Wishing You & Yours A Very Blessed Imbolc! Till tomorrow, my sweets….

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Candlemas = Renewal

Candlemas = Renewal

Each year, we celebrate February 2nd around the world. We call it Brigid, Candlemas, Imbolc, St. Brigid’s Day, and yes, of course, Groundhog’s Day. Why do we celebrate on February 2nd? Is it like President’s Day – providing a nice day for state and federal workers to stay at home? Not really… Brigid has been celebrated for many thousands of years. It is the day on which we recognize and honor the awakening of the maiden aspect of the Goddess.

Some of us celebrate the holiday as Brigid, in honor of Brigid who was a Celtic Goddess of poetry, healing, fire and smithcraft. In years past, the people of the British Isles would build a nice fire in their hearth, light torches and candles, and celebrate Brigid. What were they celebrating? The Maiden aspect of the Goddess awakes or returns from the underworld. At Winter Solstice she was impregnated with Spring. She sleeps until Brigid and returns, bringing Spring and renewal for the earth with her. The other names for this holiday are just different names for the same celebration.

Some may ask what this really has to do with us? We see that some of the animal kingdom hibernates through the dark time of the year. We tend to follow the same cycle. During the dark time of the year we retreat within ourselves. We focus internally. We stay inside our homes in the warmth and think about
what is upcoming for us. We may not even recognize it. We may not even think about it consciously, but subconsciously we are very much aware of it. We are very much a part of the spiral of birth, death, and rebirth throughout the year. We are interconnected with the earth and all that is on it. You have likely heard the old expression “Spring Fever” many times before. This is simply our anticipation of Spring’s return, when we can go out and live a full life upon the earth once more.

Often if we look at our ancestors and the His/Herstory, we can find the answers to many of our questions. I hope that everyone has a beautiful Brigid and remember… Spring is just around the corner.

Mayfair Lightwind

You Call It Groundhog Day, We Call It Imbolc

You Call It Groundhog Day, We Call It Imbolc 

Author: Peg Aloi

I trudge over the snow-covered lawn to my backdoor, ignoring my earlier tracks and breaking new ones. I enter the house this way each night, initially because I misplaced my keys, but now because I like to use this roundabout path. It allows me to look up at the huge bare trees silhoetted against the blue night sky, and to check the birdfeeders, to see if the starlings, bluejays, cardinals, chickadees, and sparrows (not to mention the marauding squirrels) need more food. Crunching through the white crust, made glassy and sugary from a recent sleet storm on top of a foot of powdery snow, the sound is enormous: crunch, crunch, CRUNCH…I am a kid again, smashing my boots onto frozen puddles and frost-rimed grass, whacking at icicles with a stick, just to hear the sound of frozen water breaking.

As I usually do, I look up to gaze upon the moon…but I can’t see it. She is shrouded in greyish, opaque mist…her light gives the clouds form but not brightness. She wears the frozen fog like a gossamer cloak, through which she may peek at any moment…for now, I can see the surface of the snow reflecting the lights of neighboring houses, lamps, televisions, throwing gleaming color across the white expanse of snow-lawn, shimmering now blue, now orange, now pale green…

I think of the approaching festival of Imbolc, the midwinter fire festival honoring Brigid, and I picture the beautiful Irish goddess up there beside her sister the Moon, also wrapped in a white gossamer cloak, both of them aglow from the cold air…offering us their gifts of healing and hope as we wait for a brief respite from the single-digit temperatures, a thaw, a day or two when the snows melt away, the buds tremble with incipient growth and all living creatures feel a small, fiery flutter deep within our beings, as we whisper, gladly, “Spring will come again! Spring will come again!”

A Day to Divine the Weather

From the time we are schoolchildren in this country, we are taught the folklore of Groundhog Day, one of the last surviving vestiges of weather divination from old European customs. If, on February 2nd, the groundhog (most notably “Punxsutawney Phil” in the small Pennsylvania town that bears his name) sees his shadow, we may expect six more weeks of winter. If he does not, good weather will arrive sooner. It is largely a meaningless holiday, since whether it is sunny or cloudy on this day has not been shown to have much effect on how soon spring arrives. But the history of Groundhog Day is far more complex than what it has become: a staged event in which poor Phil is observed in the glare of television cameras so our local meteorologists have a cute sound byte and a brief close-up of his blinking, bewildered groundhog face, a yearly ritual that appears on the morning news. The origin of Groundhog Day is derived from earlier celebrations held on the cross-quarter day of February 2, dates variously known as Brigid’s Night in Ireland (festival of the Celtic goddess of poetry, birth, weddings, smithcraft, and healing), Oimelc/Imbolc/Imbolg in Scotland, and Candlemas in England. The cross-quarter days (Samhain, Imbolc, Beltane, and Lughnasa) were always associated in ancient times with divination–the veil between the worlds is believed to be its thinnest, and the balance of energies between solstice and equinox was thought to be very significant.

The type of divination associated with each tends to be connected to the purpose of the festival or the most crucial matters pertaining to the season. For example, Beltane was a time of planting and mating of livestock; so humans practice fertility rites and divination involving marriage and romance. Samhain, being the dark time before winter and associated with the risk of death from starvation or exposure, usually has rites of communing with or honoring the dead. Lughnasa, the time of harvest, is a time of thanksgiving, but also a time of sacrifice, reflecting the killing of part of the herd to feed the community through winter; these rites often involved ritual slaying of a harvest lord and fire divination (scrying) to give strength for the coming months. At Imbolc (which means “in the belly”; Oimelc refers to milk; both terms are said to connect to the animals known to give birth at this time: sheep), when it was still very much winter in the Northern lands, this was naturally a time to divine the return of warmth and growth.

Imbolc was known as Brigid’s Night in Ireland, and was celebrated, like the other cross-quarter festivals, from the eve of the holiday through the following night. Brigid, (pronounced “Breed” and also known as Brigit, Bridget, Brighid and Brid; she gives her name to our word “bride”) as the patroness of healing and birth, was honored with sacred bonfires, symbolizing the heat of the lifeforce, kindled on this night. Fires purify and cleanse, and the fires were often utilized in rites to bless livestock, as they were at Yule. Others seeking Brigid’s blessing, particularly smiths and poets or artists, also saw their own vocations blessed by these fires: the smith, for whom fire was a necessary tool for his art, and the poet, whose creative imagination was blessed with the fire of inspiration.

Brigid and Mary:
Healing Goddesses

As the Roman Christian Church sought to usurp this holiday (as they also did with Christmas, Easter, All Soul’s Day, and Lammas, among others, which are all based on pagan festivals), they changed the name to Candlemas, thus retaining the symbols of fire. Candles were blessed by clergy, and chapels were decorated with many burning candles. Candlemas later became, for the Catholics, the Feast of Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary. In Ireland in particular, with its strong Catholic tradition, many of the early pagan goddess festivals were converted to days honoring the Virgin Mary. That February 2 became a rite of purification has several implications. First, Imbolc and Brigid’s Night both featured fires of purification. Second, February 2 was forty days after Christ’s birth; it was believed women were impure for six weeks after giving birth, and so for Mary to become pure again this holy day was necessary. As with Candlemas, churches were filled with burning candles to honor Mary’s purity–and parishioners received candles blessed by the priests. Catholics also used the blessed candles in a rite the following day called St. Blaise’s Day: parishioners were blessed with the consecrated candles held to their throats to help prevent colds and flu–maybe this is subconsciously meant to offer healing to the throat (heart) chakra, as yet another holdover to the festival of Brigid, patroness of women about to be betrothed.

Why a Groundhog?

The transition of Candlemas and other ancient celebrations to Groundhog Day dates back to the time of the Roman conquest of Northern Europe: the Christian celebration of Candlemas was associated with songs like this one:

If Candlemas be fair and bright
Come, winter, have another flight
If Candlemas brings clouds and rain,
Go, winter, and come not again.

This practice of divining the weather on this day spread to Germany, and was brought to this country by some of its first German settlers, also known as Pennsylvania Dutch: hence the location of the most famous groundhog. Also, the groundhog (also known affectionately as a woodchuck) was not the original prototypical weather-divining creature: in Europe it was a hedgehog. But early American settlers were nothing if not adaptable, and so the local creature most closely resembling a hedgehog was chosen for this ritual. Like hedgehogs, groundhogs are no-nonsense, practical animals; the same can be said for bears and badgers, who were also associated with weather divination in European folklore. If a groundhog sees his shadow on the 2nd, some inner sense tells him it’s not spring yet (does he feel the chill in the air most clear winter days have? or is the sunny day from an early thaw, which often presages a return to wintry weather?)–and he hightails it back to his burrow. Likewise, humans observe midwinter as a milestone, a moment which is on the cusp of change, between the harsh, cold winds of winter and the fragrant, sensual breezes of spring.

All Earth’s Critters

Groundhogs are exceedingly shy, and exceptionally cute. They abound in the Northeast, and as a child in western New York State, I saw them often on drives through the country, placidly sitting up on their haunches, nibbling grasses, or slowly scampering back to their burrows when a passing car scared them. That these smart, unassuming creatures, who I have admired since I was very young, are associated with a holiday I now observe as the Feast of Imbolc, or the feast of Februa, has special meaning for me now. I used to wonder why groundhogs had anything to do with predicting the weather. Now, after a lifetime spent cherishing all nature has to offer, and the last thirteen years spent honoring and learning from the many gods, goddesses, sprites, devas, fairies, dryads and other inhabitants of the natural world, I understand that all is as it should be. The earthy god of the woodlands, Pan, is revered by many witches at Imbolc, who call on him to awaken the flora and fauna in spring, and to bless them with his fiery fertility, passion and ecstasy. Pan is the perfect balance to Brigid, whose fiery energy is centered upon healing, creativity and purification. As man and beast approach a new season of rejuvenation and rebirth, they remember again what they need to do to reawaken, to survive and flourish. Just as Brigid bestows her blessings upon humans according to their needs, so Pan shares his wily knowhow and animal passion with the beasts and birds. And that includes the groundhog. May he return to sleep after his brief outing in the morning…to his groundhog burrow, comfortable and built to design as only a groundhog knows how to build…may he return to his warm, calm, unassuming, groundhog dreams, where he nibbles grasses, sits proudly up on his haunches, and waves shyly at people out for a drive in the country.

Peg Aloi

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.

Back to Basics: Imbolc

Back to Basics: Imbolc

Author: Robin Fennelly

Imbolc is here! The Witch’s Wheel has turned another notch and we welcome the opportunity to turn the heat up, step into the warmth of home and hearth and connect more deeply to those growing fires that are preparing the way for the seeding of Spring’s growth at the next turn.

This year I have decided to go back to the basics in my series of writings for the Sabbats of the Great Wheel. Sometimes the most powerful revelations can be found in the joy of seeing the celebratory act in its unembellished form. I will also be including a simple ritual for each that may be celebrated as a Solitary or added to as a group celebration.

Imbolc is a Fire festival and aligned agriculturally with the first stirrings of the hope of growing light, slowly warming weather and fields that would at mid-summer’s point be lush with flower, fruit and animal life. Imbolc celebrates the new life that has yet to push through the frost-covered ground, yet remains as a strong image of the quickening potential. We revel in the excitement of spying a single shoot of greenery and the first signs of Spring even though snow may still cover the ground. The vitality we feel as the cold winds blow are sure signs that we are alive and vibrant. And this life and vibrancy holds the promise of returning to the warmth of home and interaction with friends and family.

At the time of Imbolc we celebrate the calving season as new life emerges from mother’s womb. Milk flows freely for those young animals that will provide sustenance in the coming months ahead and we anticipate the healing that this new life will bring to the land as hungry mouths graze on lush green fields that will emerge in the months ahead. We celebrate with cheese, and milk and products that contain this protein rich elixir.

We celebrate the gaining strength of the Goddess having given birth at the Solstice to the child of Light and now bathed in the fires of revitalization seen as she begins the transition into the Maiden of Ostara. This is the affirmation of the continued cycle of life and the transformative nature of Deity as source of inspiration for their much love children of the earth in all of our forms.

The Goddess Brighid is often honored at this Sabbat. Brighid, the Goddess of the Triple Flame is invoked as a patroness of Creativity, Mistress of the Purifying Forge and the Healing Mother. She is the simple of the accumulated Hope and Promise that the next few weeks will bring. These are but a few of the gifts attributed to Brighid and at this time of the year, her energies are most aptly felt as the Fires required as both light and heat that mirror the strengthening of the sun’s light that will quicken the seeding of the earth and the sustaining of the life that inhabits it.

And, so at this time of Imbolc I offer a ritual that calls upon the energy of the Goddess, Brighid and the space for communion with her eternal flames. The following is a very simple ritual that empowers candles to be used throughout the year as needed. The gifts of Brighid are called into a large pillar and can be used as a tool of contemplative connection with the Goddess in all of her aspects. The three additional pillars are attuned to her gifts of Creativity, Healing and Purification. These can be lit and used in future ritual and meditation when you wish to bolster or catalyze endeavors making use of these supports.

Note: I could have given you more information about Brighid, but that is part of the basic approach and the beauty of entering into communion with Deity open to the possibilities of what will be revealed.

The Flames of the Goddess

You will need:
1 Tall White Pillar candle and holder
3 Smaller White Pillars and holders for each
White cloth to place on whatever surface you have chosen and your altar space

The color White is the symbol of purity, clarity and the brilliance of all colors lit from within.

Arrange the candles on a flat surface (altar space) on top of the white cloth. Place the tall pillar candle behind a row of the 3/smaller pillars placed in front. Leave a small 3” of space between each of the three

Create Sacred Space in accord with your spiritual path and when your space is readied, come to stand before your altar set with the candles. Pick up the Large Pillar and hold it at your heart center.

Breathe deeply and acknowledge the heat that flows in through nostril and mouth and fills your lungs. Take another deep breath, expanding on this feeling of fullness, light and warmth. Take a third deep breath, and as you exhale offer the intention of this inner heat, the stoked fires within and release its energy into the white candle of the Goddess. This is your breath of inspiration that will invoke the Goddess Brighid. Continue to hold the candle and open to the sensation of this energy filling and connecting to it. Envision this candle as the conduit between Brighid’s Fires and the space of the Goddess and her flames within.

Approach your altar, replace the candle on its holder and invoke the Goddess Brighid:

I invoke Brighid, Goddess of the Triple Flame
She whose flame burns brightest in the work of creation.

I invoke Brighid, mistress of the Forge and transformer
Who purifies and prepares what seeks remaking.

I invoke Brighid, healer and holder of the inner light
That burns away discomfort and dis-ease.

I invoke Brighid, the Fiery Arrow, warrior and patroness
Who brings Will to action and whose sword of Truth
Pierces the veil of illusion.

I invoke Brighid to be with me in this rite of Imbolc
As I seek the flames of creativity, truth and healing.

Take a deep breath, and when you sense the energy of the Goddess is present, make statement: Hail and Welcome!

Turn your focus towards the Large White Pillar. And, as you light it make declaration:

May this candle serve as the life giving flame of Brighid.
May this candle serve as the embodiment of the Goddess in this rite.
May the flame rise in honor of the Fiery One as it lights the way
For the work of this Sabbat of Imbolc.

Spend some time envisioning the gifts of the Goddess flowing in and through this candle. Gaze into the heart of the flame and envision the fires of creative action moving in its light. Gaze into the heart of the flame and envision the fires that heal and cauterize even the deepest of wounds. Gaze into the heart of the flame and envision the fires of purification that reveal the greater truths.

When you feel the fullness of these energies present within this candle, turn your focus to the smaller white pillars.

The Light of Creativity

Firmly holding the first pillar in your hand, bring it up to the space of your heart. As you hold this pillar, pour the intention of opening to your Creative Fires. Envision this in whatever way is strongest for you. It may be seeing the completion of a project you have been contemplating. It may present as the burgeoning of a new idea. Make sure the image is strong and clear in its intent.

Take a deep breath of inhalation and as you exhale push the energy of this intention through the heart center, through your hands and into the body of the white pillar. Take two more deep breaths of inhalation, each exhalation pouring more and more of this energy into the pillar. Lift the pillar to your Brighid Candle and light it from the Flame of the Goddess.

As you hold the newly lit candle of Brighid’s Creativity, acknowledge the power and energy flowing through it. Gaze into the heat of its flame envisioning all that this flame of Creativity holds as potential. Open to the exchange of its energy moving into your physical form, enlivening and quickening the whole of your being and when you are ready place this Pillar of Creativity back on its holder.

The Light of Healing

Firmly holding the second pillar in your hand, bring it up to the space of your heart. As you hold this pillar, pour the intention of opening to your Healing Fires. Envision this in whatever way is strongest for you. It may be seeing yourself completing your physical tasks with energy and strength. It may be seeing yourself as whole, healthy and filled with vitality. Make sure the image is strong and clear in its intent.

Take a deep breath of inhalation and as you exhale push the energy of this intention through the heart center, through your hands and into the body of the white pillar. Take two more deep breaths of inhalation, each exhalation pouring more and more of this energy into the pillar. Lift the pillar to your Brighid Candle and light it from the Flame of the Goddess.

As you hold the newly lit candle of Brighid’s Healing, acknowledge the power and energy flowing through it. Gaze into the heat of its flame envisioning all that this flame of Healing holds as potential. Open to the exchange of its energy moving into your physical form, enlivening and quickening the whole of your being and when you are ready place this Pillar of Healing back on its holder.

The Light of Purification

Gently holding the third pillar in your hand, bring it up to the space of your heart. As you hold this pillar, pour the intention of opening to your Fires of Purification. Envision this in whatever way is strongest for you. It may be seeing the release of what holds you inert and does not serve. It may be seeing yourself through the eyes of your Higher Self and the purification of untrue beliefs you hold about yourself. Make sure the image is strong and clear in its intent.

Take a deep breath of inhalation and as you exhale push the energy of this intention through the heart center, through your hands and into the body of the white pillar. Take two more deep breaths of inhalation, each exhalation pouring more and more of this energy into the pillar. Lift the pillar to your Brighid Candle and light it from the Flame of the Goddess.

As you hold the newly lit candle of Brighid’s Purification, acknowledge the power and energy flowing through it. Gaze into the heat of its flame envisioning all that this flame of Purification holds as potential. Open to the exchange of its energy moving into your physical form, enlivening and quickening the whole of your being and when you are ready place this Pillar of Purification back on its holder.

Let your gaze move from one candle to the next and the beauty of the Triple flames of the Goddess, each strong and centered as energies that may be accessed individually or as a whole. Spend as much time as you wish, sensing the energy flowing between each and the resonance of these flames within your own being.

When you are ready, offer this intention to those seen and unseen:

Before me is the Flame of Brighid
Whole and complete in its energy

Before me are the Triple Flames
All part of me as child of the Divine

Creativity burns brightly in
All of my endeavors as the
Goddess weaves her magick
Of quickening new life

Healing flows with heat and
Strength as I stand full and
Whole in the reflection of
The Goddess’ healing light

Purification sets ablaze that
Which no longer serves and
What remains is the fertile
Space of my Divine Self

Before me is the Flame of Brighid
One shall become three and
Three seek the return to one
Whole and complete in its
Power to Transform

So Mote It Be!

Let the candles continue to burn as you thank the Goddess for her presence and her gifts. Allow the words of gratitude to flow as they will in sincerity and truth. When you have ended this thanks, make declaration of: Hail and Farewell!

Allow the candles to remain burning as you release Sacred Space in accord with your spiritual path. And, as the last action, gently pinch the flames; beginning with the three pillars to extinguish. Extinguish the Brighid candle, last.

The reason for not extinguishing the candles before Sacred Space has been released is the intent that you are bringing the magick and energy of these candles into the manifest and mundane world with you. Any of these candles may be burnt whenever you feel the need for Creativity, Healing, Purification or connection to the Goddess in all of her forms.

May the blessings of the Goddess be ever with you

Please enjoy the accompanying poem in the WitchVox poetry section:
Flames of Imbolc

A Little Humor for Your Day – You Might be Giving Pagans a Bad Name If…

You Might be Giving Pagans a Bad Name If…

 

You insist that your boss call you “Rowan Starchild” because otherwise you’d sue for religious harassment. (Score double for this if you don’t let that patronizing dastard call you “Mr. or Ms. Starchild.”)

You request Samhain, Beltaine, and Yule off and then gripe about working Christmas.

You expect your employer to exempt you from the random drug testing because of your religion.

You think the number of Wiccan books you own is far more important than the number you have read, regardless of the fact that most of your books are for beginners.

You’ve won an argument by referencing “Drawing Down the Moon,” knowing darned good and well they haven’t read it either.

You said it was bigotry when they didn’t let you do that ritual in front of city hall. It had nothing to do with the skyclad bit.

You picketed The Craft and Hocus Pocus, but thought that the losers who picketed The Last Temptation of Christ needed to get lives.

You’ve ever had to go along with someone’s ludicrous story because it was twice as likely to be true than most of the nonsense you spout.

You complain about how much the Native Americans copied from Eclectic Wiccan Rites.

You’ve ever referenced the Great Rite in a pick-up line.

Someone has had to point out to you that you do not enter a circle “in perfect love and perfect lust.” (Score double if you argued the point.)

You claim yourself as a witch because how early you were trained by the wise and powerful such-and-such of whom nobody has heard.

You claim to be a famtrad (hereditary), but you’re not. (Score double if you had to tell people you were adopted to pull this off.)

You claim to be a descendant of one of the original Salem Witches. (Score to a lethal degree if you don’t get this one.)

You think it’s perfectly reasonable to insist that, since every tradition is different, and no one tradition is right, there’s no reason not to do things your way.

You’ve ever been psychically attacked by someone who conveniently held a coven position you crave, and suddenly had a glimpse into their mind so you could see how evil they were.

You’ve ever affected an Irish or Scottish accent and insisted that it was real.

You think it’s your Pagan Duty to support the IRA, not because of any political beliefs you might share, but because, dammit, they’re Irish.

You talk to your invisible guardians in public. (Score double if you have met the Vampire Lestat or Dracula, triple if you got into a fight and escaped, or quadruple if it was no contest.)

You’ve ever confused the Prime Directive with the Wiccan Rede.

You’ve ever tried something you saw on “Sabrina, The Teenage Witch”

You’ve suddenly realized in the middle of a ritual that you weren’t playing D&D.

You’ve failed to realize at any point in the ritual that you weren’t playing D&D.

You’ve suddenly realized that you are playing D&D.

You hang out with people who each match at least fifteen of these traits.

You recognize many of these traits in yourself, but this test isn’t about you. But, boy, it’s right about those other folks.

by Cather “Catalyst” Steincamp

eCauldron.com

Astronomy Picture of the Day – Comet 67P from Spacecraft Rosetta

Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

2016 February 2

Comet 67P from Spacecraft Rosetta
Image Credit & Licence: ESA, Rosetta, NAVCAM

 

Explanation: Spacecraft Rosetta continues to circle and map Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Crossing the inner Solar System for ten years to reach the vicinity of the comet in 2014, the robotic spacecraft continues to image the unusual double-lobed comet nucleus. The featured image, taken one year ago, shows dust and gas escaping from the comet’s nucleus. Although appearing bright here, the comet’s surface reflects only about four percent of impinging visible light, making it as dark as coal. Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko spans about four kilometers in length and has a surface gravity so low that an astronaut could jump off of it. With Rosetta in tow, Comet 67P passed its closest to the Sun last year and is now headed back to the furthest point — just past the orbit of Jupiter.

Earth Sky News for Feb. 2nd: Moon, Saturn, Antares on February 3

Moon, Saturn, Antares on February 3

Before dawn on Wednesday, February 3, 2016, watch for the waning crescent moon shining close to the golden planet Saturn. The fainter, twinkling, ruddy object in the vicinity of the moon and Saturn is Antares, the brightest star in the constellation Scorpius the Scorpion. Antares represents the Scorpion’s Heart.

You can’t see Saturn’s rings through ordinary field binoculars, though binoculars are great for getting an eyeful of earthshine on the dark side of the moon.

But you can view Saturn’s rings with a modest backyard telescope. Try your luck tomorrow, before dawn.

Once you’ve identified Saturn, jump off from there to witness all five visible planets in the same sky. From east to west, the five visible planets are Mercury, Venus, Saturn, Mars and Jupiter. Look for Mars and Jupiter a good ways to the west of the ringed planet. The bow of the lunar crescent points in the direction of Venus and Mercury near the southeast horizon, but don’t expect to see Mercury until darkness first begins to give way to dawn (80 to 70 minutes before sunrise).

The five visible planets will adorn the February morning sky until around February 20. In the chart below, Mars shines close to due south, so Jupiter lies outside this chart in the southwest sky. Scroll to the bottom of this post for an additional chart showing Jupiter and all five planets in the morning sky.

In their order of brightness, the five planets are Venus, Jupiter, Mercury, Saturn and Mars. Mercury may not appear as bright as Saturn or Mars, however, because the solar system’s innermost planet sits so close to the horizon and in the glare of sunrise.

Bottom line: Before dawn on Wednesday, February 3, 2016, let the moon introduce you to Saturn – and, in fact, all five visible morning planets.

 

Author

Bruce McClure

Article published on EarthSky