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Imbolc - Welcoming Brighid, welcoming Spring

The word Imbolc stems from the older Celtic Oimelc, which means "of  milk" or "in the belly". Traditionally it was a time when the ewes from the sheep flocks began to lactate, having just given birth. This was an incredibly important time for our ancestors, as the winter's stores would be running low and the fresh milk available would provide nourishment and sustenance to get people through until the first crops began to appear. Fresh butter, cream and cheeses could be made to supplement the restrictive winter diet. Imbolc occurs around the beginning of February, if we are working with the traditional gestation period of the ewes. Nowadays, farmers have the sheep give birth at times that are more convenient; for example, a few villages over, one farmer has his lambing season during the Christmas holidays, as that's when he and the rest of his family are home and can help out.

If we are following the calendar, the dates for Imbolc are 31st January to 1st February. As the Celtic day began at sunset, we start the night before. Imbolc is often confused with the Christian holy day of Candlemas, which occurs on 2nd February. No doubt this was intentional, in order to compete with the beloved Pagan celebration of the lambing season and Spring.

Imbolc is a holiday that is dedicated to the goddess Brighid. She is so entwined with the season and the time, that most traditions honour her in some way during this festival. She is the goddess of poetry, smithcraft and healing, and is also often seen as a goddess of Spring. She is the sacred waters of the wells and springs, and the sacred flame tended first by nineteen priestesses, and then later by nineteen nuns dedicated to her in the guise of St Brighid. In Wales, Brighid is known as Braint, and is connected to the river Afon Braint which floods around this time every year. [1] The name, Brighid, has been adapted all over Britain and Europe, and indeed Britain is named after her, in the form of Briganti (Romanised to Brigantia). There are also myths that link the goddess Brig with the Spring in the form of the maiden, who alternates with the winter goddess the Cailleach. At Imbolc, the Cailleach drinks from a sacred stream, or makes her way to the seashore before dawn, and there transforms into the young maiden, Brigid. Other myths tell of Brigid immersing a white wand into the mouth of winter, which awakens the earth and brings in the thaw.[2] Brighid's name might also come from the Gaelic Breo-Saighead, which means "fiery arrow", and many modern-day devotees of Brighid see this as her aspect in the flow of awen, the fire in the head of the poet and artist as well as the returning light of Spring. For those who celebrate Imbolc by the signs in the vegetation, it is when the first snowdrops appear, pale white and green against the stark greyness of winter.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

Tapestry is a long-running and respected CBC Radio program that looks at different religions in Canada.  As far as I know, this is the first time Wicca, or any Pagan faith, has been featured on the show.  I thought it was worth sharing!

Listen here:

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Recent comment in this post - Show all comments
  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    Thanks for sharing! I'll definitely give this a listen in the near future.
Happy Yule from The Holly King (free gift)

This time of year is pure magic. The days grow shorter, the crops are all brought in and processed for the long winter ahead, and family and friends are pulled close.

We appreciate you for serving the Goddess with us, and for bringing us joy, love, and growth in the previous year. We gift you this greeting card as a way to help show how much we appreciate you, and all you do each and every day.

The Holly King brings you and yours gifts of love and prosperity this holiday season, as you make your way through the long night of winter. You may download and distribute this card to anyone whom may be deserving of your love this season.

This is also the time of year for you to remember the institutions that serve you, and need your contributions to survive. If there is a group in your life that fills this need, take the time to show your support. If the Aquarian Tabernacle Church is one of those organizations, consider making a charitable donation.

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Embodying the Graces by Skyfae LaVeau

One fateful day, after Lammas Monologues, hosted by the Aquarian Tabernacle Church, I gave my permission to be cast as a Grace for Spring Mysteries Festival 2017.  Little did I know, how demanding, and how rewarding this role would ultimately prove to be.

While I cannot give many details about the journey of Spring Mysteries, because it is something we all must experience for ourselves; I wanted to share my journey as a cast member for this intrinsic and profound experience.

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A Full Moon of Samhain Ritual to Remember

The candles were lit, the incense smoking, and the bells of the church ringing in the still night air. Friday night is the practice night for the village bell-ringers, and so our ritual was accentuated by their skilful tones. The moon was riding high in a hazy sky, and haloed with an ever-widening ring that spoke of the Otherworld.

We raised our boundary, which was to the whole of the property, and called to the realms of Land, Sea and Sky. We honoured the ancestors at the full moon of Samhain, as well as the spirits of place. We invited the Fair Folk who were in tune with our intention, as they have been a part of our rituals since we began. We sang to the four quarters, and then invoked the gods. We invited all who were harmony with us this Samhain night. This was our first time in invoking the god into our full moon ritual, but it felt right. How right, we were just about to discover.

We honoured the tides of Samhain, the winter months of darkness. We then performed our magical working at the fire, and gathering our clooties: ribbons of intention that we tie to the branches of the apple tree at the bottom of the garden every month. Walking back to the terrace where the bird bath, now a sacred basin of water reflecting the moonlight, served as our vessel as we drew down the moon into the water. The church bells rang in time to our working, and stopped just as we finished. The air was utterly still.

Suddenly, a loud bark sounded from the other side of the hedge, down the track a little ways. A fallow deer stag, wandering the moonlit night. We stopped and turned to the noise, and he barked again, this time a little closer. We looked to each other and smiled, feeling blessed by his presence. Then an enormous bark, just the other side of the cedar boundary, which made us all jump. He was right up against the hedge, near the little hole that the muntjac, fallow deer and badgers made.

And he was trying to come through.

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grab your wallet: how vegans exemplify consumer advocacy

 b2ap3_thumbnail_Gandhi-greatness_of_nations.jpg

In today's political climate, I've noticed more and more folks talking about consumer campaigns around "grabbing your wallet" when you disapprove of certain individual or industrial practices. I think this is great. It reminds me of the activist magic at work behind veganism. Every single one of us votes with our consumer dollars in one way or another. Veganism is one example of a "boycott," in the sense that we are grabbing our wallet and refusing to pay for certain practices. The concept was popularized (though not invented) by Gandhi as non-cooperation with an oppressive group or practice.

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Lughnasadh and the State of Grace

Lughnasadh is upon us, and the farmers are anxiously looking to the skies for a few clear hours when they can harvest their crops of wheat in my area. It has been a hot, dry summer, and of course, just when the harvest is due to come in we get changeable weather with rain showers every day; not ideal when you need to gather in a crop like wheat totally dry, or else it will rot. So just like our ancestors, we look up and hope and pray for some dry weather, and for the farmers, that they’ve rented the combine harvesters on the best day for it, and not when it's going to dump it down halfway through their work.  

Things are unpredictable in life. It's just something that we have to accept. With a little grace, we can face the problems and triumphs, the highs and the lows with equanimity. Grace is a word that is little used today, but one which I think is important, and one that I've been trying to live each and every day.

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