole family and a smaller one for each member of the family. The family would eat the cakes in the field and throw a piece over each shoulder as an offering to spirits who might harm the fields and the flocks.
In Brittany the crepe is the traditional festival dish (their shape suggests the solar disk) and a potato dish – the Colcannon- was served.
Dandelion salad – an herb sacred to Brigid – was served on Imbolc to make a tasty and healthy early spring dish.
Herbs of Imbolc include: Angelica, Basil, Blackberry, Celandine, Coltsfoot, Heather, Iris, Myrrh, Tansy, Violet.
Learn more about Brigid HERE.womanashealer.com
My Imbolc Celebration
I’ll be baking. I’m dairy and gluten free so I’ve decided to make “Cannellini Bean Blondies,” which I found in the February 2019 Costco Connections magazine. I thought this treat with hidden nuts and fruits would honor Brigid.
Cannellini Bean Blondies
- 1 (15.5 oz) can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
- 1/3 cup gluten-free oats
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 1/3 cup creamy peanut butter (I’m using my PB2 brand instead)
- 1/4 cup all-purpose gluten-free flour
- 2 TBsp maple syrup
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 cup walnuts
- 1/4 cup tart dried cherries, chopped (I’m using golden raisins for the sun 😀 )
- 1/4 cup semisweet chocolate morsels
Preheat over to 350 F. Place all ingredients (except walnuts, raisins, and chocolate chips) into a food processor and process until smooth, about one minute.
Fold in the remaining ingredients. Spoon into an 8 x 8-inch baking dish, lined with parchment paper. Spread evenly.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool and cut into squares. Makes 9 servings.
Recipes for a Pagan Soul shares more traditional recipes for Imbolc.
I’ll honor Brigid by writing poetry. My intention is to light a candle and meditate on what Brigid represents to me at this point in my life. I’ll share what comes from the heart. You can be sure that the themes of hope, Spring, and love will be on my mind.
A ribbon blessing. One of the more touching traditions I found was to leave out a green cloth ribbon by placing it on an outdoor windowsill. The belief is that Brigid stops by and blesses the ribbon as she completes her journey that evening. The ribbon represents Brigid’s mantle and is known as the “Brat Bride.” Throughout the coming year, this ribbon would be used for healing and protection.
After dinner, I end most of my celebrations with a glass of mead. The Meadery of the Rockies makes some of the finest honey mead wines around. This year, I will leave a wee bit for the good neighbors, along with some honey and milk. It’s a great way to say thank you and to let them know you care. My house spirits love it too! ❤
I can’t wait to start my garden. My youngest daughter lives in Florida. She has been saving seeds for me so that we can garden together across the miles. Isn’t that a great way to connect? I can’t wait!
Enjoy these fun faerie facts from Moss and Stone Gardens.com