My Imbolc traditions
You can find the traditional meaning and celebrations around Imbolc everywhere. In books, on websites, in this e-magazine, etc. So I won’t go there. Instead I’ll share some personal Imbolc celebrations.
Traditionally Imbolc is linked to Brighid. I’ve worked with her on several occasions but the last few years another goddess took over the lead so to speak. I’ve told you earlier (in another column) about Skadi and how she came into my life. She has a strong connection with winter and snow. The colour of Imbolc is white and it’s celebrated right in the middle of the two coldest months of winter around here. So it feels very good and obvious to me to work with Skadi at this time.
There is no traditional, historical or other ground or source behind this. Skadi simply claimed this sabbat in my wheel of the year and it feels right to me. My altar is white and icy blue, Skadi’s colours. If possible I use fresh snow for my ritual at Imbolc, but I also have some in the freezer. The water is melted snow from the last time we had snow over here.
Another, completely different tradition at Imbolc is making slemp. Slemp? Yes, slemp! It’s an old Dutch recipe for hot spiced milk, made of warm milk with tea and spices. The first written source that talks of ‘slemp’ dates back to 1542, the drink itself may be older. In Dutch we also have a verb ‘slempen’ meaning ‘to gormandize’.
Milk is a symbol of fertility and belongs to Imbolc. The spices have strengthening and protective qualities. I’ll share the recipe I use:
- 1.5 liter milk
- 3 teaspoons black tea
- 5 cm cinnamon stick
- a bit of lemon peel
- 6 whole cloves
- a piece of mace
- 3 saffron threads
- 50-100 grams sugar (to your own taste)
- egg yolks or cornflour (Am. cornstarch)
Bring the milk to a boil. Tie the spices and tea in a cotton cloth (or put them in a tea ball) and hang it in the milk, or add them directly to the liquid. Put a lid on the pan and let it simmer for one hour to let the spices infuse in the milk. Add the sugar towards the end. You can thicken the drink with a few egg yolks or cornflour.
Filter the slemp before serving it hot. Enjoy!
Let me know what you think of it!
Do you have your own personal Imbolc traditions or recipes?
I’d love to hear/read them!