Posts Tagged With: Celts

February 18 – March 17: Celtic Tree Month of the Ash Tree

 February 18 – March 17

Celtic Tree Month of the Ash Tree

Those born under the Celtic tree astrology sign of the Ash are free thinkers. Imaginative, intuitive, and naturally artistic, you see the world in water-color purity. You have a tendency to moody and withdrawn at times, but that’s only because your inner landscape is in constant motion. You are in touch with your muse, and you are easily inspired by nature. Likewise, you inspire all that you associate with and people seek you out for your enchanting personality. Art, writing (especially poetry), science, and theology (spiritual matters) are areas that strongly interest you. Others may think you are reclusive, but in all honesty, you are simply immersed in your own world of fantastic vision and design. You are in a constant state of self-renewal and you rarely place a value on what others think about you. Ash signs partner well with Willow and Reed signs.

WHATS-YOUR-SIGN.COM

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Setting Up Your Imbolc Altar

Setting Up Your Imbolc Altar

By , About.com

It’s Imbolc, and that’s the Sabbat where many Wiccans and Pagans choose to honor the Celtic goddess Brighid, in her many aspects. However, other than having a giant statue of Brighid on your altar, there are a number of ways you can set up for the season. Depending on how much space you have, you can try some or even all of these ideas — obviously, someone using a bookshelf as an altar will have less flexibility than someone using a table, but use what calls to you most.

Colors

Traditionally, the colors of red and white are associated with Brighid. The white is the color of the blanket of snow, and the red symbolizes the rising sun. In some traditions, the red is connected with the blood of life. Brighid is also tied to the color green, both for the green mantle she wears and for the life growing beneath the earth. Decorate your altar with a white cloth, and drape a swath of red across it. Add green candles in candleholders.

The Beginnings of New Life

Altar decor should reflect the theme of the Sabbat. Because Imbolc is a harbinger of spring, any plants that symbolize the new growth are appropriate. Add potted bulbs — don’t worry if they’re blooming yet — and spring flowers such as forsythia, crocus, daffodils, and snowdrops. If you don’t have much luck planting bulbs, think about making a Brighid’s crown as a centerpiece — it combines flowers and candles together.

Celtic Designs

Brighid is, after all, a goddess of the Celtic peoples, so it’s always appropriate to add some sort of Celtic design to your altar. Consider adding a Brighid’s cross6 or any other item incoporating Celtic knotwork. If you happen to have a Celtic cross, don’t worry about the fact that it’s also a Christian symbol — if it feels right on your altar, go ahead and add it.

Other Symbols of Brighid

  • Cauldrons or chalices — she’s often connected to sacred wells and springs
  • A small anvil or hammer — Brighid is the goddess of smithcraft
  • A Brighid corn doll and Priapic wand
  • Sacred animals such as cows, sheep or swans
  • A goddess statue
  • A book of poetry, or a poem you’ve written — Brighid is the patroness of poets
  • Faeries — in some traditions, Brighid is the sister of the Fae
  • Healing herbs — she’s often connected to healing rites
  • Lots of candles, or a cauldron with a small fire in it
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Giving Thanks to Brighid – Meal Blessing

Giving Thanks to Brighid – Meal Blessing

By , About.com

 
 
Giving Thanks to Brighid – Meal Blessing
 
This is the season of Brighid,
She who protects our hearth and home.
We honor her and thank her, for keeping us warm as we eat this meal.
Great Lady, bless us and this food,
and protect us in your name.

 

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Imbolc: Emerging Into Light

Imbolc: Emerging Into Light

The Celtic festival of Imbolc celebrates the return of Spring from underground and the soul to renewed life.

BY: Mara Freeman

Once again, it is time to welcome in the early Spring and the festival of Bride, or Brigid, the Goddess who brings Light and Life to the land. The ancient Celts called it Imbolc, the time when the new lambs were born, the Earth is beginning to thaw, and new, impossibly fragile-looking green shoots start to emerge through the bare soil.

This miraculous emergence into light is one of the major themes of the holiday. An old Scottish rhyme tells us that this is the time when Bride emerges from the Earth, just as in the Greek myth, enacted at this time of year as part of the Eleusinian mysteries, the goddess Persephone came out of the underworld and Spring returned once more.

These myths are not only about the return of Spring to the land, but also the return of the Soul–traditionally depicted as feminine–from its dwelling in the obscurity of the subconscious mind. In the western world, we tend to get so caught up in material pursuits that the soul is forgotten most of the time – even though we never feel truly at home to ourselves without that connection. At the dawn of the modern age, a poet wrote that “affairs are now soul size.” His words are even more true today: with the escalating crises in the world from wars to global warming, now is the time to fully awaken into what each of us has been called to do during our time on Earth, to emerge into a life that catches fire from the soul-flame within each of us.
When humanity listens to the voice of the soul, rather than being seduced by the astral glamour of consumer-driven culture, then the Soul of the World, the Anima Mundi, will also emerge, like Bride or Persephone, from deep within the Earth where it has been hidden, and its long estrangement from the human race will be over. This is the true meaning behind the Quest for the Holy Grail, a symbol of the Divine Feminine that was withdrawn from the world when our insatiable desire for dominance turned it into the Wasteland. For the Grail to be found, for the Wasteland to be restored to the Courts of Joy, we must learn to become co-creators in partnership with all the Living Intelligences of our planet: human, animal, faery or Devic.
The Festival of Bride is also known as Candlemas, for it is marked by the lighting of candles to brighten the long February nights. This also gives us an opportunity to rekindle our own inner flame upon the shrine of the soul. So light your own candle this season, and as you do so, see this tiny flame as a spark of the One Light that shines through all the worlds. Then sense your own inner flame within your heart and know that you, too, are a spark of the Divine. Breathe in the peace of this knowledge, and listen to your soul telling you how to fully awaken into Light in the emerging year.

Source:

Beliefnet.com

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Imbolc: A Midwinter Festival

Imbolc: A Midwinter Festival

Spring is stirring just beneath the surface at Imbolc, a Wiccan holiday when we anticipate the earth’s rebirth.

BY: Kaatryn MacMorgan

On January 31st, many Wiccans, practitioners of the religion of Modern Wicca, will celebrate Imbolc, a midwinter festival halfway between the beginning of winter, at the Winter Solstice, and the beginning of spring, at the Spring Equinox in March. The actual date of Imbolc varies within the many sects of Wicca, falling as early as January 29th and as late as February 3rd, but like all Wiccan holidays, it begins the moment the sun sets and ends just before sunset on the following day.

Wiccan holidays celebrate transitions, the passage from spring to summer, and from winter to spring, for example, so it is not surprising that the name of this holiday, also called Imbolg, the feast of Brighid, and the Calends of February, found its way into Wicca from its native Celtic peoples. Of course, it is not only the Wiccans who have decided to honor this holiday, as its main focus–the change from winter to spring–is most assuredly the point of our secular “Groundhog Day.”

The ancient Romans, Celts, Greeks, Chinese and many Native Americans all have similar holidays at this time of year, and many Reconstructionist, followers of ancient religions being resurrected through a combination of faith, scholastic research and imagination, practice Imbolc in forms far closer to the originals than the modern holiday practiced in Wicca.

For Wiccans the holiday is a break from the gloom of winter, a macroscopic version of the Wednesday parties that celebrate having more of the workweek behind you than before you. It is the day when spring begins to appear like the light at the end of a long tunnel, not really perceptible at first, but affecting the earth nonetheless.

Though we can’t see it through the cover of white, at Imbolc we know the spring bulbs have sent runners into the earth, that the ice floes on our lakes and rivers have begun to thin and move, and that the first of the young animals due in spring have been born. Many Wiccans celebrate this holiday as a group by standing in a dark room, with one small candle flame lighting their way, each Wiccan then lights their candle from that flame, until everyone in the room is bathed in the great light of their community’s bounty. Prayers are said for a gentle spring, and that stores of food and money, greatly depleted by the festivities of the winter solstice, last long enough to be supplemented by the first crops.

It is a holiday of preparedness. The houses of Wiccans are scrubbed floor to ceiling, bills are paid, and taxes are filed, so that none of the business of the winter interferes with the pure joy of the earth’s rebirth. When this has been done, we determine, by logic, by divination, or just an educated guess, what will not last until spring, or what excess is present in our houses. These things become a great feast, in my house, a huge kettle of “stone soup,” soup made by what is brought to it by those that would eat it. We share together in this great pot of soup, complete with a version of the stone soup story and send everyone home with a jar of it as a reminder of how the simplest things can become fantastic with the addition of one magic ingredient–community.

—beliefnet

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Today Begins The Celtic Tree Month of Rowan

Celtic Tree Months

By , About.com

Rowan Moon: January 21 – February 17

The Rowan Moon is associated with Brighid, the Celtic goddess of hearth and home. Honored on February 1, at Imbolc, Brighid is a fire goddess who offers protection to mothers and families, as well as watching over the hearthfires. This is a good time of year to perform initiations (or, if you’re not part of a group, do a self-dedication). Known by the Celts as Luis (pronounced loush), the Rowan is associated with astral travel, personal power, and success. A charm carved into a bit of a Rowan twig will protect the wearer from harm. The Norsemen  were known to have used Rowan branches as rune staves of protection. In some countries, Rowan is planted in graveyards to prevent the dead from lingering around too long.

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Your Ancient Symbol Card for Dec. 11th is The Tree

Your Ancient Symbol Card for Today

The Tree

The Tree symbolizes spiritual health and growth. The healthy tree is rooted in a rich, nurturing medium, has a strong trunk from which leaf laden branches fan out to capture the sun’s energy. The Tree represents a healthy spirit entrenched in experience and strengthened by wisdom. It is a spirit that is happy with itself, but continues reaching to become even wiser, more complete, happier, stronger. While The Tree represents a strong and independent spirit, it is also a life-force that owes much of its strength and growth to being surrounded by other healthy spirits.

As a daily card, The Tree denotes a time when your spiritual self is especially powerful and open for further growth. Now is a time for you to seek out streams of wisdom and knowledge that you can not only draw from but contribute to as well. Don’t disregard sources that seem improbable, as they often produce the most profound revelations and spiritual expansion.

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Reindeer Folklore

Reindeer Folklore

Santa’s reindeer most probably evolved from Herne, the Celtic Horned God. Eight reindeer pull Santa’s sleigh, representative of the eight solar sabbats. In British lore, the stag is one of the five oldest and wisest animals in the world, embodying dignity, power and integrity. From their late Autumn dramatic rutting displays, stags represented strength, sexuality and fertility. As evidenced by multiple prehistoric excavations of stag antler ritual costumes, the wearing of stag antlers in folk dance recreated the sacred male shaman figure called Lord of the Wild Hunt, Cernunnos, or Herne the Hunter, among others–he who travels between worlds, escorting animal spirits to the afterlife and sparking wisdom and fertility in this world. Likewise, the stag’s branching antlers echo the growth of vegetation. In America, the stag represents male ideals: the ability to “walk one’s talk,” and powerfully, peacefully blend stewardship and care of the tribe with sexual and spiritual integrity.

In Northern European myth, the Mother Goddess lives in a cave, gives birth to the sun child, and can shape shift into a white hind, or doe. Therefore, the white hind was magical, to be protected and never hunted. In myth, graceful running women of the forest–who were actually magical white hinds–brought instant old age or death to hunters who chased them.

To the Celts, all deer were especially symbolic of nurturing, gentle and loving femaleness. White deer hide was used to make tribal women’s clothing. White deer called “faery cattle” were commonly believed to offer milk to fairies. In Britain amongst the Druids, some men experienced life-transforming epiphanies from spiritual visions or visitations by white hinds, balancing and healing their inner feminine energy. In Europe white hinds truly exist, and are many shades of warm white cream-colors, with pale lashes–otherworldly in their peaceful and modest behavior. To many Native American tribes, deer are models of the graceful and patient mother who exhibits unconditional love and healthy, integrated female energy.

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