As we turn the corner towards the oncoming Spring, our family celebrates the increasing sunlight and the stirrings of the seeds beneath the soil by celebrating the festival of Imbolc. Still celebrated in the United States in some form as Groundhog's Day, St. Brigid's Day in Ireland, and Candlemas by many, the ancient Irish festival of Imbolc honors the Spring's beginning. The word Imbolc means "ewe's milk" in Gaelic, as this was the time of year baby lambs were born and sheep began to give milk once again. Those of you who have ever raised dairy animals know just how exciting an event this is. The festival was also called Brigit, or Brigid, for the Irish Goddess of the holy well and the sacred flame of poetry, song and art.
In our home, we are busy this time of year with ordering seeds, mulching, preparing garden beds, sprucing up the greenhouse, and planning out projects on the homestead for the coming year. As the weather warms up for a few days here and there, and we actually get some sunlight, Spring fever really starts to set in. It seems very fitting to honor all those amazing little seeds starting to come out of dormancy, ready to sprout. This is a time when I like to read stories with my children like The Story of the Root Children by Sybille Von Olfers, and When the Root Children Wake Up by Audrey Wood, both tales of Mother Earth and her root children waking up beneath the ground to prepare all the plants and bugs for Spring. This is the day when many folks take down their holiday greens and either burn or compost them to make way for the new green growth. It is also a day to make your candles for the year, and although I have been saving up my beeswax scraps for years now, have not managed to try my hand at this yet. There are still quite a few hours left in the day, so we'll see what happens this year.
I usually prepare a hearty meal like elk pot pie, or some kind of shepherd's pie, after which we create our Imbolc light garden. I send the kids out to fill a pan with rich, dark soil and we sit around the table writing out our dreams for the coming year on little scraps of paper, which we roll up in tight little balls to represent seeds. We plan our seeds in the pan of soil and light a small beeswax candle on top of each one. When we are finished, we sit and watch the flickering lights of all our collective dreams. I find that it's a good way to set some intentions and goals for ourselves to live by.
1/4 cup carob powder
8 oz cream cheese
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8" square pan
When the candles have burned down in the light garden, we go to bed to dream of Springtime. In the next few days, we go out and mix the pan of soil and little dream "seeds" into our garden to help them sprout and grow in the coming year. Looking back at years past, I can certainly say that with hard work and determination, these dreams come true!