Updated: Feb 1, 2021
Imbolc - Celebrating the First Spark of Spring
These words as I read them back it is surreal, I first wrote them approaching Imbolc in 2019 yet as I read them its as if they were for these times.
This beautiful Brigid Doll rests in the Magical Space Within our kitchen reminding me The Old Ways are so relevant in the times with live in!! Bridging the Ancient with the Morden.
The Brigid Doll came to me just before Imbolc 2019 gifted by my dear friend @puregroundflowers
Brigid even then gently whispered to me the words “ Hope and Renewal” Hope being the word that carries, whilst there have been the darkest of days that the land is upholding its promise there will indeed be longer and brighter days!!! And so Hope also lives within us!!!
What stories of Hope live within us?
What stories of Hope can we share around our Imbolc Fires? Around our Imbolc Hearth? “Hope can be a powerful force. Maybe there's no actual magic in it, but when you know what you hope for most and hold it like a light within you, you can make things happen, almost like magic.” Those very words seem so relevant for now..
" Light candles and fires often. Not only will you find me in the flames when you choose to look, you will find a spark within yourself."
It is said that Brigid is the keeper of prophecies and dreams, the watcher of the greater destinies, the guardian of the future. For me she carries the spark of hope, a flicker, flame and fire of hope, she is indeed the patroness of the Hearth. The household fire is sacred to Brigid. The fire should be kept going, and each evening the woman of the household would smoor the fire, (cover it over to keep the fire overnight), asking for the protection of Brigid on all its occupants.
Brigid was believed to be a teacher of ‘herbcraft” and so many plants and flowers sacred to her, such as sage, heather, violets, rosemary, angelica and blackberry were often featured in Imbolc foods. Each came with their own magical purpose.
Spell Craft And Magic
I’m continually inspired by Imbolc lore, and this year to celebrate I’ve discovered this Bannock and Rosemary Seed cake in itself feels magical a cake of new beginnings. In the past we cooked up Bannock on the fire yet never with Oats and Seeds..
Another wonderful ritual to do is to put a strip of cloth or ribbon outside your door on Imbolc Eve Jan. 31 st) for Brigit to bless. This cloth represents her cloak, "Life" This January I felt such a urge to plant our very own Apple Tree at The Bothy, after learning how to make and craft "Apple Scrap Vinegar" and thought what if we were to tie our own "clooties" rag ribbon on the tree..
Tying a Rag Ribbon using Knott Magic. The practice of tying Rag Ribbons to sacred trees or fairy trees was once common across the British Isles and Brittany, and continues to this day in certain sacred spots, often close by wells or springs known for their healing properties.
I approach the tree with thanks and gratitude for the coming growing season and at the base of the tree, I leave a offering of Oats and Honey, for the land and the birds and then gently tie a rag ribbon, either with hopes or thanks.
It goes something like this
I envision my intention I let it come from deep within me.. A beginning a energetic seed is planted, a hope or wish or thanks for the year to come.. and as I tie the Ribbon.
I weave these words..
By the knot of one, the spell has begun
By the knot of two, the spell is true
By the knot of three the spell is free...
Weaving in your intention of thanks or wishes for the coming year...
Enchanted Bannock Cake
This is the time the earth stirs, preparing to give new life, and it offers us an opportunity to awaken from the quiet of winter and start making plans for the future. Making this cake can be a quiet ritual time, so when you’re stirring, contemplate the seeds you wish to plant in the coming year. What will you nurture and bring into the world? Bake your intentions into this cake – and then ceremonially eat with friends – or alone! (Magical Baking Tip: stir batter clockwise for good luck and good health and counter-clockwise for banishing.)
This morning the house is filled with the smell of Rosemary, Bannock made and shared in honour of Imbolc, its roots entwined with The Goddess Brigid, some say her name meaning bridge.. Bridging Winter to Spring, Ancient to the New, hence her roots in Transformation, Smith craft, Poetry and Healing, for us a celebrated date, on the wheel of the year, working the land as we do, we start to see and importantly feel the beginnings of longer days...Farewell Samhain , Welcome Imbolc, which simply translates to the end of summer's end and the stirrings of spring, which for us feels like the start of the year.. The year is not linear, its more of a spiral and circle?....Bannock is A mix between cake and bread, full of Seeds and Rosemary, Dried Fruit, baking in the intentions, stirring clockwise, enchanting and consciously sewing and weaving for the coming year.. Blessing the Seasons as they Pass.. And before the sun sets, we will clean and clear our front door step with salt water.. It was so much fun teaching the little guy how to make this year's Bannock.
1 cup rolled oats and seeds
1 cup of flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled
1/2 cup cream or milk (plus one extra tablespoon for the caudle)
2 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary (1 tablespoon dried)
1 tsp. of grated orange zest (optional)
3 tablespoons of sugar (and three more tablespoons for sprinkling)
1 egg yolk (for the caudle)
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Grease a cast iron skillet or baking sheet.
Place the oats, flour, salt, sugar, rosemary and orange zest in a large bowl, mix together with a fork. Cut the cold butter into the flour mixture. Stir in the cream until all the flour is absorbed.
Gather the rough dough together and place on a surface lightly dusted with flour. Knead until the dough holds its consistency (but don’t overwork).
Divide the dough in half and roll out each half into a circle about 1/4 inch thick.
In small jar, vigorously mix your egg yolk with a tablespoon of cream. Then brush the mixture over the top of the bannock. Sprinkle with sugar.
Cut each circle into 4 wedges and arrange the wedges 1/4 inch apart on the baking sheet.
Bake about 20 minutes or until golden and crisping at the edges.
Note: you can also apply a second brushing of caudle and sugar halfway through baking – I did!
Story of the Cailleach
It is said On Imbolc, or February 1st, of each year, the Cailleach runs out of firewood for the winter. In the Manx tradition, she transforms into a great bird and collects firewood in her beak. In Ireland and Scotland, meanwhile, she collects firewood as an old woman. If she wishes for winter to last longer, she makes the day sunny and bright for her search. If she accidentally oversleeps, the day is stormy and grey. Thus, tradition holds that if February 1st is grey and wintery, winter will be shorter that year; if the day is bright, winter will return due to her preparation.
The Cailleach was both ageless and immortal; as winter gave way to spring, she would take a drought that returned her to youth. In Manx legend, she spent half the year as a young woman and the other half as a old crone—she was only known as the Cailleach during the latter half. In Ireland, she had seven periods of youth, after which she remained old permanently. The seasonal division between summer and winter—where the Cailleach ruled winter and Brigid ruled summer. Imbolc is coming will Winter end early? Or return?
St. Brigid’s Blessing
May Brigid bless the house wherein you dwell
Bless every fireside every wall and door
Bless every heart that beats beneath its roof
Bless every hand that toils to bring it joy
Bless every foot that walks its portals through
May Brigid bless the house that shelters you.