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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Imbolc

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

As the sun set on February 1st, Pagans everywhere began their preparations to celebrate Imbolc. This is an Irish word meaning “in the belly”, because lambs would be developing “in the belly” of the ewes (female sheep) at this time, waiting to be born in the spring. It is a fire feast because now we can truly see that the sun is growing stronger in the winter skies, and the days are getting longer.

But February 1st through 2nd (note: Irish pagans see the day as starting at dust the prior evening) is also sacred to the Celtic goddess known as Brigid or Bride. (The Celts were the tribes of people who eventually became the Welsh, Manx, Cornish, Scots, Irish, and people of Brittany). Her name means “Exalted (mighty) One”, as well as “Bright Arrow”. She is often seen as 3 goddesses in one, known as a “triple goddess”, because she had mastery over three things: fire and smith-craft, hearth and home, and poetry – which was thought of as magical, and born from the “fire” of inspiration. She is a goddess of fire, but also of water.

This may surprise you, but it is often true: for something to thrive, it needs a little bit of it’s opposite. The warmth of the sun (fire) makes things grow, but it can’t do it without the rain (water). The fire goddess Brigid is also goddess of sacred wells where people would go for healings. So that the goddess would remember them and aid their health, people would tie strips of white cloths, called “clooties”, to the branches of the trees surrounding the wells. It is similar to the way some Christians light candles before a statue of a saint in church, to be a reminder that their help is needed.

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs

Imbolc, though most often observed on the first of February, approximately half-way between Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox, is more than a a1sx2_Thumbnail1_Brighid.jpgcelebration of a day. Historically it marks the season of lambing and lactation in the ewes – the old Irish Imbolg meaning in the belly, and the medieval Oimelc, meaning ewes milk. In this respect, Imbolc is a season and the heralding celebration was often observed as much as two weeks before or after the beginning of February.

Living in a cold and wintery northern region of the United States (and this year Calleach is a formidable guest, brining with her deep cold and even deeper snow), I always have some difficulty getting into the spirit of Imbolc and Oestra. With temperatures below zero and the great likelihood that I will not see the ground without snow cover until well into April, the promise of spring is still a hopeful seed, closed tight, waiting for the earth to warm and the rains to come.

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Now, I know a lot of people like to tout Samhain as the pagan new year, but for me, my year always sort of starts on Imbolc.  I think of it as "time to make the doughnuts," in a way.  It marks the end of my hibernation.

This year in particular is going to be a very big one for me- it marks the biggest Witchcraft 101 class I've taught in ten years, and it also marks the last of that series I'll be teaching for a while.  For the last decade, I've dedicated myself to the education of witches in the basics, teaching everything from healing and conjuration to ritual practice and different models of deity work.

I've had a huge love for this work.  It has been the single most rewarding thing about my career- the ability to watch people come to know the wonder inside of them, to help them grow into gifts and strengths they didn't know they had.  It's been a blessing.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

Our Sabbats provide a framework of meditation and insight that can deepen and transform our lives if we pay them any serious mind.  Wiccan Sabbats have three dimensions, one links us to the universal cycles of the sun, another to our being people of the earth, and both take us to the experience of our own lives. Yule, Ostara, Midsummer (or Litha), and Mabon are our solar Sabbats. Brigid or Imbolc, Beltane, Lughnasadh, and Samhain are our Sabbats rooted in the earth. They reflect the agricultural cycles of Celtic lands and so immerse us in the experience and blessings of living in this world.

As light and darkness and the changing of the seasons form parts of an eternal cycle within which life takes place, so life itself repeats this cycle with birth followed by childhood, the vigor of adulthood, the slow decline of old age, and finally death, to be repeated again.  In the process beauty, love, and delight are brought into being and repeat themselves in endless variety. 

 I have always been most partial to the earthly Sabbats, rooted as they are in how we humans live in this earth I love.  As Yule ended the time of death honored by Samhain, soonfollowed by the end of the calendar year, now the first of our earthly Sabbats, Brigid, recognizes and honors the stirrings and possibilities of life inherent in the new year.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Gus diZerega
    Gus diZerega says #
    Thank you Rose. I liked it. It somehow reminded me of an adaptation of my favorite scene from Disney's second Fantasia. I do not
  • Rose
    Rose says #
    Very nice! I shared your response with Glenys. I think she'll like it.
  • Rose
    Rose says #
    Gus: I think yon may enjoy Glenys' work. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-mRiI2Nz2go a Pagaian ritual from Down Under.

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Celebrating the flowers

Imbolc, when the little snowdrops emerge from the earth, the first flowers, and the first sign that spring is on the way. Except if you’re dealing with floodwater just now, you probably won’t see them because they will be submerged. If you are a bit further north than I am, there will be no sign yet. People in colder climates can’t expect flowers at this time of year – my other half, who originated in Maine, continues to be perplexed by anything trying to grow at this time. Not everywhere has snowdrops, and not everywhere has winter.

There are no doubt a lot of Pagans out there who feel they should be celebrating Imbolc this weekend, because it’s the ancient Celtic festival marking the first signs of spring, and it’s here. Some will no doubt go out with scripts that talk of things which simply are not happening in their lives. I’ve done that myself. I stood in a hailstorm one year, trying to picture the gentle, generous spring maiden and her magical wild flowers, whilst getting cold, wet, miserable and confused. It was one of those key moments in my journey towards rejecting a dogmatic approach to dates and festivals.

As it happens, the catkins have been opening for a while now, and I saw my first snowdrops last week. The weather forecast is dire, and I do not fancy my preferred hilltop, in case we do get some of those predicted 150 mile an hour winds. I like to think the Druids of old had enough sense, and enough respect for the natural world not to be out in it unnecessarily when it might do them serious injury.

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Down to the Wire--Imbolc Eve Activities

So much to do tonight and wanted to share some of the prep--traditional and otherwise--as Imbolc rolls in.

In my world, tonight is Imbolc Eve (some of you may celebrate that tomorrow).  There's still tons to do to really celebrate, so here's a partial list.  I'm sure you'll find all sorts of things to add to it.

--Leave a treat out tonight for Herself and Her Cow as they go travelling through the world, imparting Their blessing. I usually leave a drop of whiskey for Herself and a small bowl of oats for the Cow.

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Imbolc ritual

There is so much transformational energy for this New Moon sisters! Where I live in the East coast of the United States we have been hurting from the Arctic winds and craving the warmth. So with that anticipation, I humbly gift you my Imbolc ritual. It is a four day ritual which starts tonight on the New Moon. Will you join me in these four days of ritual?

 

Ritual for Days 1, 2 and 3

 

-Start on the New Moon before Imbolc

-Choose whatever time works best for you. Close to or after sunset is recommended.

-I recommend setting up an altar to keep your jars in continued sacred space throughout these four days. A place where sunlight and moonlight will shine upon them is ideal.

-Materials needed: altar, votive candle, matches, small jar with lid filled with water for each participant, music player, 4-6 minute long song for meditation time

 

    • Hum while holding your hand to your heart to tune in to your body. For a group, you may put a hand to the back of the person next to you where their heart is. In a circle, hum together.

    • Welcome the directions & elements. You may do this however you feel called or comfortable doing so. Here is a simple welcome that I use for my New Moon Intention Circles:

        • Turning to the East, we welcome Air, freedom and the power of thoughts. Welcome Air from the East!

        • Turning to the South, we welcome Fire, sensuality and the power of action. Welcome Fire from the South!

        • Turning to the West, we welcome Water, emotions and the power of cleansing. Welcome Water from the West!

        • Turning to the North, we welcome Earth, grounding and the power of home. Welcome Earth from the North!

      • Welcome any Ancestors/Goddesses/Guardians

      • Light a votive candle & read the Imbolc Intention: “Imbolc--in the belly, Mother Earth pregnant with Spring and new life. What are we holding inside ourselves that we wish to see birthed this Spring?”

      • Play a song 4-6 minute long softly while  meditating on the question and holding your small jar filled with water. I recommend Shawna Carol’s Blessed Be.

      • Extinguish the votive candle.

      • Goodbye to any Ancestors/Goddesses/Guardians who joined you.

      • Goodbye to the directions & elements. Again you may do this however you feel called or comfortable. Here is what I use:

o    Turning to the East, farewell Air, freedom and the power of thoughts. Thank you and Farewell Air from the East!

o    Turning to the South, farewell Fire, sensuality and the power of action. Thank you and Farewell Fire from the South!

o    Turning to the West, farewell Water, emotions and the power of cleansing. Thank you and farewell Water from the West!

o    Turning to the North, farewell Earth, grounding and the power of home. Thank you and farewell Earth from the North!

      • Hum while holding your hand to your heart to tune in to your body. For a group, you may put a hand to the back of the person next to you where their heart is. In a circle, hum together.

         

Ritual for Day 4- Imbolc

 

-Choose whatever time works best for you. Close to when the sunset is recommended.

-Materials needed: altar, votive candle, matches, small jar with lid filled with water for each participant, music player, 4-6 minute long song for meditation time, divination tool you know how to use, paper, pencils/pens.

 

      • Hum while holding your hand to your heart to tune in to your body. For a group, you may put a hand to the back of the person next to you where their heart is. In a circle, hum together.

      • Welcome the directions & elements. You may do this however you feel called or comfortable doing so. Here is a simple welcome that I use for my New Moon Intention Circles:

        • Turning to the East, we welcome Air, freedom and the power of thoughts. Welcome Air from the East!

        • Turning to the South, we welcome Fire, sensuality and the power of action. Welcome Fire from the South!

        • Turning to the West, we welcome Water, emotions and the power of cleansing. Welcome Water from the West!

        • Turning to the North, we welcome Earth, grounding and the power of home. Welcome Earth from the North!

      • Welcome any Ancestors/Goddesses/Guardians

      • Light a votive candle & read the Imbolc Intention: “Imbolc--in the belly, Mother Earth pregnant with Spring and new life. What are we holding inside ourselves that we wish to see birthed this Spring?”

      • Put your chosen song on repeat so it plays until it’s time to extinguish your candle. Meditate on the intention and write down your answers.

      • Imbolc is also a time for divination- an in between time. Use the divination tool you have brought to ask, “What am I holding inside myself that will come forth this Spring that I’m unaware of?”

      • Hold your jar filled with water to your heart. Feel the energy of your Imbolc intentions held within it. Drink the water and feel it nourishing you. Supporting you in manifesting this Spring what will most benefit you. Take at least three deep breaths.

      • Extinguish the votive candle.

      • Goodbye to any Ancestors/Goddesses/Guardians who joined you.

      • Goodbye to the directions & elements. Again you may do this however you feel called or comfortable. Here is what I use:

o    Turning to the East, farewell Air, freedom and the power of thoughts. Thank you and Farewell Air from the East!

o    Turning to the South, farewell Fire, sensuality and the power of action. Thank you and Farewell Fire from the South!

o    Turning to the West, farewell Water, emotions and the power of cleansing. Thank you and farewell Water from the West!

o    Turning to the North, farewell Earth, grounding and the power of home. Thank you and farewell Earth from the North!

      • Hum while holding your hand to your heart to tune in to your body. For a group, you may put a hand to the back of the person next to you where their heart is. In a circle, hum together.

         

So sisters that concludes the four days of ritual leading up to Imbolc. If you choose to use the rituals above, I would love to know if anything came up for you. I am sending so much love and light your way during this time of gestation. Blessed Imbolc!

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  • Molly
    Molly says #
    Thanks, Paola!
  • Paola Suarez
    Paola Suarez says #
    Thank you Molly! I was inspired to share my ritual by your posts from your personal blog where you did the same. I felt brave enou
  • Molly
    Molly says #
    I wondered about the humming! It works very well!

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs

b2ap3_thumbnail_jpc-brigid500.jpg

(Brigid speaks:)

May you accept this offering of my Sacred Fire. 

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  • Molly
    Molly says #
    Loved this! Thank you!
  • Joanna Powell Colbert
    Joanna Powell Colbert says #
    Thank you Molly! You have a lovely blog.

Posted by on in Studies Blogs
Imbolc and the Inner Child

               Often we find ourselves speaking about wanting to embrace magic in our lives, about wanting to reconnect to that sense of joy and wonder that we remember having in childhood, about reclaiming that excitement and exuberance that is so evident in the very young. Often we speak in terms that indicate all these experiences are kept in some faraway place: in memories of times so long ago. And in some ways this is true, but it is also a place that is very much within reach.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Prayers for Imbolc: Beloved Brigid

 

In preparation for Imbolc, I pored through the Carmichael material in the Carmina Gadelica and adapted some prayers for the season.  Here they are--

Brigid Dark and Bright

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  • Byron Ballard
    Byron Ballard says #
    Now, that's an idea...in my copious free time. Thanks, Diotima.
  • Diotima
    Diotima says #
    You should probably just re-write the whole damned C.G. from a goddess centered perspective and be done with it. Yours is a big im
  • Christopher Blackwell
    Christopher Blackwell says #
    The Druid author Morgan Daimler already has done that in her book By Land, Sea and Sky. http://tinyurl.com/mjykmk4 I have intervi

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
An Imbolc Idea

This winter has been a harsh one thus far, to say the least. Rather than resist it, the best tactic for coping might in fact be facing it head on. Provided that February 2 does not fall into dangerous windchill temps in your neck of the woods, I recommend a meditation by skiing. Cross-country, that is. I will never forget the Saturday afternoon back in high school that I cross-country skied to my best friend's house across a barren cornfield. The weather conditions were ideal. The sun was out and making the snow on the ground glisten. It was warm enough that I could eventually unbutton my long overcoat. I was listening to Pink Floyd's, "Dark Side of the Moon," on my walkman. If that dates me, I don't care. The experience was paradisiacal. 

 

Even if you don't own a pair of skis, there are usually inexpensive options for a daily rent at a supply shop. Or if you are a member of a nature center, such as the Urban Ecology Center in Milwaukee, you may check out a pair for free with your membership. Find your ideal deserted woodsy setting– preferably something straight out of a Robert Frost poem, and get skiing. If you opt for music, your really can't go wrong with the afore-mentioned Pink Floyd. Otherwise, choose something instrumental and soothing that you can clear your mind to. Karen Drucker also has some lovely selections off of her "Songs of the Spirit" CD that could help focus your meditation to the Goddess. Besides clearing your mind and enlivening your soul, your body will get a great workout. If opting for no music, tune into the sounds of wildlife creatures, the swish swish of your skis gliding along at a steady pace, and the occasional soft plump of falling or melting snow. Breathe in deep and let the fresh, clean air open up your lungs. Let the gratitude of being healthy, outside, and able to still enjoy these things fill your heart.

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Celebrating Light, Celebrating Life, and all things Inspiring

 

I dream the Goddess a little girl

                                        Happy in yellow daffodil

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs

    Bloodtime

b2ap3_thumbnail_January-2014-045.JPG

    Moontime
    Dreamtime
    Darktime

    thinking time
    resting time
    knowing time
    hearing time
    listening time

    openness

    flowing
    knowing
    transforming
    becoming
    whole…

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  • Greybeard
    Greybeard says #
    Good article. I've long embraced endarkenment rather than the fluffy bunny enlightenment path.

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 

b2ap3_thumbnail_cowslip.JPGUpon my first flush of dedicating myself as a witch, the very first sabbat I celebrated as a solitary practitioner, before I had found my coven, was Imbolc. I had done enough reading of neo-pagan literature after poaching the stacks in my local town library and I was keen to get my Wheel of the Year on. Bright eyed, and very bushy tailed.

It was most of a decade ago now, but I remember the little ceremony well; it involved a small paper clay boat with a ram's head that I had carved and fired, dipped in a golden butter-coloured glaze that seemed to perfectly suit my purposes. In the boat I placed some offerings for the sabbat; there were some white chocolate dipped raspberry licorice bullets, some sprigs of red geranium, and a splash of strawberry port from a berry farm in the south. I 'launched' my boat into my front garden which had been freshly planted with some baby rosemary and sage and protected with moonstone which glimmered in the early morning sunlight. I burned candles and meditated and felt a flicker of something that has stayed with me and returns every August. My practices ever since then have always been as eclectic, and sometimes just as elusive: but the whimsicality and solemnity of the ritual permeates my memory.

The return of Spring is not felt with obvious sign or herald in my home country as it is in other lands. The climate here is Mediterranean and warm most of the time, and the temperatures on a sunny August day could possibly be mistaken for a heatwave in some Northern Hemisphere climes. This year, thankfully, we have received some rain and Winter feels like she has finally 'arrived' after a long, and dark, wait. There is certainly a change to be felt in the air, though. A Quickening. The land stirs beneath my feet with a note of potential that was not there before, and the feelings of dormancy have been banished as the downhill push into warmth begins. Nights will be cold, if not the coldest, of the year, but there is still a sense of 'spring' under the earth and birds begin to be a little bit more noisy than usual. The rains have freshened the landscape and weeds and winter grasses are flourishing with abandon. Very soon, the land will burst forth with every colour of the rainbow as if the rainbow snake of ancient dreaming has pierced some crystal somewhere and has shattered into a million pieces and scattered across the land. The magic will sing again, but until then, we wait. And watch.

Photo credit: Cowslip orchard from Western Australia, retrieved from http://ournomadicways.blogspot.com.au/2011/10/wildflowers-of-wa-part-3.html

Further reading: Imbolc in the Southern Hemisphere

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  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    I appreciate the metaphors. Happy Imbolc to our Australian friends!

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Imbolc Spread: The Well and the Forge

This coming Saturday, February 2nd I am celebrating Imbolc. This year I believe our group is focusing more along the lines of the healing and water aspects of the goddess Brid (Brigid), but last year our sabbat used the dual aspects of Brid as the keeper of the well and forge (water and fire).

Respecting the dual aspects of the Well and the Forge, I have created a simple two-card tarot spread. Imbolc is an excellent time for divination, so I hope you use this spread during this time!

1st card: The Well: What situation do you need greater compassion in? Healing? Emotional empathy?

2nd card: The Forge: What situation do you need more drive in? Aggression? Force of will?

Let us not forget that the realm of fire can purify just as well as destroy, and water can destroy just as easily as heal. Please feel free to use this tarot spread as a jumping off point for your own personal tarot spread creations.

Blessings, and Happy Imbolc,
Hilary
www.tarotbyhilary.com

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  • Janet Boyer
    Janet Boyer says #
    Excellent points about Fire and Water, Hilary. In Tarot, I think many (women?) tend to castigate the masculine suits (Swords and W

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Leaving the Bhrat in the Yard

I'm one of the facilitators for a day-long Brigid retreat on Saturday and am priestessing our Mother Grove public ritual that night.  What that means in practical terms is that my car is full of boxes and cloutie trees, and the dining room table is also covered with material for one thing or the other.

Have you been spending the week getting ready for this lovely holy day, those of you who honor it?  Have you cleared and reset your altar?  Put some oats and whiskey out for Bride and her white cow?

The thing I almost forgot was the bhrat--that length of cotton cloth that goes out onto the Earth tonight to catch the dew or the rain. I use cotton because it's easy to rip into clouties or cut into squares for healing work.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
An Imbolc Gathering

Imbolc is an introspective time of year. Many "I" words come to mind for me: introverted, inside, inquire. If you do not already opt for a solitary ritual on Brighid's special day and would like to mix things up a bit, I would keep the numbers small. An intimate gathering with a few close pals is in order.

 

If you don't have access to a fireplace to build a cozy one in your home, I am a big fan of lighting many white candles in the main area that you will be entertaining. Line a mantlepiece with several small votives and use a larger candle for the table centerpiece. Keep the lights low and make use of your dimmer switches in other rooms.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Imbolc, with the Littles

As you may have gathered from my recent post, I rather love the upcoming holy day and the Divine whom it honors. I want to share with you some of the fun Brigid things we did as my daughter was growing up.  Some of it is old lore made fresh, some of it is new.  I don't know the difference any more--it is all so deeply ingrained in my knowings around this coming of Spring.  I shan't give you sources for what I do, except that I do them and have done them for many years.

Imbolc is a wonderful time for children and there are many ways for the Littles to be involved.  On the night before Imbolc begins (which we celebrate as a three-day festival), Brigid travels the wide World, accompanied by a Cow.  She brings blessings to children and to pregnant women and She has many places to visit.  Those good children who love Bridey know that before bedtime they need to do three important things.

First, they must set out a little bed for Her to rest upon.  We always made one from a shoe box.  We'd roll up some soft batting and tuck a cloth napkin around it.  A lace handkerchief made a pretty pillow and a thick cotton washcloth looked much like the cotton blankets we had on our own beds.

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  • Byron Ballard
    Byron Ballard says #
    She's extraordinary...so many tales are attributed to Her, so many wonderful traditions. I also use the time of Imbolc in its gui
  • Pumpkyn
    Pumpkyn says #
    I have recently began reading the book "Candlemas, Feast of the Flames" by Amber K, and Azrael Arynn K. Have you read this book?
  • Pumpkyn
    Pumpkyn says #
    Wow, those are wonderful traditions to share with little ones. I will definitely have to incorparate some of those into my own tra

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Gold and Red..Imbolc is Coming

We spent part of the afternoon at Mother Grove rearranging the entry room--a tiny space I call the "lounge." We moved the coffee-and-tea tables onto another wall and covered them in some plain black fabric. Looks sleek and modern.

Since there were several of us playing interior designer, a couple of us started stripping the main altar and replacing tealights on the other three.  The Ancestors had been exiled in their niche, covered with a black lace veil with no candles or wine or treats and it was also time to open up their area and fill their goblet and out a little something sweet on their plate.

It's time now to move all the Brigid stuff from the South altar and honor our gold-red Woman.  We're big on our Bridey at Mother Grove--She's one of the reasons we decided to work on creating a Goddess temple here.

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