It's our way this year. It's all about the pull of spring and the return of the warmth. Winter is ebbing now and seed buying, garden planning, burning the greens of Winter Solstice, cleansing the home a bit, filling our bellies with delicious feasting food, and acknowledging the return of the sun is Imbolc in action.
So the hard work of beginning another year occurs at Imbolc. Possibilities are endless and eternal at this time. The whole year stretches before us and we have the power to mold it into whatever we desire. Imbolc is a good time for gaining inspiration, releasing more of the old to bring in the new, getting more realistic about those New Year's resolutions that I rarely bother with, creating and increasing the warmth and love within a household-relationship-family (since we are most likely still cooped up together), creating prosperity, and welcoming personal growth.
~Check out your candle supply and take note of what you're running low on. Our holiday this year was enjoyed with many candles and I already did some of this.
~Do a little 'spring' cleaning, and open the windows for ten minutes to let some fresh air in. Smudge the house and play loud, sacred music you love while you clean to break up the stagnant energy and cleanse the space. Wash windows and mirrors. Seek out dusty cob webs. One hour of this makes an incredible difference in how our homes feel. We do this as a tribe and it goes quick with all hands in motion.
~Plant and seed catalog shop by the fire. Bless the seeds you've chosen for your spring garden for beauty, food, or medicine. Plan a new garden with diagrams and all. When will you start some seeds? Now is the time to plan. What plants are calling to be near you or want to be moved around this year? Now is the listening and visioning time as we await warmer days. Gardens are live paintings, art in action, never done and always changing. They have a collective voice or an essence you can connect with.
~Brew a pot of herbal tea from last summer's bounty and enjoy it as you reflect on the personal goals you've accomplished in the past year. What's nudging you this year and deeply on your mind for manifesting in 2016? Good thoughts become and need our time, right?
~Light a gathering of candles on Imbolc to inspire the Sun and Spring to return. I'm trusting your always safe and tend your candles. Clean out your fireplace and get it blazing if it's still chilly. Burn the Holiday/Yule greens to send winter on its way with gratitude for not only being here but for trusting it will come again.
~Make a new altar in honor of Imbolc. Tiny is perfect if space is limited for it's all about your planning and feeling when created. This altar can be a source of support right through to Spring Equinox. Include items with deep meaning for you, and have family add to it over the next few weeks.
~Hang or refill birdfeeders. Food gets scarce now for the birds at this time of year. The bears are not awake yet so hanging suet and seed is a perfect Imbolc gift for those of us that move in and out of dreaming daily.
~Honor your Divine. Brigid is the Celtic triple goddess of fire, healing, protection, and poetry, and is often celebrated on Imbolc. Read or write poems, or read from your favorite author by the fire with a medicinal brew or a special herbal cordial.
~Make something in honor of Imbolc like a Brigid's Cross, a dream pillow, or a new medicine pouch.
-Visit a greenhouse or arboritum! I need this and make it a regular weekly thing come February thanks to a local garden center that has a massive yearly functioning one for our community. My soul jumps up and gets rejuvenated when I go in there with the plants. I worked in greenhouses all my teenage years and the memories are priceless when winter feels too intense.
Beer Bannock - Our Bread for Imbolc
The ‘old method’ relies on heating up milk with some butter and salt, and adding the barley meal (flour) when it's hot. This swells the meal and makes a pliable dough. If you don’t have a girdle, the bannock can be cooked on a heavy frying pan. It should be crisp on the outside and just slightly moist within. It was eaten hot, thinner than the version I am making here, and crispy. Think of traditional barley bannocks as a Scottish version of the many flat breads from India made entirely with local ingredients.
I love following the tradition of embellishing the "plain", bannock in this case, with sugar, spices, dried fruit, cheese, cream or yogurt, fresh herbs, and seeds for festive occasions such as Imbolc. Bringing the memories forth and infusing them into our modern experience is a form of deep honoring, right?
Beer Bannock Recipe
3 cups flour; you can use gluten free and add 1 tsp of xanthum gum powder
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 stick of butter melted and cooled a bit; any fat/oil you prefer will work here too.
1/4 cup sugar, honey, or maple syrup
1 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
12oz beer; homebrewed with herbs is my first choice; locally brewed and dark is my second
OPTIONAL ADDITIONS: First of all, it's great plain so you can start there.
1/3 cup raisins, minced dried apricots, or dried cranberries , 1 tablespoon pumpkin seeds, 1 teaspon caraway seeds - any or all
1/4 cup minced scallions, 4 oz. gorgonzola, cheddar, or goat cheese, sprinkle of pepper (pic above)
-this is a campfire recipe I adapted to the kitchen; if on a campfire you flip after 10 minutes to finish each side.
-otherwise preheat oven to 425 degrees.
-place flour, baking powder, salt, and your sweetener of choice into a bowl, mix in about 1/2 of your butter and it will be a bit lumpy.
-stir in the beer; mix to a soft sticky dough; now add your additions if you like some.
-warm a 9" cast iron pan on the stove and add some butter to coat; coat your palms with butter and gather the dough up and transfer to the pan patting it in place; you could also rustically roll them like scones.
-Bake 20-25 minutes; check for done with toothpick as usual. Start checking at 15 minutes if shaped individually. These are delicious with stews, soups and a fresh salad. Oh yes, and more butter or soft cheese for serving, if desired. Enjoy and Happy Imbolc from my tribe to yours! xo-Jen