Imbolc

If Candlemas day be fair and bright,
Winter will have another flight.
If Candlemas day clouds and rain,
Winter is gone, and will not come again.
- E. Holden
Before modern life, being human was a difficult thing. To survive took planning. Communities relied on each other and worked
together to ensure the group survived. To them time was circular rather than linear. They saw the year, marked with its seasonal
change, as a great tuning wheel that shifted the world from light to darkness, spring to summer, fall, then winter, the world from
bounty to want. They created calendars set by the waxing and waning of the moon, divided into quarter by the solstices and
equinoxes. Imbolc, also known as Candlemas, is held on February 2nd, halfway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox
making it a cross-quarter day on the wheel of the year calendar. Imbolc celebrates the waking of nature as Imbolc means “in the
belly” which referred to the pregnant ewes who were about to birth their lambs replenishing the food stores that were depleted
from the barren winter months.

Imbolc is an earth festival celebrating the return of life to the world for not only are the daylight hours noticeably growing longer
but now nature is waking as many of the animals are pregnant and their udder are filling with milk marking the return of nature's
bounty and the end of a long dark winter. Imbolc marks a time of renewal. The earth is waking. Spring is returning and life all
around us is beginning to stir as the land begins to warm. Tentative shoots have risen from the ground with the promise of
blossoms soon to come.
Liminal landscapes
Imbolc Foods
Need a tomato? No problem, you can pick one up at the market no matter what the month
but not long ago a fresh tomato was only available at the height of summer. Households
had to stock up on supplies to get through winter and make it into the following spring.
Come February most of the surplus was gone with only beans and the root vegetables left.

The Hearty Roots
Roots and tubers are believed to be the first regular gathered vegetables as they were
protected from the elements and could be stored for long periods. Sure you know what a
carrot is, but have you ever heard of Kohlrabi? Kohlrabi is a bulbous vegetable popular in
Eastern Europe where it is often eaten whole like an apple. It is also called a German turnip
and has a sweet but peppery cabbage/radish-like flavor. Kohlrabi holds energy for: beauty,
health, and sight. Like most of the roots, they are delicious when roasted. Turnips, Parsnips
and Rutabagas are all tasty roots and they all carry similar earthy male energy good for
improving health, boosting energy, and beginning projects. The turnip has been cultivated
for more than 5,000 years. The parsnip was a popular vegetable with ancient Greeks and
Romans. However the rutabaga is a newer cultivar. In the early part of the 17th century,
Swiss botanist Casper Bauhin crossed a cabbage with a turnip and got a rutabaga, which
some called a yellow turnip.

Roasted Root Vegetables
You will need:
6 carrots
2 sweet potatoes
2 Kohlrabi
2 parsnips
2 turnips or rutabagas
2 beets
6 cloves garlic
rosemary
olive oil
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Clean and peel the roots and chop into 1/2 inch chunks. Place in
a bowl. Add garlic, rosemary, salt, pepper, and a generous drizzle of olive oil. Toss until
roots are coats. Spread over a baking sheet and roast until tender for 30 to 40 minutes.

Mashed Parsnips with Roasted Leeks And Nutmeg
Root vegetables mash nicely by themselves or in combination with other root vegetables.
Try them instead of the usual mashed potatoes. Parsnips hold male-earth energy for
creation, health, and sex magick. Leeks are elegant onions with a mild flavor and a tender
texture. They add healing properties and when added to food will protect the physical body
from illness. Nutmeg energy draws love, luck, and money while granting clarity of vision.

1 1/2 pounds parsnips, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
1/2 pound potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
Olive oil spray
1 large or 2 small leeks, white part only, halved lengthwise and washed thoroughly
1/2 to 2/3 cup skim milk, warmed
1 tablespoon butter, softened
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
Kosher Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1) Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Put parsnips and potatoes in large saucepan, cover with
water. Bring to a boil and boil gently, about 12 minutes, or until very tender.

2) Meanwhile, spray a cast iron frying pan with olive oil spray. Halve leeks again, crosswise,
if using only one large one. Add to pan and put in the oven. Cook about 15 minutes until
nicely browned all over. Turn a few times to cook evenly. Remove, chop and set aside.

3) When parsnips and potatoes are cooked, drain well and return to the pan over low heat.
Mash, adding milk as you do. Add just enough milk to give the texture you prefer – and
leave a few lumps if you like. Fold in leeks and season with nutmeg, salt and pepper.

Make a Brigit Cross
While the Brigit's Cross is widely believed to be a Christian symbol its origin lies in much older traditions that
celebrate the life-giving goddess, Brigit of the Tuatha de Danaan. She is known by many names: Bride, Bridey,
Brighid, Brigit, Briggidda, Brigantia,and Breet. She is the traditional patroness of healing, poetry, and smithcraft. She
is a female solar deity associated with rivers,  and wells and has the attributes of inner healing, vital energy, light,
inspiration, and all of the skills associated with fire. She is known as The Mistress of the Mantle representing the
sister, or virgin aspect of the Great Goddess. She is the Goddess of physicians and healing, of divination and
prophecy and in an older incarnation she was Breo-saighead, or fiery arrow, with the attributes of punishment and
divine justice. In modern Britain, she is known as the warrior-maiden, Brigantia, and venerated not only as justice
and authority, but also as the personification of Britain symbolizing the nation for 2,000 years, whose image is
routinely mistaken for Boudica, Queen Victoria, and even Margaret Thatcher. There are three rivers named for her,
the Brigit, the Braint, and the Brent in Ireland, Wales, and England respectively. She is associated with the cow and
the beginning of spring. She survived Christendom by becoming a saint, the patron saint of smiths, poets and
healers. Sir James Frazer wrote of St. Brigid in the Golden Bough, "An old heathen goddess of fertility, disguised in a
threadbare Christian cloak."
Brigid's Cross
The Brigit's cross is a Celtic Sun Wheel woven from rushes or reeds. They are often made at Imbolc and hung at the
entrance of the home as a blessing and for protection. To make one you will need You will need 16 reeds, rushes,
or pieces of straw.

Imbolc is a Fire Festival
This Cross-quarter day is not just an earth festival but the first of three fire festivals as we celebrate the returning light.
This is the Feast Day of Brigit, the Celtic goddess of fire, healing, and childbirth, inspiration and creativity. Imbolc is
about making change and setting goals for success in the coming year. It is about recharging our own personal power.  
Now is the time to shake off the winter blues and rekindle your passions. Gather around the hearthfire and reveal in its
warmth as you come up with plans for the coming spring. Draw up that project you've been longing to start. Plan out your
garden. Now is the time to breathe life into the ideas that were only dreams during the long winter months.

Hold a Solar Ritual
Long ago sacred fires were lit on hilltops to encourage the return of light. Later it became customary to place a candle in
every window of the home. Today we can greet the returning light by turning on a light in every room on the eve of the
holiday. Or better yet, start this day with a sunrise ritual. Get up and greet the dawn. Quietly watch the sun as it rises, or
sing it up into the sky. Make this a day rich in ritual. As children our lives are sprinkled with small, magical rituals from
nightly prayers, to singing skipping songs, blowing dandelions to blowing out birthday candles. As adults practicing daily
ritual allows us to experience a more magical life. Through ritual we can reprogram the unconscious mind so we have a
different set of expectations about how the world will respond to us. Through ritual we can find our way to the places in
our lives that exist in between the tick-tock of everyday living and the luscious places of dreaming, the magical places
that connect us to the Divine. The power of ritual comes from heritage, tradition, and most of all something being
emblazoned in your brain over time. Set aside part of this lovely day to create your own personal ritual, something filled
with meaning to you that will mark this as a sacred day.
1. To begin take the shortest piece and hold it upright. Then take a second straw, fold it in half
and wrap it around the center of the first straw so that it opens to the right.
Repeat this process until at least 12 straws have been woven into the design. Add each
straw at the top so it opens to the right, then turning the entire assemblage 90 degrees
counter-clockwise, and repeat. When you have finished secure the ends of the arms of the
Cross with twine, elastic, or ribbon and trim the ends so that they are even.
2. Pull it tight and rotate 90 degrees counter-clockwise.
3. Take a third straw and wrap it around the center of the second straw so that it is opens to
the right.
4. Pull it tight and rotate 90 degrees counter-clockwise.
5. Take a fourth straw and wrap it around the center of the third straw so that it opens to
the right.
6. Pull it tight and rotate 90 degrees counter-clockwise. Take a fifth straw and wrap it
around the center of the fourth straw so that it opens to the right.
February Moon Magic
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