Here is some information that I gather over the year about Imbolc

Imbolc Lore
(2nd) February 15 degrees  Aquarius
Imbolc, (pronounced “IM-bulk” or “EM-bowlk”), also called Oimealg, (“IM-mol’g), by the Druids, is the festival of the lactating sheep. It is derived from the Gaelic word “oimelc” which means “ewes milk”. Herd animals have either given birth to the first offspring of the year or their wombs are swollen and the milk of life is flowing into their teats and udders. It is the time of Blessing of the seeds and consecration of agricultural tools. It marks the center point of the dark half of the year. It is the festival of the Maiden, for from this day to March 21st, it is her season to prepare for growth and renewal. Brighid’s snake emerges from the womb of the Earth Mother to test the weather, (the origin of Ground Hog Day), and in many places the first Crocus flowers began to spring forth from the frozen earth.

The Maiden is honored, as the Bride, on this Sabbat. Straw Brideo’gas (corn dollies) are created from oat or wheat straw and placed in baskets with white flower bedding. Young girls then carry the Brideo’gas door to door, and gifts are bestowed upon the image from each household. Afterwards at the traditional feast, the older women make special acorn wands for the dollies to hold, and in the morning the ashes in the hearth are examined to see if the magic wands left marks as a good omen. Brighid’s Crosses are fashioned from wheat stalks and exchanged as symbols of protection and prosperity in the coming year. Home hearth fires are put out and re-lit, and a besom is place by the front door to symbolize sweeping out the old and welcoming the new. Candles are lit and placed in each room of the house to honor the re-birth of the Sun.

Another traditional symbol of Imbolc is the plough. In some areas, this is the first day of ploughing in preparation of the first planting of crops. A decorated plough is dragged from door to door, with costumed children following asking for food, drinks, or money. Should they be refused, the household is paid back by having its front garden ploughed up. In other areas, the plough is decorated and then Whiskey, the “water of life” is poured over it. Pieces of cheese and bread are left by the plough and in the newly turned furrows as offerings to the nature spirits. It is considered taboo to cut or pick plants during this time.

Various other names for this Greater Sabbat are Imbolgc Brigantia (Caledonni), Imbolic (Celtic), Disting (Teutonic, Feb 14th), Lupercus (Strega), St. Bridget’s Day (Christian), Candlemas, Candlelaria (Mexican), the Snowdrop Festival. The Festival of Lights, or the Feast of the Virgin. All Virgin and Maiden Goddesses are honored at this time.
Imbolc, Agriculture and Aquarius

Astrologers know that Imbolc falls with the Sun at the midpoint of the sign Aquarius, the Water Bearer, who lives today as the astrological symbol of rebellion and eccentricity. As with Imbolc, there are always at least two versions of the story with Aquarius. Is it an air sign or a water sign? (It’s an air sign with water themes and imagery.) Is it ruled by, or associated with Saturn or Uranus? (Traditionally Saturn rules it, but in modern astrology most astrologers use Uranus.) Do those wavy lines represent air or water? (All waves are waves of energy.) Is the Water Bearer a male figure or female? (Probably male, but usually represented female.)

The constellation Aquarius, known to be among the oldest named configurations of stars, stands, according to Catherine Tenant, “with his foot on the head of the great Southern fish, into whose mouth his waters pour.” She traces the god Aquarius back to Babylon, noting that he rules over a huge area of the sky where are gathered the Southern fish, the dolphin, the zodiac fishes (Pisces), the mighty River Eridanus (the River of Night) and Cetus the sea monster. These ancient waters and their primal creatures were “seen as the source of life, through which the Sun passed during the rainy season.”

In the hands of Aquarius, says Tenant, is the Norma Nilotica, the stick used to measure the waters of the Nile River, an important indicator of agricultural success, and hence of survival. In these same rainy days of winter, half-a-world away, the Celts were busy with agricultural matters of their own: doing the earliest preparations for planting in coming spring. A feast marked the waning of winter. Germans in Europe and Indians in the New World were taking stock of how much remained of their winter rations. The ability to manage their food supply was critical to their survival through the remaining weeks of cold.

Deities of Imbolc:
All Virgin/Maiden Goddesses, Brighid, Aradia, Athena, Inanna, Gaia, and Februa, and Gods of Love and Fertility, Aengus Og, Eros, and Februus.

Symbolism of Imbolc:
Purity, Growth and Re-Newal, The Re-Union of the Goddess and the God, Fertility, and dispensing of the old and making way for the new.

Symbols of Imbolc:
Brideo’gas, Besoms, White Flowers, Candle Wheels, Brighid’s Crosses, Priapic Wands (acorn-tipped), and Ploughs.

Herbs of Imbolc:
Angelica, Basil, Bay Laurel, Blackberry, Celandine, Coltsfoot, Heather, Iris, Myrrh, Tansy, Violets, and all white or yellow flowers.

Foods of Imbolc:
Pumpkin seeds, Sunflower seeds, Poppyseed Cakes, muffins, scones, and breads, all dairy products, Peppers, Onions, Garlic, Raisins, Spiced Wines and Herbal Teas.

Incense of Imbolc:
Basil, Bay, Wisteria, Cinnamon, Violet, Vanilla, Myrrh.

Colors of Imbolc:
White, Pink, Red, Yellow, lt. Green, Brown.

Stones of Imbolc:
Amethyst, Bloodstone, Garnet, Ruby, Onyx, Turquoise.

Activities of Imbolc:
Candle Lighting, Stone Gatherings, Snow Hiking and Searching for Signs of Spring, Making of Brideo’gas and Bride’s Beds, Making Priapic Wands, Decorating Ploughs, Feasting, and Bon Fires maybe lit.
Symbols: Candles, the Bride, Burrowing Animals, Grain Dolly, Sun Wheels
Ritual Meaning: Honor of the Virgin Goddess, First Signs of returning life, and the Festival of Light
Key Action: Open and Begin
Ritual Oils: Jasmine, Apricot, Carnation, Sweet Pea, Neroli and Olive.
Stones: Amethyst, Bloodstone, Garnet, Ruby, Onyx, and Turquoise.
Plants: Angelica, Basil, Bay Laurel, Blackberry, Celandine, Coltsfoot, Heather, Iris, Myrrh, Tansy, Violets, and all white or yellow flowers
Activities: Candle lighting, Searching for Signs of Spring, Gathering Stones
Taboos: Cutting or Picking Plants.
Animals: Wolf, Snake, Swan, Vulture, Robin, Burrowing Animals, Sheep, Lamb, and Deer
Mythical Creatures: Firebird, Dragon, Berometz
Deities: Aradia, Arachne, Arianrhod, Athena, Brighid, Blaize, Branwen, Februa, Gaea, Inanna, Lucina, Vesta, Cupid/Eros, Diancecht, Dumuzi, and Februus
.
Drinks: Milk, Spiced Wines and Herbal Teas.

Imbolc is traditionally a time of weather prognostication,
and the old tradition of watching to see if serpents or badgers
came from their winter dens is perhaps a precursor to the North American Groundhog Day.
A Scottish Gaelic proverb about the day is:

Thig an nathair as an toll
La donn Bride,
Ged robh tri traighean dh’ an t-sneachd
Air leachd an lair.

“The serpent will come from the hole
On the brown Day of Bride,
Though there should be three feet of snow
On the flat surface of the ground.”

Fire and purification are an important aspect of this festival.
Brigid (also known as Brighid, Bríde, Brigit, Brìd) is the goddess of poetry, healing and smithcraft.
As both goddess and saint she is also associated with holy wells, sacred flames, and healing.
The lighting of candles and fires represents the return of warmth and the increasing power of the Sun over the coming months.

~ ~ ~ ~
One folk tradition that continues in both Christian and Pagan homes on St. Brigid’s Day (or Imbolc) is that of the Brigid’s Bed.
The girls and young, unmarried women of the household or village create a corn dolly to represent Brigid,
called the Brideog (“little Brigid” or “young Brigid”), adorning it with ribbons and baubles like shells or stones.
They make a bed for the Brideog to lie in. On St. Brigid’s Eve (January 31),
the girls and young women gather together in one house to stay up all night with the Brideog,
and are later visited by all the young men of the community who must ask permission to enter the home,
and then treat them and the corn dolly with respect

Brigid is said to walk the earth on Imbolc eve.
Before going to bed, each member of the household may leave a piece of clothing or strip of cloth outside for Brigid to bless.
The head of the household will smother (or “smoor”) the fire and rake the ashes smooth.
In the morning, they look for some kind of mark on the ashes, a sign that Brigid has passed that way in the night or morning.
The clothes or strips of cloth are brought inside, and believed to now have powers of healing and protection.
On the following day, the girls carry the Brideog through the village or neighborhood, from house to house, where this representation of the Saint/goddess is welcomed with great honor.
Adult women — those who are married or who run a household — stay home to welcome the Brigid procession,
perhaps with an offering of coins or a snack.
Since Brigid represents the light half of the year, and the power that will bring people from the dark season of winter into spring,
her presence is very important at this time of year.

Wiccans celebrate a variation of Imbolc as one of four “fire festivals”, which make up half of the eight holidays (or “sabbats”),
of the wheel of the year. Imbolc is defined as a cross-quarter day, midway between the winter solstice (Yule) and the spring equinox (Ostara).
The precise astrological midpoint in the Northern hemisphere is when the sun reaches fifteen degrees of Aquarius.
In the Southern hemisphere, if celebrated as the beginning of Spring, the date is the midpoint of Leo.
Among Dianic Wiccans, Imbolc (also known as “Candlemas”) is the traditional time for initiations.
The Cailleach, the Return of Bride,
and Groundhog Day

One of Brigid / Bride’s titles is “Two-Faced.” This doesn’t mean She was deceitful. It means She was seen as having one side of Her face as light and beautiful, and the other of Her face as pitch black and frightful.
In Her Winter form, She is called the Cailleach (pronounced, if I have it right, as KAY-loch — with the “ch” sounding like a “K” that doesn’t quite make it past all the air you’re putting out, or perhaps a very gummy “H” in the back of your throat).
The Cailleach is a Gaelic hag — a Crone Goddess, Queen of Winter … She who is displaced by the Goddess of Spring, Brigid.
There is an ancient Celtic legend that points to the transformation of the Cailleach, the Crone of Winter, into Brigid, the Maiden of Spring. It’s called The Return of Bride. No, it’s not some horror tale… it’s a love story!

The Return of Bride

The Cailleach, the Hag of Winter, had imprisoned a maiden named Bride in Her high mountain home.
She knew that Her son Angus-the-Ever-Young (a Sun God) had fallen in love with this fair girl. The Cailleach also knew that if these two ever married, Her own reign would be over: Angus would be the Summer King and Bride would be the Summer Queen.
Smitten and not to be deterred, Angus set out to find Bride. Irish weather in February could be treacherous, though, so Angus borrowed 3 days from August within which to search.
With this fine weather, he was riding and searching through deep woods. As it turned out, the Cailleach had sent Bride out to take advantage of the sunshine and gather in some more wood for the fire.
Angus searched high and low, and eventually he was led to Bride by the sound of Her singing.
She immediately loved the shining young man just as he loved Her. The two of them eloped.
The furious Cailleach chased after them riding on her shaggy black goat, sending wave after wave of terrible storms to slow them down.
In the end, though, She was forced to recognise that the rising tide of life was too powerful. She cast down her magick hammer at that moment, and turned into a boulder on the side of the mountain, where She had to stay until Winter returned.
The Cailleach is an ancient deity, far predating the arrival of the Celts in Ireland, and it could be that this story is thousands of years old. At any rate, this story illustrates the transition from Winter Goddess to Summer Goddess, the dark face of the year to the bright face of the year.

A Note on Groundhog Day

Celebrating Groundhog Day on Imbolc is actually related to Brigid as Goddess of Spring.
When Brigid returns, not only green leafy life begins to make its way to the surface, but the dormant animal life also begins to rise, as eloquently demonstrated by the hibernating animals rising from their beds beneath the Earth.
This is a time when the Hag of Winter begins to yield to the Maiden of Spring. But She doesn’t always do so willingly.
There is another ancient Celtic legend of the Gaelic hag, the Cailleach.
It says that on the first day of Spring by the Celtic calendar (Imbolc), the Cailleach would venture out of doors to restock her firewood supply, to see Her through the rest of the winter.
If She plans on keeping the winter going for a good long time, she makes sure the weather on the first day of Spring is sunny and clear, so She can gather a lot of firewood to keep Herself warm for many weeks.
If the weather on this day is bad, however, it means the Cailleach is still asleep and won’t be getting more firewood. So rather than going cold Herself, She’ll be sure to bring an end to the winter soon.
How does this tie in with Groundhog Day?
Simple: if the Cailleach makes a sunny day, the groundhog will be able to see its shadow, so we know that She’s gathering firewood… and we’ll be in for a long cold spell. If She sleeps through it and the day remains cloudy, the groundhog won’t see its shadow, so we know that winter will be over soon.
Who knew that Groundhog Day and the Hag Goddess were linked in any way??

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Ancestors altars

As Wiccan, we honor and hold dear our ancestors, from the beginning of time we have took time to see the path of those that had when before us .
An ancestor or forebear is a parent or (recursively) the parent of an ancestor (i.e., a grandparent, great-grandparent, great-great-grandparent, and so forth). Ancestor is “any person from whom one is descended.
Honor die is another name, often used for them
Here at Samhain we often spend time giving them offering and working with them, however you do not need a Sabbath to talk with or work with your ancestors,
I personally recommend that you would work with them often as they are with you always; with in a breath they are there with you. They always have a connection with you, and when no one is there they are with you and will help more than most people.
When setting up your altar you want to think you want their place, to be with you a good place is in the kitchen or dining room but if your family gather more in the living room and that always the center of your family active, then it might be better to set up your ancestor altar in that space.

What go one to ancestor altar is really up to you, but here are some examples
• Pictures, as long as they are only of your crossed over ancestor I would not place pictures of the living there
• A glass of water so they can pull the energy out for them self, changing it daily or weekly
• White anything other than salt
• Salt does not help the ancestor it will hurt them so nothing with salt in it
• On special days rice cook unsalted would be good for an offering
• A white candle, that you light for them to show them that you ready to talk,
• If they had a favor tobacco or love coffee you can set that with them to enjoy

What do you do with an ancestor altar; this is a place with in your home of remembrance but it also a place where you can go and talk with them , offer pray for them and also work out your problem with their help.
It is also a place for you to still have connection with the spirits of them
I love to hear your ideas and thought on work with your ancestors
.

Steping up to the circle.

 

When first starting out being a Wiccan it is a bit confusing. Often not an easy choice at first there so many choices to make

Do you seek a coven or just think you want to try it on your own?

Covens, especially for new wiccans, are hard to find. Normally they are not on every corner and just pop out, to you. Hanging out at magical shops and networking with others is normally your path Also talking and doing your research, on traditions and groups that teach maybe a 101 program,

If you chose to work it on your own then you going to have a lot of choices as to which books to follow and where your views are. There are many books out there that have information and ideas for you.

Most normally go for one of two books,” To Ride a Silver Broomstick” by Silver Ravenwolf or “The Complete Guide to Witchcraft “by Ray Buckland a.k.a the big blue book

Both are good work book types that give you information and allow you to work step by step to form your new self and new beliefs. The information adds to your understanding at a pace you can digest and process and encourages you to listen to yourself. Both books break down the information and also explain the why’s, how’s, and when’s. Plus both are workbook types that give you more room to research, study, and build on what the books have to offer you.
If you chose to seek out a coven, chose one that is good for you and that you feel comfortable with. You might want to visit with the leaders and talk about the program and visit a few rituals before joining and setting out to the path. Talk with others in the group to see how things feel to you, but remember just because they have their ways of seeing things. Let your self have your own way of seeing things. Question yourself, others in the group, and the leaders of the group. Everyone will normally be very open to talking about things and explaining the why, how, and when of things.

Listen to spirit and yourself, about how you feel about the group and what you find coming from the rituals

Coming from major religions is hard at first to come to terms to two things,

One being that there is no sin or wrong thing that will destroy you. After living in an environment that forces on you to do things this way or that way and pointing out that you’re wrong before you even begin your life. Seeing yourself as being wrong, the idea that you are not wrong that you are not set to go to a fire burning forever and worthy of loving of the divine, and yourself and accepting your self is hard to understand at first especially. When you have grown up in that mindset it’s hard to shake. Sometimes it takes years to learn to be yourself and to shine with in your life. Accepting love is very hard to do sometimes.

 

The other thing that I found is hard for new comers to Wicca to realize is that it is not just one way one belief that you have to hold to. While yes we have a list of beliefs and tenets of faith but we do not have only one way to Wicca. You get to choose which path you take, which gods you follow, and what type of practices from very active groups and practices that can be very complex to the very simple, and comfortable.

 

There’s an old saying that if you ask any ten Wiccans about their religion, you’ll get at least fifteen different answers. That’s not far from the truth, because with nearly half a million Americans practicing Wicca today, there are hundreds of different Wiccan groups out there. There is no one governing body over Wicca, nor is there a “Bible” that lays down a universal set of guidelines. While specifics vary from one tradition to the next, there are actually a few ideals and beliefs common to nearly all modern Wiccan groups. That a topic I’ll talk about later.

 

So as you explore your path remember two things: one, listen to your spirit, and explore yourself and what feels right to your gut and two, listen to spirit as spirit will lead you to where you belong.

I would love to hear from you and your steps in the beginning.

Lord Aeson Knight

What Is wicca?

Wicca is a reconstruction of the Nature worship of tribal Europe, strongly influenced by the living Nature worship traditions of tribal peoples in other parts of the world. The works of such early twentieth century writers as Margaret Murray, Robert Graves and Gerald B. Gardner began the renewal of interest in the Old Religion. After the repeal of the anti-Witchcraft laws in Britain in 1951, Gardner publicly declared himself a Witch and began to gather a group of students and worshipers. In 1962, two of his students, Raymond and Rosemary Buckland (religious names: Lady Rowen and Robat), emigrated to the United States and began teaching Gardnerian Witchcraft here. At the same time, other groups of people became interested through reading books by Gardner and others. Many covens were spontaneously formed, using rituals created from a combination of research and individual inspiration. These self-created covens are today regarded as just as valid as those who can trace a “lineage” of teaching back to England. In 1975, a very diverse group of covens who wanted to secure the legal protections and benefits of church status formed Covenant of the Goddess (CoG), which is incorporated in the State of California and recognized by the Internal Revenue Service. CoG does not represent all, or even a majority of Wiccans. A coven or an individual need not be affiliated with CoG in order to validly practice the religion. But CoG is the largest single public Wiccan organization, and it is cross-Traditional (i.e. non-denominational).

BASIC BELIEFS: Wiccans worship the sacred as immanent in Nature, often personified as Mother Earth and Father Sky. As polytheists, they may use many other names for Deity. Individuals will often choose Goddesses or Gods from any of the world’s pantheons whose stories are particularly inspiring and use those Deities as a focus for personal devotions. Similarly, covens will use particular Deity names as a group focus, and these are often held secret by the groups. It is very important to be aware that Wiccans do not in any way worship or believe in “Satan,” “the Devil,” or any similar entities. They point out that “Satan” is a symbol of rebellion against and inversion of the Christian and Jewish traditions. Wiccans do not revile the Bible. They simply regard it as one among many of the world’s mythic systems, less applicable than some to their core values, but still deserving just as much respect as any of the others. Most Wiccan groups also practice magic, by which they mean the direction and use of “psychic energy,” those natural but invisible forces which surround all living things. Some members spell the word “magick,” to distinguish it from sleight of hand entertainments. Wiccans employ such means as dance, chant, creative visualization and hypnosis to focus and direct psychic energy for the purpose of healing, protecting and aiding members in various endeavors. Such assistance is also extended to non-members upon request. Many, but not all, Wiccans believe in reincarnation. Some take this as a literal description of what happens to people when they die. For others, it is a symbolic model that helps them deal with the cycles and changes within this life. Neither Reincarnation nor any other literal belief can be used as a test of an individual’s validity as a member of the Old Religion. Most groups have a handwritten collection of rituals and lore, known as a Book of Shadows. Part of the religious education of a new member will be to hand copy this book for him or herself. Over they years, as inspiration provides, new material will be added. Normally, access to these books is limited to initiated members of the religion.

PRACTICES AND BEHAVIORAL STANDARDS: The core ethical statement of Wicca, called the “Wiccan Rede” states “an it harm none, do what you will.” The Rede fulfills the same function as does the “Golden Rule” for Jews and Christians; all other ethical teachings are considered to be elaborations and applications of the Rede. It is a statement of situational ethics, emphasizing at once the individual’s responsibility to avoid harm to others and the widest range of personal autonomy in “victimless” activities. Wicca has been described as having a “high-choice” ethic.

Because of the basic Nature orientation of the religion, many Wiccans will regard all living things as Sacred, and show a special concern for ecological issues. For this reason, individual conscience will lead some to take a pacifist position. Some are vegetarians. Others will feel that, as Nature’s Way includes self-defense, they should participate in wars that they conscientiously consider to be just. The religion does not dictate either position, but requires each member to thoughtfully and meditatively examine her or his own conscience and to live by it. Social forces generally do not yet allow Witches to publicly declare their religious faith without fear of reprisals such as loss of job, child custody challenges, ridicule, etc. Prejudice against Wiccans is the result of public confusion between Witchcraft and Satanism. Wiccans celebrate eight festivals, called “Sabbats,” as a means of attunement to the seasonal rhythms of Nature.

These are:

                January 31 [Called Oimelc, Brigit, or February Eve],

                March 21 [Ostara or Spring Equinox],

                April 30 [Beltane or May Eve],

                June 22 [Midsummer, Litha or Summer Solstice],

                July 31 [Lunasa or Lammas],

                September 21 [Harvest, Mabon or Autumn Equinox],

                October 31 [Samhain, Sowyn or Hallows], and

                December 21 [Yule or Winter Solstice].

 

Some groups find meetings within a few days of those dates to be acceptable, others require the precise date. In addition, most groups will meet for worship at each Full Moon, and many will also meet on the New Moon. Meetings for religious study will often be scheduled at any time convenient to the members, and rituals can be scheduled whenever there is a need (i.e. for a healing).