Posts Tagged With: Scotland

Imbolc: Traditional Celebrations for a Modern Time

Imbolc: Traditional Celebrations for a Modern Time

Author:   Morgan 

This holiday is called many names including Imbolc, Oímealg, Lá Fhéile Bríde, Laa’l Breeshey, and Gwyl Mair Dechrau’r Gwanwyn and was originally celebrated when the ewes first began to lactate. Some older sources mention Imbolc being celebrated on February 13th, although now the date is fixed on February 2nd. This holiday is a celebration of the loosening of winters hold on the land and the first signs of spring’s immanent arrival. Three main types of ceremonies could be undertaken – purification with water, blessing with fire, and consecration of talismans or charms. In addition, the main ritual theme centered on inviting the goddess Brighid into the home, either in effigy or in the form of a person acting the part.

The fire represents the growing light of the sun. Candles are lit to celebrate the increased daylight, and often candles were blessed for use in the year to come; this connection to candles offers another alternate name for the holiday, Candlemas. In my personal practice I light special “sun” candles, and bless my candleholders for the year to come.

Ritual washing was done to cleanse and prepare the people for the agricultural work of the coming seasons. Water was blessed and then used to ceremonially wash the head, hands, and feet. Each year when I do this, I dip my fingers in the blessed water and run them over the body parts in question, asking that I be cleansed of winter’s cold and filled with summer’s warmth to work towards a new season. Then I pour the remaining water out onto the earth thanking Brighid for her blessing.

The main charms and talismans of Imbolc are related to Brighid. First there is the Brighid’s cross, a woven sun wheel shape which represented the cycle of the year and the four main holy days, according to the book Apple Branch. On Imbolc, you can weave new Brighid’s crosses, or bless ones you already have, although it may be better to burn the old and weave new each year when possible. A Brighid’s cross is protective and healing to have in the home.

A second talisman is the brídeóg, or “little Brighid” a small cloth or straw doll wearing white clothes which is an effigy of the goddess. In some cases, the brídeóg would be made from straw saved from the previous Lughnasadh. This doll played a role in ritual after being brought outside, usually carried by the eldest daughter, then invited to enter the home where it was led with all ceremony to a specially prepared little bed. The doll was left in the bed over night and its presence was believed to bless all those in the household.

Another talisman connected to Imbolc is Brigid’s mantle, or an brat Bríd, a length of cloth left out on the window sill over the course of the holy day and night. It is believed that this cloth absorbs the energy of the goddess during the ritual, and can be used for healing and protection throughout the year. This talisman would be kept and recharged every year, attaining full power after seven years.

The ritual for Brighid on Imbolc centers on inviting the goddess in and offering her hospitality. In some cases a woman was chosen to play the part of the goddess, in other cases the brídeóg was used. The door would be opened to her and she would loudly be invited in, shown to her “bed” and offered specially baked bread. Candles would be lit at the windows and next to her “bed”, songs would be sung and prayers said calling on Brighid to bless all present in the coming seasons, and grant health and protection to the household.

A small broom or white wand would be placed next to the “bed”, and the ashes from the fire would be smoothed down in the hopes that the morning would reveal the marks of the wand, or better yet, the footprints of the goddess herself, either of which would be a sign of blessing. Placing the doll in her bed at night would be followed by a large family meal.

In Scotland a hundred years ago when entire communities still celebrated Imbolc in the old way, a sheaf of corn would be dressed as Brighid and taken from house to house by the young girls. The girls would carry the doll from home to home where the “goddess” would be greeted and offered food and gifts. After visiting each home, the girls would return to the house they started from where a party would be held with music, dancing, and feasting until dawn; all the leftover food would be handed out to the poor the next day.

Other rituals involve blessing the forge fires for blacksmiths and Otherworld divinations. In some Scottish mythologies, it is believed that Brighid is held by the Cailleach Bhur during the winter months but escapes, or is rescued by her brother Aonghus mac óg, on Imbolc. In others, it is said the Cailleach drinks from a hidden spring and transforms into Brighid on this day.

For modern people seeking to celebrate Imbolc in a traditional way, there are many options. Rituals can be adapted to feature the brídeóg. If you celebrate in a group, you could have one person wait outside with the doll while the other members prepare her bed, and then the group leader could go to the doorway and invite the goddess in. This could even be modified for use in an urban setting with the brídeóg “waiting” out in a hallway or separate room to be invited in.

Once invited in the goddess can be offered food and gifts as was done in Scotland and stories about Brighid from mythology could be told. Water can be used for purification; blessing with fire or of candles can be done, as well as making and consecrating the charms associated with Brighid. After ritual, the doll could be left in the bed while the group celebrates with a party; to keep the spirit of the way this was done for a modern time all members should bring food to donate to a local food pantry. A solitary celebration could still include inviting the goddess in, placing the brídeóg in her bed, making offerings to her, and a private celebration and food donations.

Imbolc is a powerful holy day with many beautiful traditions. By understanding how this day was celebrated in the past, we can find ways to incorporate those methods into modern practice and preserve the traditions that have surrounded Brighid’s day for so many generations

____________________________

Footnotes:
Carmichael, A. (1900) . Carmina Gadelica. Floris books. ISBN-10 0-86315-520-0
Evert Hopman, E. (1995) . A Druid’s Herbal of the Sacred Earth Year. Destiny Books ISBN 0-89281-501-9
Kondrariev. K. (1998) . The Apple Branch: A Path to Celtic Ritual. Citadel Press ISBN 0-8065-2502-9
McNeill, F. (1959) . The Silver Bough, volume 2. McLellan and Co.

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Celebrating Other Spirituality 365 Days A Year – Up-Helly-Aa

Witchy Comments & Graphics
Celebrating Other Spirituality 365 Days A Year – Up-Helly-Aa

January 28th – 29th

Up-Helly-Aa

Up-Helly-Aa is a centuries-old fire festival held in the Shetland Islands. It is derived from the ancient Yuletide festival celebrating the triumph of the sun over darkness and winter, and it pays

tribute to the ancient Viking Gods and Goddesses. The festival began with torch light processions that ignited giant bonfires and culminated with the burning of a replica of a Viking ship. It was believed that the fire would dispel evil spirits from the villagers and their homes. The festivities usually ended with great feasting and dancing until dawn.

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Calendar of the Sun for December 31

Calendar of the Sun

31 Yulmonath

Hogmanay

Color: Brown
Element: Earth
Altar: Upon a brown cloth set symbols of all the projects around the house that need to be finished, as well as a bottle of wine or beer and cups.
Offerings: Cleaning and finishing projects.
Daily Meal: Leftovers.

Hogmanay Invocation

We stand at the turning of the year,
In the place predicted by the Fates.
We are here because this time, this place
Is where we were destined to be,
Though we never knew before this moment,
We could not have seen this time and place.
Yet here we are, standing together with each other,
Hand to hand, soul to soul, with open eyes.
Yet well we know that nothing lasts forever,
And things well begun should not be left half done.
So it is that we shall take up the tools
And finish those things left undone,
Tying up the strings of our existence
Before the turning of the New Year
And the coming of the Fates yet again.
Hail to the Fates! We await your day,
And the next year, to see what it may bring.

(Each goes forth and takes up the symbol of some thing that is yet undone around the House, and declares that they will do it, and what it will mean for them to complete that task. Then the wine is shared around, a toast is made to the new year, and the rest is poured out as a libation.)

[Pagan Book of Hours]

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Celebrating Spirituality 365 Days A Year – Mumming, New Year’s Eve, Hogmany

Celebrating Spirituality 365 Days A Year

December 30 and 31

Mumming, New Year’s Eve, Hogmany

The end of December ushers in the New Year, a time of anticipation and celebration. For our pre-Christian ancestors, most of the New Year’s festivities were designed to ward off the barrenness of Winter and insure the fertility of Spring. This was accomplished with the actual or symbolic killing of the king of the old year and the welcoming of a new king—a metaphor still dramatized in the popular British mumming play.

It was during the 19th century, when the hustle of the Christmas Day celebrations were over and the new year was fast approaching, that the mummers took to the streets, pubs, and private homes to act our their plays. Masked and costumed, they portrayed three different themes: the Hero-Combat of St. George, the “Sword Dance,” and the Plough or Wooing play. Of the three, the Hero-Combat was the most favored.

The central part of the play begins with the Hero fighting an opposing champion or, occasionally a whole succession of enemies—the Black Prince, the Turkish Knight, or the Bold Slasher. After a spirited battle, in most but not all cases, the villain is slain. Suddenly a doctor appears, who boast lengthily (with a great deal of buffoonery) of his skill and travels, after which the dead man suddenly regenerates. Once the mummers have been paid, they journey to their next performance.

It might not be as well know as Christmas or New Year’s Eve, but Hogmanay is still celebrated in parts of England and Scotland. Although the word Hogmanay has never been satisfactorily established, it very well may come from the Anglo-Saxon Haleg Monath (Holy Month) or from the giant Gogmagog or Hogmagog, guardians of the cities of London and Plymouth. For the most part, Hogmanay is met with massive enthusiasm. Parties are held, people ring bells, fireworks are set off, and everyone makes a conscious effort to make a clean break with the past by making New Year’s resolutions.

Scotland has always made more of Hogmanay than England and still has a variety of customs associated with the holiday. Some of these include divination, of which Bibliomancy is the most popular. The Family Bible is prayed over, and then the person Seeking his or her future will open the Bible at random. Without looking, a verse is marked with the index finger and then read. Whatever the verse discusses will be the person’s fortune for the year. Another popular custom is to open the back door of the home and then close it just before midnight to let out all of the bad luck. At the stroke of midnight, the  front door is then opened to let in the good luck. Finally, Hogmanay is a favored time for predicting the weather by observing the direction of the wind with this old Scots rhyme:

“If New Year’s Eve night-wind blow south, That betokens warmths and growth. If
west, much milk, and fish in the sea, If north, much cold and storms will be. If east,
the trees will bear much fruit, If north-east, flee it, man and brute.”

 

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Tuesday Is Ruled By Mars

Tuesday Is Ruled By Mars

Archangel: Samael

Candle colour: Red

Incenses: Dragon’s blood or cinnamon

Crystals: Jasper or garnet

Use Tuesdays for spells for courage, change, independence in home or business life, for overcoming seemingly impossible odds and for passion.

Where possible, work near a fire or a bonfire or with a huge red beeswax candle as a focus; alternatively work next to a flowerbed or large vase of red, orange and/or yellow flowers.

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The Scottish Song “The Thirteen Days of Yule”

The Scottish Song “The Thirteen Days of Yule”

The 13 Days of Yule was sung in Scotland as far back as the early 1800’s, to the tune of The Twelve Days of Christmas.

“Yule” was originally a heathen feast that lasted for 12-13 days.  Eventually it came to represent the midwinter season of December and January.  Later it became synonymous with Christmas.

The Thirteen Days of Yule

The King sent his Lady on the first Yule day, A papingoe*, aye. Who learns my carol and carries it away.

The King sent his lady on the second Yule day, Two partridges and a papingoe, aye. Who learns my carol and carries it away.

The King sent his lady on the third Yule day, Three plovers**, three partridges and a papingoe, aye. Who learns my carol and carries it away.

The King sent his lady on the fourth Yule day, A goose that was grey, Three plovers, three partridges and a papingoe, aye. Who learns my carol and carries it away.

The King sent his lady on the fifth Yule day, Three starlings, a goose that was grey, Three plovers, three partridges and a papingoe, aye. Who learns my carol and carries it away.

The King sent his lady on the sixth Yule day, Three goldspinks, three starlings, a goose that was grey, Three plovers, three partridges and a papingoe, aye. Who learns my carol and carries it away.

The King sent his lady on the seventh Yule day, A bull that was brown, Three goldspinks, three starlings, a goose that was grey, Three plovers, three partridges and a papingoe, aye. Who learns my carol and carries it away.

The King sent his lady on the eighth Yule day, Three ducks a-merry laying, a bull that was brown, Three goldspinks, three starlings, a goose that was grey, Three plovers, three partridges and a papingoe, aye. Who learns my carol and carries it away.

The King sent his lady on the ninth Yule day, Three swans a-merry swimming, three ducks a-merry laying, A bull that was brown, Three goldspinks, three starlings, a goose that was grey, Three plovers, three partridges and a papingoe, aye. Who learns my carol and carries it away.

The King sent his lady on the tenth Yule day, An Arabian baboon, Three swans a-merry swimming, three ducks a-merry laying, A bull that was brown, Three goldspinks, three starlings, a goose that was grey, Three plovers, three partridges and a papingoe, aye. Who learns my carol and carries it away.

The King sent his lady on the eleventh Yule day, Three hinds a-merry hunting, an Arabian baboon, Three swans a-merry swimming, three ducks a-merry laying, A bull that was brown, Three goldspinks, three starlings, a goose that was grey, Three plovers, three partridges and a papingoe, aye. Who learns my carol and carries it away.

The King sent his lady on the twelfth Yule day, Three maids a-merry dancing, three hinds a-merry hunting, An Arabian baboon, Three swans a-merry swimming, three ducks a-merry laying, A bull that was brown, Three goldspinks, three starlings, a goose that was grey, Three plovers, three partridges and a papingoe, aye. Who learns my carol and carries it away.

The King sent his lady on the thirteenth Yule day, Three stalks o merry corn, three maids a-merry dancing, Three hinds a-merry hunting, an Arabian baboon, Three swans a-merry swimming, three ducks a-merry laying, A bull that was brown, Three goldspinks, three starlings, a goose that was grey, Three plovers, three partridges and a papingoe, aye. Who learns my carol and carries it away.

*papingoe = a parrot (though some people think it’s a peacock) **a plover is a type of bird

MamaLisasWorld

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SATURDAY – The Day of Reckoning, 
The Day of Saturn

SATURDAY

The Day of Reckoning
The Day of Saturn

saterndaeg or soeterdaeg (Anglo-Saxon)
samstag (Germanic)
dies saturni (Latin)
sani-var or sanichar (Hindu)
sunneecher (Islamic)
samedi (French)
dou youbi (Japanese)

Traditionally seen as the seventh day of the week. The Latin name for this day was ‘Dies Saturni’ meaning the ‘Day of Saturn’ (Saturn being a Roman deity) which was later developed by the Anglo-Saxons to ‘Soeterdoeg’. Saturn was associated with the ancient Greek ‘Kronos’ or ‘Time’ (some refer to this deity as Father Time). Kronos was said to have attempted to devour each one of his children but was unsuccessful with ‘Neptune’ or ‘Water’, ‘Jupiter’ or ‘Air’ and ‘Pluto’ or ‘The Grave’ as it was believed that not even Time can harm these. Jupiter eventually banished Saturn from his thrown. Saturn was also known as the God of the Seed and Harvest being symbolised by a scythe. Those who practised the ancient art of alchemy believed that Saturn was linked to the metal lead, and that anyone born under this sign would be influenced by its evil nature. Alchemists referred to the ‘Tree of Diana’ also known as the ‘Philosopher’s Tree’ as ‘Saturn’s Tree’. Modern astrologers indeed still link the disposition of anyone born under the influence of Saturn as being likened to the qualities of the metal, these being gloomy, dull, sluggish, grave, phlegmatic:

‘Then rose the seed of Chaos and of Night To blot out order and extinguish light. Of dull and venal a new world to mould, And bring Saturnian days of lead and gold.’ Pope : Dunciad, IV, 13.

Saturday in India is traditionally believed to be an unlucky day as this is the day dedicated to the God of Misfortune named ‘Sani’. In Ireland (UK) it is believed that if a the visual phenomena of a rainbow appears on this day then the following week will be nothing but wet weather. In Scotland (UK) it was traditionally believed that any child born on this day would have the gift of seeing ghosts. In rural areas of the British Isles it was traditionally believed to be bad luck to change jobs on a Saturday, an old English (UK) rhyme to support this was:

‘Saturday servants never stay, Sunday servants run away.’

‘Black Saturday’ was the name given to August 4 1621. It is said that a violent storm symbolically blew-up in Scotland (UK) at the moment when Parliament was in the house discussing whether to make change of the Episcopacy laws, and force this upon the people of Scotland. According to the English historian Richard Grafton certain dates of the month were unlucky as published in the ‘Manual’ in 1565. Days throughout the year were identified and of course could have related to any day of the week. The date was the most important point to consider. The work was reputed to have some credence with support given by astronomers of the day.

(For more information see Mystical WWW Mystical Time : Mystical Months).

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SATURDAY – The Day of Reckoning
, The Day of Saturn

Days Of The Week Comments
SATURDAY

The Day of Reckoning
The Day of Saturn

saterndaeg or soeterdaeg (Anglo-Saxon)
samstag (Germanic)
dies saturni (Latin)
sani-var or sanichar (Hindu)
sunneecher (Islamic)
samedi (French)
dou youbi (Japanese)

Traditionally seen as the seventh day of the week. The Latin name for this day was ‘Dies Saturni’ meaning the ‘Day of Saturn’ (Saturn being a Roman deity) which was later developed by the Anglo-Saxons to ‘Soeterdoeg’. Saturn was associated with the ancient Greek ‘Kronos’ or ‘Time’ (some refer to this deity as Father Time). Kronos was said to have attempted to devour each one of his children but was unsuccessful with ‘Neptune’ or ‘Water’, ‘Jupiter’ or ‘Air’ and ‘Pluto’ or ‘The Grave’ as it was believed that not even Time can harm these. Jupiter eventually banished Saturn from his thrown. Saturn was also known as the God of the Seed and Harvest being symbolised by a scythe. Those who practised the ancient art of alchemy believed that Saturn was linked to the metal lead, and that anyone born under this sign would be influenced by its evil nature. Alchemists referred to the ‘Tree of Diana’ also known as the ‘Philosopher’s Tree’ as ‘Saturn’s Tree’. Modern astrologers indeed still link the disposition of anyone born under the influence of Saturn as being likened to the qualities of the metal, these being gloomy, dull, sluggish, grave, phlegmatic:

‘Then rose the seed of Chaos and of Night To blot out order and extinguish light. Of dull and venal a new world to mould, And bring Saturnian days of lead and gold.’ Pope : Dunciad, IV, 13.

Saturday in India is traditionally believed to be an unlucky day as this is the day dedicated to the God of Misfortune named ‘Sani’. In Ireland (UK) it is believed that if a the visual phenomena of a rainbow appears on this day then the following week will be nothing but wet weather. In Scotland (UK) it was traditionally believed that any child born on this day would have the gift of seeing ghosts. In rural areas of the British Isles it was traditionally believed to be bad luck to change jobs on a Saturday, an old English (UK) rhyme to support this was:

‘Saturday servants never stay,

Sunday servants run away.’

‘Black Saturday’ was the name given to August 4 1621. It is said that a violent storm symbolically blew-up in Scotland (UK) at the moment when Parliament was in the house discussing whether to make change of the Episcopacy laws, and force this upon the people of Scotland. According to the English historian Richard Grafton certain dates of the month were unlucky as published in the ‘Manual’ in 1565. Days throughout the year were identified and of course could have related to any day of the week. The date was the most important point to consider. The work was reputed to have some credence with support given by astronomers of the day.

(For more information see Mystical WWW Mystical Time : Mystical Months).

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