“You are led through your lifetime by the inner learning creature, the playful spiritual being that is your real self.
Don't turn away from possible futures before you're certain you don't have anything to learn from them.”

~ Richard Bach, Jonathan Livingston Seagull ~

Monday, January 31, 2011

Imbolg ~ February 2nd

Here in the northern hemisphere, most of us are still in the grips of winter. For our ancestors, snow covered the earth, the nights were still long, and the festivities surrounding Yule and the Solstice are long since past. Food supplies were beginning to dwindle and become moldy and the promise of spring seemed far away. Yet with all this, they still celebrated. In the cold darkness, they found reason for hope, thus creating a holy day, a festival, a feast.

Imbolg became an important festival to the Celts who were pastoral herders. Imbolg (pronounced em-bowl/g) means 'in the belly' and refers specifically to the pregnant sheep and more broadly to Mother Earth who is beginning to show signs of life. Another name for this holiday was Oimelc which means 'ewe's milk', an important life sustaining beverage for the family. Because it was so important, an offering of ewe's milk would often be left overnight for the God/dess as a libation to encourage bounty.

Imbolg is also considered a great fire festival with the emphasis on the light of the fire rather than on the heat it gives. The sun's light is noticeably with us longer each day and is our assurance that the Wheel is turning and that spring and summer will return.

Other traditions observed during Imbolg are meditation and divinations to determine what a person should focus on magickally or spiritually for the year, writing poetry or weaving (crocheting for me) in honor of Brigit, rituals to ask Brigit or another personal diety for inspiration, or simply rituals of gratitude for the growing light. In many Wiccan traditions, Imbolg is also a time for initiation.

Imbolg is about the first signs of spring, the promise of returning life, about sunlight and ripening and the growing conviction that the community will survive another year. Perhaps so but in my neck of the woods we're expecting up to 13 inches of snow with wind gusts of 40 to 50 miles an hour over the next two days. Spring may be on its way, but it sure is taking its damn time about it!

Have a blessed Imbolg!


Friday, January 28, 2011

Pagan Art Journaling and a Present to Myself

Aradia's Cauldron is sponsoring 52 weeks of Pagan journaling, which I'm very excited about. I'm pulling out an old journal I started years ago and dusting it off. I might even include it in my New Moon ritual to give it extra power and intention!

This is an excerpt from Aradia's blog:
"Starting in February, with Brighid's celebration of Imbolc, I'm starting 52 weeks of pagan art journaling project. So join me if you like as I post weekly prompts to get you thinking about what your path means to you, in words and art!"
Doesn't that sound like fun? Click here to whiz on over to Aradia's Cauldron to get more information. Why not sign up while you're there? It's going to be fun . . . and there's no pressure! Whew!

I also wanted to share this beautiful offering bowl I bought from Etsy. The designer is Diana De Baun . The picture just doesn't do it justice. The colors are amazing and it has an awesome energy. I can't wait to share it with the Goddess!

Have a fantastic weekend!


Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Goddess Brigit

With January fast approaching it's end, it's time to look forward to the month of February and all that it brings. There's Candlemas/Imbolg on February 2nd (which is also my dad's birthday), Valentine's Day (I'll post a separate post for that) there's Lupercalia, The Eleusinian Mysteries of Greece, Brigit's Eve, The Feast Day of Saint Brigid, festivals of the British Isles and the Norse, and so many others.

February 1st is the feast day of Brigit (pronounced 'Bree-id). She is a singular goddess made up of contradictions; a goddess of fire and water, of will and compassion, intensely focused on her mission of protection and care for her people, a healer who is also a warrior, a humble milkmaid who commands miracles, and a goddess of fertility.

Brigit is one of the great goddesses (along with Isis, Ishtar, Hera and Freya) who has been with us for hundreds of thousands of years. Her legends were handed down through the generations in an oral tradition that was eroded and then assimilated into the new faith of Christianity. Despite the fact that she was a diety so high and sacred, hardly any of her mythology was recorded.

Brigit is often depicted as a triple goddess. In her solitary form she carries a spear and an orb or globe. Sometimes she is seen wearing a green mantle, which may be a sign of her connection with Faery Folk. In folklore, Brigit means 'fiery arrow', 'bright arrow', or 'the bright one'. 'Fiery arrow' has become a fitting image for Brigit since it conveys the idea of the bright flame that has come to be associated with her, along with a sense of her directness, her ability to get straight to the point and the force of her energy.

As a healer, Brigit taught leechcraft and the properties of healing herbs, and was patroness of dozens of sacred springs and wells said to have healing properties. Many of these springs and wells are still visited today. Sunlight and water were considered to be especially effective in curing ailments of the eyes, which was one of the goddess' specialities. Along with her mantle, any fabric blessed by her was said to have healing effects. She was the first goddess to master the art of weaving, and into the cloth she placed healing threads that still exercise their healing powers centuries later.

Brigit is also seen as a fire goddess, a fertility and birth goddess, a smith, a poet and a warrior. She is one of the Great Goddesses of Life and Death. She was goddess of agriculture and household arts such as weaving, dyeing and making beer. She is also credited with inventing whistling as a way to signal to her friends in the darkness.

Red and white are the colors most commonly used for this holiday. White representing the snow of the departing winter and red for the hearthfire or Brigit's eternal flame. White also represents the Maiden goddess and red symbolizes the Mother. You might like to use white tablecloths for your altar with red candles, or like I have done, use a red tablecloth with candles in both red and white.

I made a corn dolly, which I posted previously, and have now laid her in the Bride's bed, thus the Crone who guarded the house during the winter is now transformed into the Maiden who awaits the God so that together they may initiate spring. I used a dowel (wand) wrapped in blue and white ribbon to represent the God, who is changing from the babe of Yule into the Youth of Ostara.

Bride's Bed Ritual

On Imbolc eve set the Bride's bed on the fireplace hearth or on your altar. Set incense in front and a white taper candle at either end of the bed. Have the wand nearby. Light the incense and the candles and say:

"Welcome the Bride turned from Mother to Maiden;
to rest and prepare for the time of the seed.
Cleansed and refreshed from the labors behind her;
with the promise of spring she lays before me."

Lay the decorated wand in the basket beside the corn dolly and say:

"How soon comes the Lord; how quickly he grows!
The season will turn; before we know."

Let the candles burn for a while, then snuff them before going to bed. In the morning, check for any marks in the hearth ash or other disturbance around the dolly as indication that the God has been there, thus signaling an early spring! The dolly may be removed from the bed and kept until replaced at Lughnassadh by a new dolly, then the wheat may be scattered as an offering outdoors.

Brigit's Cross is another familiar symbol and was most likely a sun emblem. It may also have represented the four quarters of the year. I made one using white pipe cleaners and tied the ends together with white ribbon. You can also make them in red or a combination of both. Traditionally, Brigit's crosses are made out of reeds, but being I live in the frozen north, pipe cleaners are the way to go. I may harvest some reeds this summer and make the crosses up ahead of time, so that they're ready and available next year.

Now is a good time to start thinking about spring house cleaning and also performing a house cleansing and blessing ceremony. It's also a good time to get rid of all the old stuff that has been cluttering your home and creating negativity. Now would also be a good time to create sacred space (if you haven't done so already), create or recreate your altar and cleanse and consecrate your ritual tools.

Keep your hope alive . . . spring is just around the corner!


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

UnChristian Like Behavior

Yesterday, I came across a young man who goes by the name of Zinnia Jones on youtube. I watched several of his videos and I became intrigued by him. He is a fabulous speaker who, quite honestly, I wouldn't want to get into a debate with. He'd win, hands down.

Zinnia is an atheist and he talks about issues that are uncomfortable for most of us. In one of the videos he goes out to a protest being run by a church. He was interviewing one of the protesters and as I watched I became bewildered. How do these people call themselves Christian? They come from a place of hatred and contempt for, what it seems to me, almost anyone and everyone. They hate Jews, they hate homosexuals, they hate, they hate, they hate. How is that Christian? Did Jesus not teach compassion, love and understanding? It makes me wonder what it is they're preaching in that church of theirs . . .

I am appalled by the woman in this video . . . she is so full of hate.

Now I realize that not all Christians are this extreme. I know some pretty decent ones. All I'm saying is . . . please, for the love of the God/dess, THINK for yourselves. Don't become something just because it's the thing to do or because you were raised a certain way. Look inside yourself and follow your own path. 'An it harm NONE, do what you will.'


Sunday, January 23, 2011

Goddess Prayer Beads

I've long been fascinated with prayer beads, but not being Catholic, I didn't give much thought about incorporating them into my practice. And then I came across some lovely Goddess prayer beads and I became fascinated by them. The more research I did, the more I realized that I could, in fact, use them in my daily prayer as a Wiccan.

I chose to have my beads represent the Maiden (white), Mother (red) and Crone (black), although at times I do incorporate the Lord's Prayer to add balance and acknowledge the God (which I normally view as Lugh, the Sun God).

This first set I purchased from the lovely lady at Infinitely Spiritual. She makes the most divine rosaries of all kinds and when I contacted her to make a custom set for me, she didn't hesitate. She made my rosary and shipped it to me within a week. I highly recommend her.

My other set of rosary beads was purchased from My Rosary Beads. It has a prayer ball at the end of it into which I can slip a short prayer or request. 'My Rosary Beads' is a terrific site where you can find more information on rosary beads and they ship very quickly as well.

I love both sets and use one or the other depending on my mood and what my intention is for the day. I begin my prayer by holding the goddess charm (or prayer ball) and saying:

"I call upon the goddess of perfect love,
who purifies the seas in which worlds are born.
Behold her image, crowned with the deepest glory of the sunset,
silver, and crystal, robed in the deepest black.
I call upon the goddess who sets the stars in motion
upon the endless mirror of night; Maiden, Mother, Crone."

The Goddess Rosary

The prayer below can be said while fingering the big beads on the Rosary. You can alternate and say the regular Lord's prayer every other time for balance if you wish. Use the Glory Be (shown further below) for the wire/string before the large beads, and then finger the large bead and say:

Our Lady who is the Essence of the Earth,
We have called you by many names.*
Return now unto Your people,
Speak Your will, and it shall be done,
As Above, so Below.
Please give us each moment our life, light and love.
If we have let you down,
Please forgive us and cleanse us,
According to our own willingness to forgive others.
Lead us away from Lures,
And deliver us from Evil,
For You are Goddess, Queen of the Universe.
Yours is the Power, the Grace, the Wisdom, and the Beauty,
Age unto Ages,

*Here you have the option of inserting a mini-litany of your favorite Goddess names, such as: Artemis, Astarte, Athene, Dione, Melusine, Aphrodite, Cerridwen, Cybele, Arianrhod, Isis, Diana, Tara, Brigit, Demeter, Freya, Gaia, Quan-Yin . . .

The Glory Be

Glory Be to the Father, to the Mother,
And to the Sacred Son,
And to the Lady Holy Spirit,
They are the Four-in-One.

As it was in the beginning,
Is now and ever shall be,
World without end,
Age to Ages,

Here is another way to pray the Goddess Rosary.

Goddess Bless!


Thursday, January 20, 2011

Breathing In the Essence of the Moon

It's been overcast here for what seems like days and nights on end. I haven't seen the moon in all her glory and I could feel it . . . the lack of something.

Finally it cleared off last night and I was able to go outside for a few minutes (it was freezing cold) and take in the beauty of the Full Moon. I could breathe in her essence. And as I made my way back into the house, I realized that that's what's been missing . . . just breathing and basking in the essence of the moon.


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

A Little of This and That

I realized today as I was lighting my Peace candle that I also have the World Peace Crystal Grid Cards I had ordered some time ago. They are used to send peace into the world, but can also be used to bring peace into your personal life as well. I placed the cards on my vision board behind my peace candle I created on Monday. I also printed out another set to be used when I do Reiki.

You can order your own set or print them online at THIS LINK. This is a link about the World Peace Crystal Grids and where they are located.

I found an image on the internet yesterday that I liked and used it for making my own herb labels. I think they turned out rather well . . .

And lastly, I was meditating at my Success/Career altar yesterday when Bijou became entranced by the incense. I believe she enjoyed some meditation time as well . . .


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Herbal Cabinet

For some time now I've been wondering where the best place would be to put my herbs. I finally decided that in the kitchen would be the best place as that's where I normally make my concoctions.

We have a wall of cabinets and I thought that area would be perfect. Brian took the door off of one of the cabinets, I painted the interior the same color as the kitchen (Svelte Green) added a small light and voila', the start of my herb collection nicely displayed and easily accessible.

I bought some 1/2 pint jars at the Willy Street Co-op and now all I need to do is add some labels. One other thing I need is a mortar and pestle. There's something utterly unromantic about beating your herbs with a rolling pin . . . not a pretty sight!

To start I bought some Lavendar, Frankincense, Comfrey and Juniper Berries which I needed over the holidays for ritual. With Imbolc coming up in a few short weeks, there will be more herbs to buy and now that I have a place to store them I can get enough not only for Sabbats, but for other spells and rituals to have on hand.

I'm happy with my little herb cabinet and I'm not worried about running out of room . . . there are four other cabinets on that wall! I just have to figure out where everything in them is going to be stored . . .


Monday, January 17, 2011

Spell for World Peace

"We must concentrate not merely on the negative expulsion of war
but the positive affirmation of peace".

~ Martin Luther King, Jr. ~

I'm working my way through Llewellyn's Witches' Spell-A-Day Almanac for 2011. Today's message is about World Peace and doing what we can, as individuals, to spread the hope of peace throughout the world. Becoming a Reiki practitioner has really brought this concept home to me in that I can, as an individual, make a difference by sending out positive energy to where it's needed most. Won't you join me today in sending the light of peace to the hearts of all people?

You'll need a white candle and some dirt (it's frozen where I live so I used some black decorative stones). Fill a small dish with some dirt (or whatever you're using), carve a peace symbol into the candle and place it on top of the dirt.

Relax and focus on the energy of peace. With your hands cupped, place them near the candle and visualize a very bright white light coming down from above, entering the crown of your head, going down to your heart, through your arms, out your hands, and into the candle. Light the candle, close your eyes, and see this white light of peace spread to the hearts of all people. See all humans everywhere filled with love and existing harmoniously with one another. Believe that this is our future! Leave the candle burning for an hour or two (but never leave it unattended!).

I plan on burning the candle for an hour or two every day and visualizing that white light of peace spreading over the Earth and into every person's heart. Let your light shine!


Friday, January 14, 2011

Morning Rituals

I've been suffering with a terrible cold/flu this past week and this morning I'm grateful that it's subsiding and I'm feeling much better. There's nothing like being sick to make you realize, when you're well again, how beautiful mundane life can be.

Keeya eating a carrot on her favorite perch - my shoulder.

As I was taking care of the birds this morning, I realized how grateful I am for each of their little souls. They get me out of bed in the dark mornings of winter, they cheer me, they frustrate me, they make me laugh. They provide such joy and most days, I'm sad to say, I take them for granted. Not this morning. As I was doing up the dishes, I looked around me and was overcome with a sense of wonder. I realized that every morning for the last five years, since we've had the birds, I perform a ritual. One that I go through without even thinking about.

Picasso eating his favorite cookies . . . dipped in water of course.

I get up, I let the dogs out, I feed the dogs. I uncover the birds, letting them out of their cages and I say good morning to each of them. Then I stand in the sunroom with Bijou for awhile, preening her feathers and greeting the morning sun (when it's out that is). When she's ready, I gather up the food dishes and we head into the kitchen, where Bijou's tea is waiting.

Bijou drinking tea from her favorite cup her daddy bought for her.

As she slurps her tea (in the most ladylike fashion) and eats her breakfast, I feed Picasso and Keeya. I chop vegetables and fruits. I fill up the treat tray. I empty, clean and refill water bowls. I yell at the dogs for barking at the front window. And the morning goes on . . .

Bijou rearranging the tupperware cupboard.

This lid doesn't belong here!

Picasso rearranging the floor design.

It's in mornings like this that I appreciate the fact that I don't have to work - that I can stay home, take care of our fur and feather babies, take care of our home and pretty much manage my day in any way that suites me. I am truly blessed and grateful for this mundane life and the magick in the morning ritual.