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Posts Tagged ‘Imbolc’

It’s a very snowy day, so I relaxed indoors and worked on her all morning and afternoon.  I made her for my daughter so she can decorate her little altar for Imbolc.

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Ugh.  Sometime in December, my discipline and focus crumbled.  I really fell off the trance train…

I’ve been working to reestablish my discipline over the last couple weeks.  I started to reread Paxson’s “Trance-Portations” and am going through the exercises.  I’m not rushing it. I really want to spend time on the foundational skills.  I’ve been more mindful about my grounding, shielding, and visualization.  I continue to do my Druid Egg shielding on mornings, but sometimes it’s difficult to visualize when I’m exhausted.  (I haven’t been sleeping well lately… )

I started to participate in Sassafras Grove’s Brighid-Along to help me prepare for Imbolc.  This has given me additional inspiration for my inner work.  I did a very quick meditation on day one.  Finding quiet time for meditation and trance has been challenging.  My daughter’s sleep schedule has been really off lately, so by the time she falls asleep, I’m usually exhausted.  I’ve decided that I won’t allow myself to wallow in the challenges and what I don’t feel able to accomplish.  Rather, I’m going to adapt.  If I can only meditate for a short time, I’m going to make that meaningful and really focus!

Last night, I meditated on Brighid during, and ended up walking into my inner grove where one of my spirit guide was waiting.  (I’m starting to look for other words to describe them…I’ve seen fetch used by several people focused on European traditions, but I need to do more research.)  We talked a little, reconnecting.  I had felt him reaching out to me a lot over the week, so I knew he was waiting.

My plan is to start posting on my blog again to keep myself accountable.

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Ever since Muin Mound Grove made candles with old candle wax for an Imbolc workshop years ago, I decided that I should try my hand at the hobby.  It felt so right given my growing relationship with Brighid.  A friend of mine made candles for awhile – huge, beautiful pieces of art, really.  She gifted some to me, and the care she put into them… They were and are full of magic, whether she believes in that or not.  I don’t think she’s made any for awhile, but they really inspired me.  A grovemate made some in tins last year and gifted one to me before she moved away.  I remember telling her that I kept meaning to try my hand at it again, and she was very encouraging.

This Winter Solstice, some family members thoughtfully gave me gift cards to arts and craft stores.  I used some of the money toward a candle making kit.  It was a very simple kit  with enough ingredients to make six soy votives in glass candle holders.  I broke into it today and had a lot of fun.  Before I started, I made an offering to Brighid as I consider this devotional work.

The kit was very easy to use.  I know I need to improve my method of securing the wicks to their dowels.  Soy was very easy to work with, and I always prefer soy to paraffin, but I know I want to focus mostly on beeswax as it is one of the safest, cleanest waxes to use.  I also know there are several beekeepers in the area, and working with a local, sustainable material that supports local bee populations is incredibly important to me.  I’m not concerned with scents so I did not use the vanilla scent block that came with the kit.  I’m not sure what it’s made out of and I’m very concerned with the purity of ingredients.  As I learn, I may experiment with using natural fragrances for magical purposes, but I’m a huge fan of that simple beeswax smell.

I have a growing list of tools I need to improve as well as other things I want to try.  I’m hoping to pop in the local antique store this week.  The owner has some kitchen bowls that aren’t too much money, if I remember correctly.  That way I could reuse older materials without contaminating my kitchenware.

My next goal is to make simple hand-dipped candles for Imbolc, and my grove is also talking about making some soy crystal candles for our holiday workshop.

‘Tis the season for new beginnings and new activities, and as the wheel turns toward Imbolc, it’s such an appropriate time for me to learn these skills and incorporate them into my practice.

 

 

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Wild 
Grain – Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2016

Each Lughnasadh, I strive to harvest some of the wild grain from the hedges. Not only is harvesting grain traditional at this time of year, but I save it so my protogrove has something with which to weave Brighid crosses during Imbolc, six months later.  With the amount of snow we get in January and February, we won’t have any access to the nice green reeds traditionally used in Ireland!   So preparing for Imbolc is part of my Lughnasadh.  It makes sense – we harvest so that we are prepared for the coming months, after all!

My daughter was such a big help this year.  She’s learning to use scissors, so I let her use a child’s pair to cut the grass.  Bee enthusiastically embraced the task. It’s so nice to share seasonal traditions with her.  (I also found some blue vervain while we were out – a happy find!)

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NR_Brighid_doll

The Brighid doll I made for my protogrove.  Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2015.

Many of us associate Imbolc with milk in part because, as tradition has it, the holiday falls when the sheep in Ireland are lactating.  As a result, a favorite family activity in many Pagan households is making butter, and many of us offer cow, sheep, or goat milk to Brighid.

Since becoming a mother, I’ve found myself reflecting on the milk my body produces.  Brighid has connections to motherhood and midwifery, too, and as someone who already looked to Brighid with gratitude for inspiration and warmth, I naturally embraced this other side of her.  Every year since giving birth to Bee, Imbolc is a special time for me to reflect on my ability to produce nourishment for my little one*.

Meditating on the magic of lactation took a new direction this Imbolc as I readied my Hygeia breast pump for a friend, protogrove mate, and new mama to use!  I was so happy to share this pump.  I bought it in part because it’s one of the few in the market that is meant to be shared; one of the few that is FDA approved to be shared (provided each person using buy replacement flanges and such).  I realized that this same woman watched me openly breastfeed my daughter at every protogrove event.  Part of my ability to do that was the encouragement my previous grove gave me, and their openness in letting me nurse without covering up.  It also came from watching a coven-mate nurse her daughter back from my days in an eclectic circle.  I brought that behavior to my own protogrove, and everyone was very supportive, especially members who had had children before our founding. We worked to normalize the behavior in our group and emphasize that it was natural and beautiful.  The menfolk showed their support, too, and never showed any discomfort.  In fact, I know they would all stand up for me if someone tried to tell me I should cover up.

At our last Imbolc rite, I witnessed my friend breastfeed her little one.  My daughter saw it, as did the other children.  They will grow up knowing it’s normal.  In fact, as you can read in the article I linked below, part of why so many new mothers struggle with breastfeeding is that they’ve never seen it before!  Think about it.  As children, we learn so much through imitation.  Naturally, people are reluctant to try things they’ve never seen, and many are discouraged when first attempts don’t succeed.  This is why creating a positive, nurturing environment for families is so important, and that includes mothers, fathers, doulas, lactation consultants, and midwives.

Breastfeeding has become part of my grove’s culture, and seeing my friend nurse so openly as well made it feel very communal.  I truly feel that each time mothers nurse in front of others, especially women and girls, or each time we stand up for the rights of a mother to nurse, we take on the role of the midwife in some way, birthing a new generation of nurturing people.

For more info on breastfeeding: http://www.mothering.com/articles/natural-breastfeeding/

*Yes, I’m still breastfeeding!  Going for the natural weaning approach because it works for my family.

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Bee shows a greater interest in what I do, and she loves to honor nature outside and inside at her nature table / play altar. The one thing she was missing was a representation of fire – one of the Three Hallows in my Druidic tradition, and an important part of any Celtic spirituality.  I’ve thought about different ways to create an appropriate representation, and when I thought of this Imbolc activity, I realized that it was exactly what she was missing!  Furthermore, it’s a great way to reuse old wine corks!
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Materials:

  • old corks (the hole from the corkscrew will actually come into play later!)
  • paint (I used washable, toddler-safe paint)
  • paintbrushes
  • orange and yellow yarn or other fire-colored fibers
  • a glue gun
  • a tapestry needle or something else that you can use to poke the fibers into the corkscrew hole

 

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The Toddler Part:

Equipped with an apron and seated on our large splash mat, Bee was able to paint her cork. My husband and I joined her to paint two others, making this a fun family activity. I let her choose her color – orange! How firery.

Because we used washable paint, it was very thin.  We had to let the corks dry between a couple coats, and we had to put the paint on rather thick.  That’s ok, though, as it looks like wax dripping down the sides of the candles!  I’m thinking about sealing them with a glaze later on.

 

20160117-210549.jpg The Parent Part:

Once the corks dried, I cut orange and yellow yarn into very short lengths – about an inch, but I could have gone smaller.  I separated the fibers to give the an airy look, then twisted them together loosely.  Pinch the bottoms tightly and roll them between your fingers to join the fibers.  Put a dot of hot glue into the corkscrew hole.  Using a dull tapestry needle (or other similar object), push the bottom of the fibers into the hole and glue.  Voilà!  Flaming candles!  

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Small Brighid Doll by Grey Catsidhe, 2015.

Although I don’t have much time to craft these days, I gleefully signed up for the ADF Artisan Guild Imbolc exchange. The group decided that everyone should make something small, and we decided on the amount of time it should take and the general cost.  I was excited enough to participate and do a little sewing, but was absolutely over the moon when I saw that my partner was my dear friend, R!  She and I got back to my Utica days, when I was first exploring Paganism.  We bonded over an interest in ADF, and she encouraged me to make the drive to Muin Mound in Syracuse.  Life took us to different corners of NY, and we don’t get to see each other as often as we used to, but we still bond over our shared interests and meet up whenever we can.

R indicated that, despite her Norse hearth culture, she has an interest in Brighid.  I decided to make her a small Brighid doll, since the exchange was for Imbolc.  I repurposed a blue wool sweater by felting it, and used a little for Brighid’s body. Folk art inspired me to leave the face blank.  I usually love painting faces on my dolls, but I really think my decision works for this small doll.  It gives her a very solemn look, and the individual regarding the doll will inherently known how they feel she should look.

R’s Fairy Cottage, 2015

In exchange, R surprised me with this adorable fairy cottage made with polymer clay and a repurposed jar.  I love all the whimsical details – right down to the woodgrain on the door! There are even little windows on each side, and Bee loves to peer in.  It has be excited for spring with all the pink flowers!

Funnily enough, we actually were able to meet up a couple weeks after receiving our gifts.  Her girlfriend happened to have a hockey tournament in the area, so we met for lunch.  It felt wonderful to reconnect.  Hoping to do more of that come the warmer weather!

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