Each year on Imbolc, August 1st, I honour this day in many ways, with my favourite being the feast. I mean, who doesn’t like a good hearty feast?
However, Imbolc is more than just an excuse for a hearty feast. It is a time of early fertility and a festival of hope. A time of new growth and beginnings. It’s a time to start planning new goals and projects for the next Great Return. And no matter how harsh the winter season may be, spring is coming and the magic of joy comes with it!
Personally, Imbolc is a little more of a practical festival. It’s a time for planning and cleaning to get ready for Spring and warmer months to come. The cleaning is important to make room for the planning, and the planning is important to ensure there’s enough food and magic to go around.
To me, this is an important time as I still view the Wheel of the Year as an agricultural clock with magic woven in from days gone. This is the time of rebirth (Imbolc), then comes growth (Beltaine), harvest (lughnasa) and rest (Samhain). These agricultural cycles echo our inner growth, with Imbolc bringing growth of hope and birth of our intentions.
5 Ways to Honour Imbolc
Look at Nature
It might sound odd but the best way to feel Imbolc’s arrival is to go outside and look for signs of emerging life. While it doesn’t snow where I am, there are many hints of Spring coming. Flowers budding, new growth on the Mulberry tree and the Magpie’s singing earlier in the morning. During this time, Calendula is blooming everywhere. If you can, gather some and place them around your home to invite the energy of the Sun and Spring.
Plan & Plant Seeds
Imbolc is THE time to plant seeds in the colder parts of Australia. It’s probably why Imbolc is my favourite time as I get to sort out and plan all the herbs and flowers that will grow in the enchanted gardening. I need to make sure there is enough for friends and family to eat seasonal foods and enough to store for the winter. Then there’s also you, my friend! I love to be able to share what grows in my garden.
Create a Feast
I don’t know about you, but this is always my favourite part to any festival, the food. Though Imbolc is about new life coming through, it’s also a time of cleaning out the old junk collected over winter. Create a feast for friends and family out of your preserves and dried foods. Mix jam with yoghurt or cream, make a hearty vegetable stew and serve with bread, butter and roasted nuts plus whatever your taste buds desire.
You may be thinking that this is a repeat of what to do for Yule or Midwinter, but it’s different. This time the burning of candles during Imbolc is for the Celtic goddess Brigid, whom reigns over hearth and home and is known as the Keeper of the Sacred Flame. Light candles of red or burgundy to honour Brigid, or light candles of green, brown and white to honour the ending of winter and the coming of spring.
Make a Corn Dolly
While many of you know corn dollies to be made for Lughnasa to represent the harvest, traditionally corn dollies were made from the left over stalks of wheat. Make a corn dolly to represent Brigid and her blessings of warmth, light and abundance. Every year I make one doll for a land fertility blessing. It’s then buried into the new garden bed to ensure a bountiful harvest come harvest time.
Start Planning Spring
While there many ways to honour Imbolc and celebrate the end of the winter season, the best way to start this festival is by cleaning out the unwanted. This may be in a magical way, or a mundane way, both are good! It’s time to make way for new projects and goals for next year’s Great Return and know that there are better days ahead.
May you be blessed in these final days of winter and may your heart be filled with joy!