Posts Tagged ‘Imbolc’
I want to wish each of my readers a very wonderful Imbolc. It’s certainly a special day for me this year. I work with Brighid regularly, and she is an important part of my life. What’s more, given her association with motherhood and midwifery, I am feeling particularly sensitive to her energy and invitation to look for new growth. Not only is the sun increasing in strength each day; not only are some of the trees forming buds; not only are bulbs showing up in the gardening section of stores – my belly grows round with life! Further more, not only is my family feeling some of Brighid’s magic, but The North Country Druidic Study Group has also been blessed – only we’re no longer going by that name! As of today, we’re officially a protogrove in ADF! We are now Northern Rivers Protogrove! Everyone involved is so excited! And what spectacular timing! As long as the lake effect snow that threatens doesn’t force us to change our plans, we’ll be gathering to honor and celebrate Brighid’s feast. You can bet it’s going to be quite a feast with the news!
|Our traditional Imbolc meal. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2013.|
At home tonight, hubby and I celebrated with a hearty dinner – my traditional Imbolc meal of colcannon, peas, and veggie crepes! This, combined with a full week of work, seemed to knock Weretoad right out. He’s been napping ever since! I’ve spent my evening quietly admiring Brighid’s candle, preparing offerings for the ritual tomorrow, and excitedly updating the Northern Rivers website to reflect our new name and status.
However you celebrate, I hope Brighid’s feast day is a blessed one for you! May you find warmth, inspiration, creativity, and healing.
|Brighid’s flame. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2013.|
Lá Fhéile Bríde is upon us and I have been busily cleaning as best as I can, trying to make my home welcoming to Brighid. I recently accomplished one of my biggest cleaning goals - moving my altar back into the so-called “Art Room.” I’ve said this before, but I preferred when it was in there rather than my bedroom. I feel I have more privacy before bed, which is when I prefer to do my devotionals. I can calmly go about my spiritual business without worrying that my husband, who rises for work earlier than I and needs to be in bed sooner, is getting impatient or that my candle light is keeping him up. My altar feels more at home where I do a lot of sewing, where I start seeds, and where herbs grow. Besides, it’s previous location – a corner in the master bedroom – is the perfect spot for a nursery! More on that another day.
For now, enjoy the images of my main altar, my bookshelf and Ancestral altar, and my little indoor Nature Spirit altar.
|Cros Bríde of lavender and needled felted sheep on my seasonal altar. Photo and pieces by Grey Catsidhe, 2013.|
I was feeling very inspired today, both by a project I had been meaning to try and discussion of Brighid crosses on a FB group for local Pagans.
|A needle felted sheep. Photo and piece by Grey Catsidhe, 2013.|
When I started to brainstorm how to decorate my seasonal altar, a needle felted sheep immediately came to mind. Felting has become a little hobby of mine. I don’t do it as often as I sew or crochet/knit, but I do enjoy playing with my wool roving. I love how very free-form the art can be. This seemed like a fun project to take on. I don’t think it’s too bad for my first. It fits well on an Imbolc altar because of Brighid’s association with sheep and household crafts.
|Lavender Brighid Cross. Piece and photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2013.|
I’ve been thinking about what to use for Brighid crosses this year. In Muin Mound, we always used wheat. Well, I don’t know any wheat farmers. I’ve thought about gathering old grass from the hedge, but then I recalled the lavender I have. Having been dried, it was too brittle to use without a good soak in warm water for 20-30 minutes. Then it was very pliable and made my work station smell divine! It felt meditative to make it. My skill at making the crosses isn’t as good as others, but this is the best one I’ve made yet! I’m still not 100% sure what to do with the Druid Study Group. Soaking dried grasses or herbs seems a very messy process in a place we don’t own. Pipe cleaners were suggested, but now I’m leaning towards raffia as it’s more natural. We shall see!
May the inspiration of Brighid herself flow into you as you prepare for her feast day!
It’s late morning. After doing my best to offer hospitality to our guest, I’m finally sitting down for some warm cereal and tea. Ahhh… me time! The tea is made with roughly chopped fresh ginger, local honey, and half a lemon – its juice and rind. Trying to keep my body healthy and ward off illness, of course. As I sip the tea and slurp the cereal, I’m reminded of Brighid’s warmth and healing waters.
Although it’s only January, we’ve been experiencing a bit of a heat wave. The snow we were so delightedly hoarding since the Winter Solstice is all but gone. On and off again rain quickens the process. It almost feels like spring, and with Imbolc being the traditional beginning of spring, I find myself seeking signs.
Of course, we will be getting more snow this week (supposedly). It’s a good thing, and I want more snow. Our ecosystem needs it, our farmers need it, and Upstate NY generally has snow right up until mid march. Recent years, the patterns has changed a bit… Which is worrisome.
It seems a lot of us are waiting for Imbolc. Those who don’t observe the Celtic high days, or the modern NeoPagan calendar, still seem to be thirsting for spring and it’s many festivals. People want a rebirth within and without. I’ve noticed a lot of friends who write are suddenly lamenting the difficulties of being a published author. They’re turning within to mull it over and seek an answer. Pregnant friends in the end stages of their third trimester struggle with pain, the medical status quo, and anticipation. People have started the process of cleaning their homes, myself included. Fellow gardeners are excitedly perusing the seed catalogs arriving in the mail, day dreaming of sprouting seeds and new, verdant life all around!
This past week, I’ve watched with a mostly passive interest as the NeoPagan community grappled with its identity online. Oh yes, dear readers – the great Pagan/Polytheistic debate of 2013. Even I’m going to mention it in a blog post. I had been writing a longer response with all of my thoughts, many of which are mixed, and then I trashed it. Self-identity is important. Group identity is important. Labels and names have power – they really do. Everyone has a right to express themselves, to feel they belong to something bigger, and to nitpick linguistics and semantics. Yet in the end, I’m not sure another blog post on the pile would do any good. As for myself: I’m a proud polytheist who worships her Gods, walks the Druidic path, and yet finds a home within the NeoPagan community. Maybe that will change one day, but for now, I am who I am. You are who you are. Let’s be friends.
My mind is filled with more personal concerns - my growing baby, keeping my home clean, whether or not the North Country Druidic Study Group’s application for protogrove status will be approved, exercising, eating right, keeping up with my own spiritual practices. Think of me what you will!
So I sit here drinking my healing tea and praying that Brighid will bless each of us with the healing we need and that spring will bring new, positive things to us all. Until then, we must prepare and wait.
|“Imbolc Crepe” photographed by Weretaod 2012|
Although I was feeling too ill for serious ritual and meditation on the first of February, the calendrical beginning of Imbolc for many Pagans, I was feeling a little more ambitious on the second, what I consider to be the day my personal observations wind down. I was still congested and groggy, but I wanted to make a special meal and a Francophone friend inspired me when she posted “Today is La Chandeleur, crepe day!” on Facebook. La Chandeleur is basically French for “Candlemas.” For those new to the holiday, it celebrates Mary’s purification and the presentation of Jesus at temple. I have vague memories of occasional Candlemas observances when I went to church – people brought candles to receive God’s blessing for the year. It is actually very similar to what many Pagans do for Imbolc and the probable pre-Christian connection is hard to dismiss.
So what does this have to do with crepes?
Well, someone questioned my friend about le jour des crêpes and she explained that the crepes represent the sun. What a beautiful cultural tradition on what many preindustrial European cultures considered a threshold to spring! I did a quick search to find more information and found it on the French wikipedia entry as well as this in English. Along with the solar attributes, there are various fortune-telling activities that go along with crepes! Très fascinant! Then when you consider that France used to be Gaul… Oh, it just makes the imagination go wild!
Anyway, being a Druid, former Catholic, and French student, I decided that making crepes would be a perfect way to end my Imbolc celebration (I love familiarizing myself with the cultural practices of my ancestors). I used a basic crepe recipe but substituted the milk with almond milk and the butter with vegan margarine*. Funnily enough, I made whipped cream using dairy products! I prepared some fruit from the freezer but also sautéed mushrooms, greens, and onions. That way we had dinner and dessert crepes! They turned out amazing and were a big hit. Definitely a good (and filling) Imbolc tradition!
*I do consume dairy, just sparingly hence the presence of these items in my fridge. My husband prefers when I use real milk in my baking since he claims he notices a difference in taste, but we were out of his milk. I mentioned the difference here in case any vegan friends wanted to try. I did, however, use eggs. I’m not sure how crepes would turn out using a substitute like flaxseed but let me know if you try it! The almond milk worked out great!
I’m so glad I got the opportunity to celebrate Brighid’s day on Saturday with my wonderful grove. Now that the modern observation is upon us, I’ve fallen ill again. I’ve not been up for much, unfortunately. I always find it difficult to meditate when sick so heavy trance or long ritual really isn’t much of an option. I meditated on Brighid and healing briefly as I lit her flame this night. Otherwise I’ve been sewing, watching shows on Netflix, attempting to clean here and there (difficult to do when feeling like rubbish), and trying to take care of myself.
Focusing on Brighid’s healing aspects, I’ve been drinking a lot of herbal tea. I also steamed myself using some lavender. It really helped my sinuses and my skin feels so soft…
As I said earlier, I hope the rest of you have a wonderful Imbolc! Here’s hoping she lays a healing hand upon me this night.
Here’s a video of Imbolc customs in modern Ireland (North Donegal). You can see the threshold rite as well as a community weaving Brighid crosses.
Here are some more Imbolc customs, including weather predictions. It says a rainy Imbolc means a good summer. It rained here today so I guess we’ll see what it’s like in a few months!
Blessed Imbolc everyone!
Another way I am getting ready for Imbolc is by gathering old candles. They are stubs leftover from magic and ritual.
Some say they should be buried, but I no longer do that. The last time I buried a candle, I discovered an animal had dug it up and chewed on the wax. I tend to use organic soy or beeswax now, but I still have some paraffin candles floating around that I bought in the past. Some people continue to gift them to me and I would rather use them than toss them in a landfill. Whatever the material, I came to worry about what the wax could do to Nature Spirits.
This year, my grove had decided to reuse old candle wax to create two new candles. One will be the main offering to Brighid and the other will be used to invoke her as a bardic deity in future rites. It is a lovely idea, and I’m glad to have a good use for old wax. In a way, melting and reforming the candles is the transformation we are supposed to believe in when we commit our old spell materials to the Earth Mother.
This is magical, environmental, and thus very Druidic.