There are 8 Sabbat’s, or Sabbaths, in the Wiccan Year. Imbolc, pronounced “Im-Bolk” is the 3rd of the year.
Imbolc occurs around February 2nd and is essentially the half way mark between the Winter Solstice (Yule) and the Spring Equinox (Ostara). It celebrates the transition of the Crone of Winter into the Maiden of Spring. This holiday has been celebrated not only throughout antiquity by many different cultures, but also today in many different forms. In Wiccan custom iut celebrates the Celtic Goddess, Brigid, of fire, fertility, midwifery and the young. ‘Imbolc’ literally means “in the belly” in the old Irish language. “In the belly” is a reference to birth with Spring symbolizing the rebirth of the land and all of nature. Brigid is often refered to as the Goddess of fertility and as such is closely connected with Imbolc.
When Christianity was expanding in Ireland in the 5th Century CE, attempts to convert the Celts and other tribes to Christianity often faced conflict with these ancient traditions. Through a process called syncretism the Church simply combined the ancient beliefs and traditions with another Irish Saint, Saint Brigid of Kildare. This allowed both rituals to be observed without conflict. Many Christian Churches now celebrate Saint Brigid’s day on February 1st. It is customary at this time of year to make a Saint Brigid’s cross out of straw or reeds. The display of these symbols is very common in Ireland today.
Imbolc is an observation of the ending of winter. Wiccans use fire and other means of light to extend the day. There is also the use of seeds and buds of trees and flowers to suggest the development of new life and birth. Food is an important part of the festival with seeds or other foods that are nearing the end of their storage life being used in the creation of foods. A simple but tasty recipe for scones would be appropriate on this day. It would be very easy to picture Clio baking these in her kitchen as John and Roger waited hungrily nearby.
1 cup raw potato’s, peeled and diced
2 cups flour
1 tbsp yeast
¼ tsp of salt & pepper each
1 tbsp of flax seed (or other seed such as sunflower)
3 tbsp softened but not melted butter
3 tbsp milk Boil and mash the potato’s then set aside to cool. Add salt and pepper, seed and yeast with the flour. Then blend in the butter. Add the potato’s and the milk, 1 tbsp at a time, until a soft and manageable dough is formed. Put the dough on a floured surface and roll out until about ½ inch thick. Using a biscuit cutter or a floured glass, cut into circles of about 3 inches. Place of a parchment paper lined baking sheet and bake in a 400 degree oven for 20-23 minutes. Serve warm with butter.
In modern times Imbolc is most closely associated with Groundhog’s Day. The intent is the same, celebrate the beginning of the end of winter and look forward to the warm fertile months of Spring.