Most modern celebrations of Imbolc typically tend to begin at dawn on the morning of February 1st and often continue straight through into the late evening of the next day, February 2nd. With each individual witch (and/or pagan) deciding for him or herself on the best, or even simply the most convenient day during which to host any gatherings or to celebrate based on their own unique family traditions, magickal or spiritual paths, and of course, the various goings on in the more mundane areas of their everyday life.
- 1 What is Imbolc?
- 2 Some Wonderfully Witchy Ways to Celebrate Imbolc
- 3 Faerie Honey Cheesecakes
- 4 Lavender Lemon Poppy Seed Tea Loaf
- 5 Final Thoughts
What is Imbolc?
Imbolc is the magickal celebration and spiritual honouring of the coming of Spring and the Sun’s returning embrace of the Earth. It is the time of year when the days begin to lengthen once more bringing with them a long-missed sense of warmth, security, and love. It is the time when the very first subtle signs of growth begin to show as little shoots of green slowly push their way through the once frozen soil where they have slept so patiently all winter long nestled deep within the belly of the Earth. In fact, the very term “Imbolc” is said to be derived from the old Irish word of “Imbolg” which quite literally translates to “in the belly” and is a reference to the ceremonial placing of the very first seeds of Spring into the soil – a rather significant moment for the largely agricultural community of old Ireland.
In the magickal community, however, Imbolc represents one of what many like to refer to as the “cross quarter” festivals. These four festivals being the spiritual representation of the midpoints which fall between each of the Solstice and Equinoxes. And as for Imbolc specifically, it is the festival of light which falls perfectly between the Winter Solstice celebrations of Yule and the Spring Equinox of bountiful Ostara and although in modern days it may yet be a far lesser known celebration, it is my personal belief that the spiritual significance and magickal meanings behind Imbolc should never be forgotten! And so dear readers, I feel that it is my duty as a young Celtic witch this year – perhaps more than any other year as each of us strives in our own way to leave all of the fears and the difficulties of 2020 in our past – to move forward and to begin our own sort of “new growth” or “turned leaves” just as our sacred Goddess the Mother Earth does… thus I have taken the time to prepare this humble little guide on the wonders and magick of Imbolc for you all! Read on to discover some of my favourite witchy ways to honour the Earth during Imbolc as she gently wakes from her chilly winter slumber, as well as many of the magickal correspondences that are associated with this beautiful holiday and even two delicious kitchen witchery recipes – handcrafted just for you!
Some Symbols & Magickal Correspondences for Imbolc:
Below, you will find a fair few lists that I have diligently sought to compile of all of the various magickal correspondences and spiritual symbols that have come to represent the gentle energies of the budding Springtime that is Imbolc. That said, it would be nearly impossible for me to completely cover every possible correspondence per every magickal path and individual practice. Instead, I wish to urge you to consider my lists below as more of a stepping stone. Let them help to guide you, whether you be new to the craft or simply just searching for something magickal and new to add to your own wonderfully witchy ways!
Spiritual & Magickal Intentions:
- Inner Peace
- New Beginnings
- Spiritual and Physical Growth
- Rebirth and Renewal
- Hopes and Goal Setting
- Fresh Start
- Reunion and Reconnecting
- Nurturing and Kind Energy
- Blessings for Home and Family
- Energy Cleansing
- and Wishes!
Foods & Drinks:
- Citrus Fruits (think oranges, lemons, limes, and grapefruit, etc)
- Breads, Pastries, and other Buttery Baked Goods.
- Candy, Lollies, and Chocolates
- Roasted Meats (such as turkey, ham, lamb, and fowl, etc.)
- Milk (especially sheep’s and goat’s milk!)
- Honey Cakes
- Pure Honey
- Farm Fresh Eggs
- Chamomile and other Herbal Teas
- Cookies and Cakes made with Lavender Buds
- Cheeses of all kinds! (Particularly cheeses made with sheep’s milk.)
- Poppy Seed Muffins, Bagels, Loaves, etc.
- Spiced Wines
- Fresh Yogurt
- Churned Butter
- Oats and Seeds
- Olive Oil
- Pancakes & Hotcakes
- Dandelion Salad
- Honeyed Mead
- Lemonade and other Fruit Juices.
- “Oilmec” or “New Milk” – A powerful symbol of purity, rebirth, and renewal. Oilmec is the old Irish name for the first of the season’s milk that has been produced by the shepherd’s pregnant sheep before they have any need of it later on in the Spring when they will use it to nurture the growth of their young lambs. Often, this first milk was offered to the Goddess Brigid by pouring it upon the earth, nourishing, purifying, and preparing the fields for the new life to come. Although it was also made into special cheeses and other delicious milk dishes and even as drinks for the festival’s feast!
- Light Green (think of Spring!)
- Gold and Yellow (to represent the Sun and prosperity!)
- Cream or White
- Light or Sky Blue
- Violet or Light Purple
- Other Pastels and Light or Soft Colours.
Botanicals, Herbs, and Greenery:
- Bay Laurel
- Snowbell Blossoms
- Statues of the Goddess Brigid and other Imbolc or Nature Deities
- Wildflowers and Mushrooms
- Snowbell Blossoms (one of the first flowers to bloom in the Spring).
- Dandelions (favoured for their little round yellow blossoms that seem to resemble the Sun).
- Candles (white, yellow, light blue, green, and even pink!)
- Brigid Crosses & Dolls
- Corn Dolls
- The Sun and other round objects meant to represent the Sun such as orbs, circles, coins, etc. – these objects serve to represent the spiritual return of the light and new life as well as the beginning of the solar year!
- Fresh Flowers
- Baby Animals
- and Eggs.
- Stags, Deer, and Fawns
- Bears (Particularly those who are only just awakening from their hibernation.)
- Sheep or Ewes as well as Lambs.
- Piglets, Calves, Chicks, and other baby animals.
- And any animals that hibernate.
Crystals, Metals, and Stones:
- Orange Calcite
- Clear Quartz
- Green Calcite
- And Onyx
Incense, Candles, and Scents:
- Orange Peel
- Lemon Peel
- Dragons Blood
- Smoke or Fire
- and Clary Sage
Gods & Goddesses honoured on Imbolc:
- Bastet (Bast)
- Brigid (Brigit)
- Venus (Aphrodite)
- Eros (Cupid)
- and the various types of forest Fae.
Some Wonderfully Witchy Ways to Celebrate Imbolc
1. Fire Celebrations! – The Celtic Goddess Brigid is often associated with both the destruction and rebirth powers derived from the wild element of Fire! As a result, many Pagans choose to welcome Brigid, the harbinger of Spring, during Imbolc by participating in beautiful fire celebrations often consisting of gigantic bonfires in the village centre as well as windowsills fully lined with burning candles. Sacred woods and other magickal herbs were burned during these celebrations – heralding in the light of Spring whilst simultaneously driving away the winter chill. Furthermore, many Pagans who have chosen to pledge themselves to any specific deities will use the time of Imbolc to light a candle for each deity as a symbol of their faith and a renewal of their dedication. Imbolc is often considered the ideal time by young pagans and witches to perform their dedication rituals and give offerings and to light candles for their chosen deities because Imbolc is all about fresh starts and new beginnings!
2. Altar Decorating! – Many Witches and Pagans alike take comfort and pride in keeping an altar space in which they can feel safe, quietly meditate, cast their spells, honour their deities and/or their ancestors, and work hard to hone their unique flavour of witchcraft. In fact, I myself, like many others, possess many such altars throughout my home and even within my garden! I have an altar where I love to perform my spell crafting and to work within my Grimoire (Book of Shadows – BoS), an altar to honour my ancestors and their ancient magicks and traditions, an altar dedicated to the fae and spirit guides who reside in my garden and even one that is purely dedicated to the goddess with whom I work the most closely with. But, perhaps one of my favourites, is the altar that I choose to change and decorate throughout the year to reflect the turning of The Wheel and the seasons. I absolutely adore the holidays! – whether be they magickal or mundane in origin – and in my home, we never miss a chance to decorate or to honour the changing of the seasons! Take Imbolc for example, my personal Imbolc altar is adorned with many things which I hold especially dear to my heart and which make me think of the beauty of Spring! From the very first blossoms of the season that I may find on my daily walks, to the intricate Celtic knotwork and Brigid Crosses of my ancestors – my Imbolc altar is absolutely covered in all of the magickal symbols, colours, and favours that resonate with me personally and that honour our blessed Earth and the new life that is the very essence of Springtime.
3. Cleansings & Spring Cleaning! – While of course, it is true that Ostara – when Spring is in full swing – is the time that we most often think of performing our ritual cleansings and even our spring cleaning I for one believe that there is still something to be said for taking the time during the early days of Imbolc to start the season off “bright and right!” Refreshing and uplifting, a proper cleansing of stale or stagnant spiritual energy accompanied by a thorough physical cleaning with some rosemary and dandelion wash and followed up with a simple recharging of one’s magickal wards is sure to positively revitalize the inhabitants and the especially the magicks of any home! Never considered it before? Well, why not give it a go this year and see how it makes you feel? After all, Imbolc is the time of fresh starts and new beginnings which makes it a perfectly splendid time to try something new! Which of course brings me to my final way of celebrating Imbolc…
4. Try Something New! – As I mentioned above, the celebration of Imbolc and indeed Springtime, in general, is the perfect season to begin something new and exciting in your life! Take a chance! Have a little faith! Be brave and explore! After the crazy year we have all had I believe that we each owe it to ourselves to indulge in the little things and to just enjoy our lives to the absolute fullest! – Whatever that might look like for you. I know that is exactly what I plan to do! And I wish the very same for you dear reader! Of course, much to my dismay, for some of us in certain parts of the world, the dangers have not completely passed and so, while I do fully encourage each and every one of you to get out there and explore! – To truly try something new and to give it your all! – Do be sure to be careful and to keep to a proper social distance when appropriate so that we can all one day soon fully put this dreadful mess behind us. Till then, I leave you with a warm blessing for much brighter days ahead, a full Season that brings you nothing but joy and light, and two deliciously homemade recipes that are sure to fill your homes and hearths with love!
Faerie Honey Cheesecakes
These beautiful little honey cheesecakes are perfect for any faerie lover or Springtime feast! Made with smooth organic honey and fresh whole milk cream cheese, farm fresh eggs, and golden butter this Cheesecake recipe combines several of my favourite Imbolc magickal ingredients into one delicious cake (or several mini cakes)!
- 800 grams of Cream Cheese
- 100 ml of Organic Honey (locally sourced if possible!)
- 40 grams of all-purpose or plain flour
- 4 Fresh Eggs (large)
- 60 grams of Dairy Butter
- 3/4th of a package of dry Cookies or Biscuits (I used a simple shortbread biscuit).
- A Splash of Pure Vanilla Extract
- Optional: 3 tablespoons of Spring Water (regular clean water will do if you prefer).
- Optional: a few drops of lavender extract or a tablespoon or two of dried lavender buds plus some sprigs for garnish.
- A Spring Form or Loose Bottom Pan (26cm – 10 inch) or 2-4 smaller Spring Forms if desired instead.
- Pre-Heat the oven to 150 degrees Celsius or 300 degrees Fahrenheit
- Coat your chosen pan or pans with butter and if you like, you can line the bottom with parchment paper.
- Create fine crumbs out of your biscuits or cookies using a simple food processor, blender, or a ziplock bag and rolling pin.
- Melt the butter and combine it with the fine cookie crumbs before pressing it firmly into the bottom of your prepared pan to form a delicious crust for your cake.
- In a medium sized mixing bowl add the cream cheese, honey, vanilla extract, and eggs and gently beat them together until thoroughly combined being careful not to over mix. (A stand mixer works wonders here but a simple whisk or hand mixer will work fine as well.)
- Next, add in the plain flour little by little (sifting into the bowl if necessary) being careful not to over mix but also ensuring that there are no clumps of raw flour left in the batter.
- Optional: If using lavender extract, now is the time to add it. Gently mix your lavender extract into the batter being certain not too add to much! (Taste after each addition if you are not sure how much to add as too much lavender extract will result in a “soapy” cake.) If using dried lavender buds, consider grinding them up first in a coffee or spice grinder as finely as you can and then adding to the batter one teaspoon at a time until the desire amount and taste is reached. If you do not have a means of grinding the lavender buds fine enough, consider cooking them briefly in 3 tablespoons of spring water before using a sieve or some cheesecloth to drain and adding this new “lavender water” to the batter instead (again, be sure to add the lavender little by little to prevent a cake that tastes more like soap than honey!)
- Pour your batter into your prepared pan or pans over top of the cookie crust and jiggle gently to level the surface.
- Bake your cheesecake in the oven for about 30 to 35 minutes, depending on your oven (I also like to bake my cheesecakes using a water bath to prevent the surface from developing cracks. To do this simply seal the outside base and sides of your spring form pan with aluminium foil and set into a deeper dish or rimmed cookie sheet filled with water.)
- Your cake is finished baking once the edges have fully set but there still remains a slight jiggle in the very center. Remove it from the oven and allow it to cool completely before serving.
- Garnish with drizzles of warm honey and springs of lavender if desired. Enjoy!
Lavender Lemon Poppy Seed Tea Loaf
Lavender, Lemon, and Poppy Seeds! -It’s like Springtime sunshine all wrapped up in a delicious little loaf of tea cake! Yum!
- 240 grams of all-purpose or plain flour.
- 3 Fresh Eggs (large)
- 200 grams of granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons of poppy seeds
- A Splash of Pure Vanilla Extract
- ½ cup or 115 grams of butter (softened)
- ½ cup of green yogurt (or sour cream)
- 2 lemons (juice and zest)
- 1 teaspoon of baking powder (NOT baking soda)
- Optional: 1 tablespoon of dried lavender buds.
For the Drizzle:
- The juice of 1 Lemon
- 125 grams of Icing Sugar (Powdered Sugar/Confectioners Sugar)
- Pre-Heat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius or 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Grease a 2lb/1.5L loaf tin with butter or coconut oil.
- Beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
- Beat in the eggs one at a time, followed by the lemon juice, zest, and vanilla.
- Mix the flour and baking powder together in a separate bowl before adding to the egg and sugar mixture gradually until combined being careful not to over mix.
- Gently fold through the Greek yogurt, followed by the poppy seeds and the dried lavender buds, if using.
- Bake in the oven for approximately 50 minutes to 1 hour, until the sponge springs back to the touch and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then carefully pop it out of the tin and allow to cool completely on a wire rack before icing. (A loaf that is still too warm will result in melted running icing rather than a lovely glaze).
- Whisk the lemon juice and icing sugar together to form the glaze. If it seems too thick, add a tiny amount of water gradually until it reaches your desired consistency. You will want it to be quick thick however, otherwise it will all run off of your cake!
- Drizzle the lemon glaze over your cooled tea cake and allow it to set before serving. Enjoy!
And that is all there is to it my dears! I hope that you have truly enjoyed learning a little bit more about the beautiful holiday that is Imbolc and all of the delightfully witchy ways in which you too can celebrate it and join me in honouring our blessed Mother Earth as she begins to slowly awaken and rejoice as she enters this blossoming season of beauty, positivity, and warmth. I also hope that all of you wonderful aspiring kitchen witches out there dare to give my recipes a try and that each and every one of you, my dear readers, find nothing but love and light as we all move forward into this brand new year together!
Until Next Time,
Clear Skies & Bright Moons,