imbolc

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.

 

Brighid’s Healing Sword: Imbolc

February, 2018

This turn of the Greater Wheel moves us towards a place of newness and the quickening of what was brought to light at Yule, the Winter Solstice. We stand at the mid-mark between the act of revealing (Winter Solstice) the fertility that lay dormant from the triple harvest and the action of sowing and planting (Spring Equinox) what we hope will prove viable and grow to its fullest potential. This is the time of quickening and enlivening the hidden seeds of transition and preparation of what will wither and die and what will germinate a become viable product.

Our coven, Oak and Willow of the Assembly of the Sacred Wheel Tradition, uses Imbolc to focus on the Celtic Goddess, Brighid. We craft candles, infusing them with her healing properties. We make oath and re-dedicate to our Coven and Tradition that the quickening of our minds and hearts awaken what can blossom in the months ahead. And, we call upon her creativity to inspire us as we move forward towards the next turn of the Wheel. This year we will call forth the Goddess as Warrior and wielder of the healing sword.

For most, the first encounter with this fiery Goddess is one associated with her triune nature. She is Maiden, Mother and Crone holding the keys to creativity, inspiration and deep healing. She is also the Triple Flame, acting as central catalyst of the purpose intended and initiator of those who willingly cross the threshold of transformation. As the patroness of poets, divination and prophecy she is the Fire of Inspiration. In her role of patroness of healers and Goddess of fertility, she is the Fire of the Hearth and childbirth. And, as patroness of smiths, craftsmen and the forge, she is the Fire of the Forge, burning brightly and transforming and transmuting all that enter the heat of the flame.

But, there is also a lesser-known aspect of the Goddess Brighid. Her ancient name of The Fiery Arrow gives some indication of this aspect, although it is usually associated with the Goddess as maintainer of justice and right action; setting the course of action in a balanced way and clearing away all that would interfere or challenge that state. If we take this idea to a deeper place of understanding, Brighid’s energy becomes that of the Warrior who wields the flaming sword that destroys, cauterizes and then heals. It is She, who heals with the precision of the surgeon guiding the scalpel. She, who cuts through the glamour and unyielding ignorance of ego driven will and carves the path of knowledge that becomes true gnosis. And, it is She, who plunges the un-tempered blade of inventive mind into the hellish fires that forge and manifest a blade that is pure, clear and strong in its action and intent.

I have worked with this aspect of Brighid for many years and in many ways, and the mark of its transformation has been lasting and opened the way for growth and a deeper understanding of the process of release and healing. Just as the sword’s blade goes through multiple steps of heating and cooling, resting and shaping to achieve the brilliance and beauty of what will become a finely crafted sword; the process of this healing warrior Goddess tests the metal of your own making. She allows you to see the rough product that is your will and plunges you deep into the flaming desire for what you wish to achieve. If you remain too long from inertia or misguided will, what emerges is misshapen and unusable. It’s brittleness breaks your spirit and the wounds it inflicts are jagged and long to heal. If tempered with enough flexibility to change course as needed, the honing and sharpening of the skills required for successful change are exacted. All is brought to the quickening fires so that what has been reshaped and reformed may become as one and part of the finished product. A time of rest and integration occurs and finally as the blade is brought from its place of synthesis and strengthening, it is plunged once again into the heart of greater Will and the flames of Intentional Desire. The finished product is a work of beauty and a gift from the forge of Brighid.

I offer to you a pathworking, inviting you to invoke the energy of Brighid’s Healing Sword and the opportunity to stand in Her radiance of remaking. May your journey be powerful and may the Goddess bless you with the crafting of your own healing blade.

The Smith’s Blade

Take a few deep breaths and allow your consciousness to settle at the space of the third eye. Turn your attention within and see on this inner landscape a blank screen and allow yourself to be drawn towards it. As you focus on this space you become aware of a small mist of indigo blue energy forming in front and around you. The particles are very small and the energy is both uplifting and relaxing as it encircles you. Take a few deep breaths and step through this veil.

As you emerge, you find yourself standing outside what appears to be a blacksmith’s shoppe. You can hear the rhythmic clanging of a hammer and smell the fires from the forge. It is evening and all is dark around you save for the light glowing from within and shimmering through slats of a wooden building. You step forward towards the open entryway and stand quietly observing a wiry built man bent over and working deftly as the glimmer of unpolished metal flashes.

Repetitively and with great precision, he places the unshaped metal into the forge, heating it and then pulling it out to the edge of the table, gently hammering it into the desired shape or at times simply allowing the red glow to cool before it is placed once again in the hot flames. This occurs for several times and with each heating and hammering, the metal takes on more of the shape of the blade.

He looks carefully at what has been crafted and satisfied that this process is finished, he gently wraps the blade and places it aside allowing it to cool completely. He pulls from the space in which he placed the cooling blade another wrapped item and as he unwraps it you see that this is a blade that had been crafted a day earlier.

He steps over to the grinder and begins to sharpen and finely hone the edges and point of the blade. You notice that this blade seems to glow and has a certain shine to it already, although it is not polished. You feel drawn to it, but remain standing in the doorway, hoping that you will remain unnoticed. He looks carefully at the edges and then plunges the sword into the heat of the flaming forge. Quickly the glowing red blade is retrieved and plunged into a water bath to speed the cooling and hardening process. Again the blade is tempered by heat and water and you think on the process of emotion and will and the need for the correct balance of each to be in place to make for supple yet strong action and purposeful will.

You see the Smith smiling as he lifts the blade upwards, knowingly and assured that it will have a certain amount of flexibility yet still retain its sharp edge. Now the sword is ready for completion. He selects the necessary parts of pommel, guard and hilt and with skill assembles all precisely and artistically. The sword is now complete and he lifts his gaze, staring directly at you, beckoning you to come towards him.

You are ready to speak, but he lifts a finger to his lips indicating for you to be silent and to follow behind him as he brushes past you. He steps outside and you turn towards him, both of you facing a sky that is now colored with the rising of the morning sun. He lifts the blade upward and it shines brightly as the first fiery rays of sunlight stream across it. The brilliance of its reflection expands and for a moment you close your eyes, the intensity is so great. You open them and see that the blacksmith is gone and hovering mid-air the sword glows red and pulses with heat that seems to course through you. The flaming glow fills the space and from its center the blade elongates and transforms into a woman of great beauty and flaming red hair. Her eyes glow like sunlit embers of flame and you bow in homage to the Goddess, Brighid. As she approaches you feel the power and strength of Her presence. You see that she carries the sword that you witnessed being crafted and you feel a gentleness about Her that offers you comfort as to how this Divine sword might be used. She has come as the healing sword to offer her many gifts if you ready for her transformative energy.

You approach and kneeling before her you speak of what needs healing and transformation. Each word spiraling up and out like wisps of smoke heated and released by her power. You surrender to her all your doubts and fears and one by one each is dissected and removed from your being leaving you feeling light and unencumbered. When you have finished offering all that has troubled you, she bids you to look upwards and as she lifts her fiery blade warm droplets of healing water shower down about you. Compassion and warmth envelope you and you are held in the embrace of the Goddess as she quickens and enlivens you. Rest in this state for as long as is needed.

When you have received all that is needed at this time, you gently rise and offer up gratitude to the Goddess for the blessings she has given. As these thankful thoughts quicken in your mind and move easily from your lips, you begin to step backwards, as flames begin to rise where Brighid was standing. They reach upwards like strands of red hair caught in a breeze and give the appearance of flickering with shades of emerald green and flashes of silvery metal. You stand taking in the beauty of the sight and the warmth of its heat and the knowledge that you have been transformed by the Goddess, Herself.

The flames gently dwindle and fade and in their place is the smith holding the sword of the Goddess. He walks towards you and gently places it in your hand, softly telling you that it had been crafted for you. He tells you that the gift of the healing sword is given to those who will use it wisely and courageously. And, that the Goddess who offers this gift is always near at hand, ready to inspire and offer her healing so that you may thrive and grow as Her Divine Child.

You take a deep breath in and close your eyes, holding the sword tightly to your breast and as you exhale and open your eyes, you see that your awareness has returned to that of observing the blank inner screen of your consciousness. You take a few deep breaths in and with each exhalation your awareness settles back into the space of your physical being and space surrounding you. You gently flutter your eyes open and look around at your surroundings with keener sight and the knowledge that you carry the healing blade within.

So Mote It Be!

 

***

About the Author:

Robin Fennelly is a Wiccan High Priestess, teacher, poet and author. She is the author of:

 

The Inner Chamber, Vol. One

It’s Written in the Stars

Astrology

Click Image for Amazon Information

 

The Inner Chamber, Vol. Two

poetry of the spheres

Qabalah

 

The Inner Chamber, Vol. Three

Awakening the Paths

Qabalah

 

A Year With Gaia

The Eternal Cord

 

Temple of the Sun and Moon

Luminous Devotions

 

The Magickal Pen, Volume One

A Collection of Esoteric Writings

Click Image for Amazon Information

 

The Elemental Year

Aligning the Parts of SELF


The Enchanted Gate

Musings on the Magick of the Natural World

 

Sleeping with the Goddess

Nights of Devotion

 

A Weekly Reflection

Musings for the Year

 

Her books are available on Amazon or website and her Blogs can be found atRobin Fennelly 

 

Follow Robin on Facebook and on Instagram 

Celebrating the Old Ways in New Times

February, 2017

Imbolc 2017 for Celebrating the Old Ways in New Times

Bright Blessings,

Here in Central Ohio, we have enjoyed temperatures in the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s in late January this year. We are lulled into a false sense that Spring is here due to the warmth. Winter isn’t over yet.

Or is it?

Our ancestors would say this time of year IS the beginning of Spring, regardless of temperature. First signs are everywhere from groups of returning birds, to animals awakening from hibernation, and buds on the trees.

For me, it means time to start planning the garden again. I dug out my seed stash, sorted what I do not want, communicated with my gardening partners, and I have a seed catalogue on the way!

This week, I’ll buy some soil and start sprouting seeds that need to be transplanted to the ground in eight to ten weeks. I will go bastshit nuts planting, tending, and harvesting clear up to Samhain, and then, do garden cleanup. I will be tired of it all for a month or two and then start dying to get started again by mid January next year. My crazy has it’s own “Wheel of the Year!”

I was pleased, in researching what I’d like to write about, to find some new things I did not know about Imbolc! I’ll share what I learned, and then share a simple working I’ll be doing, myself this year.

Light it Up!

While much of the attention is given to the celebration of the goddess Brigid by Pagans, and then St. Brigid by Catholics, what gets little attention is some of the candle ceremonies that happen.

Some Pagans have their candles they have at the traditional places on their altars, and just stick with that for all Sabbats. Ancient Pagans had different practices.

For example, some Germanic and Celtic Pagans celebrated in late January that bears, sacred animals, came out of hibernation. They had torch lit processions and bonfires. With days continuing to grow longer, the awakening of these animals was seen as more signs of Spring. Fires were used as blessing and purification, but also emulated the light the people were enjoying more of.

It is speculated it was these very practices that were used to inspire Xtian churches to create festivals of light at this time of year. Instead of the returning sacred light brought by the gods, and the return of the spiritually powerful creatures like bears, the sacred purity of Mary, mother of the Xtian god was celebrated.

The candle magic, which Catholics would hardly call magic, however, is practiced at many Candlemas celebrations. Some devotees bring candles to church to have them blessed to use in their homes for the rest of the year. This emulates the pre-Xtian Pagan practice of having a communal bonfire and letting each participant take a lit stick of fire back to their own homes, and lighting their hearth fires from that.

The whole point of the lighting of fires and candles was to emulate the strengthening sun, and longer, soon to be warmer days, approaching the growing season. For Pagans, it depended on what deity they served, and for Xtians, of course their god was “the light of the world.”

divination was also practiced around Imbolc time. One method in Wales entailed lighting two candles and having each participant take turns sitting between the candles. A horn filled with beer was given to them, and once they drank it, they tossed the horn behind them. If it landed upright, it meant they would live a long life. If it did not land upright, it meant they would not live as long.

Spring Cleaning

Spring cleaning was also practiced by some. There was more light to work by, and dust and cobwebs in corners would be more noticeable. Plus, in parts where people decorated for either Yule, Solstice, or Xmas, it would be the time to take all those decorations down if it was not done by then. I don’t know about you, but one of the happiest days of the year for me is when I get all the holiday décor packed away and I get my house back to normal. In Ancient Rome, they would burn the evergreen branches they had used, while in modern times, we pack up our artificial trees.

Each of us who have groups will observe whatever is most meaningful to us collectively. For Earth Based people, as well as people who have cabin fever by now…(raises hand) …holidays that mark returning and strengthening light is a wonderful time, indeed.

Blessing the Earth

One thing I read about was people blessing the grounds before preparing it and then planting seeds, and for me, being a gardener who is VERY VERY excited about gardening again, I thought I would make a garden blessing ceremony including light as well as holy water in the working. It’s very simple and can be done discreetly if you are not out of the closet and don’t want neighbors nosing about, or with as much ceremony as you prefer.

Saoirse’s Imbolc Garden Blessing Ceremony

Set up an altar to your liking or one that is appropriate for your tradition. You will be blessing your garden space or garden pots you grow things in. You can bless your garden tools as well if you like.

You will need to do this outdoors in the garden space. Have a little gift as offering for the critters. Something like birdseed, a salt lick for a deer, a bat box or birdhouse, or even a cat house for a stray works nicely.

On your altar, place one thing of your choosing to represent each element or Earth, Air, Fire, Water, and you, yourself will be the representation of Spirit. Place the items in position that is most meaningful to you. This may entail the traditional Earth in the North, Air in East, Fire in South, and Water in West or not. However, for the sake of using fire in this, for the actual representation for the element of fire, make sure to use a candle, any color you feel is appropriate. Green for life, or red for fire and magic for example, or even gold to represent the sun.

Cast circle as you see fit, or do this open circle. If you do cast circle, remember to cast it around your whole garden space you will be blessing.

Light your candle first and say “I welcome the strengthening light. Shine down upon this earth where I grow food and flowers. Bless it with abundant life, protect it from drought, and give me a great harvest. So mote it be.” Then walk around your planting space, holding the candle over it, emulating how you want the sun to shine on it. Replace the candle on the altar.

Pick up what represent Water and say, “I welcome the waters of rain. I ask you to bless my garden the whole season long with all the water it needs to grow. I ask protection against floods, washing away of plants, and water logging. Give me a great harvest. So mote it be” If you used water or holy water, sprinkle it across your garden space. If you did not use water, wave your representation of water over the garden as you did the candle. Replace the representation of water onto the altar.

Next pick up the representation of Earth, Say “ Hail Mother, Earth we walk on, and which gives us food season after season. I will touch your body, and tend it this growing season with love. I will nurture plants and share with the creatures that live here with me. Guide me to know what you need and what I can do to make the best harvest for all of us. Blessed Be.” Pass the representation of earth over your garden patch. Replace it on the altar.

Next, pick up the representation of Air. Say “ Breath of life, move upon my garden. Breathe growth, and health into it. Begin growing it with me, and grow it with me until we have a bountiful harvest together. So mote it be.”

Leave your gift for the critters as an offering to the spirits of nature.

Do not banish.

Put everything away.

May your garden be glorious and abundant.

Blessed Imbolc

Blessed Be.

Imbolc Correspondences

January, 2017

 

imbolc-goddess

 

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

Imbolc Correspondences

February, 2016

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

Celebrating the Old Ways in New Times

January, 2016

Imbolc 2016 for Celebrating the Old Ways in New Times

Bright Blessings! It’s about a week before my Yule Celebration with friends, and already, I am putting together my 2016 Imbolc article. Time does fly.

Last year, I wrote about the ancient focus on the goddess Brigid, and how modern Catholics keep her traditions alive. The ritual I submitted focused on self-change at the time of Spring’s first awakenings. That article can be found here:

http://paganpages.org/content/2015/02/celebrating-the-old-ways-in-new-times-6/

My article had a working to initiate self-change. My own self- change was focused on eating better. I improved some, and then I did not improve any further.

Something happened a couple of months ago that reminded me to get back on track. A good friend is diabetic, and is having serious complications due to sugar consumption. In conversations to try and encourage my friend to kick sugar once and for all, I was forced to take a good look at myself. I have all the knowledge and knowhow, but was ignoring it. I justified eating anything I pleased as long as I cooked it myself.

Discussions with people I know reveal an ugly fact about humanity. While we all have unhealthy habits, many of us justify our own as the ones that are okay. Like me justifying eating anything I wanted as long as it’s homemade, for example. Plus, I realized how fond I’d become of bragging I had quit smoking. It was as if I was saying I could eat anything unhealthy just because I no longer smoke. I was told a story about a group of people decrying the use of GMO’s as deadly in our foods- while they chain smoked together. My husband brags about his muscle tone and the fact he is in shape and good health. Yet he overworks himself, bragging about his great ethic!

Truthfully, many of us are killing ourselves regardless of how different our methods are. No one method is any more noble or justified than the other. I like to joke that “We all die anyhow, I may as well die happy.” But I am forty years old and have been saying this for many years. Just talking this way is mouth magic- making my words come to be- I am literally shortening my lifespan one word and one bite at a time.

While some ancient Pagans were very concerned about what they out into their mouths, the reality is that before the Industrial Revolution, people had to quite often, eat whatever was available. The Abrahamic faiths are famous for their purity laws and bans on certain foods considered things that defiled the body. We often laugh and scoff at them as unnecessarily strict, whilst shoving some saturated fat, sugar, and chemical laden foodstuffs into our mouths.

Not an advocate of strict dietary observations as holy, myself, the concept of the body being the temple of a god is absolutely one that is on my mind since I am aging and seeing people I love struggle with their health. And those who have read my articles the past year are aware I have had my own health struggles that are by no means resolved.

Regardless of what your religious beliefs are, most of us are in agreement that the soul resides in our bodies temporarily and moves on when this body dies. Personally, not only would I like to stick around in this incarnation for a while longer, but I would like to also feel good while I am here. Call it medical science, or call it holy if you like, but taking care of the physical body is in this sense, a magical operation.

I find Imbolc to be a good time to focus on this.

What is Imbolc?

Long celebrated as early as Neolithic times in the British Isles, and possibly earlier, this is a celebration of first signs of Spring and fires of purification. The home is often focused on, as Spring Cleaning commences. Visits to holy wells and sacred trees for healing focus on purification of the body itself. I am including wonderful videos here of Brigid’s healing well and a sacred tree there.

The Well-

The Tree-

The Saint Brigid is simply Christianization of the great goddess, Brigid. Imbolc has been a time to venerate her, ask for healing, and to invite her into the home for blessings and purification of house and inhabitants.

Our ancestors viewed winter as a terrifying time when the young, old, and weak would perish. So all the blessings from protective deities and spirits were called on. Many diseases from stomach ailments, to colds and bacterial infections and flu are passed around more in wintertime due to people staying inside and closer to one another more often. Our ancestors did not view germs and disease as we do. Many of them thought spirits caused them. Brigid and her healing was just one remedy for disease and to hold off death.

Celts would fashion representations of body parts needing healing out of wood and leave as votive offerings in bodies of water. A modern continuance of that can be found in the main Cathedral in Mexico City. A portrait of Mary surrounded by little charms pinned to the framing mat, asking for healing is hanging in the church. Nearby the front door patrons can purchase the charms to use.

In keeping with the ancient practice of purification by water, many modern churches keep receptacles of holy water by entrances for ritual cleansing upon entrance to the sanctuary.

Each people view purity and spiritual pollution in their own way. Societies who observe a lot of taboos are a perfect example of this. Abstaining from alcohol in Islam is just one example. Some modern Native Americans believe it is impure to let a woman touch men’s sacred items when she has her period. Abstaining from sex before and during certain events is observed in modern Voodoo, and avoiding certain people who are considered to have sinned to avoid “catching” their impurity has been observed all through history.

Without the understanding of the importance of regular bathing, changing clothing often, not sharing plates and utensils, proper nutrition, and how much water is needed by the body, ancient people did the best they could. They did not have access to the variety of foods we do, and they could not just go to the store and grab decongestants, vitamins, and tons of fresh fruits and veggies. While they knew how to grow food and preserve it well, an accident could destroy all the preserved foods- such as a shelf falling and the glass or crockery containing preserved foods breaking. The food could somehow become contaminated and poison everybody. The crops could fail. A water source could dry out. Somebody could steal or deliberately destroy their food. There could be drought, floods, storms, you name it.

People needed all the help they could get.

Belief in magical/spiritual purity so as not to upset spirits or gods, or be unclean was just one way people tried to survive and thrive in ancient times.

Many neo-Pagans do not observe these practices. Many see their fasts as unnecessary and their taboos as constrictive. Many of us lean towards hedonism and believe life is meant to be enjoyed. Not everybody sees observance of taboos or fasting as deprivation and view anything less as overconsumption and lack of self control, harmful to both physical and spiritual health. This leads me to my recommended working- one I have been working on, really since 2012, and one I will focus on for the rest of my life; Personal purging and the fact that most of the time- less really is more.

My Story

I will keep this short.

I was raised by mom’s family. They were women who ate, drank, smoked, worked themselves into exhaustion, and fought too much. Some did more or less of one or the other, or none of one at all, but they all binged on some of these things. Guess who unknowingly grew up and took after them? You guessed it. Me.

But the time 2012 rolled around, I was a mess. I prayed to my god for a way out. He removed me from a toxic job. That was the beginning of my changes.

I quit smoking. While I’d not really drank that much, I found myself drinking even less. The daily ingestion of fast food went away seemingly overnight. The soda consumption dropped. My physical activity increased.

I also discovered I was a fighter. I decided I did not want to do that anymore. I stopped being engaged by people who liked to instigate drama. I also had to let go of some relationships as a result.

It’s due to be 2016- and by the time you read this article, it will be. Almost four years after my life changed. My career is not re-established. I have lost no weight. I have debt. Things are not perfect. But I am halfway to proper health due to something as simple as loss of a toxic job. It made me rethink everything. I realized not taking control of things I take into my body as well as situations I put my body and soul into was absolutely killing me.

I know from experience that letting go of things that not only do not serve us as well as take away from happiness is a good sacrifice, and a necessary one. It’s often viewed as a loss, but it’s not. Like a rose cannot grow if it is strangled by spent blossoms and dried out branches, our lives cannot grow if something is weighting us down either. Sometimes, the things we value most are the things that hurt us the most. Losing those toxic things we love might feel impossible at first, but it is every bit worth it.

This Imbolc’s working will be a purging for purification ritual.

The Ritual

Like last year’s working, this one is footwork based, not do a spell and forget it based. And like last year’s working, this one is a personal one.

First, identify one aspect of your life causing you grief, or something you feel needs improving.

Then, think of some way you have any say or control in the situation. If you can’t, that’s okay. Think of something you do that is directly linked to the situation or is a result of the situation that you can give up, improve, or reduce somehow.

Rather than JUST go out and sacrifice something to make positive change, your main task here will be to talk to somebody else about this scenario.

Why?

Because the people who love us see us in ways we can never see ourselves. They offer insight and crucial support- and make great partners in crime. Ask your loved one or loved ones for insight in what is going on , and while giving up whatever it is you need to in order to improve your situation, follow the advice that resonates with your soul as wise. In this way we are Priests and Priestesses for one another.

You can keep a journal to track your progress if you want to. Look back on it and see how you have progressed.

For example…

For me, this sugar thing is my big purge. I am currently showing no symptoms of disease , and my sugars have never measured high. However, I am aware that I eat so many sweets, I replace healthy foods with empty calories which have no nutritional value. I am literally starving.

I am of the mind that all bodies are beautiful, and maybe “thin is in” but I don’t care about that. I know just as many good looking plus sized people as ugly thin people, you know? So I am not looking to slim down to feel attractive.

I do have back injuries. The weight did not cause any of this, but it is not helping any of it at all.

I have forty years of eating habits to unlearn, and I have learned enough over the years that I know what to replace those bad habits with. It’s not going to happen overnight , and there will be temptation, but I can do this.

Because I talked to friends, I have supporters who I likewise support. Each of usare at different places in the journey to health. One girl became vegan. Another gave up gluten. Another had to give up pork. Another struggles to keep weight ON! We are supporting and encouraging each other.

My Imbolc working is sort of one I, myself have been adding to for almost four years now. Yours might be simple, and a one time, one event thing. You might need to downsize a home, and purge a lot of belongings. You might need to get a toxic relationship out of your life. You might need to stop being inactive and decide to give up sedentary time in order to take up those swim classes you always wanted to. Maybe you need to give up TV time to work at a hobby like writing, or knitting, or dancing . Maybe you feel you should go back to school and need to sacrifice an extra room at home in order to take in a roommate to afford classes.

Whatever you decide to do in regards to your purification or purge, may you be happy and enjoy the positive changes. Imbolc is a perfect time to clear away the old dust in the corners of our lives and ourselves, and open ourselves to the new life and positive changes the season brings.

Blessed Imbolc.

Blessed Be.

Imbolc Correspondences

January, 2016

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

Tink About it

February, 2015

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.

tink

 

 

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:

Ingredients:

  • 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!

tink2

 

 

 

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!

 

Blessings

Bardic Song of the Month

February, 2015

This month’s Bardic Song is called “Imbolc Song”. It is a simple tune that institues poetic license in that it doesn’t always rhyme.
When I initially created this song back in 2002, I never put words to it. It was created as part of a Witchy Lesson I had with a previous Coven. I was rummaging thru those old Lessons looking for something else and this song popped out of nowhere. I entered it into the computer and my Muse tapped my shoulder and gave me the words to coincide with this month’s Sabbat – Imbolc. I hope you enjoy the lovely melody line and the picturesque words and phrases that resonate with the Holiday.
As much as possible, all songs are created as a single page in pdf format for easier printing and reading. If you play the piano, these songs are simple enough to pick up right away. If you don’t have the musical inclination, an MP3 file is attached for easier listening and learning.
All songs for this and future monthly articles are published by the Blue Ridge Mountain Clan by Lord Fairy Bottom Educifer aka Wayne Minich, II. Any similarities to other songs is coincidental and not intentional.

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