Brigid

3 Pagans and a Cat Podcast Monthly Feature

September, 2018

3 Pagans and a Cat Podcast

Three Paths, One Journey, No Cat

In this highly informative & entertaining podcast, three family members embroiled in wildly divergent traditions gather in one room to discuss, debate, and flat-out argue about their magical, mythical, and mundane lives, all for our education and pleasure.

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Each Month… we will share the previous month’s episodes with you from their site to help keep you up-to-date with their impressive podcast. While there, don’t forget to listen to this month’s as well, we wouldn’t want you to miss a thing!

 

August’s 2018 Podcasts

 

Episode 17: Building Your Book – Ritual and Spellcraft

Car, Gwyn, and Ode finish up the Building Your Book series by talking about the structure of ritual and spellcraft.

 

Episode 18: Our Community – Bill Ehle

Car, Gwyn, and Ode discuss social justice and activism in the pagan community, culminating in an interview with Pagans In Need director Bill Ehle.

 

 

This Month’s Podcast Share from their Backlog

 

Episode 3: Wheel of the Year – Imbolc

In the first of a series of Pagan Holiday Specials, Car, Gwyn, and Ode discuss Imbolc, Brigid, and alternatives for celebrating along the Wheel when your religion doesn’t specifically accommodate it.

 

Where Else to Find 3 Pagans and a Cat…

Their Website: http://www.3pagansandacat.com

Their Twitter: https://twitter.com/3_Pagans

Their Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/3PaaC

Their YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJ0GJacu9SUzuumXJNNUZwQ

Their G+: https://plus.google.com/u/2/collection/oCWVXE

 

Remember …

You can always support your favorite podcasts with a donation. Every bit helps to keep them going.

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About the Author:

Jennifer Wright is a witch on a path of change that is always winding. She founded PaganPagesOrg in the hopes of giving those a platform to share and learn without judgment. There are too many important things to her and not enough room to mention them. You are one of them.

 

Celebrating the Old Ways in New Times

May, 2018

May 2018 for Celebrating the Old Ways in New Times

Bright Blessings!

Here in Central Ohio, the Cailleach continues to rule, reminding Brigid she is still queen for now. Many of my non-Pagan friends are complaining up and down, saying winter needs to go. I say give the Cailleach her time, we will all be whining we are too hot soon enough!

Soon, Beltaine will be upon us. If you have read my past articles, you know I love to plan a gathering for Beltaine. It’s been a year, or has it been two, or has it been three???? Since I have hosted a Beltaine gathering?

I will be honest. Sabbats, for me, just are not that special when I’m alone for them.

It’s all about the fellowship, and doing ritual for me.

 

The folk- the Wicca, or Soul Kin

A simple internet search for “The need for religious kin” turned up nothing. I read a few articles about mankind’s need to have companionship, and be surrounded by like-minded individuals because we feel most understood and validated by them than the people less like us.

I did not find the references to share to support the point I want to make, so I’m just going to make it myself.

Many of us find we feel the presence of whoever we worship best in the presence of other worshipers. A Xtian I once knew referred to it as “sanctification within the community.” As we become the hands, voices, and deeds of our gods, we feel their physical presence through circling with others.

In magical traditions, group magic raises more energy than magic worked alone.

I got so used to doing everything with a group, when I stopped doing so, I felt completely alone. My health and mobility dictated I had to do so, and not only did I stop hosting, or going to other people’s rituals, but I also stopped working. Then I stopped driving. Then, I went some months without leaving the house many days.

If you want to find out which of the friends and friendly acquaintances feel you are important to their lives, drop off the map, and you will find most all of them forget all about you. They easily replace you with other people who are conveniently wherever they are, and you may as well have never met them.

So, for those of us who have fallen off the map from the Pagan community, a Sabbat, which used to be the highlight of our lives, is just another day.

 

Embracing Aloneness

From my Catholic days, I remember something Mother Theresa said :

In the silence of the heart God speaks. If you face God in prayer and silence, God will speak to you. Then you will know that you are nothing. It is only when you realize your nothingness, your emptiness, that God can fill you with Himself. Souls of prayer are souls of great silence.”

Now, I have already said I experience my gods through others. Examples of that are when somebody is acting as an oracle, and guidance from the goddess comes. Another example is when we are doing a fund raiser together for a good cause. This is the gods using us to help one another. Yet another example is when you need emotional support, and another human being embodies the compassion of the goddess.

Sometimes, we spend so much time working with others, that we have little to no time on our own. This was true for me for many years.

I heard the voices of my gods spoken without human tongues. They visited me in dreams, in waking, in nature, and in the gut instincts I got.

Whenever I asked for communication, they answered. It’s not like I had NEVER spoken with them on my own. It just became habit that I spoke with them in the presence of others.

I spent so many Sabbats and gatherings in the company of others, I began to hear only that particular method of communication from them.

However, I’ve been like this for a while now, and I have made some realizations. My gods have not fallen silent. I just had to listen differently, and I made some realizations about how solitude can bring communication with them.

 

In the Silence of the Heart

I have learned something I never could have before when I was always busy, always surrounded with people, always planning, organizing, working, and always moving.

How to truly be still. How to be truly silent. How to be truly alone.

And how to be comfortable with that.

Most within our circles take time to do the form of meditation where you sit, do nothing, try not to move at all, and try to make your mind blank.

That is not what I am talking about.

Can you be completely alone for many hours or days at a time, go no place, see nobody, and do very little besides the necessary?

Can you endure tedium? Being unnecessary to everybody? No contact from large amounts of people for long periods of days, weeks, or months?

Can you live for a time, basically being as a hermit? Away from the hustle and bustle of life, the influence of society, and the expectations of others?

I am not saying I think everybody should just hole up and do so forever.

Let’s explore first, what a hermit is…

 

The Hermit

We have all seen the Hermit Card in Tarot decks. He turns up quite a lot for us. He represents going into ourselves, to search our souls, or retreating into solitude for a time. Depending on who you speak to, reversed can represent isolation and loneliness, or it can represent coming out of solitude.

Historically, some of the most famous hermits have been very religious. Christians still cloister some of their orders of nuns and priests, away from society. It is believed this withdrawal from society cultivates a closer relationship with the divine by some.

In the middle ages, it was not uncommon for hermits to build huts into the side of the church, and be ceremoniously bricked up permanently. They relied on the charity of people going to church to bring them food and necessities, and they enjoyed a window into the church where they could hear liturgy. These people were called anchorites, and people visited them for advice, as they were believed to have dedicated their lives to communing with their god and the angels full-time, and were considered very wise.

One of the magickal workings to discover one’s True Self, and the Holy Guardian Angel in Thelema entails months of a hermit like existence, and devotion to prayer and magical operations. The solitude allows for removal from distractions and interference of others.

In the quest for enlightenment, the Buddha became an aesthetic, withdrawing to be a hermit for a time.

Monasteries in many different religions have a structured life of prayer, ascribed exercise, a specific diet, a uniform, or habit, and life away from he mainstream society in general. Devotees may be called to take vows of silence, or chastity as well. I refer to this as cloistering, and cloistered life away from society supposedly gets you more in touch with who you are, and what is important.

It’s not for everybody.

My life has been semi cloistered for over three years now, and there are times I wonder how I lived a lifestyle of constant noise and crowds. I have learned a different side of reality.

  1. I realized I did too much- Society pushes us so hard, demanding we do MORE, buy MORE, ARE MORE. We are never enough, and we constantly have to prove we are worthy of simply existing. I found out that is wrong. Our worth as living creatures can certainly be diminished if we are terrible people who do terrible things, but our worth is not proven by our worldly accomplishments, and I discovered that because I just could not accomplish the volume of things I once did anymore. By nature, humanity is quite competitive, but that can become toxic and unconstructive. Sometimes, we struggle to do SO much, the quality of our work suffers. Quality trumps quantity, I found.
  2. What I do does not create who I am- I was told this by a very talented psychic long ago. The things we do change every so often, and often, we suffer identity crisis as the tasks and jobs we complete transition. We are not our jobs or our accomplishments. We are people, not actions, or things.
  3. In stillness comes peace- I had initially misinterpreted it as boredom. The silence was deafening. Now, TOO much noise overwhelms me, be it sound noise, or visual noise.
  4. I leaned to slow down- Not only do I no longer focus on quantity over quality, but I realize speed does not make things any better. Oh, there are going to be times tight deadlines loom, but times when they don’t, slow down, and enjoy the process.
  5. In the quest to do more, faster, we forget one another- We leave behind our loved ones, and neglect the time we should be spending with them. I cannot tell you how many people I have spoken with who get to middle age and beyond, and state they regret NOT spending more time with loved ones than they have. If the focus is on DOING things, instead of moments with loved ones? That is all our life becomes.
  6. I have time for things I said I wanted to do for years- Since leaving the house and working was not on the front burner anymore, I found time to pick up art again. I stepped away from it when I graduated college, and both painting and writing was literally abandoned, as I focused my time on career. I did study music for some years, but I never excelled in music. The written word, and art were my first loves, and I do both again now.
  7. I learned things about myself- I used to be high energy, high accomplishment rate, and never sat still. That did not provide the opportunity for me to pay attention to myself. I discovered I work best with no noise, visual, or otherwise. Before, I was in jobs where I had zero privacy to work, and my productivity drops in that setting. I think most people’s does. I discovered I don’t give myself credit, and people had been urging me to do so for years. I discovered I prefer a small, intimate friend group, rather than moving from group to group. I also discovered I’m not materialistic, which surprised me as much as I love “things.”
  8. I do not miss the loud, busyness- At all.
  9. A lot of people envy me- I have had so many say they wish they “did not have to” leave the house. On one hand, I point out it can be horribly isolating sometimes, and I tell them to be careful what they wish for. I am a very productive, self-starter, and a lot of people NEED a schedule to leave the house, or they just sit and rot. I always find things to stay busy, and a lot of people cannot endure boredom, solitude, or lack of excitement. A lot of people who envy me could not endure this.
  10. I am online more- Lots more. I do communicate with people all day long through social media and texting. I read and research more as well.

I am not saying everybody should cloister, or semi cloister. I am saying, the Catholics, Hindus, Buddhists and others are onto something in their assertion solitude can bring you closer to the divine, because it changes the way you think about yourself, the world, and life in general.

Personally, my concentration is better. I focus on the important things now. I read and study more. I have slowed down, which makes it easier for me to notice things. I pay attention to people and experiences more now as opposed to things, and tasks. I do not compare myself to others as much, being as competitive as I used to be.

All of these things create more connection with the self, and it is within us our connection with the divine lives.

Solitude can be used as torture. Prisoners in solitary confinement don’t benefit from it. The sick who are shut-ins or whose impairments keep them from communicating certainly don’t benefit either.

It seems religious hermits live as such only temporarily, or in such a way they are still able to connect with others. Monks have a community away from society, but they do so in groups, and they have each other. The public comes to them for religious guidance as well. I have already mentioned the medieval Xtian hermits whose huts were bricked into the church, and they saw and visited with people often. They just never left. The Buddha was a hermit for a time, but not for very long.

Human beings need one another, for certain, but sometimes, we need time alone, to retreat into ourselves to find the aspect of the divine we cannot experience with other people. This alone time has to be balanced with time with other people, or else it is not good for us.

Each person has their own level of time they need alone, and with others. Too much, and it’s bad, not enough, and it’s just as bad.

For Beltaine Working, I’d like to recommend how to find ways to have more alone time for scared workings.

I know it can be difficult. My friends who are parents and or have careers can attest to this. There have been times in my own life when I worked, sometimes two jobs, that the only time I had to myself was when I fell asleep, or was getting ready to leave for the day, or just getting in! I probably sound like somebody who has no place dictating to busy people how to carve out quiet, alone time!

I don’t assume everybody can find that alone time daily. As I said, I’ve been there! So what I am going to do is offer suggestions for sneaking in a few minutes here and there. This can be time to do ritual, devotions, or just sit quietly for a few minutes on a break from work or classes. It does not have to be large blocks of time set aside, but I will share some ways you can include quiet, alone time in even the busiest schedule for a LITTLE bit of that peace if that is all you can get

 

Saoirse’s Suggestions for Quiet Sacred Time

  1. When everybody else is asleep- Some of my friends who have kids swear this is the only time they get to themselves. That time is often filled with chores, paying bills, and or showering. It also, sometimes eats into their sleep time. Any spare second of time you get when it is crazy busy that NOBODY else is in the room with you can be gold! If all you get a chance to do is light a small candle or stick of incense, so be it, but it is your time.
  2. Short Mantras- Everybody loves time to relax, unwind, and sit in silence to meditate, but not everybody has the time. Even if you have time, there are days when everything is just so crazy and hectic, you simply cannot focus enough to truly meditate. Some people can do so no matter what! But for those who lack the time or ability to focus, short mantras, or sayings that are meaningful can help. One for me is the reminder “I create all that I am , and all that I will be.” Each of us needs little reminders for support all the time, and when we cannot read or meditate to reset our minds, personal sayings can supply some relief.
  3. A Weekly Hour- Is there a day of the week you can get a solid hour with very little deviation? Say you do two classes per week and have an hour and a half between them all. Can you head to a quiet spot during that break, and have your “Quiet Hour”? I have even known some people to utilize the time they commute to and from work as their quiet time with books on tape of sacred readings, or even spiritual music. Go to your car for lunch if the breakroom is busy and noisy. It might not last an hour, but a few quiet moments count.
  4. Lighting the Candles before bed- This is one thing my mother did. We had a low table in the hallway, and on it, she put a white tablecloth, and a single red taper candle. We would kneel before it to say our prayers together at night right before bed. I was small, and she was a single working mom, so I can’t imagine this nightly ritual lasted for more than a few minutes. We prayed, she blew out the candle, and we headed to bed!
  5. Go outside, touch the earth- This is a big one for me. I have always felt best with outdoor time as often as possible. Now that I have a dog, of course, that is multiple times per day! Most especially for those who follow an earth-based path, time touching the earth, or just breathing in the sweet perfumes of her air are crucial to us. Some suggest walking barefoot on the earth spiritually grounds one. I have never found that true for myself, as my feet hurt, but some people swear by it.
  6. Have a pouch, pile, stash, or stack of whatever helps- I used to keep a small bowl of crystals by my desk at a very stressful job. I would hold the crystals to help calm myself. Carry these things in your car, in your bag, wallet, or even on your person as jewelry. I have known some people to have things tattooed onto themselves that serve this purpose.
  7. FOOD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!- Foods and drinks nourish the body, which has been called the temple of the spirit. If you are not properly hydrated or your nutrients are off, you are going to feel awful. Good tasting things, also, help make you feel happy. Joy is not THE goal for spirituality, but it can help keep you going.
  8. Maintain Self-Care- Do things for yourself. I am not talking about a bite of chocolate or a bubble bath. Do that anyhow. I am talking about respecting your body’s limitations, and not jeopardizing your health. Maybe that means shutting the TV off early and hitting the sack, or being absent from a social gathering because you are just spent. Things like this can give much provided time without stimulation the body and mind needs so we don’t get overwhelmed or exhausted.
  9. Learn to say no- This is very difficult for some of us. Ate your kids screaming to hit ONE more store, and you feel guilty, but your sugars are low, and you have to go in to work early? Tell them no, and they better stop that screaming, too! Does your circle want more of your time than you can offer, and they just can’t find anybody else but you who qualifies to write a newsletter? Well, if nobody can write except you, then they sure can’t read either, can they? So, they sure don’t NEED that newsletter. Cutting down on unnecessary activities people guilt us into provides opportunity for more you time, and thus more time for your personal spirituality.
  10. Turn it off- I discovered in a strange way, that electrical currents do not always promote rest and calm. I slept in a cave with no electric on one night, and I have got to say, it was the most peaceful night of sleep I have ever gotten. It is the only time in my life when complete darkness and silence surrounded me. I was there with three other people, and one of the men was so overwhelmed, he had to leave. It was such a foreign feeling, and not for everybody. Not everybody can have that opportunity, but you can emulate this is small ways. Turn off the radio, and open the window to listen to the birds sing. Put down your cell phone, and watch the sunset.

 

Of course, each of us has our own personal ways of adding some quiet, alone time to our days that goes beyond anything I can suggest.

I wish you a Blessed Beltaine, Blessed “Me Time”, and Blessed Be!

***

About the Author:

Saoirse is a recovered Catholic.  I was called to the Old Ways at age 11, but I thought I was just fascinated with folklore. At age 19, I was called again, but I thought I was just a history buff, and could not explain the soul yearnings I got when I saw images of the Standing Stones in the Motherland. At age 29, I crossed over into New Age studies, and finally Wicca a couple years later. My name is Saoirse, pronounced like (Sare) and (Shah) Gaelic for freedom. The gods I serve are Odin and Nerthus. I speak with Freyja , Norder, and Thunor as well. The Bawon has been with me since I was a small child, and Rangda has been with me since the days I was still Catholic. I received my 0 and 1 Degree in an Eclectic Wiccan tradition, and my Elder is Lord Shadow. We practice in Columbus, Ohio. I am currently focusing more on my personal growth, and working towards a Second and Third Degree with Shadow. I received a writing degree from Otterbein University back in 2000. I have written arts columns for the s Council in Westerville. I give private tarot readings and can be reached through my Facebook page Tarot with Saoirse. You can, also, join me on my Youtube Channel

 

Imbolc Correspondences

February, 2018

(A Wooden Altar Tile dedicated to Imbolc. Found on etsy in Scriptorium Julianum by artist Julia Raduzhan.)

 

February 1, 2

Other Names: Imbolg (im-molc)(em-bowl’g) (Celtic), Candlemas (Christian), Brigantia (Caledonii), Oimelc, Festival of Light, Brigid’s (Brid, Bride) Day, La Fheill, An Fheille Bride, Candelaria (Mexico), Chinese New Year, Disting-tid (Feb 14th, Teutonic), DisaBlot, Anagantios, Lupercalia/Lupercus (Strega), Groundhog Day, Valentines Day.

Animals & Mythical Beings: Firebird, dragon, groundhog, deer, burrowing animals, ewes, robin, sheep, lamb, other creatures waking from hibernation.

Gemstones: Amethyst, garnet, onyx, turquoise.

Incense/Oil: Jasmine, rosemary, frankincense, cinnamon, neroli, musk, olive, sweet pea, basil, myrrh, and wisteria, apricot, carnation.

Colors/Candles: Brown, pink, red, orange, white, lavender, pale yellow, silver.

Tools,Symbols, & Decorations: White flowers, marigolds, plum blossoms, daffodils, Brigid wheel, Brigid’s cross, candles, grain/seed for blessing, red candle in a cauldron full of earth, doll, Bride’s Bed; the Bride, broom, milk, birchwood, snowflakes, snow in a crystal container, evergreens, homemade besom of dried broom, orange candle anointed in oil (see above)can be used to symbolize the renewing energy of the Sun’s rebirth.

Goddesses: Virgin Goddess, Venus, Diana, Februa, Maiden, Child Goddess, Aradia, Athena, Inanna, Vesta, Gaia, Brigid, Selene(Greek), Branwen(Manx-Welsh).

Gods: Young Sun Gods, Pan, Cupid/Eros(Greco-Roman), Dumuzi(Sumerian).

Essence: Conception, initiation, insight, inspiration, creativity, mirth, renewal, dedication, breath of life, life-path, wise counsel, plan, prepare.

Meaning: First stirring of Mother Earth, lambing, growth of the Sun God, the middle of winter.

Purpose: Honoring the Virgin Goddess, festival of the Maiden/Light.

Rituals & Magicks: Cleansing; purification, renewal, creative inspiration, purification, initiation, candle work, house & temple blessings, welcoming Brigid, feast of milk & bread.

Customs: Lighting candles, seeking omens of Spring, storytelling, cleaning house, bonfires, indoor planting, stone collecting, candle kept burning dusk till dawn; hearth re-lighting.

Foods: Dairy, spicy foods, raisins, pumpkin, sesame & sunflower seeds, poppyseed bread/cake, honey cake, pancakes, waffles, herbal tea.

Herbs: Angelica, basil, bay, benzoin, celandine, clover, heather, myrrh, all yellow flowers, willow.

Element: Earth

Gender: Female

Threshold: Midnight

 

 

The Bad Witch’s Guide

February, 2018

 

The Bad Witch’s Guide to Imbolc


I am a bad witch. There are a long list of reasons why I am a bad witch. Having been out of the broom closet for some considerable number of years I would on occasion get asked “but you’re a good witch though?” My response to that depending on the person asking but I found I started to say “yes, a very, very good witch” rather darkly as it usually got the point across…


January was called Wolf month in Anglo-Saxon. Where the starving creatures ventured into villages snapping at the young and helpless, just like the bitter winter winds. January stalks through the cold and damp towards the wet helplessness of Imbolc, lambing season.


There is power in that fragility, in the force of hope. Power in the vulnerability to decide to grow and reach towards the light. February can feel more like winter than December weather wise at least in the British Isles. Sometimes we get unexpected sunshine and warmth, but for the most part it’s sleet, snow, high winds and driving rain.

 

(Brigid Imbolc Corn Dollie by Carlie Bodey of GreenWitchGlamour on etsy.)


Imbolc to me makes more sense if it is part Valentine’s Day, part Mother’s day, part birthing ritual. It is a celebration of hope and the power of love. Sexual love, motherly love and love of life. Brides (Brigid dolls and crosses) are usually the decorations but in truth in our house, we usually finally take our live tree from Yule outside. It is still covered in lights but the ornaments are packed away long ago. We have a Spring clean. I might set up a small altar or temporary shrine to spring.


Breed day, Brides day, all have a sense of sexual expectation I can never seem to muster at this time of year. It is still too cold to shave my legs! I grew up on a farm and much like Lughnasadh represents the frantic hot work of getting the hay harvest in rather than some languid holiday revelry; Imbolc is lambing season. You might have to herd sheep in from one place to another. Bring them in (or let them out, weather dependant) and hunt for stray ewes and small grey bundles abandoned on the luridly green grass. It is cold work. Usually having to be done gloveless. It lacks the communal jovial atmosphere a lot of other seasonal farm jobs have. There is loss and death aplenty. Little miracles happen too.


After all these years I can’t get the after-birth off my hands. I can’t get my hands warm, my feet either to this festival. I don’t hate it. Imbolc is necessary. Birthing is hard. It is dangerous. Liminal and primal. It is a labour. A labour of love. It is where all the loving words are blown away by the roaring wind and your actions really matter. It is what you do, here and now that counts.


I guess this is why I struggle with the whole modern idea of fasting and dieting around January. It feels punitive when everything already feels hard. The weather’s awful. A lot of people are sick. It feels counterintuitive to try and throw yourself into some fake “good” mood. I usually like January. For me and my family it is full of birthdays. And yet, and yet this anticipation of the grind, the work ahead feels overwhelming. So this year I am going to give someone who really needs some love some attention: me.
Just do the one thing that needs doing now. Then the next thing. One breath at a time. Keeping your head where your hands are. One step. One moment after the next. I’m going to try and stop myself from berating myself at how much I have not done, and try and celebrate what I do.


My bad witch self is going to clean and bless my space. Then I’m putting on a playlist designed to be impossible to feel sad or sluggish while playing. I might even eat some good stinky cheese (maybe even goat or sheep cheese) to honour the milk, blood and labour. Then I’m going to look at my “to do list” and try not to wince! I might feel up to doing something fancier on the full moon but I’m not going to force myself to “go through the motions” when all I want to do is hibernate!


Self-care and self-love seem to be so far down most folk’s lists of stuff to do. I have many of the women I know running families, jobs and education who refuse to stay home when they are sick because they “don’t have time to be ill”. Women are routinely told to put themselves last and in the spirit of the birthing season I ask you to give yourself the same compassion and support you give others because you cannot fill others from an empty cup. You don’t have to be everything to be enough.

 

Spell- Rite (You are Worthy)


You will need:


Feel good music (the only rule is that it makes you feel happy)
“Naughty” food, be it ice-cream, stinky cheese or a decadent veggie-burger.
Hot bath or shower.
Candle (scented or otherwise)
Incense (something sweet like amber)


Firstly have a long hot shower or soak in a bath. Use your best products, add some salt. Scrub it all off.


Next in your ritual wear. You can either, dress up the nines. Go all out, or put on your most comfortable ‘jammies or nightwear.


Light your candle and say


I light this fire to remind myself to shine. I am of the same radiant light and I am worthy.”


Then light your incense and say:


“I light this fire to remind myself to find faith in myself. I am of the same breath and I am worthy.”


Just sit for a moment and take in the light and sweet smoke. Then put on your playlist and grab your food and feast. Sing-along, dance, and enjoy.


When you are done extinguish your candle and if you like you can keep this as your self-love candle. You can light it if the day is dark and scary and remind yourself you are worthy. Learning to love yourself is important and honours the gift that the Old Ones have given you.

 

Brigid’s Arrival

April, 2017

Brigid’s Arrival

When she comes

She comes in the room

Like a gulp of cold air

A hurricane to the face

A slap so soft and sharp

So caring and cold

So great and so bold

So young yet so old

Every atom sings

This lady; this goddess; this spirit

This sidhe, from beyond the hills

She came to see

What you had put out for her

Sheep’s milk, oats and apples

Whiskey, candles and hope.

She blasts through the door

A draught of delight

In spring’s awakening.

We hold hands and shake

As her powers leaves us quaking.

Motherly but not gentle;

Feminine and strong and wise;

Changing the world before our eyes.

The flower opens, gasps ensue;

Our hands beating heat

Back and forth

Across the laden table.

Copyright 5th February 2017

She Who Is All – The Goddess of Ten Thousand Names

February, 2015

Brigid

brigid

As I sit here writing this column, it is only a handful of days until Imbolc, which makes it easy to choose Brigid as this month’s Goddess.

 

She is known today, by many, as St. Bridget of the Christian church.  Oh, but she was and is so much more.

 

Brigit, pronounced “Breed” started at a triple goddess in Ireland and surrounding areas.  In England, she was known as Brigantia; in Scotland, Bride; in Celtic France, Brigandu.  Her name means “bright one” or “bright arrow”.  A great flame went out from her head and into the sky on the day of Her birth.  This flame, tended at a sacred shrine in Kildare by 19 maiden women, named the Daughters of the Flame, perpetually burned; and, it was said that it was tended by Brigit, herself, on the 20th day.   This flame was looked on only by women so that its’ purity would be always protected.

 

As a triple goddess, Her aspects are linked by both fire and water.

 

Brigit is the Keeper of the flame, and is credited with the invention of smithcraft, She is the Goddess of the forge and of the Hearth in each home.  She is the Poetess, the Goddess of storytelling and inspiration.  She brings wisdom and guidance as the Goddess of prophecy and divination.  She is a nurturer, the bringer of children as a mid-wife.

 

She is a Goddess of healing and well-being.  Numerous healing wells are dedicated to her, many in the surrounding areas of Kildare.

 

brigid2

 

 

 

As Christianity conquered the pagan people of old, the church found that Brigit was so loved and so revered, that they could not eradicate her worship.  As they did with so many of of our ancient deities and customs, they co-opted her into the church, transforming her into St. Bridget, claiming that she was a Druid’s daughter and baptized by St. Patrick, he who allegedly drove the snakes (pagans) from Ireland.

 

Her sacred flames burned until 1220, when a Norman Bishop, angered by the fact that men were not allowed into the presence of the sacred flame, forced his way in with his men and had the flame put out, using its’ pagan beginnings as his reasoning.  The flame was re-lit in 1993; it is now maintained by the Sisters of Bridget.

 

The Goddess Brigid has many symbols — the forge, the hearth, the wheel, the crossroads, which represent transformation, as they stand between light and dark.   There is also Brigid’s cross, which is said to bring good luck and to protect a home from fire.   There are many websites that can help you with instructions on how to make your own Brigid’s cross.

 

brigid3

 

 

Brigid is celebrated on Imbolc, February 1st, which is a time of purification and cleansing.   With her two opposite symbols of fire and water, it reminds us to always maintain a balance within our lives.  This is a time of transformation, and new beginnings.

 

To celebrate Brigid, one of the first things that should be done is to set up your Imbolc altar.  No matter the amount of space that you have available, a beautiful altar is yours for the making.  A statue of Brigid is a lovely addition to the altar, as are candles (for the symbol of fire), and chalices, (for the symbol of water).  Any spring-blooming plants would be appropriate.  Of course, your Brigid’s cross, if you have made one, would be perfect.  (The opening photo is the beginnings of my own Brigid/Imbolc altar.)

 

Before your ritual, knowing that this is a celebration of purification and cleansing, you should bath first with a mixture of sea salt, epsom salt, baking soda and lavender oil.

 

 

 

There are many rituals surrounding both Brigid and Imbolc.  This is the perfect time to re-dedicate yourself to your path.  For other ideas,  please check out:   http://paganwiccan.about.com/od/imbolcfebruary2/a/AllAbout_Imbolc.htm

 

 

“IRISH PRAYER TO BRIGID”

 

Brigid, gold-red woman

Brigid, flame and honeycomb

Brigid, sun of womanhood

Brigid, lead me home

 

You are a branch in blossom

You are a sheltering dome

You are my bright precious freedom

Brigid, lead me home

 

 

 

As always, I can be reached at ShaktiWarriorSpirit@gmail.com

 

I wish you all a very blessed Imbolc and may Brigid watch over you.

 

Resources:  The New Book of Goddesses and Heroines by Patricia Monaghan

                     Ancient Mirrors of Womanhood by Merlin Stone

                     Gathering for Goddess by B. Melusine Mihaltses

                     The Goddess Companion by Patricia Monaghan

                      http://paganwiccan.about.com

 

Imbolc Correspondences

January, 2012

February 1, 2

Other Names: Imbolg (im-molc)(em-bowl’g) (Celtic), Candlemas (Christian), Brigantia (Caledonii), Oimelc, Festival of Light, Brigid’s (Brid, Bride) Day, La Fheill, An Fheille Bride, Candelaria (Mexico), Chinese New Year, Disting-tid (Feb 14th, Teutonic), DisaBlot, Anagantios, Lupercalia/Lupercus (Strega), Groundhog Day, Valentines Day.

Animals & Mythical Beings: Firebird, dragon, groundhog, deer, burrowing animals, ewes, robin, sheep, lamb, other creatures waking from hibernation.

Gemstones: Amethyst, garnet, onyx, turquoise.
Incense/Oil: Jasmine, rosemary, frankincense, cinnamon, neroli, musk, olive, sweet pea, basil, myrrh, and wisteria, apricot, carnation.
Colors/Candles: Brown, pink, red, orange, white, lavender, pale yellow, silver.
Tools,Symbols, & Decorations: White flowers, marigolds, plum blossoms, daffodils, Brigid wheel, Brigid’s cross, candles, grain/seed for blessing, red candle in a cauldron full of earth, doll, Bride’s Bed; the Bride, broom, milk, birchwood, snowflakes, snow in a crystal container,evergreens, homemade besom of dried broom, orange candle annointed in oil (see above)can be used to sybolize the renewing energy of the Sun’s rebirth.
Goddesses: Virgin Goddess, Venus, Diana, Februa, Maiden, Child Goddess, Aradia, Athena, Inanna, Vesta, Gaia, Brigid, Selene(Greek), Branwen(Manx-Welsh).
Gods: Young Sun Gods, Pan, Cupid/Eros(Greco-Roman), Dumuzi(Sumerian).
Essence: Conception, initiation, insight, inspiration, creativity, mirth, renewal, dedication, breath of life, life-path, wise counsel, plan, prepare.
Meaning: First stirring of Mother Earth, lambing, growth of the Sun God, the middle of winter.
Purpose: Honoring the Virgin Goddess, festival of the Maiden/Light.
Rituals & Magicks: Cleansing; purification, renewal, creative inspiration, purification, initiation, candle work, house & temple blessings, welcoming Brigid, feast of milk & bread.
Customs: Lighting candles, seeking omens of Spring, storytelling, cleaning house, bonfires, indoor planting, stone collecting, candle kept burning dusk till dawn; hearth re-lighting.
Foods: Dairy, spicy foods, raisins, pumpkin, sesame & sunflower seeds, poppyseed bread/cake, honey cake, pancakes, waffles, herbal tea.
Herbs: Angelica, basil, bay, benzoin, celandine, clover, heather, myrrh, all yellow flowers, willow.
Element: Earth
Gender: Female
Threshold: Midnight

Brigid

February, 2011

Brigid

The coming of spring
Pulses in the vains
Of rivers hushed
Underneath the strained

Ice that cracks
A trickle
Becomes a stream
Flowing freely
Love unrestrained

If I could find
The threads of hope
I’d weave a blanket
For those sick or old
For those in need

Under the snow
Kept silent in winter
Till the new seeds grow
Harvest the light
Keep the darkness away

Send Brigid
Send peace on it’s way

Living Life Magically

February, 2011

Awakening Divine:  Living Magically in the Dead of Winter

At the end of January, we find ourselves deeply nestled inside; inside our homes, inside our work and inside our Self.  We find ourselves going deep within, partly as protection against the harsh winter, but also because our soul yearns to discover the wonder and magic of our inner Self.  So after Yule, we find ourselves deep beneath the surface until the Wheel turns again at the beginning of festival, at Imbolc.

The holiday of Imbolc or Candlemas marks the middle point of winter, the cusp, the balance point where the deep winter, ruled by the Crone Goddess Cailleach, gives way to the return of spring ruled by the Bride, the maiden Goddess.   Surrounded by candles, the warm glow of candlelight reminds us of the promise of Yule, that the Light will return and bring growth and springtime.  Now is the time for Bride to wrest the season away from the Crone and make way for springtime.  It is time to wake up the earth.

Bride is Brigit, Brigid, Brigantia and many other names.  She is a powerful, magical Goddess who was revered throughout the world of the Celts, called Minerva by the Romans and made a saint by the Catholic Church.  Her name has many meanings including “power,” “fiery arrow” and “she who exalts herself.”  She has responsibility and power over much of life.  She is the patroness of poetry and inspiration, patroness of hearth and home, patroness of the forge.  Through that triple responsibility, she rules fertility, healing, creativity, the crafts, spinning and weaving, goldsmith and smithcraft, poetry, and bardic lore.  Her power was imbued in the countryside, so that the hills, wells, streams and rivers were her body.  Her symbols speak of her power:  fire, wells, cauldrons, the forge, and the Rowan tree.  She is associated with animals that speak of the bounty of the world, the ewe, boar, and cow.  Snakes are also sacred to her as a symbol of transformation and change.  She invented whistling so she could bring friends to her side in time of need; and she invented keening to express grief too great to be held inside.

Like her festival, she was born at a mid-point; that magical time between dark and dawn.  Her magic is born of mystery.  She is a triple goddess, but not in the Maiden-Mother-Crone aspect revered by modern pagans.  Her triplicity is expressed in her most potent symbol, fire.  She is the Muse, the Fire of Inspiration, of poetry and lore.  She is the Fire of the Hearth, the patroness of childbirth, fertility, home-crafts, and of healing.  She is the Fire of the Forge, patroness of smithcraft and the art of war.  She is protection, creativity, procreation of all sorts, healing, transformation and renewal.

On her feast day, her sacred creature, the snake would emerge from its mound and predict the end of winter.  This is an obvious association to the American holiday of Groundhog’s Day!  Her feast day had other folk customs and celebrations as well.  At sundown, a shawl, length of wool or mantle was placed outside to absorb the magical energy of this time.  Then that mantle was used throughout the year for healing the people and animals of the household.

The celebration would begin by a house-cleaning that included burning the greenery leftover from Yule celebrations.  New greenery, rushes and candles were placed in the household.    The new rushes for the floor were blessed.  A dolly was created from these rushes, dressed in white.  The doors would be flung open, and the unmarried women of the house would bring the Bride into the house.  She was greeted by the married women of the household and put into a bed by the hearth. Other customs included candle magic and wishes, tying ribbons to trees and bushes for the wishes of the year, and making even armed Brigit’s crosses, reminiscent of her association with the sun.

So here we are in this time between the severity of Winter and the birth of Spring.  We are nestled here, like the seed beneath the earth.  In the deepest part of winter we move deeply inward, and rest there.  The Goddess holds us in her embrace and we snuggle close, safe and warm.  In that rest and safety, we renew ourselves.  Our emotions, our spirit, our mind and our bodies find rest and nurturing stillness.  We rest there until we are renewed.  And at that mid-point of Winter, we hear the call, the inspiration.  The flame is renewed within us as we stir inside our seed-like shell.  The shell that used to keep us safe and secure is now confining and constricting.  We stir and move, ready to break free, ready for our journey upward and outward.

There are some magical and practical ways to invoke this transition from internal hibernation to a deliberate awakening.  Begin by cleaning.  Often after a winter of not noticing, the strengthening sun will suddenly reveal more dust and dirt that you had noticed before.  It can be daunting to look at all that must be done in totality..  I developed a “Clean One Thing” strategy or spell.  This spell is so lacking in “whoo whoo” or magical flourish, that it might just seem like regular house cleaning.  However, it is short, sweet, and do-able.  I make a “Clean One Thing” list of very short housework tasks.  It is not “clean the bathroom,” but rather the first item will say “clean the tub,” “wash the sink” and so on.   I take the list and share it with the Goddess, dedicating my industry and cleaning to Her; and leave the list on my altar.

So that when I get up off my couch to do some housework, I need to only accomplish one thing.  That is my only focus for cleaning.  When I’m done with that one chore, I’ve accomplished a goal.  Cross it off the list.  Thank the Goddess and then I’m done.  I can then decide to take a break, have a cup of tea, read a book, or do one more thing.  It does kind of fool you into getting a lot of work done.  I think dedicating the work to the Goddess makes it a spiritual experience rather than a dirty chore.   Usually at the end of the list, I’ll burn it or bury it as a ritual act of completion.

Another simple thing to do to move into more action is to “wake up the earth.”  If you are completely done with your internal journey of the season and ready to get up and get going, you can wake up.  Be aware that if you do this, you are waking yourself up too!  As you are grounded and connected to the earth, you are awakening your own divinity in the process.   This is fun to do in a ritual with a group, or can be done as a solitary.

Wake Up the Earth, Wake Up the Divine Me

You will need as many tools and accoutrements as you prefer.  You can do this with your body and voice; or with full “smells and bells” ritual tools.  A drum is very helpful.

Ground and Center, connect yourself to Mother Earth

Cast a circle according to your custom

Call in the Directions according to the tradition you follow

Call in Your Gods, or the Spirits of the Season

Meditation

Take a deep breath and let it out with a sigh.  Take another deep cleansing breath and let it out completely and fully, making noise as you are led.  Take a third deep breath and let it out with a tone.  As the tone reverberates through your body, find yourself in a cave on a soft bed of wonderful comfortable covers.  Stretch and stand up.  Guarding you is the Ancient Crone Goddess of Winter, holding a torch that is very dim.  She looks at you and smiles.  Then she turns and walk to the doorway of the cave, where you see another figure at the entrance.  You realize it is the Bride, Brigit.  She looks at you and grins widely, in a challenge and in welcome.

The Ancient Crone of Winter hands the torch to Brigit and the torch flames to life and you see a triple flame as she holds her hand out to you.  It is time to step over the threshold and to emerge from the cave.  You go and walk through into the world.

Out in the world you look around at the landscape and you sense the change from deep, dark winter to an emerging springtime.  You feel it with your inner divinity more than you see it.  But you take it all in.  Brigit leads you to a circle of Be-ings, gods, goddesses, the Spirits of people you know in this word.  They welcome you into the circle as all join hands in song and dance.

The circle dances and dances and dances.  Your heart is beating and your blood is flowing as your body and your soul awakens in harmony to the energy of the earth.  In your dance, you feel the slumbering earth awaken, stretch, yawn, and start to move.  You are AWAKE and so is the earth!

The whole circle begins to chant:  The goddess is awake and magic is afoot.  The goddess is awake and magic is afoot.

As this happens, emerge from your meditative state and continue the chant until a cone of power is sent off into the Universe for the good of all and the harm of none, to the blessing of an awakened world and an awakened you!

Once you’ve raised the cone of power, take a minute to ground yourself.  Once you are grounded and centered, you are ready to leave the circle.  Refreshed, renewed and invigorated.

Farewell and thanks to your gods

Farewell and thanks to the directions

Open the circle

Be good to yourself after a ritual and celebrate with food and drink that centers and grounds you; things that bring you fully into this world with all its magic and wonder.  Be ready for signs of awakening.  They are there, subtle and visible to those with the heart and eyes to see.

Blessed Be.

Imbolc and the Two Brigids

February, 2009

imbolc

In a world where we can turn up the thermostat when we get cold, it’s hard to imagine the sufferings of our agrarian Celtic ancestors in winter, centuries ago.

Light and heat were generated by fire. Shelter and warm clothing for all but the rich was woefully inadequate. Starvation was a constant threat. If harvests had been poor; if precious livestock perished in the bitter cold, or from lack of adequate feed, new calves and lambs would not be born. The necessary food supply would fail, and scores of people, particularly the young, the old and the vulnerable, would perish.

Imagine then the joy of common folk when Imbolc arrived! In the Pagan world, Imbolc is the 2nd of the four Sabbats dividing the Celtic year into winter, spring, summer and fall. Its arrival on February 1st is greeted with relief and celebration! Half of winter had passed away. The bitter Crone months were over, and the arrival of Brigid, the Spring Maiden, heralded the great turning of the year back toward the sun, and renewal of the Earth.

With Brigid’s return, days gradually lengthened, winter’s grip loosened, and seeds quickened. The birth of lambs or calves was a sure sign of spring. The Druid’s name for Imbolc was  “oimelc,” meaning ewe’s milk. Milk to our ancestors was sacred ~ as sacred, some say, as communion wine to the Christian. It symbolized a reverence for the Great Mother who was seen as the source of all life.

brigid

Brigid is a Celtic triple goddess of fire. At her birth, it is said, a column of fire rose from the top of her head to the heavens. As Sun Goddess, she is the Light Bringer who presides over hearth and forge. She inspires the divine creative light of poets, musicians, artists and craftswomen. She nurtures crops, livestock and nature, generates fertility, and assists at childbirth. As Great Mother, she leans over every cradle. She is a mistress of divination whose sacred wells bring healing and glimpses into the future.

Her ancient names run the gamut of human experience. As war goddess, she was called the Flame of Ireland and Fiery Arrow. Other names were Brigid of the Harp, Mother of Songs and , Brigid the Sorrowful (she lost a beloved son and brother), Bride of Joy, Brigid of the Green Mantles, and Brigid of the Slim Fairy Folk. As Bride of the Flocks, swans accompanied her, and believers looked for the print of a swan’s foot in the ashes of their smoored fires as evidence of her passage.  Her special animals, the domestic cow and the sheep, reflected her concern for the feeding of families with meat and milk.

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In towns and rural communities, the Day of Bride was a celebration of women, a feminine festival. Young girls dressed in white went through their villages, handing out Brigid’s Cross to every household. An effigy of Brigid, created of straw, dressed and adorned with ornaments, might be carried through the town. Maidens might gather in a single house, where young men would visit and pay respectful court to them. Special foods were prepared, shared, and set outside or on the hearth to feed the goddess. Strips of ribbon or clothing were left on doorsteps, to receive her blessing, then hung, as protective talismans, in barns and homes.

Around 453 AD, the powerful energy of the great goddess was transformed by the Catholic Church into St. Brigid, and given a new biography. Following their policy of absorbing Pagan festivals into Christian feast-days, the Day of Bride was converted into Candlemas, the feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin, celebrated on February 2nd.  In this way, Brigid made the great leap from pagan Mother Goddess, to worship of the Virgin Mother by a Virgin Saint.

There were holdovers from her worship. Candlemas was celebrated with candlelight processions, hearkening back to the goddess’s role as Light Bringer. St. Brigid’s story reflected her Pagan roots in many respects. Her legend states that she was the illegitimate daughter of an Irish Chieftain and a Christian slave. Born at sunrise, it is said that the cottage where she lay glowed with fire. Her mother bathed her in milk, before handing her over to a Druid who was charged with raising her. Her father, a follower of the Old Religion, named her Brigid, after the great Celtic goddess.

We don’t know how she came to convert to Christianity, but it may have been through the influence of her Christian mother ~ or perhaps through a chance meeting with the charismatic Christian missionary, St. Patrick. Following her conversion, she and all her companions, former worshippers of Brigid, became followers of Christ and of His mother, Mary. They started Ireland’s first religious community of women. Based on her reputation for saintliness and love for the people, legends grew claiming that she was the midwife to Mary, the Mother of Jesus, and Foster Mother to the Savior. Her popularity in Ireland is second only to St. Patrick himself.

brigids

St. Brigid founded the first Irish convent in Kildare, in a monastery sited at a shrine to Brigid. Virgins who had guarded an eternal flame for the goddess gave way to her namesake and her community of nuns, who re-dedicated the flame to Christ.  St. Brigid’s monastery became a great center for learning, the arts, and spirituality. The school of art that St. Brigid founded at Kildare produced illuminated manuscripts that became famous throughout Christendom.

This remarkable woman tended the eternal flame until her death on February 1 (Imbolc!) in 525 AD. On Imbolc of 1993, the Daughters of the Flame relit a fire in honor of the goddess.

One of the symbols associated with St. Brigid is the Cross of Brigid, a four-legged cross woven from rushes. She is said to have made this cross while explaining Christ’s story to a dying pagan.  Even today, people make these crosses and place them in barns and houses on St. Brigid’s day, as protection from evil.  Find out how to make your own Brigid’s Cross on Google!

It is fascinating to consider that the qualities and gifts of the great Celtic goddess, Brigid, are not lost, but rather reincarnated and reinterpreted in the life of Ireland’s greatest female Christian saint. For me, this indisputable fact demonstrates the immense power of folk religion to survive all efforts to suppress it ~ and to continue to inspire many who love the Earth, and hold the old ways and wisdom dear. There is no conflict in this. All is absorbed into the wonder of this vast universe in which “we live, and breathe, and have our being.”

A Gaelic poem about Brigid asserts that she “…put songs and music on the wind before ever the bells of chapels were rung in the West or heard in the East.”  How true. And yet, after those bells were rung, St. Brigid’s monastery continued in Brigid’s footsteps, and became a bastion of culture and the arts in a wild, untamed country.

The songs of both Brigids still sing in the hearts of those who honor their power to inspire and transform. Their flame will never go out.

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