Saturday, January 5, 2013

Imbolc ~The witches Ground hog day

Imbolc is on Saturday, February 2, 2013.

Imbolc Correspondences

Other Names: Imbolg, Oimelc, Candlemas, Feast of Brigid, Festival of Lights, Feast of Flames, Candlelaria, La Feill Bhride. Imbolc means in the milk.

Colors: White,. Pink,Red, and Blue

Symbols: Candles, the Bride, Burrowing Animals, Grain Dolly, Sun Wheels

Ritual Meaning: Honor of the Virgin Goddess, First Signs of returning life, and the Festival of Light

Key Action: Open and Begin

Ritual Oils: Jasmine, Apricot, Carnation, Sweet Pea, Neroli and Olive

Stones: Amethyst, Bloodstone, Garnet, Ruby, Onyx, and Turquoise.
Plants: Angelica, Basil, Bay Laurel, Blackberry, Celandine, Coltsfoot, Heather, Iris, Myrrh, Tansy,

Violets, and all white or yellow flowers

Activities: Candle lighting, Searching for Signs of Spring, Gathering Stones

Taboos: Cutting or Picking Plants

Animals: Wolf, Snake, Swan, Vulture, Robin, Burrowing Animals, Sheep, Lamb, and Deer

Mythical Creatures: Firebird, Dragon, Berometz

Deities: Aradia, Arachne, Arianrhod, Athena, Brighid, Blaize, Branwen, Februa, Gaea, Inanna, Lucina, Vesta, Cupid/Eros, Diancecht, Dumuzi, and Februus

Foods: Pumpkin seeds, Sunflower seeds, Poppyseed Cakes, muffins, scones, and breads, all dairy products, Peppers, Onions, Garlic, and Raisins.

Drinks: Milk, Spiced Wines and Herbal Teas.

Some Traditions of Imbolc

Blessing of the Brat Brid
During the day before Imbolc, the woman of the house should take a small piece of cloth (larger if it is for the entire grove) and lay it on a bush outside. During the night, as the goddess roams to bless the houses of her followers, she will pass by, touching and blessing the cloth. Collect the cloth in the morning and tear it into small pieces. These pieces of doth, individually called a Brat Brid (BRAHT BREE]), should be distributed among the children and females of the household. The Brat Brid will give them protection throughout the year where ever they go. These pieces of cloth may be sewn into the clothes or jackets of the children to insure that it won't be lost.

Spring Cleaning
This is the time to give your home a good thorough cleaning in preparation for a visit from Brigit. If you happen to have a fireplace, it especially should be cleaned very well. As a part of the magical purification of the house a birch branch should be used to symbolically sweep the floors. Birch has strong associations with Brigit, and has long been used for rites of purification and new beginnings.

All of this work should be completed prior to the eve of Imbolc, when a small dish of butter should be placed on a windowsill and a fresh fire kindled in the hearth or a candle lit in honor of Brigit.
Making the Brideog
If possible (and applicable) this work should be done by the man of the household. Long pieces of straw or rushes should be gathered and fashioned into the shape of a doll. The image should be dressed in white doll clothing or merely wrapped in a white cloth in the manner of a dress. Her image should be decorated with bits of greenery, early flowers, shells and pretty stones. An especially pretty shell should be placed over her heart. For the greatest magical effect, the doll can be built around the handle of an old butter chum dasher. When finished, she should be consecrated with a few sprinkles of sacred water while invocations to Brigit are spoken. The resulting effigy is called a Brideog (BREE-JOG), or "little Brid" and is an important component of the traditional Imbolc celebration.

Brigit's Crosses
This is the most widely practiced custom associated with Imbolc. Following the making of the Brideog, the extra straw should be gathered up and saved, for use at the family feast on the eve of Imbolc. For the best results, the straw should be soaked in water for a couple of days prior to the feast. Pan of that evening should be devoted to making Brigit's Crosses. These are weavings of straw that can be as simple as a few strands or amazingly elaborate. Most folks are familiar with the three or four-armed variety but there is a great number of different regional patterns including what most people in America know as a "God's Eye" pattern woven around two sticks. At the end of the evening each person should take their cross home, sprinkle it with a bit of sacred water and speak a request of Brigit for blessing and protection of the home and family members. Old crosses from previous years should be moved to the rafters or attic of your home, and the new
crosses hung in their place near the entryways to the dwelling. Crosses that were woven by the children should be hung on the wall over their beds, and if you happen to have a barn or out-building you should hang one there as well. They are especially effective in protecting the household and its inhabitants from fire and lightening.

Throughout the year, the crosses may be taken down temporarily when a Brigit blessing is needed: the a healing of a sick child; tucking between the mattresses to assist in conception; placed upon a basket of seed being carried out to the garden for planting, etc.

The eve of Imbolc is the best time of the year to perform divinations specifically pertaining to the future welfare and prosperity of your family.

Imbolc Feast
On the eve of Imbolc, a family or community feast should be held. When all is prepared, and the table is set, the persons who were involved in the making of the Brideog should go outside and retrieve her. The doll should be placed on the outside of the building next to the open door. The men should get on their knees before the doll (the traditional gesture of respect for the Brideog) and shout into the house, "Go on your knees, open your eyes, and admit Brigit!" The celebrants inside should answer, "Welcome! Welcome! Welcome to the holy woman!" The Brideog should then be carried into the house and leaned against a leg of the feasting table. Begin the feast with a prayer of thanks.

Brid's Bed
As the evening of the Imbolc £east winds down, the women of the household should gather up the last of the straw and fashion an oblong basket in the shape of a cradle called "leaba Brid" (LAWA BREE) or "the bed of Brid". Place the bed near the hearth If you have one. Then place the Brideog into the bed and place a small straight wand of birch with the bark peeled in the bed beside the figure. This wand is called "slatag Brid" (SLAH-TAHG BREE) or "'the little wand of Brid. If you have burned a fire during the evening the ashes of the fire should be scraped smooth. In the morning check the ashes for marks of Brigit's wand or better yet, her footprint to prove that she had visited during the night. If no marks are found, burn some incense in the hearth or near the spot where the bed was placed, as an offering.

Imbolc Lore

It is tradition upon Imbolc, at sunset or just after ritual, to light every
lamp in the house - if only for a few moments. Or, light candles in each room
in honor of the Sun's rebirth.

Alternately, light a kerosene lamp with a red
chimney and place this in a prominant part of the home
or in a window.

If snow lies on the ground outside, walk in it for a
moment, recalling the warmth of summer. With your projective hand, trace an
image of the Sun on the snow.

Foods appropriate to eat on this day include from the
dairy, since Imbolc marks the festival of calving.

Sour cream dishes are fine.

Spicy and full-bodied foods in honor of the Sun are equally attuned.

Curries and all dishes made with peppers, onions, leeks, shallots,
garlic, or chives are appropriate.

Spiced wines and dishes containing raisins - all food symbolic of
the Sun - are also traditional.

Imbolc Customs & Lore by Selena Fox

The following is a study guide from a work in progress © 1996, Selena
Fox, Circle Sanctuary, PO Box 219, Mt. Horeb, WI 53572 USA used in
conjunction with workshops presented by Selena Fox at the 1996
Candlemas Festival at Circle Sanctuary Nature Preserve and as part of
the Celtic Shamanism weekend seminar at Singing Wolf Center in Lake
Geneva, Wisconsin.

Other Festival Names:Candlemas, Oimlec, Brigid's Day, Groundhog's
Day; merged with Lupercalia/Valentin es Day
Festival Dates: January 31, February 1, February 2, February 6,
February 7.

Multicultural Parallels: Ground Hog's Day (USA); Aztec New Year;
Chinese New Year; Roman Lupercalia; Valentine's Day (USA); Armenian

Flames: Sacred Fire

torchlit processions circling fields to purify & invigorate for the
coming growing season (old Pagan)
lighting & blessing of candles (11th century, Christian)
sacred fire of Brigid (Celtic Pagan)
torchlit procession to honor Juno Februata/Regina (Pagan Rome;
Christianized, 7th century)

Brigid: Celtic Goddess

Triple Aspects

Goddess of Inspiration - poets, poetry, creativity, prophecy, arts
Goddess of Smithcraft - blacksmiths, goldsmiths, household crafts
Goddess of Healing - healers, medicine, spiritual healing, fertility
(crops, land, cattle)

Fire - flames, candle crown, hearth
Water - cauldron, springs, wells
Grain - Brigid wheels, corn/oat sheaf Goddess effigy, Brigid's Bed
Creatures - white cow with red ears, wolf, snake, swan and vulture
Talismans - Shining Mirror to Otherworld, Spinning Wheel andHoly
Name variations: Brighid; Bride (Scotland), Brid, Brigit, Bridget,
Briganta (England), Brigan, Brigindo (Gaul), Berecyntia, Brigandu
Name means Bright One ,High One, Bright Arrow, Power.
Christianized forms: St. Brigit (Irish), St. Ffraid (Welsh), St.
Bridget (Swedish), Queen of Heaven, Prophetess of Christ, Mary.

Pictish Pagan Roots
Bruide, the Pictish royal throne name, is said to derived from the
Pagan Goddess Brigid. The Bruide name was given to each Pagan Pictish
king who was viewed as the male manifestation of the spirit of the
Goddess. The most sacred place of the Picts was Abernethy in Fife. It
was dedicated to Brigid, in Pagan times, and to St. Brigid, in
Christian times. Columban monks tended a Celtic abbey there and
hereditary abbots were of the Earl of Fife branch of the Clan
MacDuff, which survived to the present day as Clan Wemyss (Weems).

Irish Transitions and Traditions
When Ireland was Christianized, veneration of the Pagan Goddess
Brigid was transformed into that of St. Brigit, said to be the human
daughter of a Druid. St. Brigit became a saint after her "death" and
was supposedly converted and baptized by St. Patrick. Pagan lore was
incorporated into the Christian traditions and legends associated
with Her as a saint. For example, as St. Brigit, She had the power to
appoint bishops and they had to be goldsmiths. She was associated
with miracles and fertility. Into the 18th century a women's only
shrine was kept to her in Kildare (meaning Church of the Oak) in
Ireland. There, nineteen nuns tended Her continually burning sacred
flame. An ancient song was sung to Her: "Brigid, excellent woman,
sudden flame, may the bright fiery sun take us to the lasting
kingdom." Brigid/St. Brigit was said to be the inventor of whistling
and of keening.


Blessing rushes/straw and making Brigid wheels
Putting out food and drink for Brigid on Her eve (such as buttered
bread, milk, grains, seeds)
Chair by hearth decorated by women; young woman carries in first
flowers & greens, candle.
Opening the door and welcoming Her into the home. "Bride! Come in,
they bed is made! Preserve the House for the Triple Goddess!"
Scottish Gaelic Invocation: "May Brigit give blessing to the house
that is here; Brigit, the fair and tender, Her hue like the cotton-
grass, Rich-tressed maiden of ringlets of gold."
Brigid's Bed (Scotland): Putting grain effigy and a phallic wand in a
basket next to the hearth/candles at night and chanting three
times: "Brigid is Come! Brigid is Welcome!"

removing Yuletide greens from home & burning them (Celtic)
cleaning up fields and home (old Roman, Februa "to cleanse" month)
Mary purification festival (Christian, Western church)
burning old Brigid's wheels and making new ones (some parts of
placing Brigid's wheel above/on door to bless home (Celtic, Wiccan)

Signs of Spring: Ground Hog's Day

Seeds as a symbols of new life to come
first greens and flowers as offerings
weather - bright or grey
hibernating animals - groundhog, bear, badger

If Candlemas day be sunny and bright, Winter again will show its
If Candlemas day be cloudy and grey, Winter soon will pass away. (Fox

If Candlemas day be fair and bright, Winter will have another flight.
If Candlemas day be shower and rain, Winter is gone and will not come
again. (Traditional)

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