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Celebrating the Old Ways in New Times

February 1st, 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.

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.

Lughnasadh on the Mountain

Some years ago my Druid sister, RhosynTan and I combined our two training groups to celebrate a Lughnasadh camp out on the mountain. Our theme was the funerary games for Lugh’s foster mother.

We secured the site for the weekend and charged our grove members $25 per adult (14 and under Free). This covered the campsite, fees, munchies, dinner and dessert for Saturday night and breakfast, lunch, dinner and more munchies for Sunday.

Lug1

RhosynTan and I worked on the “games” that the men would participate in for over a month. The fun part was taking some traditional games (boar hunt, axe throw, horserace) and modifying them fit the various ages within the group (20’s to 50+). We also wanted a couple of things for the kids to do. The best piece we created was the five-and-a-half foot tall Wickerman.

On Saturday, people were to arrive by 5:00pm to say hellos, set up their tents and go over last minute ritual preparations. Our opening ritual to honor Lugh and Rhosmerta, began just as the last light faded from the sky. For us dinner is part of ritual so there were lots of hearty eating and toasting to our Celtic god family. As part of the meal a loaf of homemade bread was passed around for everyone to tear off a chunk to see who would get the boon coin in his or her chunk of bread. They could use this coin to ask a special favor from Lugh & Rhosmerta.

Lug2

After dinner there were poetry recitations, music and storytelling. The night ended in toasting marshmallows, making Smores and stargazing.

Sunday morning, we greeted the sunrise with hollers and shouts and then made altar offerings and blessing followed by a huge hearty breakfast.

The kids games began mid-morning and consisted of whacking a Sun piñata and ‘feeding’ the Daghdha (a painted picture of the Daghdha on a cardboard box with his mouth cutout for the kids to toss plastic fruit into). They had a blast!

In the afternoon it was time for the ‘Manly Studly Games’ to begin for the men to show off their masculine prowess. For each man who won a game, they were awarded a colored ribbon tied around their bicep. The one with the most ribbons at the end of the games would be crowned as the Sun King. The women were encouraged to shout, clap and make catcalls to the men. The games went as follows:

The Foot Race (sorry but we didn’t have horses available to us) was up a hill where the men had to untie a ribbon from a tree and race back to the finish line.

Next was an Axe throw, closest to the center was the winner. Have to admit there were a few wild throws.

The Stone throw to see who could throw the heavy stone the farthest. This one got a little dangerous, coming to rest against someone’s ankle, but all was good.

The Bow & Arrow shoot. The men had to shoot an arrow though the Yoni of the Sheila-na-Gig.

Lug3

The final contest was the Boar Shoot. Which consisted of a boar drawn on foam core board with the kill shots (heart & eye) drawn on the boar. Each man was given 3 darts. Winner was the one closest to the kill shots.

Before we announced and crowned our Sun King, we held one game for the ladies. We had a ring toss game where the ladies had to toss a ring around the Wickerman’s penis (a large red ear of Indian corn). Now it was time for all the men to hoot and holler and they did!

The winner of the manly games was crowned with a cornhusk crown. He was gifted with an ale tankard and a handmade leather pouch filled with symbolic items He was then given a floral chaplet and told he could choose from any of the women to be his Queen. After strutting around the area, checking out all the women, he opted to crown his girlfriend (in my opinion, a wise choice).

Lug4

We, each in turn, approached the altar and asked blessings from Lugh & Rhosmerta before closing our ritual.

We had our final community meal together, cleaned up the camp, packed our tents and said farewells to each other. What an amazing time we all had.

Blessings of Lughnasadh to all of you.

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.

Bright Blessings!

Lughnassadh is upon us.

Already, those of us who garden have been proudly plucking things from branches, vines, and stems, and bringing them to loved ones to share. In our garden grows tomatoes- OF COURSE- blackberries, cucumbers, snap peas, potatoes, mint, lavender, sage, thyme, nasturtiums, cabbages, blueberries, and PLENTY of flowers as well. Snap peas, our herbs, blueberries, and nasturtiums have already been picked, and shared, and enjoyed. The cabbage leaves are folding into themselves nicely to form little purple balls that will grow huge by fall. We are waiting for the greens to die back, indicating the potatoes are ready to pull from the ground. Already, we have dozens of tiny, jewel like tomatoes that grow larger every day. I’ll be planting more seeds so we can have another crop of radishes and snap peas.

All over the British Isles, this time was celebrated as first harvest. Depending on where you lived, offering of whatever was grown was used in rituals. In England, the offering would be wheat, whereas Irish celebrations would include offerings of the first corn harvested.

Since food was central to the pre-Christian Pagan celebrations, I’d like to write a little about Lughnassadh history, and discuss some of today’s magical uses of food.

Lammas andLughnassadh

Last year’s August Article focused on Lughnassadh and the Irish traditions and their history. So, this year, I will write about Lammas, which is English, instead.

For Neo Paganism, of course, Lammas, or Lughnassadh is the first of the three harvest festivals, the other two being Mabon and Samhain. Today, we celebrate with modern Sabbats and gatherings of oftentimes storebought goods for potlucking. But in ancient times, the English in particular did things differently at this time.

What was Lammas?

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle referred to this time as the feast of first fruits, and specifically, celebration of the wheat harvest. Midsummer began the hay harvest, which winds up to a finish just before the wheat harvest starts. It is speculated that there may have been wheat shortage close to the time of Lammas- as the last year’s wheat ran low, so new wheat was a big deal.

Sometimes, the very first sheath of wheat cut was separated from the rest of the harvest and individually processed and baked into a special loaf of bread. The bread would be used magically to place in the four corners of the building used to store the wheat, in belief this protected it. After Christianization, people would take a loaf of bread baked from the first wheat to church. It was used at the communion for that service, thanking their god for the harvest.

In the 1500’s, it has been recorded that a bit of secular pageantry included the men who had worked the harvest dressing in costumes, driving the carts of wheat around, asking for money. The carts would have been decorated with ribbons and made to look absolutely beautiful. Harvest celebrations included a feast- and it is the European harvest festivals that further developed into Thanksgiving in America. As with any harvest pre-industrialization, food could be salted, dried, canned, or pickled, and eaten at a later date. But the fresh produce would be cooked into elaborate dishes and enjoyed at the festivals.

Until the 20th century, it was considered bad luck to cut the last sheath of grain, so people would race to see who could complete their own harvest first. Sometimes, the very last stalk or sheath was harvested by people taking turns tossing blades at it.

After Christianization, people might have changed deities, but the harvest celebrations continued. First, Lammas was turned into the feast day of when St. John the Baptist is believed to have been rescued from prison by an angel. Beginning in 1969, it changed into the celebration of the life of a different Saint- one who was seen as a reformer, who freed the Catholic Church of some of its excess, reworking not only policies, but also seminaries. He suspended Priests who tried to say Mass in just fifteen minutes, and sold his carriage and ecclesiastical ring to help the poor. You might imagine this made him unpopular with other Priests, and when advanced age and illness set in, he was kicked out of the very church he founded! It is fitting that a most holy feast day of being thankful for the beginning of harvest is now one seen as a day to remember one of the people who worked to police the clergy and advocate for the poor.

Food is Magic!

At this time of food harvest, I think it fitting to explore also the ways we use food as magical tools in our lives.

Sometimes, we think of magic as being something you have to take a lot of time to study and prepare for before doing an operation. While magic certainly can be, it can also be something as simple as saying “bless you” when somebody sneezes, or saying a healing prayer silently while stopped in traffic as an ambulance to goes by. Like the ancient English would simply break bread in four pieces to place it in the four corners of the barn holding their harvested grain, we do simple things every day we don’t even think about and we use food to do it.

Aside from blessing food in ritual or eating certain foods at specific Sabbats, witchcraft using food is a practice that is alive and well in modern times- and not just in Pagan communities.

Blessings All!

How many people have you seen say a prayer before they eat? The magic words of the prayer are supposed to thank whatever god/ess the person worships, and a blessing of the food is asked. An even nicer addition I have heard over the years is when people say , “And may god bless the hands that prepared this food.” In my tradition, we bless our foods ourselves as opposed to asking a god/ess to bless it for us- and I am not supposed to eat anything unless it has been blessed. It is believed by some that food itself can have unclean energy in it and a simple spiritual cleansing of a prayer cleanses it and this cleanses your body.

Along with this concept is that of food taboos. Certain foods are considered unclean by some. Very famous is the Jewish and Muslim prohibition against pork. But some refuse to eat any animal products at all because they believe it is cruel and sinful to kill and ingest another living creature.

Gather Round , One and All

The simplest form of magic that food is used for is to bring people together in fellowship. Food has the ability to get people to come to things they otherwise would not attend. People might be grumbling, but if you say “Refreshments will be served”, people will come out of the woodwork from all directions.

Birthdays, weddings, wakes, or even business team building lunches are well-attended and everybody welcomes the chance to sit down and eat. Food helps relax people, quell hunger, tastes good, and makes people stay at the gathering longer, and thus more communication happens. I used to dread the monthly quality assurance meetings I had to attend when I was an Activity Coordinator on a Skilled Rehab Unit. However, I always looked forward to the free pizza and salad they catered for us to eat when our kitchen was not laying out a dazzling spread. It also gave us opportunity to host to our M.D. who was responsible for our Resident’s care. It made me happy to see him wolfing down the good food, because not only was he a good doctor, but he was a good person. He used to sit and play piano for our residents even though that was not his job. I don’t really remember all the frustrating arguments that took place at those meetings, but I do remember the food. That was just a way to sweeten the mandatory attendance at a very unpleasant meeting every month.

Specialty breads and cakes

Think of one thing that is used at a lot of rites of passage- a cake or special bread. Think of what is in it oftentimes- it’s the basic sugar, flour, butter combination. Three ingredients that deliver energy very fast, and not only taste good, which makes us happy, but is extra special when it is made just for you and your occasion.

At a Macedonian wedding reception I attended, breads were baked at home by family members, and a special ring dance was done in which everybody took turns dancing with the breads, putting in well-wishes for the couple. Some of the breads were kept for the couple only, and other bread was broken up and everybody at the reception got some. I was floored because these people are all modern Christians and they were using ancient magical practice- which I refer to as witchcraft, to wish the bride and groom well- as if their dance would ensure a successful marriage. The breads were made from a specific recipe, and probably made in the same pans the bride or grooms grandparents made their parents wedding breads from. Handkerchiefs that had been made by a great grandmother and had been used at many other family gatherings were also twirled by dancers- thus consecrating and unifying the family even more. I was very pleased to see this tradition kept alive in modern times. (But I did not tell anybody they were doing witchcraft! ? )

That Warm Welcome

Food is also used to make people feel welcomed and loved. My Mother was a Christian, but she was a witch- although she did not know it. One of the things she understood intimately was the enchantment food held over people. If you feed people, it almost always endears you to them. Mom was a homebody even before she became disabled- and she especially loved it when she got visitors. The first thing out of her mouth to a visitor- which she taught me to say also was- “Can I get you anything to drink?” She kept LOTS of drinks stashed in her fridge. And a TON of ice. AND lots of soda, most especially Coca-Cola.

My grandmother also kept drinks for people- Coke and Pepsi as well, because not all the grandkids preferred Coke, and not all preferred Pepsi. Unlike my mom, Granny always- until she was too old to do so- kept a pot of coffee going all day long until after dinnertime. This was both because her last husband loved coffee, and so she could have plenty on hand whenever anybody wanted some. As a result, whenever I smell coffee or see cold Coca-Cola, I automatically feel relaxed and welcomed. Some might call this psychological conditioning- but I call it magic.

If you do things like this, your visitors know they won’t be thirsty and will be comforted, and if they know you have a variety of drinks, including their favorite, that makes them feel special. This will make people want to keep going back to see you- which is exactly what Mom and Granny wanted!

At my house, we don’t always have something in the fridge- but we DO have a nice stash of teas. I also have doilies, a lovely teapot, or mugs and bagged teas for people who don’t want the fuss of loose leaf tea prepping. I find tea to be more relaxing that sodas, but I offer coffee as well. Sometimes, you want a cold drink, especially if it is hot- but sometimes, even in Summertime, a hot drink soothes the nerves. Herbally, I keep either chamomile or lavender in the house as well, for their relaxing properties, and of course, I have plenty of caffeinated concoctions for when people are tired and need a pick-me-up!

I Can Keep You Very Well!

In modern times, a courtship ritual when somebody wants to date you is they will take you out to eat- buying you a meal. A lot of young ladies like the idea of a man spending a lot of money to treat her to a fancy restaurant. This is done to show the man can afford to support her well in a relationship. While relationships have changed, and most people now live in two earner households, this tradition is one that is not died out.

Always on My Mind!

Remembering people’s dietary restrictions or their preferences can also be used as an enchantment to endear you to them. Unless you are like me, and have to ask for reminders- which all my friends understand- remembering what people can and will eat will make them feel closer to you.

I used to know a very hard to please lady- one who I actually don’t miss…because she was SO hard to please. But during the time I knew her, she taught me a very valuable lesson through all of her complaining. MANY times, I listened to her tell the story of the time she went for Thanksgiving at a friend’s house. Now to me, when somebody invites you to join their family for Thanksgiving, it’s an honor, not something to gripe about afterwards, but this lady felt otherwise. She said it was her worst Thanksgiving ever because there was NOTHING at the house she could eat. She had anxiety driven self inflicted food restrictions which meant she could hardly ever eat anything unless she, herself prepared it. A lot of people just did not bother to invite her to eat, but I had her give me a list of her food restrictions- and I can’t remember if it was two pages or five pages, but it was an absolute tome. I memorized it and fed her on numerous occasions. More than once, she told me I was one of the only people who ever had things she could eat. The fact I remembered what she would eat was one of the things that held us together,

Pass the Recipes, Please!

Recipes, too, are magical. I never understood the desire to keep recipes secret or only in the family. But apparently, this makes a lot of people feel it is more special that way, and for them and theirs only. This works very well for some people because it helps solidify family ties and strengthen that sense of family identity.

In my family, there were no secret recipes- but the women developing their own variation of basic things their mother, my Granny had cooked. For example, Granny used Lipton’s onion soup mix in her meatloaf, whereas Mom abhorred it and used spaghetti sauce instead. I liked both, and developed my own variation which is somewhere in between, but using ingredients neither did. Rather than sticking with a top secret way of doing a recipe and not changing it, the cooking tradition I learned was to experiment and make the recipe your own. Each generation thus contributes to a living tradition that is ever changing, and that is very magical.

Don’t Eat the Fairy Food! Or DO!

In lore, it is said some people refused the food placed before them by the Sidhe. This was out of belief that if they ate fairy food, they would never be able to leave that realm. This is because those foods bestowed immortality- but when the kidnapped person returned to the world of men, that wore off and they would immediately turn into a very old, and dying person. Immortality is what some thirsted for and they wondered, why would you ever want to leave such a good thing behind? However, in some stories, this was actually not a good thing. One account tells us a man was transported to what he beheld as the very splendid realm of the Sidhe, and he PRETENDED to partake of their wine they gave him, but instead just watched them. After a few minutes, he saw that the splendor he had initially beheld to be but an illusion, and the attendees were horrifying, and some were actually just dead, decaying bodies. He escaped and returned home safely.

When a fairy wanted to become human, he or she need eat only mortals food, and thus became such! If a human being wanted the Sidhe to work for them, they would leave them food- oftentimes, bowls of cream.

Magically, lore would tell us, the foods we eat in fellowship with others makes us all become one with each other, mortal and immortal alike. Seeing how people identify their families and cultural groups through things including foods shows that this magic works.

Tantalizing Aphrodisiacs and Love Spells!

If you want to be really sneaky when you are attracted to somebody, you can use aphrodisiacs and aromatherapy to try and sexually arouse them. It is said that lavender, pumpkin pie, oysters, chili peppers, avocado, chocolate, honey, bananas, coffee, and watermelon, are just some of the foods said to also be aphrodisiacs. This is definitely magical! Now, as for love spells with food- I never do love spells. I believe somebody should love me on their own, or they can hit the road…but I’ve used aphrodisiacs on occasion.

A whole other take on witchcraft with food is PUTTING substances in the food you feed to people. It’s a very easy way to get some energy inside the person to get them to act favorably towards you. While I’m not going to put a drop of my blood or urine into somebody else’s food or drink, I think this article I will share article is absolutely worth reading for educational purposes. In this article also are some opinions from people who feel witchcraft is wrong or not valid at all. I disagree with this. I have done a lot of successful spellwork. Although I do agree with the suggestion you communicate rather than just casting a spell if you are having relationship woes.

http://www.newvision.co.ug/new_vision/news/1313399/witchcraft-women

Charge the Food!

Other things you can do is to just charge the serving plates, utensils, the dining table, or the very foods themselves with your intentions. Say you want somebody to hire you for a job and they just happen to be coming for dinner- chant over the food, table, or serving ware to help influence the person to hire you. You don’t even have to use any fancy ingredients for that. You can write your intentions on paper, placed under the plates or taped to the underside of the table. You can also write your intentions on a piece of paper, and burn it, letting the smoke from the burning paper blow over the cooking ingredients, being careful not to let the ashes fall into the food of course…or you COULD let a little of the ashes fall into the food!!!!! The food can just absorb the energy of your thoughts.

Remember in Like Water for Chocolate, the heroine of the story is forced by her cruel mother to cook the wedding feast for her sister who stole and married her lover? Everybody got terribly sick after eating the food, because the heroine had wept into it, and her agony seeped into it. Bad things can absorb in food that way- but goodness, so can wonderful things! Why else do you think “mom’s food” prepped with the exact same ingredients tastes better than when you prep it?

You Can Add and you CAN Take Away As Well

One thing I had forgotten was fasting and purging as means of purification. This is considered more worship, but this ritual practice is a magical one. How many people do you know who say they “practice clean eating” as if certain foods will dirty up their nice, pure bodies? The view that certain foods bless and others defile is a universal belief, but nobody seems to be able to agree on which foods are good and which are bad. Shunning pork and animal products have already been mentioned, but fad diets as a means of trying to purify the body are magical in nature as well.

I remember when nobody would touch carbs because of the Atkins diet craze, and after that nobody would touch any sugar. Soonafter, artificial sweeteners became the “great satan”, and anything non organic is considered the epitome of filth in some circles. Some who have no health reason to shun gluten do so because it is trendy to believe gluten is bad- and then there are those who are doing the paleo diet, claiming it is better for us, because our ancestors ate it. Yet they forget that the Paleolithic period began two million years ago, and ended ten thousand years ago with the agricultural revolution. This added farming to our lifestyles which brought about more variety in our diets, which increased our health and longevity. I always say that it must be really nice to be rich enough to be able to afford such self inflicted dietary restrictions!

Fasting before mass or shunning certain things during Lent has been a Catholic practice for generations. A ritual fast may be for short term deprivation as a sacrifice to a god, like during Ramadan, or to induce what some call visions, but what medical science calls hallucinations from food deprivation. It is said the aesthetics the Buddha studied with practiced extreme fasting, but the Buddha believed too little food was as bad as too MUCH food and that neither was good for people.

As far back as ancient Mesopotamia, people have been purging through induced vomiting or enemas- mixed with herbs- to expel what was believed to be evil spirits or witchcraft they believed had been snuck into their food.

People do this because they believe certain substances will damage or defile the body or spirit. But certain things also can bless and heal the body. This is done through good energy, and focusing love into food- which anybody can do, even if they don’t consider themselves a very powerful witch!

Aside from these ideas I have shared, I have a suggested working for the Sabbat!

First Harvest Favorite Foods Celebration

For your Lammas or Lughnassadh celebration, you don’t necessarily need to harvest your own corn or wheat and use it in the meal and as gifts to the gods. What you can do is have a potluck where everybody brings one of their favorite foods. But do this with a twist…have each person bring a dish that is not only one of their favorite things to eat because they especially like the taste- have them bring a food that has a special story to go along with it. Have everybody take turns sharing their story. Instead of casting circle, stand in a circle to do this and begin with the person who is at the east and move clockwise to tell the food stories. Instead of a formal blessing of the food, each person should focus happiness, joy, and the good things this food makes them feel, and the hope that the people eating the food will also experience that happiness.

To keep with the tradition of the gods feasting with the people, have each person put a little of the food they brought on a plate. They then pass it to the next person who will in turn put a bit of their dish on the plate, until a little of everybody’s food is on the plate. Then hold the plate up, and say something like “Together, we offer this to the gods of our hearts and lives. Look down upon the harvest of our joys we share with one another, and partake of this with us. We thank you for the good things, good people, and good experiences we have in our lives. Blessed Be!” Set the food at a place of honor at the table or at your altar- wherever you feel is the best spot to give to your gods.

Then eat!!!!!

Blessed First Harvest!

Blessed Be!

 

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

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