The pagan festival of Imbolc–also known as the feast of Brigid, the Festival of Lights, Candlemas, Lupercalia, Feast of Flames, and the Festival of Milk–marks the midpoint between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. Celebrating the return of the light, it falls at the time when livestock begin giving birth to their young and milk begins to flow again.
While its name is purported to have a variety of roots and associations, the theme of udders filling with nourishment, grass emerging, and life renewing are pervasive.
The Celtic Brigid, revered as a fertility goddess, is widely believe to have been appropriated as Saint Brigit in Christian culture. We associate her with abundance, fertility, regeneration, fire, and livestock. Her feast incorporates the element of fire, the nurturing of mother’s milk, purification, and the sweetness of life restored.
At Imbolc, pagans typically turn their energy to commitments, healing, and renewed purpose. As the world’s energy builds and its warmth and light strengthen, so, too, do our resolve, courage, hope, and dedication.
While there are a host of ways to celebrate Imbolc, few are as lovely on a cold night as a steaming aromatic bath of milk, honey, herbs, and oils.
Purifying, nurturing, cleansing, and encouraging, aromatic baths are wonderful tools to warm your body and spirit. A bath with creamy milk, honey, essential oils, and herbs can be downright divine.
Planning Your Bath
Plan to have as many candles as possible to warm and light your space as you bathe. White, red, or green candles are traditional, but any candles will do.
Basic ingredients for this bath are simple–you probably already have them in your house. Whole milk or cream and warmed, raw honey serve as the luxurious base. A half cup of each blended gently together serve to help disperse the essential oils in the bath water.
If you don’t have fresh dairy milk, you can also use nut milks like almond or coconut. In a pinch, you can also use powdered milk–I recommend adding a little carrier oil to a powdered milk blend to help disperse the essential oils .
For your herbs and oils, you can look to the sacred botanicals associated with Brigid: basil, thyme, and angelica are all excellent choices.
If you prefer to stay with more floral aromatics, look to lavender, ylang ylang, jasmine, and/or chamomile essential oils.
You can also combine dried herbs and flowers in an herbal bath tea bag for steeping in the bath.
Calendula, lavender, and chamomile are beautiful together. If you have them, rowan berries are another wonderful addition and a sublime nod to Brigid’s Celtic roots.
Before you step into the bath, set up your array of candles around the space to invite the element of fire and the aspect of light. Steep chamomile or lavender tea with honey and generous milk to sip as you soak.
Combine a total of 12 drops of your chosen essential oils with the milk and honey (or add about 1/2 cup of dried herbs/flowers to your muslin bath tea bag). When your bath is half full and steaming, add your aromatic blend to the tub and continue to fill the tub allowing the steam to fill the room.
Hang a warm towel and cozy robe nearby to step into when you exit the bath.
Fetch your mug of tea, light your candles, and descend naked into the water. Allow the nurturing milk and honey to soothe your spirit and the oils and herbs to dissolve your cares.
Contemplate your commitments, your intentions, and your use of your energy for the season ahead as you soak.
When your worries are dissolved and your purpose is clear, step out of the bath leaving your worries in the water behind–take only your commitments back into the world with you. Pull the plug/release the drain and turn your back on the concerns as they swirl down the drain.
Wishing you and yours a wonderful Imbolc and warm, bright, nourishing season ahead.
Bless and blessed be.