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Creating an Imbolc Feast

                Imbolc is Celtic holiday that fall on February 1st every year. This mid-point between Winter and Spring marks the awakening of earth in the Pacific Northwest. We start to see green stems emerge from the dark damp soil. Buds begin to spring forth from the tips of bushes and trees.  With climate change these timely signals have seen some disruption, like the rhododendron in my yard that started to bloom in December this year, which is distinctly out of season.   

Image of the wheel of the year including Imbolc, Spring Equinox, Beltaine, Summer Solstice, Lammas, Autumn Equinox, Samhain, and Winter Solstice.

Some years I do not have bandwidth to create elaborate ceremonies for myself or my community around each sabbat.  So my go-to celebration is a more elaborate dinner. Often we invite friends over to celebrate with us. Sometimes is just my little family. Food is an excellent signal that something special is happening. I love to cook. Making a meal that takes more time, includes more side dishes and using special plates, creates a festive atmosphere and helps my soul know we are honoring an event. In this case, we are honoring Imbolc.

There is little to no secular cultural support for Imbolc and Lammas (August 1st) as well.  It’s no surprise that these two holidays are across the wheel of the year to one another.  Other holidays such as Winter Solstice (Dec 21st) have many similar themes and decorations available in the secular world. You can find winter themed items to decorate your altar or your home. Even Spring Equinox (March 21st) has lots of secular support. Many of the themes of Spring Equinox are mirrored by Easter- eggs, bunnies, flowers and spring greens. We don’t have that luxury with Imbolc and Lammas. These two holidays are lost in the reimagining of Christian themes through the pagan lens.  It seems we need to use more energy to bring celebrations of these holidays forward.

Candles and statue of a woman (Goddess Brigid) in a sitting position holding a bowl.
Imbolc 2018

As I am making my menu for a wheel of the year celebration, I like to think of what foods are seasonally available. This may include preserved foods. We often eat vegetarian meals to lessen the burden of animal production on our planet.  Side note- we buy our animal meat from local farmers not factory farms as often as possible. For our Imbolc meal this year we will have a meat in addition to our other dishes. I will look for budding chives in my garden, spring greens like dandelion leaves are starting to make their return. Green foods will be the center player of this meal. I like to use Green drinks, apple juice with spinach leaves spun in my blender or store bought versions, because this is a dramatic image on our dining table. Can you imagine it? Wine glasses filled with naturally green colored liquid? It is also a magic in itself- drinking in the fresh green liquid of the coming Spring.

This year we have a cold going around our house so we will have a small Imbolc celebration.  It will just be my small family. Sometimes I find it is easier to create a larger meal/event when I invite friends and other family members. This helps me stay on task. Sometimes I feel as though it might be easier to just not do anything. I am the only pagan in my household. My family, including extended family, are very supportive of my spirituality. Some family members are Christian, Jewish, Agnostic, Buddhist and Atheist. I know I am very lucky to be held respectfully by these family members. And not all of my family members have this capacity, but all of our family members are respectful to me (at least to my face.)  

Imbolc sample Menu

Green Drink in wine glasses

Marinated Tofu or Pork Ribs

Fresh Salad with chives and homemade herbal dressing

Roasted Sweet potatoes with Parmesan cheese

Roasted Cauliflower with curry seasoning

Herb rolls (homemade or store bought!)

Rice pudding with cream 

                Feel free to add or remove any items on this menu that serve your dietary needs. This is a jumping off point. Take this as inspiration. As with all of my suggestions, do what serves you best. If making this entire meal homemade, lifts your spirit, then do that! If buying this meal pre-made serves you, then do that! Please do not let perfection be the enemy of the good. I always recommend that you do S O M E T H I N G. If that is only drinking Green Drink from a wine glass and that is the entirety of your celebration, then go for it!

Potluck dinner with green beans, squash, and rice
Imbolc 2016

                In addition to creating special dinner you could also add a project. When we have family members over we often use lighting a tea candle and saying a blessing or prayer as the candle is lit. Then we put the candles into the center of the table to burn throughout the dinner. This seems accessible to many people. I will personally leave a favorite scarf on the tree just outside my house. This is a common way to engage with the Goddess Brigid. She comes by and activates your scarf to be a tool of healing. We also often start seeds this week. Sometimes we start those seeds in old egg shells or in egg cartons. The last common task in my household is creating a Brigid’s Cross with plant material. You can find tutorials on You Tube.                 Whatever small step you take towards celebrating this turn from Winter into Spring, will bring you closer to nature, closer to your true self. Looking to the earth and her seasons and changes, helps ground me, center me and helps me look up from my little human life to see that world around me. Feeling in time with the seasonal changes help me stay present for my personal life as well. It helps me feel the dance happening around me, and helps me find my place in nature’s  swirling, twirling world that also resides within me.

If you would like to know more about the Wheel of the Year and how to celebrate the seasons, then check out the classes, events and courses offered at Moonhill Mystery School.

Karin Olsen is a healer, a seer and a teacher. She has been studying plants for more than 25 years, owning a herb shop and metaphysical store for almost 15 years. She has been a massage therapist for almost 30 years. Karin learned her psychic medium skills from her mother and see clients via zoom. She teaches classes on earth-based spirituality through Moonhill Mystery School in the Salish Sea area. In 2021 she earned a Master of Ecopsychology from Naropa University

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