Brigid was believed to be a teacher of ‘herbcraft” and so many plants and flowers sacred to her, such as sage, heather, violets, rosemary, angelica, and blackberry were often featured in Imbolc foods. Each came with their own magical purpose. Sun herbs, for example, brought their powers of purification, protection, and prosperity, which were ritual themes throughout all Imbolc celebrations. As the new sun goddess, all forms of light, heat, and illumination were sacred to her so Imbolc was marked with bonfires in the fields and blazing hearths, torches, and candles at home. These fires strengthened Brigid’s powers and were purification rites burning off the old to make way for the new growth to come.
This is the time the earth stirs, preparing to give new life, and it offers us an opportunity to awaken from the quiet of winter and start making plans for the future. Making this cake can be a quiet ritual time, so when you’re creaming, beating and stirring, contemplate the seeds you wish to plant in the coming year. What will you nurture and bring into the world? Bake your intentions into this cake – and then ceremonially eat with friends – or alone! (Magical Baking Tip: stir batter clockwise for good luck and good health and counter-clockwise for banishing bad ju-ju.)
In our modern calendar, Imbolc falls at the halfway point between Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox, which means even if you’re still buried in snow – spring is officially on its way. So consider celebrating the coming of spring with a magical cake fit for a goddess! May Brigid’s blessings be with you!
Imbolc is an ancient Celtic/ Gaelic holiday marking the turn of the wheel of the year into spring and it celebrated the day the sun and fire goddess Brigid (Brigit, Brighid, Bride, Bridgit, Brídey) returned to earth bringing green to the land. I’m not going to delve into Imbolc and Brigid here, you’ll find plenty of articles on the website here. What’s most important to the topic at hand is that Imbolc was the occasion of a great feast, “Brigid’s Feast” Feast of Light” “Feast of Fire” and all kinds of magical cakes were made in her honor.
Feasting at Imbolc was all about offering thanks for a fertile crop to come. Foods symbolizing the power of the sun like milk, cream, butter, eggs, and honey were used in custard tarts and cream cakes. There were often pancakes (round and golden like the sun) or the Bonnach Bride or Bannock of Bride (an oatcake made with fruits and nuts) which attracted health and prosperity for the coming year. The Bonnach Bride was also eaten in the fields so that a piece could be thrown over the shoulder to honor Brigid and nourish the land. Symbolizing the growth of new life, seeds are also traditionally on the menu, as are all types of seeded bread and buns.
There is nothing like cake to celebrate a special occasion and Imbolc (on February 2nd) is no exception. And I think this “naked” sponge cake would be a wonderful addition to any Imbolc Feast! It’s…