Happy Imbolc 2014!

Our coven actually had to reschedule due to a storm rolling in tonight, but I’m looking forward to celebrating a few weeks from now once we can all get together again.

I hope you had a wonderful Imbolc and lit a candle for Brigid, the eternal blacksmith.  Brigid has always been a favorite of mine because she turns gender roles on their heads.  As someone who views herself as sort of… genderfluid, it’s nice to get some support from the literature.

Genderfluid, by the way, is when you feel like you move easily between the two main genders.  For me, that’s definitely the case.  Sometimes, I am all woman, but other days, I dress, feel, and act like a man.

Ah well.  Enjoy your weekend!  Throw a snowball 😉

Lynn

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Imbolc: A Western Winds Solitary Ritual

If you’re going to use this ritual, PLEASE read through it and grab the materials you need.  Especially the magic working part. I don’t want you to be mid-circle and get disappointed because you forgot something.

Circle Preparation

Prepare ritual space by setting up altars, placing lighters, etc. When ritual space is ready and all materials are where they need to be, exit the room to cleanse yourself.  Take a bath or shower, ground, and center yourself.  When you are ready, return to the ritual space and begin.

Take up your water-bowl and hold it to the sky.  “O body of water, I, ____, cast all impurities out from you and bless you in the name of the Lord and Lady.”

Set the water-bowl down, and pick up your salt-bowl, raising it to the sky.  “O body of earth, I, ____, cast all impurities out from you and bless you in the name of the Lord and Lady.”

Take a pinch of salt with your athame and add it to the water bowl, stirring three times deosil if the moon is waxing, and widdershins if the moon is waning.

Traverse the circle in the appropriate direction with the salted-water, sprinkling around and within the circle to cleanse the area. At the end, sprinkle some of the water on yourself, too.

Take up and light the incense.  “O, body of air and fire, I, ___, cast all impurities out from you and bless you in the name of the Lord and Lady.”

Traverse the circle in the appropriate direction with the incense, wafting the smoke around and within the circle to cleanse the area.  When you have returned to center, waft some of the smoke over yourself, too.

Place the incense down and pick up your athame.

Circle Casting

Return to the eastern gate, and traverse the circle clockwise, drawing the circle with your athame.  “I, ____, cast this circle to be a boundary between the realms of god and the worlds of men, a container and witness to the magic we create inside, blessed and protected.”

When you have returned to the east, draw the pentagram from the eastern point (start at middle right point, go clockwise), saying, “Hail, guardians of the watchtowers of the East, powers of air, I, ____, call you to witness and guard my rites.”  Light the candle.

Turn to the south, drawing the southern point pentagram (start at lower right point, go clockwise), saying, “Hail, guardians of the watchtowers of the South, powers of fire, I, _____, call you to witness and guard my rites.”  Light the candle.

Turn to the west, drawing the western point pentagram (start at lower left point, go clockwise), saying, “Hail, guardians of the watchtowers of the West, powers of water, I, _____, call you to witness and guard my rites.”  Light the candle.

Turn to the north, drawing the northern point pentagram (start at center left point, go clockwise), saying, “Hail, guardians of the watchtowers of the North, powers of earth, I, _____, call you to witness and guard my rites.”  Light the candle.

Return to your altar, facing north.  Draw the invoking spirit pentagram (start at top point, go clockwise), saying, “Hail, above and below, powers of Lord, Lady and ancestors.  I call you to witness and guard my rites.  Be with me now.”  Light your center (spirit) candle.  “The circle is cast.”

Set your athame down.

God Invocations and Statement of Purpose

Cross your arms over your breasts.  “Hail, Lord Hunter! You who are known as Dagda, and Pan, and Hermes, and Cernunnos — be with me now to witness my rite and lend your strength, love, and power. Blessed be!”  If you have a god candle, light it now.

Raise your arms into the air.  “Hail, Great Lady!  You who are known as Brigid, and Cerridwen, and Athena, and Artemis — be with me now to witness my rite and lend your creativity, inspiration and healing.  Blessed be!”  If you have a goddess candle, light it now.

“This circle has been cast to celebrate Imbolc, the time of great coldness, when the sun is beginning to show its face a bit more each day.  These are the tough times, before the planting of the fields, and the beauty of spring.  Yet, even in this perpetual darkness, there is transformation.  Even now, in the cold, dark winter, there are young bucks beginning to grow their antlers, birds beginning to make their journeys home, sheep bearing their children.  A young god plays and learns and begins to truly shine in all of his glory.  Brigid, her smith burning bright, crafts through the night, answering prayers, and wishes, and creating beauty in this world.  I come tonight to celebrate Imbolc and begin my own transformation and spiritual journey.”

Meditate for a while on what in your life needs to be repaired, healed, and transformed.  What can the powers of creativity and inspiration that Brigid offers bring to your life?  What actions and sacrifices are you willing to make in order to induce change in your life?  When you are ready, continue.

Magic Working

“Hail, Brigid!  Please bless me with your healing powers.  I am currently struggling with _____, and need your advice and healing.”

Write what you have spoken on a small piece of paper and burn it in a fire-safe container, using your center(spirit) candle as the ignition point (if it is safe, obviously).  In this way, you have passed your intention to the universe.  Think of one word to represent what you have asked for, and save that for later.

“Hail, Brigid!  Please bless me with your inspiration.  I am currently struggling with ____, and need your museful touch.”

Write what you have spoken on a small piece of paper and burn it in the same fashion.  Think of one word to represent what you have asked for, and save it for later.

“Hail, Brigid!  Please bless me with your powers of perseverance.  I am currently struggling with ____, and need your motivation and courage.”

Write what you have spoken on a small piece of paper and burn it in the same fashion.  Think of a word to represent what you have asked for.


Headaches sigil example

 

On a final piece of paper, draw three large squares and divide them each into nine boxes.  Assign a number to each box, either randomly or in order.  Write your one word for each blessing that you have asked for over each box.

Inside each box, write the letters associated with each number below:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
A B C D E F G H I
J K L M N O P Q R
S T U V W X Y Z _

 

Now, in a different color, draw a circle in the number box that represents your starting letter.  Draw a line to the point of your next letter, and continue this way until you reach the end.  Finish your sigil by drawing a perpendicular line to the point you ended at.  If you have a double letter, loop through the box to represent hitting that letter twice.   See the example above to get an idea of how to do it.  You may need to draw your symbols a few times before finding a design that you like.  

Do this for each of your words until you’re comfortable drawing the symbols.  Then, arrange them so that your healing sigil is at the top, and your inspiration sigil is to the bottom right, and your perseverance sigil is to the bottom left, forming a sigil triangle.  Draw the triangle around it, and then draw a circle around that.

This is your Brigid magic.  If you have the means, through glass etching, wood burning, or leather working, or even carving or painting on a stone, you should transcribe this symbol onto an amulet or other semi-permanent medium as a reminder to achieve the goals you are working towards.

Cakes and Wine

(I always do cakes and wine inside circle, but some people do it after).  Return to your altar and raise your offering plate of cakes.  “The first and best to you, Lord and Lady.  May you never hunger.”  Place an offering onto a different plate, then take a cake for yourself and take a small bite, repeating, “May you never hunger.”

Raise your chalice.  “The first and best to you, Lord and Lady.  May you never thirst.”  Pour your libation into a waiting bowl, then sip from the chalice and repeat, “May you never thirst.”

Circle Closing

After you are done meditating and doing any other prayer work or crafts you desire, you can close the circle.

“Thank you, Lady, for joining me on this day.  Go if you must, but stay if you will.”  Extinguish the goddess candle.

“Thank you, Lord, for joining me on this day.  Go if you must, but stay if you will.”  Extinguish the god candle.

Draw the spirit banishing pentagram with your athame (start at top point, go counter clockwise).  “Thank you ancestors, lord, lady, and spirits, for joining me on this day.  Go if you must, but stay if you will.”  Extinguish the center candle.

Move to the east.

Draw the eastern banishing pentagram (start at center right point, go counter clockwise).  “Guardians of the watchtowers of the east, thank you for guarding my rites and lending your power. Hail, and farewell!”

Move to the south.

Draw the southern banishing pentagram (start at lower right point, go counter clockwise).  “Guardians of the watchtowers of the south, thank you for guarding my rites and lending your power. Hail, and farewell!”

Move to the west.

Draw the western banishing pentagram (start at lower left point, go counter clockwise).  “Guardians of the watchtowers of the west, thank you for guarding my rites and lending your power. Hail, and farewell!”

Move to the north.

Draw the northern banishing pentagram (start at center left point, go counter clockwise).  “Guardians of the watchtowers of the north, thank you for guarding my rites and lending your power. Hail, and farewell!”

Return to the east, and slice the circle with your athame.  “The circle is open but never broken, merry meet, merry part, and merry meet again.”

 

Imbolc: Part Two

Expressing your spirituality.  What an odd concept for those of us who have been hiding in closets all of our lives.  I’ll skip the moaning and groaning about not being mainstream for now – we’ve all done our share, and we have all heard it before.  On a brand new college campus, I haven’t really scoped out the existence of any of “us”.  As far as I can see, its mostly “them”, though I’ve heard there are a few of “us”.  In any case, here are some ideas for some nice, calming, non-boisterous attempts at connecting with the Great Mother and her aspect, Brigid on the upcoming sacred day.

  • Walk – simple?  Absolutely.  But taking a walk – a walk designed purposely for observation and intentional connection with the world around you – that is a walk that can be full of spiritual implications.  Look up, look down.  Do you see the ants’ nest you almost stepped on?  Look for plants or animals that stick out – does it mean something?  The skies and seas and in between are full of signs just waiting for you to interpret.
  • Sunrise – Watching the sunrise can be exceptionally poignant on Imbolc, the time when the sun is finally beginning to make some progress in the wintery world.  If you live in the North or far from the equator, it may be difficult – don’t put yourself in a dangerous or uncomfortable situation on snow or ice.
  • Make Something – pick a goal – and then make a representative of it – be it an amulet or something else.  Brigid is the ruling goddess, the goddess of the smithy – you may find your hands work better than normal or you experience a creative surge as you go about your day.  Don’t be afraid to pick up a piece of wood and start carving it.  If you have a rare opportunity to visit a metalworker – go for it!
  • Action – the most important part of this holiday is taking an action, symbolic or useful, towards creating change within your life.  The power well is there, *USE* it!  Take a run, if you want to lose weight.  Begin your meditations on dance, if you want to learn about the subject.  Take the time to create that positive change in your life, and you may find that the rest of the days within this year flow easier.

Remember as a witch, or a pagan, not to get down when others go about their days and you want to shout at the top of your lungs, “It’s Imbolc!  Time to Celebrate!”  You can tell people, invite them to acquire the knowledge about our sacred day.  But a lot of times, at least, I find myself with a secret smile as I go about my day – today is a day which I have decided to set aside, make special.  Its that secret joy harbored within which has driven us solitaries for the duration of our lives, that sense of secrecy which has allowed to craft to survive and flourish.

Enjoy!!!

Imbolc: Part One

Sort of a short post today, as I’ll be running back and forth for the beginning of the semester.  I am now situated in New College, an extremely small, public honors college, the only one of its type in Florida.  Two days from now is Imbolc!

Imbolc has always held a special place in my heart, mostly because what it represents is such a powerful image.  It is the height of the cold.  But it is also the sunrise, the beginning of the sun really starting to make a difference in its rising power.   The image that always comes to mind is the sun’s first break over a line of evergreens, snow slowly beginning to melt, and animals finally coming back to life.  As I am in eighty degree weather currently, I am unable to enjoy the parts of spring which I have always witnessed before now.

Imbolc, also, holds a powerful energy of renewal.  It is that time to begin the physical changes within your life.  Brigid, the smithy goddess, represents changing something dull and ugly, useless, and through an act of intense heat and trial and stress upon the material, making it beautiful, shinier, useful.  We can harness this energy ourselves, and through her energy, become stronger, more faithful, more energetic, build healthier habits, and discover new spiritual truths.

What changes do you want to bring?  You should have been thinking about it before now, but the decision is upon us:  What will you manifest today?  This coming year?  Season?  Hour?

Stay tuned for some “practical” expressions of Imbolc – hopefully tonight or tomorrow.

Yule, Imbolc, and Renewal

Well guys, happy New Year! For those of you that took a look at yourself last year and went, “Next year, something’s going to change.”, I encourage you to try my method of goals. I begin on Samhain, usually, but you can begin any time.

Pick several different categories of goals for yourself. For me, the categories are physical, mental, and spiritual. Physical usually relates to my health and well being, my strength, and the things I do. Mental usually relates to contemplation of problems that require logic, or some other form of reasoning. And spiritual relates to those things which I can do on a daily, weekly, or some other routine basis, to bring me closer to the divine.

I really like the system that I’ve worked out – the checkpoints are evenly spaced, far enough away to get work done, but close enough together not to forget. The Wheel of the Year falls this year:

Samhain (Oct 31 07), Yule (Dec 20 07), Imbolc (Feb 2 08), Ostara (Mar 20 08), Beltane (May 1 08), Litha (Jun 20 08), Lammas (Aug 1 08), Mabon (Sep 22 08) and Samhain(again) (Oct 31 08).

So. I pick 2 or 3 goals for each category, and I lay out tables. What is my ultimate goal? This does not have to be a quantified goal, it can simply be an idea. But then, I ask the next question: How can I measure this goal’s success?

I then divide the year up as above and for each goal, I take some time to figure out the appropriate checkpoints. One of my goals this year is to run competetively or bike competitively. I decided the best way to prepare myself for this is to start running a mile a day, or 7 miles a week. So, I began attempting to run one mile a week until Yule. Now, I’m trying to run two miles a week. At Imbolc, I will up it even more. In addition, I’m training my legs for bicycling also, adding weight training, squats, spinning, etc.

At each checkpoint, I check my progress. If the goals are measured weekly, then I try to take time each week to write it down.

Remember, New Years Resolutions only fail because they are vague. Or out of our grasps. Resolutions in themselves, are working magic. You say something’s going to happen, and then it does. And just like magic, if you chant your ready-made off of the internet words to get more money, and then never look for a job opportunity or take one when it comes up…it won’t work.

Keep in mind, especially, you New Years Resolution-ers. Imbolc is that first sparkle of sun, that time when the light finally overcomes the darkness. Any contemplation you need to do, DO it, *now*. Because from Imbolc to Mabon, that’s the time for action.

Make your family, your friends, your gods proud.

Blessed Be!