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Hestia's Hearth
by Renee
Imbolc 2002, Vol 1-2
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Seasonal Musings from the Hearth:
Imbolc and Ostara

Imbolc. Warm blessings to you all! The Light has been reborn and is growing in strength to warm us all. 'Imbolc' is a term which means "ewes milk"; this is the time of year that pregnant sheep begin to lactate, a sure sign that spring is coming. It is a season of faith and hope that the sun will once again warm us all and bring new life.

This is a season of staying indoors, and to our ancestors it was the time of busy hands. After the rush of making and buying Solstice gifts and cookies, sending cards, and visiting with family and friends, our ancestors were often indoors in the cold winter months until the planting could begin again in the spring. 'Tis the season for handicrafts of all sorts! Interior home repair, woodworking, needlework of all varieties. This is the time of year candles were made,firewood, (c) baskets woven, and wool spun into thread and yarn to make clothing and household items. All of these activities helped decorate the home and kept everyone busy. It is also a perfect time of year for developing psychic ability and creating a new meditation practice.

Brigit, a Celtic Fire Goddess, is remembered this time of year as she keeps the hearth fires burning, keeping everyone warm. Hopefully firewood and food stores will hold out until warmer weather comes again. We gather around the fire with our various projects, telling stories and enjoying the companionship of those present, and planning the months to come. What seeds will be planted at the Equinox..... what goals do each of us have for the coming year, what projects will be completed?


  • Learn a new handicraft to keep your hands busy in front of the fire or chatting with friends and family; take up a needlecraft, woodworking, scrapbooking.
  • Call a local food shelter and ask what items they need this week. Often, though they are inundated at Solstice, their storage areas are empty by February.

Dairy foods are appropriate for this time of year, as is anything that reminds you of the sun - spicy foods, colorful foods. February can be a time of scarcity. Here's a good clean-out-the-fridge recipe for a hearty soup. All you need to add is a piece of crusty bread for a warming meal.

Imbolc Vegetable Soup
  • A third to a half head of cabbage, chopped
  • 1 can tomatoes, diced
  • a can of beans, whatever you have or like
  • green beans, carrots, potatoes, celery, onion, corn - whatever you can find; fresh, canned or frozen
Here's the fun part - you can flavor it to suit your mood. Leave it as is to enjoy the flavors of the vegetables. Spice it up with cumin & cayenne. Or add coriander and turmeric for an Indian effect. Make it thicker, like a stew, and add raisins. Experiment and Enjoy!

Ostara. By the time of the Equinox, you may be able to see buds forming on trees and bushes, and sometimes even leaves will be starting to grow. Our Spring Maiden is growing and dancing, and new life comes from her every step. This is the time when Persephone comes up from the underworld, when we see Eostre, the Germanic Goddess sitting amongst the flowers with rabbits. It is the time of Maidenhood, of joy and laughter, of silliness. The colors we wear tend to be lighter and brighter, and reflect how we feel.

Ostara is also the time of spring cleaning. The weather is getting warmer, and we long to open the windows, enjoy the fresh air, and make a fresh start. It's a good time to clean out a closet or two and make donations to your favorite charity. Cleaning is a magical, meditative act. Really. Give it a try ;)


  • Plant seeds indoors to grow in your garden later: get an egg carton and a little dirt. After filling the egg carton with dirt, poke holes in the dirt with your fingers and drop in the seeds. Keep watered and put in a sunny window. If you haven't a garden, repot your household plants - some may be root-bound and in need of more nutrients. You know a plant is in need of more space if you water it every other day and it is still thirsty! Your plants will love you, and getting your hands in the dirt is fun!
  • Blow bubbles outside and watch the wind move them.
  • Reconnect with Mother Earth in other ways: meditate on our responsibility for our planet and each other, recycle, compost, watch your water usage. Whenever you eat something with seeds, save them to plant.

Springtime is most known for egg dishes, baby green salads with flowers in them, and grain dishes. This salad is one of my favorites. I regret I do not know where it originated.

bunny with eggs
Favorite Springtime Salad

* 1 bag mesclun (baby greens)
4 oz grated Swiss
carrot shreds
8 oz cashews
1/2 green and red apple, cored and coarsely chopped

chick and egg

For Dressing, whisk together
* 1 cup Olive oil
* 1 1/2 tsp Poppy seeds * 1 tsp Salt * 1 tsp Mustard powder
* 1 1/2 tsp grated onion
* 3/4 Sugar
* 1/3 Vinegar

Enjoy the Blessings of Springtime!

Graphics Credits:
firewood, Ian Britton,
bunny & chick, Celeste's Holiday Graphics
basket and cleaning supplies, Microsoft Design Gallery Live