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imbolc

Imbolc Correspondences

February, 2019

( Bringer of Light for Imbolc Limited Edition Print by Amanda Clark of Earth Angels Arts on etsy. )

February 1, 2

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

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

Gemstones:
Amethyst, garnet, onyx,
turquoise.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Element:
Earth

Gender:
Female

Threshold:
Midnight

Celebrating the Old Ways in New Times

February, 2019

Celebrating
the Old Ways in New Times For Imbolc February 2019

Bright
Blessings!

Oh
my, did the Winter Hag hit us last night. In Central Ohio we got I
don’t know how many inches of snow- which would be fine- except we
got solid ice underneath it first. I can’t walk my dog in certain
parts of the grass or we will slide away!

The
plows, salt trucks, and sidewalk clearing is in full swing. I only
had to shovel my front stoop, as a neighbor shoveled the walk before
our helpers got here. Not bad, but I am aching all over- as it’s
only 8 degrees, and my body revolts against the cold.

There
is ice frozen inside of our vintage 1970 windows, and I am wearing
double layers and sitting under a blanket, as is the dog.

The
cats are sound asleep, and while I have a cup of hot mint with black
tea, my husband has started his coffee ritual. We all know what that
means. Nothing happens before coffee!

There
is beef stew cooked already for supper, and we will probably make
some tacos as well. I am sore, exhausted, and I know it’s due to
the cold.

I
am one of THOSE people. This weather has knocked me out.

I
am more than in the mindset to think about Spring. I’m thankful we
are close to another turning of the Wheel, and I look forward to when
I can hear more birds singing, and I can see the thaw, and the
wildflowers poking through the forest floor.

Imbolc

Possibly
one of my least favorite Sabbats- because it is bloody cold, Imbolc
is both a blessing, and just another stepping stone moving us towards
warmer days, and the growing season.

Halfway
between Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox, it was traditionally
celebrated in Scotland, Ireland, and the Isle of Mann. In a nutshell,
the animals would be lactating, or producing milk, so people had a
feast, thanked their gods, and had a good old time.

So,
it was, and is a seasonal harvest type celebration, but it was so
much more than that.

It
was celebrating the goddess Brigid.

Ceremony
was used to ask her to come into the home to bless and protect the
people and livestock. Beds so she could accept hospitality would be
laid for her, and special foods set out. Everybody wanted the goddess
to come into their home and protect them and guide them into the
coming Spring.

Winter
is a scary time. Even today, ice can knock out electricity, and what
if you can’t even afford electricity? It’s cold! Reports of the
poor and homeless freezing to death are in the news every Winter.
Imagine how much scarier it used to be hundreds of years ago, and how
grateful people were for both the milk, and the thaw which heralded
the fact Spring would indeed come. The Wheel was and is turning
again, and people are very very happy about that.

The
Winter Hag

But
while Brigid might be a goddess of light and life, some would say in
Winter, she is her hag aspect.

She
goes by different names depending on what part of the British Isles
she is being talked about. For some, she’s Beira, and she washes
her plaid on the Loch until it is pure white, and she spreads it upon
the land, making snow. For some, she is called the Cailleach.

Beira
uses her hammer to make mountains and valleys, and uses her staff to
make it cold and wintry. She rules from November 1- Samhain, to
Beltaine- May 1, and she is VERY resistant to give over her rule to
Brigid, who rules from May 1- to November 1. Some even say she gives
power to Brigid as early as Imbolc although some say it’s as late
as Beltaine. Some say the early Spring snows are Beira’s way of
trying to stay in power!

In
many ways these stories express human beings way of trying to explain
seasons before modern science, but in many ways, they express the
duality of our own lives as well.

Light and Dark

Who
among us has never been a vivacious, lively person one moment, only
to endure a period of personal darkness, tragedy, or illness? Just
like the goddess.

As
for many of us the goddess IS the earth, these stories speak to us.
When it’s the warmer seasons, the goddess- aka earth- produces
abundantly. Like in our own lives, when all is well and we are at our
best, we are more capable, and get more done successfully. Likewise,
when we are sick, suffering, sad, or just upset, we are not at our
best, and fall fallow- like the earth, or the goddess in Winter.

As
my memory is not what it used to be, and I have done a LOT of reading
over the years, I cannot pinpoint exactly what stories express what I
am about to share.

But
I have read many stories about people hearing a knock at their door
in the night, and an old hag asks hospitality, sometimes just to warm
herself at their fire. In the stories, it turns out this is no
ordinary old woman, but either a powerful witch who blesses the
family if they are kind to her, or curses them if they are unkind. In
some stories, it’s the goddess coming for a bit of comfort.

The
moral of these stories is not so much to try and be rewarded for all
the good we do, but to remember those who are struggling, who need
our help.

Also,
you never know who somebody who looks to be a down and out old bag of
nothing actually is. Everybody is important and deserves comfort and
alleviation of suffering. Let us never forget there will come a day
when we, too may be that pitiful creature begging for hospitality.

The
Living Saint

One
of my personal heroes was Mother Theresa, who, to me, was a living
embodiment of the goddess. At a young age, she chose to work with the
poorest of the poor because she felt her god called her. Her Sisters
in Calcutta are world famous for their compassion and determination
to grant comfort and love to those who the World seems to have
forgotten.

I
used to read her books and just cry. She told stories about people
being carried in off the street with nothing. These people were
sometimes actively dying. Some of the people could only be given a
bed to lie in until they crossed the veil. Sometimes, their bodies
were not only filthy, but infested with vermin. The sisters would
patiently pick the worms off the people’s bodies, and thank their
god for the opportunity to “tend to Jesus in a distressing
disguise.”

They
drew this belief from the scriptures where it is said ‘I
can guarantee this truth: Whatever you did for one of my brothers or
sisters, no matter how unimportant [they seemed], you did for me.’

Mother
Theresa wrote about tending the body of Christ, HER god. She said by
doing for others, you touched, blessed, and tended the body of her
god.

NEVER
turn away the Goddess

I
saw the Goddess in her Winter Hag form at a grocery store this week.
She was in a “Distressing Disguise”.

She
was sitting by the door, waiting to be picked up, as many elderly
people do- and she had her nose and mouth wrapped, and her hands
tucked into the sleeves of her coat. I could see she had on no
gloves.

I
asked if she would like a pair of gloves. She said yes. I put my
gloves on her. I had initially walked past her, but something told
me not to. She was cold, she was alone, and I did not have time to
stay, but I had a pair of gloves to give her. I helped her into the
gloves, and she thanked me. As I walked away, I could feel chills,
and not because it was cold. I told my husband “That was The
Goddess.”

She
was old, bent over, decrepit, cold, and suffering. She needed a
little comfort.

Was
she a celestial spirit? No. She was merely a human being, but women
are the physical embodiment of the Goddess in the same way people are
the physical embodiment of the body of the Xtian god for people like
Mother Theresa.

Instead
of a Sabbat ritual, I have a suggestion, a plea actually. Would you
be able to find the time to tend to the body of the goddess in her
distress? Can you welcome the hag into your home and heart, and
celebrate her in her struggles as well as glorifying her in all her
splendor?

Saoirse’s
Imbolc Working

Keep
this as a regular practice, not just something to do for Sabbat. This
is not a ritual, but is a set of things to keep in mind. We all need
one another and sometimes forget, or don’t know how to ask for what
we need.

We
get caught up in our own lives and are busy with what we specifically
are doing and sometimes forget about the people who are not directly
IN our presence. Let’s face it, adulting is exhausting sometimes.
It’s not easy to remember everything. Try to train yourself to keep
an eye out for those who need your help. You can begin with a prayer
like this:

“Great
Goddess, she from who all life came, and to who we all return, Open
my eyes. Open my heart. Open my awareness to those who need me. I am
easily distracted by my own life. Don’t let me miss the call, or
misunderstand signs. Use me as your hands, that I may do all the
things you see fit. Use my voice to be your words so I may be as
comfort for those who are hurting. Use my arms to be your warm
embrace. Open my heart so I may take people in who feel nobody loves
them. Use me as your vessel that I may be a living embodiment of you.
So be it.”

  1. Set
    an intention to keep tabs on those who are sick, isolated,
    depressed, sad, grieving, old, or just alone. This extends to your
    loved ones who are overworked and do not have time for a social life
    as well. People who are easily forgotten because they are not nearby
    are the ones who need to be checked up on the most.

  2. Remember
    that YOU are sometimes the one who needs care or help. Do NOT
    hesitate to ask for what you need. We are in one another’s lives,
    and together, life is better. Be compassionate and patient with
    yourself. If you feel frustrated with yourself for whatever you are
    struggling with, ask yourself if you would be harsh with somebody
    ELSE struggling with this? Of course you wouldn’t! Remember to be
    healing, patient, and loving to yourself as well as others.

  3. Holiday
    time is especially difficult for those who are alone or struggling
    somehow. They feel like a third wheel at gatherings, and may forego
    attending for not only that, but if they cannot afford to
    contribute, they may feel embarrassed. Think of ways to make them
    feel comfortable coming, and reassure them.
  4. You
    may need to arrange transportation and take somebody home early.
    People who struggle may not be physically capable of staying the
    whole time. Make sure they know that is okay and they won’t be
    stuck trying to be presentable when they need to leave early.
  5. On
    the other hand- be understanding if they just need to skip out.
    Don’t make them feel attendance is mandatory. Let them do what
    they can do.

  6. Learn
    to listen. I cannot tell you how many family members of sick or
    elderly people I have heard spout off about “I JUST don’t
    understand Mom/Grandma/Aunt Ethel/ etc…” and literally complain
    about how said family member has some sort of struggle THEY don’t
    have, so they have no clue why ANYBODY does. As if said family
    member is willfully doing this to themselves, and is a GREAT
    inconvenience to the “normal” people. Learn compassion and
    empathy, or leave the care to somebody who has some. That is all.

  7. Make
    quality time with the goddess in distress. Don’t just go do
    errands and or appointments, aka “good deeds” or “duty”.
    While all of that is important, do not forget your goddess needs to
    be treated as a normal person and she wants to spend time with you.
    Have a cup of coffee and birdwatch together. Go for lunch. Go feed
    the ducks, or hit the movies. Enjoying life should not be forgotten
    just because the goddess is in distress!
  8. Don’t
    just do good deeds for the goddess in distress when it is socially
    acceptable to do so- like birthdays or Sabbats, or mainstream
    holidays. People need love and care year round, not just when you
    get a reminder because of the time of year it is.
  9. Give
    her gifts. I don’t just mean candles or incense lit on your altar.
    I mean give things to human beings who are struggling. Say you have
    an elderly neighbor who used to grow tomatoes, but can’t anymore.
    Give her some of yours from your garden as often as possible. Say
    you have a disabled neighbor who likes to go to the park. Take them.
    Say there is an old decrepit neighborhood stray cat. Give it treats,
    food, shelter, love, and take it to the Vet …unless you can find a
    way to have it adopted, of course!
  10. Never
    stop looking for a way to venerate the goddess through the lives of
    her creatures. There are opportunities constantly. Keep your eyes
    and ears open. Ask for guidance regularly, and then just remain open
    to her call and vice.

May
Imbolc bring new beginnings for you. May the weather be gentle, and
the Winter Hag spare you in the days before she becomes Brigid. May
the goddess appear before you in her splendor, and may you be aware,
and know what to do to help when she is reaching out to you in a
distressing disguise.

Blessed
Imbolc.

Blessed
Be!

***

About
the Author:

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

Lick the Sky

February, 2019

It’s Imbolc
And I want to
Lick the sky
Those fiery stripes
Must surely be
As sweet as sunrise ice.

The blackbird nods
Tail bouncing on the wall
Of a run down council house.
The Honda Prelude that
Cuts me up
Is a square assed snap chat
Of the past
And the wind turbine
Crazy in the cruel bite
Of winter’s last stand
Is a bright spark of
Future hope.

It’s Imbolc
And I want to
Grasp the earth
Bulbs tickling my cheek
With first new shoots
Reach out with great
Goddess hands
Surround the sky
And lick.

***

About the Author:

Mabh Savage is
a Pagan author, poet and musician, as well as a freelance journalist.

She is the author of A Modern Celt: Seeking the Ancestors and Pagan Portals – Celtic Witchcraft: Modern Witchcraft Meets Celtic Ways.

A Modern Celt: Seeking the Ancestors on Amazon

Pagan Portals – Celtic Witchcraft: Modern Witchcraft Meets Celtic Ways on Amazon

3 Pagans and a Cat Podcast Monthly Feature

September, 2018

3 Pagans and a Cat Podcast

Three Paths, One Journey, No Cat

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

**

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

 

August’s 2018 Podcasts

 

Episode 17: Building Your Book – Ritual and Spellcraft

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

 

Episode 18: Our Community – Bill Ehle

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

 

 

This Month’s Podcast Share from their Backlog

 

Episode 3: Wheel of the Year – Imbolc

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

 

Where Else to Find 3 Pagans and a Cat…

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

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

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

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

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

 

Remember …

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

***

About the Author:

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

 

Imbolc Correspondences

February, 2018

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

 

February 1, 2

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

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

Gemstones: Amethyst, garnet, onyx, turquoise.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Element: Earth

Gender: Female

Threshold: Midnight

 

 

The Bad Witch’s Guide

February, 2018

 

The Bad Witch’s Guide to Imbolc


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


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


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

 

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


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


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


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


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


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


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

 

Spell- Rite (You are Worthy)


You will need:


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


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


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


Light your candle and say


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


Then light your incense and say:


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


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


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

 

Brighid’s Healing Sword: Imbolc

February, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Smith’s Blade

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So Mote It Be!

 

***

About the Author:

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

 

The Inner Chamber, Vol. One

It’s Written in the Stars

Astrology

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The Inner Chamber, Vol. Two

poetry of the spheres

Qabalah

 

The Inner Chamber, Vol. Three

Awakening the Paths

Qabalah

 

A Year With Gaia

The Eternal Cord

 

Temple of the Sun and Moon

Luminous Devotions

 

The Magickal Pen, Volume One

A Collection of Esoteric Writings

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The Elemental Year

Aligning the Parts of SELF


The Enchanted Gate

Musings on the Magick of the Natural World

 

Sleeping with the Goddess

Nights of Devotion

 

A Weekly Reflection

Musings for the Year

 

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

 

Follow Robin on Facebook and on Instagram 

Celebrating the Old Ways in New Times

February, 2017

Imbolc 2017 for Celebrating the Old Ways in New Times

Bright Blessings,

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

Or is it?

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

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

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

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

Light it Up!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Spring Cleaning

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

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

Blessing the Earth

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

Saoirse’s Imbolc Garden Blessing Ceremony

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do not banish.

Put everything away.

May your garden be glorious and abundant.

Blessed Imbolc

Blessed Be.

Imbolc Correspondences

January, 2017

 

imbolc-goddess

 

February 1, 2

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

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

Gemstones: Amethyst, garnet, onyx, turquoise.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Element: Earth

Gender: Female

Threshold: Midnight

Imbolc Correspondences

February, 2016

February 1, 2

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

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

Gemstones: Amethyst, garnet, onyx, turquoise.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Element: Earth

Gender: Female

Threshold: Midnight

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