The days are slowly drawing out, I have noticed this when hosing off all the gardening tools we have used at the end of each day - I no longer need a head torch, it is no longer pitch black.
Instead I can now hear birdsong, and am starting to see some beautiful sunsets on my drive home as well as the first of the snowdrops poking through.
These are all glimpses of the first signs of spring - yawning and stretching out, shaking off the blankets of winter's darkness.
Imbolc (pronounced 'im-olk' - the b is soft) comes from an Irish word meaning 'in the belly' and translates throughout nature - the sense that earth is reawakening, new life is stirring, brown turns to green again. It traditionally ties in with the start of lambing season known as oimelc - 'ewe's milk', here it will flow again and mark the beginning of fresh food from the land.
Imbolc is also celebrated in honour of Brigid (pronounced 'Breed'); goddess of the sun and fire, healing, creativity and smithcraft. Forming part of the triple moon goddesses (waxing - maiden, full - mother, waning - crone); this is when she transforms from crone to maiden again, bringing fertility to the land, and representing new beginnings.
Herbs associated with Imbolc...
Ancient traditions and the use of herbs go hand in hand; herbs certainly hold reverence and can be considered sacred, their energy/life force as important as their medicinal qualities.
Blackberry: Held sacred by Brigid, the berries and leaves are thought to bring healing.
Coltsfoot: Thought to dispel emotional stagnation, to unblock and release. It is believed we hold emotion in our lungs, and medicinally coltsfoot is used as a cough remedy; an expectorant and demulcent, it soothes as well as expells.
Angelica: Considered a 'woman's herb', this is a replenishing tonic - supporting the nervous system, to aid menstruation, and to improve sex drive.
Ginger: This puts fire back in the belly - traditionally used for nausea and stomach upsets, this is also a warming herb, it boosts circulation and clears stagnation; it is stimulating and uplifting and great for fighting the cold of winter.
Rowan: Associated with the maiden, it protects and wards off evil. Traditionally a sprig is placed at the front door or worn as protection.
*As always, seek advice if taking medication as some herbs can interact - these listed herbs are illustrative of Imbolc traditions, not necessarily to take! *
There are many traditions and customs honouring Imbolc/Brigid, and acknowledging the transition of seasons. These can be done alone, or shared within communities - Glastonbury for example is well known for these Celtic/pagan celebrations.
It is time to welcome more light in our days, and even into our own mental and emotional wellbeing - maybe let go of negative thoughts/patterns/behaviours from the past, and now look to the future with a fresh perspective.
Emma is passionate about promoting good health, and likes to keep things simple. She enjoys yoga, meditation & being outdoors, yet likes to indulge in coffee, wine & cake - Everything in moderation!