imbolc

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:

  • 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

Celebrating The Old Ways In New Times

February, 2015

Bright Blessings!

Imbolc in upon us. One of my favorite Sabbats.

It originated in Pre Christian times when there was milk because lambs had babies and it was time for a feast!!!!!!!!!!!

And believe it or not, in that hard frozen ground…first signs of Spring appear. A few birds return, buds appear on the trees, and for many of us, cabin fever creates an eagerness for warm weather.  Seed companies in modern times anticipate this, and send out their catalogues, and stores begin stocking up on gardening supplies. If you are like me, you buy everything you can! As a matter of fact, a seed catalogue came in the mail for me yesterday, and I simply cannot put it down!

At Imbolc, life in brewing within the earth, and will burst forth in a matter of weeks after MONTHS of cold and fallowness. It is a good time to plan for the return of the growing season and an even better time to enjoy the last month or two of winter and the deep introspection it brings.

Like the earth, we hold many ingredients for newness and change and growth.  If you are earth based and you cycle with the seasons, you already slowed down after Samhain. Perhaps you wander the stretches of nature year round, and observe how active the critters still are in wintertime. You see the plants die back, but their dried branches, berries, and leaves are still eaten by deer and birds even as the ice storms ravage the land.  The odd squirrel can be sighted and geese pop out from time to time en route to elsewhere. The earth too is moving, rustling in the wind. Ponds and creeks freeze and unfreeze. Streams creep along or stop. Once the trees lose leaves, you see father into the forest to where ravines you were unaware of lie and sometimes, when you are walking a trail, you can HEAR, absolutely HEAR a hissing from the snow as it compresses upon itself.

Nothing smells quite like the air does in wintertime. Sweet, crisp, and smoky. Not like the smokiness of falltime, or the summertime campfire smoke. But winters sweet smokiness is the smell of fallen leaves after all the life has shrank out of them and their spent bodies lie on the ground, protecting the earth and tender new life within it. It is out of all this nothingness and decay that everything will come.

While you wait for Spring, why not take advantage of the powerful energy from this nothingness, which is the source of all life to focus on your own growth?

Or those things within you brewing , that have yet to take shape and become form, and that are waiting to come out and be? Some folks spend more time at home in wintertime, and have had time to think about things they want to do when weather warms up.

If there is one thing I have learned about human beings, it is that we are always changing. Even people who consider themselves creatures of habit. Our bodies and the things we do change even if we don’t realize it. If there is something else I have learned about us humans, it is that we want things. We want new experiences and to enjoy them. For some, it is improving their favorite things, or finding better ways to continue experiencing them, and for others, it is going on new adventures.

Whatever it is you have brewing inside you, Imbolc is a good time to pull the ingredients together and start the “activation” process.

First, a little history of what the Sabbat was in past times, and then suggested ritual!

The goddess Brigid, later Christianized into Saint Brigid has long been the deity of this Sabbat. Not being a devotee of Brigid, myself, I however have been in her presence. It was about four or five years ago when a woman who is a devotee of Brigid did a healing well ritual invoking the goddess. Brigid was THERE, and touched us all even though the officiant was the only devotee of hers. There was not a dry eye in the house that day.

Brigid, from what I experienced is a goddess of mercy and healing. She is one of the high matrons who was mother not only to entire peoples , but to other gods.  Different forms of her name were used by different cultures of peoples and worship of her lasted for centuries. So great and important was she, that I believe many of her merciful, and compassionate traits were absorbed into Catholicism not only as making the goddess into a Saint, but her characteristics went into veneration of Mary, mother of Christ. Catholics cannot do without their great mother.

Some say  all the gods and goddesses are reflection of one true god and one true goddess that exists that people view in different ways. One need only talk to Kali Ma as opposed to Minerva to see they are not one and the same.  Rather, in seeing how many forms of the same name exist, views of goddesses like Brigid may have evolved as cultures changed and people were influenced by neighboring religions. Same goddess, different cultural characteristics, and different spelling and pronunciation of her name.

Different names for Brigid are  found in different Celtic regions. To be lazy, I found an excellent list in the Wikipedia article about her name variants…’

Brighde/Bride is Scottish

Fraid is Welsh

Brigindu is Gaullish

Brigantia and Brigantis  is from Great Britain

Brigantia is also Gallician and Gallicia has another spelling of her name, which is Braga

Braganca is Northern Portugese

Bregenz is Austrian

Sacred wells and eternal flames were tended by her devotees, and Catholic Nuns continued this practice.

One of the most famous sites is the Cathedral to Saint Brigid in Kildare, Ireland. The Cathedral began near 480 a.d. with the settling of nuns and construction of a humble building. Brigid was the head nun who was so highly regarded, after her death, a shrine and new building went up. It was destroyed many times, and by the late 1600’s, the building was redone almost 20 times.

It was officially consecrated in the 1200’s, and up until the 16th century, a “firehouse” temple that originated in pre Christian days was maintained.  It was ruined after the Protestant Reformation and Irish Confederate Wars of the 1600’s. There was much breaking away from Catholic influence after this time, and reconstruction, without the firehouse was completed from 1875 to 1896.

Interestingly, this illustrious num, Saint Brigid of Kildare patronized the same things as the goddess Brigid. Some  of the things St. Brigid patronized included milk, poetry, and blacksmiths. As St. Brigid was also seen to be merciful, she patronized some of the people who were looked down upon and who suffered greatly including abused children, and the poor. More similarity to the goddess- St. Brigid of Kildare’s feast day is Feburary 1, Imbolc.

The Saint became Abbess and Abbesses preceding her from her order for many years were regarded at superior generals of monastaries in Ireland. Even the Episcopals recognized them.

Many miracles of healing, charity, and defending the defenseless against cruelty have been attributed to this Saint.

Naming Christian children after Pagan gods and attribution of the gods characteristics to Saints is just one way Christianity helped unknowingly keep Pagan traditions alive.

Backing up for centuries before Christianization, the beloved, and well-used Mound of Hostages provides evidence of the sacredness of this time. The inner chamber aligns with the sunrise both Imbolc and Samhain. Long believed to be then markers for beginning of winter (Samhain) and beginning of Spring (Imbolc). Imbolc was about the fires of new life and fertility.

The fires in the home were extinguished and the ashes were consulted for signs that the goddess had visited in the night. An image of the goddess was taken from house to house the next day to bless the homes, and inhabitants. Like St. Brigid, who watched over children, the goddess tended an eternal flame that protected herds and people. Healthy herds meant food for the folk. Healthy folk meant more babies. More babies meant the folk endured.Brigid, keeper of the sacred flame was the protector, and giver of life.

In my research for this, I discovered that although it was deemed too Pagan, and the flame was extinguished in the 1600’s, it was relit in 1993 by the Brigidine Sisters.

It still burns.

The Fire Temple was also rebuilt on the grounds in Kildare. It was constructed where it is believed the original stood, and while that flame is not kept burning at all times, fires are lit there for special occasions. You can read more about this wonderful group and the fire sites at www.brigidine.org

 

On doing ritual for this Sabbat.

Many of us do not leave candles or hearth flames burning 24/7 in our homes because we have central heating and air conditioning and we don’t want a house fire!  Many neo-Pagans do not follow the goddess Brigid either. So the tradition of extinguishing a hearth fire and looking for signs of the goddess and then inviting her into the home may be a fitting rite for some Pagans, but not for everybody.

But the powerful energies of life brewing is what can be harnessed by everybody. I do not recommend an exciting, cool, very ethereal working for this. But a plain old, bland, boring list making session you light one candle for and a bit of journaling, and a lot of footwork.

Why?

Because I believe magic is not just spell slinging. I believe it entails active work on our part. I have seen people say a prayer or “put it out there to the universe” when they wanted something to manifest, and that worked. I am of the mind, however, that the times that all is required is making a wish to get results are few and far between, and I think it is up to us to try and be proactive in bringing about manifestation of what we want.

The operations for simply putting a request out to the universe are as simple as writing the desired outcome on paper and burning it and releasing the ashes to the wind or leaving libation to a god or goddess and asking them for help. If you want to preface my suggested ritual for Imbolc with this, go right ahead. I think everybody has to do what works for them, but I suggest also following up with action.

Ready?

Get paper, plenty of it, and pencil with eraser. Get a candle you can light multiple times over the course of a week or two if needs be. You may well be sitting down with your list more than once while you are deciding what you want and just how to go about getting it. Shut off your cell phone and music and tv, and sit comfortably in solitude someplace where you will be undisturbed.

Light your candle and take a moment to gather your thoughts before you begin.

Then start writing about what change you want to manifest in your life. Be as specific as possible, keeping in mind that you can be as lofty with this initial writing session as you please.Take as long as you need, and when you have finished, extinguish the candle and go do something else. Wait a good twenty-four hours before revisiting this list.

Sit down undisturbed and light that candle again. Repeating use of the same candle for this consecrates it and links it to this working. Use of a single notebook or a stack of papers kept in the same folder can establish this link , too. These are your ritual tools for this. As you write on the papers, save them. Number the pages or put the date you began on each page so you can refer back to your progress.

Now is time to revise. Maybe you put a complete overhaul changing every aspect of your life and you are just not looking to tackle that much at once. Maybe you want something that is just not going to happen. I am sorry to say, but sometimes, we have to accept that we just cannot have everything we want. Try to whittle it down to a single thing you want to focus on and that you feel is attainable.

Get a new piece of paper, and do a mission statement of sorts starting with “I want…”

For example, “I want to eat healthier this year because I want my overall health to improve.” Or even , “I want a higher paying job.” Or even, “I want to break off/ start a new romantic relationship. “ Short and sweet, and not too much to focus on. The more simplified and specific, the more time and energy you can effectively focus on that and the faster you can be successful.

Extinguish the candle and wait another twenty-four hours. If you have to work on this mission statement over more than one session, that is okay. Once you have your mission statement, start again in a quiet place where you can be undisturbed and light that candle and take out that notebook or folder of papers.

Next you are going to examine that goal and think of three things you can do to accomplish it. By now, you might have found yourself thinking about your goal outside the quiet time you spent writing. You may be driving home from work, or at your workout, pondering things.

Your list may be something like this.

“I want to eat healthier this year for my overall health to improve.

Three things I can do to work towards this are:

Give up eating dessert and stop putting sugar in my coffee and tea.

Take a multivitamin every day to get more nutrients in me.

Give up soda for good, and instead drink at least eight glasses of water a day.”

Extinguish the candle. Put your mission statement and three goals someplace where you can see it.

Twice a week, light your candle and write at least a paragraph about your progress. In a month evaluate your success. Revise and redo as necessary. Some goals are long term, and some practically instantly accomplished.

What I just listed about eating healthier is actually my list. I started doing these things a month-and-a half ago and I am proud to say, I have not faltered. BUT, this is a long term project. If I drink ONE soda, it does not mean I have failed, but if I do one every day, I need to try harder. And I am not assuming I will never have a dessert again for as long as I live. I am just one of those people who “can’t eat just one” and I have seconds and thirds and I like sweets all day long every day. Going on a sugar fast to get the cravings under control was literally, a gods-send. But I know myself well enough to know that if I am not vigilant, I will fall back into the habit of being ruled by sugar addiction, and I will never be healthy that way. So this list is one I will have to adhere to for my whole life.

We all want better things in life and positive changes, but as Pagans and witches in general, we sometimes forget to add mundane action to our quest for improvement or acquiring what we want. I am not suggesting an end to spellwork. Goodness, no! I am simply suggesting that in addition to spellwork, we do footwork. As a matter of fact, I suggest footwork and spellwork always be combined.

Have a blessed Imbolc and may you bless yourself with accomplishing new goals. And wish me luck, my dears…because I had a dream last night I was eating a candy bar. (Don’t tell my husband on me!)

Blessed Be.

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.

Acts of Power for Sabbats

February, 2015

Acts of Power for Sabbats – Imbolc

 

There are so many different types of Acts of Power (Magical Activities) you can do within a Sabbat Ritual – after you have created Sacred Space, Cast a Circle and Called the Quarters… Each Act of Power is usually geared to the specific Ritual theme, whether it’s an Esbat, a Sabbat or a specific Ritual. Ultimately, the Intention behind the Act is more important.

 

I would like to share an Act of Power we use in the Coven for our Imbolc Sabbat. We call it “Banishing the Winter”.

 

Quite simply, we make paper snowflakes. After folding and cutting them, each person opens them one at a time to divine the different shapes and figures that reveal themselves within the snowflake. It’s amazing the things you can see within the paper snowflake after cutting and opening it. It is similar to reading Tea Leaves, except it’s a snowflake…

 

Second, we ball the snowflakes and have a paper snowball battle. It releases the tension that cabin fever can bring… And paper snowball battles are relatively safer indoors. Oh, the frivolity it alludes!!

 

Last, we take each snowball and burn them in the Cauldron to “Banish the Winter”. We recite the following incantation over the paper snowballs before we burn them:

 

“Awaken, O slumbering Earth.

Bring us Joy and bring us Mirth.

The long Winter’s Sleep lingers still.

Cold nights decreasing

And warmer days increasing.

Cease ahead the cold Winter’s chill.

Banish the snows traditional,

Until the need arises next Yule.

So Mote It Be!!”

 

I hope that anybody who likes this specific Imbolc Act of Power shares their interest. Obviously, anybody who uses it has the option to augment it to their desire as it is given without interpretation. This is an AoP that I conceived many years ago and has always been successful and fun.

Imbolc Correspondences

January, 2015

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, 2014

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

The Witch’s Cupboard

February, 2014

Blessed Imbolc!

Pathworking for Imbolc includes some of the following:

*    Go for a holiday walk.  It can be short or long, whichever you like.  See if you can feel the impending season.  Imagine, as you walk, what activities are occurring under the soil.

*    Clean house.  Physically first, then psychically, magically.

*    Make a list of things you would like to plant in yourself, and keep the list in a place you will remember.  Add to it between now and Ostara, whenever the mood strikes you.

*    Light candles for yourself and your loved ones, saying prayers and sending them light ad color symbolizing that which they most need or want to come into their lives.

*    Make some candles.  One can make hand-rolled ones from sheets of beeswax (they’re easy and quite beautiful), poured candles (this requires a mold—see what kinds of molds you can make from inexpensive items around the house), or you can ever try hand-dipping some.  You will need to heat your wax in a deep vessel—I suggest a large coffee can, and have another can nearby with very cold, or even iced water.  You will start with only a string of wick, perhaps a foot and a half long, divided in half.  Dip both ends in the wax a few times, then dip them into the cold water to set the wax.  Be sure to keep the ends from sticking together.  Repeat the above (it will take some time), until they look right to you.   Remember to dip in and out of the wax quickly, or you’ll melt off what you’ve just dipped.

*    See your healers, and give your body a “tune-up.”  You’ll feel better, more energetic, more able to let in the light and energy that is growing so rapidly this time of year.

*    Purchase some small (I call the “seed”) crystals, and think of what you will program into them, so that you will be ready to “plant” them at Ostara.

One of my favorite activities is to plant seeds that will be open by Ostara.  Take a container of soil and perhaps some Nasturtium seeds, 9 in all (which grow fast) and make a wish with each seed you plant.  A wish for the upcoming Spring Equinox.  Once the seeds have germinated keep in a sunny window and watch them grow, then blossom.  Nasturtiums are edible so come Ostara you can throw them into a nice garden salad. 

Here’s some information on Nasturtiums:

The entire plant is edible…leaves, flowers, stems, seeds, and all. I consider nasturtiums a spicy green, and grow them in my garden as such. Add the leaves and flowers to any green salad, stuff the blossoms with an herb cream cheese, or chop them and add to pastas for a delicious addition to any meal. During the mid 20th century, people used nasturtium seed pods as a replacement for pepper. We can still do this today! All you have to do is wait for the seeds to dry and then grind them in a coffee grinder (I have one that I use specifically for herbs). Note: Make a yummy herbal seasoning salt by adding ground nasturtium seeds with other dried kitchen herbs from the garden.

Nasturtiums are nutritionally dense, as their leaves contain significant levels of vitamin C and iron. Medicinally they are known to be useful in breaking up congestion of the respiratory system and they provide excellent relief from colds. Likewise, nasturtium is said to encourage the formation of blood cells and can be given as a blood purifier and detoxifier. When preparing for a harvest, remember to choose fresh leaves and flowers that show no sign of browning or withering.

Pair Nasturtiums with other edible early spring flowers such as Violets, Pansies and Cover tops for the ultimate in edible flower salads!

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