The Sabbats

OIMELC – February 2

OIMELC – February 2

Down with Rosemary and so
Down with baies and mistletoe;
Down with Holly, live and all
Wherewith ys drest the Yuletide Hall;
That so the superstitious find No one least Branch there left behind;
For look, how many leaves there be
Neglected there, maids, trust to me,
So many goblins you shall see.
–Robert Herrick

Oimelc – Imbolc in the Saxon – marks the first stirring of life in the earth.
The Yule season originally ended at Oimelc. But with increasing organization and industrialization, increasing demands for labor and production, the holiday kept shrinking, first to the two weeks ending at Twelfth Night, then to a single week ending at New Year’s, then to a single day.

Oimelc begins a season of purification similar to that preceding Yule. It ends
at Ostara. No marriages, initiations or puberty rites should be celebrated
between Oimelc and Ostara.

The candles and torches at Oimelc signify the divine life-force awakening
dormant life to new growth.

THEMES

Growth of roots begin again. Bare branches begin to swell with leaf buds, and
growth appears at the tips of evergreen branches. The tools of agriculture are
being make ready for Spring.

Xian feasts of St. Brigid, and Celtic feast of Brigit, the maiden aspect of the
triple goddess and mother of Dagda. Her symbol is the white swan. A Roman feast of Bacchus and Ceres. The Lupercalia, a feast of Pan. The Nephelim or Titans, those offspring of human-divine unions said to have ruled Atlantis.

Grannus, a mysterious Celtic god whom the Romans identified with Apollo.

PURPOSE OF THE RITES

To awaken life in the Earth. Fire tires to strengthen the young Sun, to bring
the fertilizing, purifying, protective and vitalizing influence of fire to the
fields, orchards, domestic animals, and people. To drive away winter. To charm
candles for household use throughout the year.

FOLK CUSTOMS

The three functions of Oimelc – end of Yule, feast of candles or torches, and
beginning of a purificatory season – are divided by the Xian calendar among
Twelfth Night, Candlemas and Shrove Tuesday (Mardi Gras, Carnival). The customs of all three feasts are derived from Oimelc, with at most a thin Xian gloss.

Parades of giant figures (Titans?) in rural towns in France and at Mardi Gras
and Carnival celebrations. A figure representing the Spirit of Winter or Death,
sometime made of straw, sometimes resembling a snowman, is drowned, burnt or in once case, stuffed with fireworks and exploded. They symbol of Montreal’s Winter Carnival is the giant figure of Bonhomme di Neige (snowman).

Groundhog Day, Chinese New Year and St. Valentine’s Day customs.

The French provinces are so rich in Oimelc customs they cannot be listed here.
Refer to “The Golden Bough”.

Wassailing the trees: at midnight, carolers carry a bucket of ale, cider or
lamb’s wool in a torchlight procession through the orchards. The leader dips a
piece of toast in the drink and sedges it in the fork of each tree, with the
traditional cheer (variations exist) of: “Hats full, holes full, barrels full,
and the little heap under the stairs!”.

Who finds the bean in the Twelfth Night cake becomes king of the feast; who
finds the pea becomes queen – never mind the gender of the finders. Rag-bag
finery and gilt-paper crowns identify the king and queen. The rulers give
ridiculous orders to the guests, who must obey their every command. They are
waited on obsequiously, and everything they do is remarked and announced
admiringly and importantly: “The King drinks!”, “The Queen sneezes!” and
everyone politely imitates the ruler’s example.

SYMBOLIC DECORATIONS

Snowdrops are picked for vases, but otherwise no special decorative effects are
indicated. Go carnival, balloons and confetti.

SOCIAL ACTIVITIES

Parades, with showers of confetti, gala balls, masks, street dancing, mumming,
winter sports, ice and snow sculpture.

THE RITE

Dress in dark colors with much silver jewelry. Outdoors, after dark on the Even,
have the site arranged with a fire in the cauldron and the altar draped in
white, at the Northeast. The fire may be composed all or in part of Yule greens.

Go in a torchlight procession to the Circle. Include a stamping dance, possibly beating the ground with sticks, before the Invocation. The invocation may end with the calling of Hertha, a Teutonic goddess of the earth and the hearth. Call her name three times and at each call beat on the ground three times with the palms of both hands.

A figure representing Winter should be burned in the fire. Communion may consist of Sabbat Cakes or a Twelfth Night cake (there are many traditional recipes) and cider or wassail. A procession may leave the Circle for a time to wassail a nearby orchard. Couples may leap the bonfire. Supplies of candles brought by the coveners are blessed.

Boys puberty rites may be celebrated. These usually include mock plowing by the boys.

Close the Circle and go indoors for the feast.

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A Little Rhyme That Ties Candlemas/Imbolc to Groundhog’s Day

Imbolc/Candlemas Comments
“If Candlemas Day be fair and bright,
Winter will have another flight;
If on Candlemas Day be shower and rain,
Winter is gone, and will not come again.”
Alternately…
“If the sun shines bright on Candlemas Day,
The half of the winter’s not yet away.”

**Author Unknown**

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Imbolc Incense

Imbolc Incense

3 parts Frankincense

2 parts Dragon’s Blood

1/2 part Red Sandalwood

1 part Cinnamon

a few drops Red Wine

To this mixture add a pinch of the first flower (dry it first) that is available in your area at the time of Imbolc (February 1st). Burn during Wiccan ceremonies on Imbolc, or simply to attune with the symbolic rebirth of the Sun — the fading of winter and the promise of Spring.

 

(The above recipe for Imbolc Incense is directly quoted from Scott Cunningham’s book: The Complete Book of Incense, Oils & Brews, page 72, Llewellyn Publications, 1992.)

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Imbolc Oil

Imbolc Oil

Put in soap or annoint candles

5 drops frankincense

5 drops rosemary

3 drops cinnamon

2 drops sandalwood

Add a piece of rowan and a small hematite, garnet, and clear quartz crystal. A spicy, sunny scent for awakening the earth.

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Symbolism of Imbolc

Symbolism of Imbolc

Imbolc can be symbolically represented by a dish of snow, evergreens and/or candles. Ritually, you may choose to light and hold candles (symbol of light) within the Circle. You may also want to place a wheel symbol upon the Altar. It is traditional 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 in a prominent part of the home or in a window. If snow lies on the ground, walk in it for a moment, recalling the warmth of Summer. With your projective hand, trace an image of the Sun on the snow. Other Pagan activities may include the gathering of stones and the searching for signs of Spring. It is considered taboo to cut or pick plants at this time.

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How To Make a Priapic Wand for Imbolc

How To Make a Priapic Wand

By

Priapus was a god of fertility, and was always depicted with an erect phallus. In some traditions of Paganism and Wicca, a Priapic wand — phallus-like in appearance — is made, and used in ritual to bring forth the new growth of spring. You can easily make one out of a few outside supplies and some bells. This is a simple project for children as well, and they can go outside at Imbolc and shake the bells at the ground and the trees, calling for spring’s return.

Difficulty: Easy
Time Required: 30 minutes

Here’s How:

  1. First, you’ll need the following items:

    • A stick
    • An acorn
    • Craft glue (hot glue works fine as well)
    • Ribbons or yarn in brown, green, yellow, and gold
    • Small bells (get little jingle bells at your local craft store)

    Strip the bark from the stick, and create a small notch on one end. Glue the acorn to the end of the stick.

    When the glue is dry, wrap the stick in the ribbons or yarn beginning at the acorn — leave extra ribbon at the end to hang down like streamers. Tie the bells on to the end of the streamers.

  2. Use the wand by going outside around the time of Imbolc. Explain to children that the wand symbolizes the god of the forest, or whatever fertility god exists in your tradition. Show them how to shake the bells, pointing the wand at the ground and trees, in order to wake the sleeping plants within the earth. If you like, they can say an incantation as they do so, like:

    Wake, wake, plants in the earth, spring is a time of light and rebirth. Hear, hear this magical sound, and grow, grow, out of the ground.

What You Need

  • A stick
  • An acorn
  • Ribbons or yarn
  • Small jingly bells

 

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Imbolc Ritual

IMBOLC (February 2)

A symbol of the season, such as a representation of a snow flake, a white
flower, or perhaps some snow in a crystal container can be placed on the altar.
An orange candle anointed with musk, cinnamon, frankincense or rosemary oil,
unlit, should also be there.   Snow can be melted and used for the water during
the circle casting.

Arrange the altar, light the candles and censer, and cast the Circle of Stones.
Recite the Blessing Chant.
Invoke the Goddess and God.
Say such words as the following:
This is the time of the feast of torches,
when every lamp blazes and shines
to welcome the rebirth of the God.
I celebrate the Goddess,
I celebrate the God;
all Earth celebrates
Beneath its mantle of sleep.

Light the orange taper from the red candle on the altar (or at the Southern
point of the circle).  Slowly walk the circle clockwise, bearing the candle
before you.  Say these or similar words:

All the land is wrapped in winter.
The air is chilled and frost envelops the Earth.
But Lord of the Sun,
Horned One of animals and wild places,
unseen you have been reborn of the gracious Mother Goddess,
Lady of all fertility.
Hail Great God!
Hail and welcome!

Stop before the altar, holding aloft the candle.  Gaze at its flame. Visualize
your life blossoming with creativity, with renewed energy and strength.

If you need to look into the future or past, now is an ideal time.
Works of magic, if necessary, may follow.
Celebrate the Simple Feast.
The circle is released.

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IMBOLC LORE

IMBOLC  LORE

It is traditional 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 prominent 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 those 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  foods symbolic of the Sun -
are also traditional.

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