Here in the vineyards, Imbolc is a time when fresh green grass and seas of blooming yellow mustard grow profusely between the dormant vines. Workers in the field are busy trimming off the old year’s growth to prepare the vines for healthy budding in the new year. While the Goddess of the vines, Geshtinanna, is still in the underworld, the local sheep and goats are happily munching in between the rows. Lambs and kids are being born. It is the time of Dumuzi, God of the sheepfold, before he must trade places with his sister, Geshtinanna, later in the year when the hills turn golden and the berries ripen.
Early flowers are blooming and the sun is setting later each evening. Buds are swelling on the trees. There is the promise of spring returning. Plans are being made. Intentions for the year are being set. Garden beds are being prepared. My calendar is filling up for the season and I am full of anticipation for the year to come and am beginning many exciting new endeavors. Yet, with all of this activity I am reminding myself to be cautious of taking on too much. Reminding myself that I need to stay rooted, to stay healthy and cared for, in order to accomplish all that I plan to do. As I set each new intention for the year, I am asking myself “How do I need to be nourished so that I can get this done?”
The theoretical origins of the word Imbolc vary, but most often refer to the pregnancy and/or milking of ewes. For some of our ancestors, this was a time of year when the winter stores had been depleted, and the harvest of the earliest spring crops was still far away. Yet the ewes were lambing. There was milk, and cheese, and well, lambs. In this earliest part of the year, the beginning of the wheel when we have so much to do, we have milk to sustain us. In the earliest part of our lives, the first year or two that we have on this planet, we have milk to sustain us. Mother’s milk contains all the nourishment we need for the spectacular growth we go through as infants. If you could make one magic potion that had everything you needed to be strong, healthy and nurtured enough to do everything you wanted to do, what would it contain?
Imbolc Magic Milk Potion
- Milk (from the animal or plant of your choice)
- What you need to be nourished. This will vary for each person. Mine included Love, Friendship, Strength, Hugs, Sunshine, Stars, Wilderness, Fun, Happiness, Hot Tubs, Encouragement, Bravery, Intimacy, Amazement, and Magic.
- Optional: Cardamom, honey, cinnamon, turmeric, rosewater, or other nourishing spices.
Give thanks to the animal or plant that provided your milk. Heat up your milk gently on the stove. Stir in all the things you need to be nourished with your favorite spoon. Pour into your most magical cup. If you want, you can add some extra spices and flavorings, or enjoy the flavor of the milk by itself. Drink while bundled up in front of a fire with your favorite blanket and a cat in your lap, or while sitting outside wearing a woolen hat and watching the sunrise through the pines.
The sun is returning, the bees are buzzing, and lemons are in season! The brightness and joy of lemons are perfect for celebrating the beginning of the year at Imbolc. An abundant gift of Meyer Lemons prompted the creation of the following spell:
A Spell for Joyful Beginnings
Meyer Lemon Curd
Makes about 9 half-pint jars
- Zest of 10 lemons
- 2 cups lemon juice (about 10 lemons’ worth)
- 9 whole eggs (room temperature)
- 13 egg yolks (room temperature)
- 5 cups sugar
- 2 tsp. salt
- 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter
- quick-read thermometer
- Double-boiler or a large metal bowl over a stock-pot
- 9 half-pint mason jars
Play or sing joyful music while making this spell. Create sacred space in your kitchen. Invite in any allies you wish to help you in this magic.
Measure out all ingredients before-hand as they must be whisked together quickly. Crack open eggs and separate egg yolks, put the 9 whole eggs and 13 egg yolks in a bowl. Zest lemons and squeeze lemon juice, measure out the 2 cups of juice into a separate bowl. Have sugar, salt and butter handy.
Heat up the water in your double-boiler, or as I did, boil some water in a stock pot and put a large metal bowl on top. Whisk together in the heated bowl the sugar, salt, zest and eggs until fully mixed. Continue whisking and add the lemon juice and butter (you can melt the butter before hand, but I just threw the sticks in and let them melt in the bowl).
While whisking, think of things that bring you joy, dance, whisk in joyful symbols, whisk in your intentions for joyful beginnings. Find joy in the gorgeous aroma in your kitchen. Continue to whisk until the curd thickens and reaches 170 degrees F on your thermometer.
Pour curd through a strainer into a large glass bowl (this strains out any zest or curdled egg). Sterilize your jars and lids by boiling in water for 15 minutes, then pour curd into the jars.
Use curd within a week if you want to keep it in the refrigerator, or can the curd to make it shelf stable by following safe canning guidelines.
Thank your allies, release your circle. The spells are cast.