Imbolg

Jan 30, 2008
Imbolg has always been my favorite holiday. (Well, other than before I was Pagan when it was Hallowe'en, of course.) There's no equivalent Christian or secular holiday that really gets any acknowledgement, so it feels a bit like an extra excuse for a party in the middle of winter. And, of course, it's the feast day of Brid, Lady of the Flames, the triple goddess of healing, smithcraft and poetry; a goddess who made a really remarkable transition to a Catholic saint and whose Pagan and Christian identities are so intertwined there's no real way of separating them.

Like Brid, Imbolg is liminal -- in celebrating Brid's aspect as a fire goddess, it carries on the Festival of Lights from Yule, but its name ("in the belly") and the timing in its climate of origin ties it to the first lambing in spring. Not to mention that around this latitude Imbolg is about the time you can start to really notice how much earlier the sun is coming up, and how much later it's going down. Winter might not be over in February in Wisconsin, but it's backing off at last.

My practice seems to be in a constant state of flux from one year to the next, and I'm terrible about getting anything resembling a liturgy written (although I would like to give it a try, I always seem to remember about it two days beforehand...), so I don't have a strong sense of ritual continuity. Except with food.

I don't remember where the recipe came from anymore -- off some defunct mid-90s website, I'm sure -- but the loaf of thyme bread I've always baked for Imbolg is seriously one of the tastiest things I make. I always tell myself I'm going to start baking bread at the beginning of winter, when it's no longer insane to have the oven on for that long at a time, but I never get around to it until it's time for the Imbolg loaf. The smell of it is as powerful a reminder of the holiday as gingerbread cookies are for Christmas. (And I rather like the terrible pun involved...Brid is the triple-goddess of healing, poetry, and smithcraft, that's a lot of multitasking, she must have a great deal of thyme on her hands...oh, I'm sorry.)

It's Brid's aspect as healer I have been focusing on this season, as I fight my way through depression that's gotten worse and worse as I tried to pretend it wasn't happening to me. Of course, one of the weapons I've been using to wage that war is the pen, as I go back to writing for the first time in too long...and with spellwork, as I search for ways to bring more energy in my life when I've run out of my own. Brid always seems to have a finger in every aspect of my life, and I thank her for it.

[Other Imbolg posts in the pagan blogosphere --
Wild Hunt's overview, great as always; Fiacharrey's done a Youtube video; Cosette posts about making changes in this time of year; Inanna posts about her annual poetry reading. Let me know who I've missed!]

1 comment:

Anna said...

Hah. I still use that recipe for most holidays - but especially Lammas and Samhain. It's also become a favorite around the apartment.