‘THINK on THESE THINGS’ for January 28th

‘THINK on THESE THINGS’
By Joyce Sequichie Hifler

There may be many reasons why man wants to conquer the world, but there is something youthful and soul-stirring to be able to do it for somebody. Living within oneself is barren and shallow, lacking in warmth and without understanding. But where we can be outgoing and giving, the importance of others becomes doubly strong.

It is impossible to even be selfish without the help of others. Who would we take from, blame troubles on, resent, and criticize? But more important, who would care when we’re ill, who would be happy when we’re blessed, and who would love us when we least deserve it?

The world may be deluged with problems and solutions, laws to live by, formulas, fear, faith, and the everlasting struggle to survive in the face of others, but it is just as necessary to share laughter in happiness, to know God in a sunset, and to feel joy in a sunrise, all more beautiful because of others.

Victor Hugo wrote that the greatest happiness in life is in knowing that others love us, for ourselves, or rather, they love us in spite of ourselves

____________________________________

Available online! ‘Cherokee Feast of Days’
By Joyce Sequichie Hifler.

Visit her web site to purchase the wonderful books by Joyce as gifts for yourself or for loved ones……and also for those who don’t have access to the Internet: http://www.hifler.com
Click Here to Buy her books at Amazon.com

Elder’s Meditation of the Day
By White Bison, Inc., an American Indian-owned nonprofit organization. Order their many products from their web site: http://www.whitebison.org

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Elder’s Meditation of the Day – January 28

Elder’s Meditation of the Day – January 28

“We call it the `sacred’ red road because it is the road that will lead us to living the good life, an honest and healthy life.”

–Larry P. Aitken, CHIPPEWA

The Red Road is the path we walk on when we want a direct relationship with the Great Spirit. This requires sacrifice. This requires us to have our beliefs tested. To walk this path is really an honor. The returns for doing so are exciting, not only for ourselves but for the effect that will be felt for three generations. This means your children will see the benefits as well as your grandchildren. Do I want to walk this sacred road?

Great Spirit, guide myself and my family on the Red Road.

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January 28 – Daily Feast

January 28 – Daily Feast

Speak to me of serenity, of treasures yet to be found, of peace that flows like a river. Tell me of tranquil places that no hand has marred, no storm has scarred. Give me visions of standing in sunlight or the feeling of spring mist against my cheek as I live and move and breathe. Show me paths that wind through the wild lilies and beds of buttercups. Sing me songs like the mingled voices of wrens and meadowlarks, the lowing of gentle cows, the soft mother-call of a mare to her colt. Lead me past a glass-smooth pond where frogs croak of coming-out parties, their graduation from frisky tadpoles to squat green frogs. Find me a place in the sunlight to sit and think and listen to the sweet inner voice that says so quietly, “Peace, be still.”

~ To hi ge se s di ~

PEACE ON EARTH

‘A Cherokee Feast of Days’, by Joyce Sequichie Hifler

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Daily Motivator for January 28th – When the challenges are great

When the challenges are great

When the challenges are great, so are the rewards. If the journey is long,  there is much value to be gained in making it.

When people criticize what you’re doing, it means you’re making a difference.  When you keep encountering obstacles, it means you’re moving forward.

Just because you experience life’s difficulties is not a reason to be  dismayed. Keep in mind that the more solidly you’re making progress the more  resistance you’ll feel.

Feel the resistance, and realize that the very fact you’re feeling it push  against you means you’re pushing forward through it. Feel the palpable sense of  progress, and keep going.

Just on the other side of challenge is achievement. Just on the other side of  the obstacle you’re facing is your next step on the path forward.

Persist through one challenge, and another, and another. You’ll emerge as a  much stronger person, having created great new value in your world.

— Ralph Marston

The Daily Motivator

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The Daily OM for January 28th – Who Am I

Who Am I
The Heart of Unknowing

by Madisyn Taylor

The question of who we are is a seed that can bear much fruit if given the chance to unfold.

At some point in our lives, or perhaps at many points in our lives, we ask the question, “Who am I? At times like these, we are looking beyond the obvious, beyond our names and the names of the cities and states we came from, into the layers beneath our surface identities. We may feel the need for a deeper sense of purpose in our lives, or we may be ready to accommodate a more complex understanding of the situation in which we find ourselves. Whatever the case, the question of who we are is a seed that can bear much fruit.

It can send us on an exploration of our ancestry, or the past lives of our soul. It can call us to take up journaling in order to discover that voice deep within us that seems to know the answers to a multitude of questions. It can draw our attention so deeply inward that we find the spark of spirit that connects us to every living thing in the universe. One Hindu tradition counsels its practitioners to ask the question over and over, using it as a mantra to lead them inevitably into the heart of the divine.

While there are people who seem to come into the world knowing who they are and why they are here, for the most part the human journey appears to be very much about asking this question and allowing its answers to guide us on our paths. So when we find ourselves in the heart of unknowing, we can have faith that we are in a very human place, as well as a very divine one. “Who am I? is a timeless mantra, a Zen koan ultimately designed to lead us home, into the part of our minds that finally lets go of questions and answers and finds instead the ability to simply be.

The Daily OM

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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

 

About.com

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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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Imbolc…or As The Wheel Turns

Imbolc…or As The Wheel Turns

Author:   Morbek 

As the wheel turns…

Sorry, that was a, now obscure, reference to an old soap opera. Imbolc is tomorrow! The meaning of the word it’s self is “in the milk” or something close to that. The real meaning of Imbolc is that we are beginning to see the changes in the days and that spring will eventually be here!

The promise that we will be able to survive another year and thrive is starting to materialize. When Imbolc was Christianized, it became Candlemas, and is a celebration of light. We have just moved through the darkest part of the year and we are headed for the light.

So, beyond the textbook stuff, let’s look at what this Sabbat means to 21st century people. Since we get our milk and meat from the grocery store and no longer have to plan out how and what we will be eating for more than 24 hours, agrarian celebrations no longer resonate with a clear message or meaning for most of us.

We get up in the morning, go to work, grab lunch…. you know the routine. How or even why do we care if ewes are starting to produce milk? We don’t and it is that simple. But if you think about what the last few months have been like, dark, wet dreary, you can identify with the longing for bright blue skies and nice warm weather. Imbolc reminds us that, in a chaotic world, there are many things we can still predict. Stability is important to us.

This Sabbat is also an opportunity for us to bring ourselves, spiritually, into the light. The “Dark night of our soul” is almost over and we have a chance to reflect about the lessons we’ve learned through the tough times and integrate them into our personal wisdom and offer them to others’ through collective wisdom.

I encourage everyone to recognize that what we’ve gone through is over and we never have to visit those same dark days again. Remember the difficulties, glean the lessons learned and then let go of the pain and fear. There is no way to move forward into perfect love and perfect trust if you are clinging onto fear or emotional pain. Imbolc presents an occasion to learn and let go!

Humans are obsessed with marking time. Months, years, decades, centuries, are important mental markers. They Mayan people were so obsessed with time keeping that they wrote a calendar for the past as well as the future. I think our obsession is, in part, a need to compare our personal growth. We need mental cairn to see “from whence we came’.

So, where was I 10 years ago? Living in Pony, MT!

I was secretly wishing that the world would go to hell in a hand basket because of Y2K but I knew it wouldn’t because some pretty smart people who caused that little glitch, were still around to fix that little glitch. I was dealing w/that lovely inner ear/vertigo issue that I have called Meniers’ disease for the first time! I was scared because I had no spirituality and I was on the run from a stalker (hence, why I was in Pony (middle of no where) Montana) .

Where am I now? In Killeen, TX!

The world did go to hell in a hand basket but it had nothing to do with a computer glitch.
I still have the Meniers disease but it’s under control with medication. I have a spiritual system that works especially well for me so I am no longer afraid. And I have taken a stand against the stalker (yes…. 10 years later. He is still at it) .

Imbolc 2010 has presented me with an inner reflection opportunity. Having just attended the Army’s “Spiritual Fitness Summit” with some really smart, spiritual and powerful chaplains, I discovered what has kept most of us from being open to acceptance of other religious systems is fear.

Once I started talking while we were working in our small groups to set the U.S. Army’s definition of spirituality, everyone began to relax. I am guessing that they figured out that I wasn’t going to sacrifice anything in the middle of the room!!! Then this group of men did something I did not expect them to do…they listened to me! Balance will now be included in the definition of healthy spirituality as well as the recognition of nontraditional religions, either formal or informal!

What should be addressed here isn’t “wow, look at the good stuff I’ve done. Yay me!”

I want to look at the road that it took to get to where I am. I want to remember the lessons that I learned on that road (which was full of pot holes and always a construction zone) and i want to, somehow, help others to see that life is a good place to be when you are living in the moment!

I have always felt a call to serve others. Even when I was much younger and being self-centered, spoiled and without a clue what Personal Responsibility, Compassion and Unconditional love meant. I thought that I was too fat for the military so serving there was not going to work and I needed to be doing something that earned money. I wanted to raise children, so the convent was out! Besides….I like sex way too much to give that up for the god of Abraham! What to do? I was stuck at 20…then, along came my eldest child and, thankfully, my (still) best friend, Tara.

Yes, I know…I went back MUCH further than 10 years, stay with me here.

Because of my choice to become a mother, I learned responsibility and because of my oldest daughters’ network of friends (thanks Mark…I owe you one for this lesson) I learned personal responsibility and compassion.

Tara stood by me through all of my thoughtlessness, insults, screw-ups and selfishness. Tara was there for all times, the good and the horrible. Tara taught me that you could love the person but not their actions. She taught me that you love without conditions and you love freely without expectations of being loved back. Because of Tara, I learned unconditional love.

So, what am I doing with all of these lessons? I am making an attempt to teach them to others in a gentler manner than I learned them. I am leading, as best I can, by example. I have been smart enough to form friendships with deep connections with people who will call me on my bullsh*t so that I can do it while not giving all of myself while serving others…or so that I can do it and not be a hypocrite by doing it for my ego.

November 5th is the day my father died when i was 15. November 5th two thousand and nine is the day that I found my feet. It is the day that I honestly answered that call to serve others. THAT is another article for a later time.

Blessed Imbolc, be fearless and loving!

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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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