Hold An Imbolc House Cleansing Ceremony

Hold An Imbolc House Cleansing Ceremony

By , About.com

Give your whole house a thorough cleaning at the end of winter.

A clean physical space feels good spiritually.

Be sure to clean your windows so they’re free of winter’s grime.

No one really likes to clean, but we all know we feel better when our physical space is tidy. It’s one of life’s necessary chores. Start your spring off with a good thorough cleaning, and then follow that up with a spiritual cleansing. This is a great ritual to perform at Imbolc — remember that for many of our ancestors, washing came only a few times a year, so by February, a house was probably smelling pretty ripe. Pick a bright sunny day to do a clean sweep, and then invite friends and family to join you in a blessing of your home.

First, do a complete physical cleaning of your house. Put on some music and thoroughly clean every room. Strip sheets off the beds, turn the mattresses, dust every surface, and vacuum every floor. Sort through those piles of paper on your desk, and get rid of things you don’t need to keep; file everything else. Gather up the kids’ toys and put them in baskets for easy storage. If you need to get rid of things, do it now — set aside a box for charity and put gently used items in it. Set aside another box for trash, and see if you can fill it up!

Once your house is clean — and this assumes you did the kitchen as well — it’s time to have some fun. Call up some friends and invite them over for a potluck. Cook up some Imbolc-themed comfort foods, such as Braided Bread or Beer Battered Fish & Chips, and have a small potluck celebration. Ask each guest to bring a small token to bless your house — pebbles, shells, interesting bits of wood, beads, etc.

You’ll also need the following:

  • A bowl of water
  • Some sea salt
  • A smudging bundle of sage or sweetgrass
  • A blue candle
  • Some Blessing Oil
  • A bowl or bag

Begin at the front door — it is, after all, where you welcome guests into your home — and go through the house in a sunwise direction (clockwise). Ask your guests to help you by smudging the perimeter of each room with the salt, sage, candle flame and water. You may wish to say some sort of incantation as they do this, something like:

With the purifying power of water, with the clean breath of air, with the passionate heat of fire, with the grounding energy of earth we cleanse this space.

As you pass from room to room, anoint each door and windowsill with the Blessing Oil by tracing the shape of a pentagram or other symbol of your tradition. This prevents anything negative from crossing into the home. If you like, you can offer a small incantation as you do this, something like:

May the goddess bless this home, making it sacred and pure, so that nothing but love and joy shall enter through this door.

Finally, once you’ve gone through the house, ask each of your guests to deposit their blessing token in your bowl or bag. Keep it in a place of honor in your home — on the mantel or in your kitchen is a good idea. Gather around the dinner table, break out the goodies, and enjoy a feast with your friends and family!

Tips:

* If you don’t have Blessing Oil, you can use rosemary oil instead. Make your own by infusing fresh rosemary in grapeseed or flaxseed oil.

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How To Hold an Imbolc Candle Ritual (for Solitaries)

How To Hold an Imbolc Candle Ritual (for Solitaries)

By Patti Wigington, About.com

Imbolc is a festival of light — celebrate it with candles and flames!

Hundreds of years ago, when our ancestors relied upon the sun as their only source of light, the end of winter was met with much celebration. Although it is still cold in February, often the sun shines brightly above us, and the skies are often crisp and clear. As a festival of light, Imbolc came to be called Candlemas. On this evening, when the sun has set once more, call it back by lighting the seven candles of this ritual.

** Note: although this ceremony is written for one, it can easily be adapted for a small group.

Difficulty: Average
Time Required: Varied

Here’s How:

  1. First, set up your altar in a way that makes you happy, and brings to mind the themes of Imbolc. You’ll also want to have on hand the following:
    • Seven candles, in red and white (tealights are perfect for this)
    • Something to light your candles with
    • A large bowl or cauldron big enough to hold the candles
    • Sand or salt to fill the bottom of the bowl/cauldron

    Prior to beginning your ritual, take a warm, cleansing bath. While soaking, meditate on the concept of purification. Once you’re done, dress in your ritual attire, and begin the rite.

  2. If your tradition requires you to cast a circle, do so now.

    Pour the sand or salt into the bowl or cauldron. Place the seven candles into the sand so they won’t slide around. Light the first candle. As you do so, say:

    Although it is now dark, I come seeking light. In the chill of winter, I come seeking life.

    Light the second candle, saying:

    I call upon fire, that melts the snow and warms the hearth. I call upon fire, that brings the light and makes new life. I call upon fire to purify me with your flames.

  3. Light the third candle. Say:

    This light is a boundary, between positive and negative. That which is outside, shall stay without. That which is inside, shall stay within.

    Light the fourth candle. Say:

    I call upon fire, that melts the snow and warms the hearth. I call upon fire, that brings the light and makes new life. I call upon fire to purify me with your flames.

  4. Light the fifth candle, saying:

    Like fire, light and love will always grow. Like fire, wisdom and inspiration will always grow.

    Light the sixth candle, and say:

    I call upon fire, that melts the snow and warms the hearth. I call upon fire, that brings the light and makes new life. I call upon fire to purify me with your flames.

    Finally, light the last candle. As you do so, visualize the seven flames coming together as one. As the light builds, see the energy growing in a purifying glow.

    Fire of the hearth, blaze of the sun, cover me in your shining light. I am awash in your glow, and tonight I am made pure.

  5. Take a few momemnts and meditate on the light of your candles. Think about this Sabbat, a time of healing and inspiration and purification. Do you have something damaged that needs to be healed? Are you feeling stagnant, for lack of inspiration? Is there some part of your life that feels toxic or tainted? Visualize the light as a warm, enveloping energy that wraps itself around you, healing your ailments, igniting the spark of creativity, and purifying that which is damanged.

    When you are ready, end the ritual. You may choose to follow up with healing magic, or with a Cakes and Ale ceremony.

What You Need

  • Seven candles, white and red, and something to light them with
  • A bowl or cauldron with sand in the bottom
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Prayer for Imbolc

Imbolc/Candlemas Comments
Prayer for Imbolc

On this Imbolc day, as I kindle the flame upon my hearth,
I pray that the flame of Brigid may burn in my soul,
and the souls of all I meet today.

I pray that no envy and malice,
no hatred or fear, may smother the flame.
I pray that indifference and apathy,
contempt and pride,
may not pour like cold water on the flame.

Instead, may the spark of Brigid light the love in my soul,
that it may burn brightly through this season.
And may I warm those that are lonely,
whose hearts are cold and lifeless,
so that all may know the comfort of Brigid’s love.

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Night of the White Candles

Imbolc/Candlemas Comments

Night of the White Candles

Night of lit white candles darkness turned into light
“everything she touches changes”
feast of waxing flame
fire of heart and hearth
fire on the mind
flickering of spark
quickening of air
warming into inspiration
thawing in her innocence
snow into desire
“she shines for all of us
she burns within us all”
sipral heat of life
“she shines for all of us
within us all she burns”
the fires to create
“she shines in all of us
she burns us all within”
awakening arising is her need
“she shines for all of us
she burns within us all”
Her candle is our only source

Poem by: Diane Stein
A Collection of Imbolc Poetry
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Calendar of the Sun for Friday, January 31

Calendar of the Sun

31 Wolfmonath

Imbolc Eve: Day of the Bean Sidhe

Color: Black
Element: Air
Altar: Upon cloth of black place a cup of blood, kept from the last slaughtering. Before it lay bloodstained rags and a flute, and many small unlit votive candles. Block the windows and shut out all sunlight.
Offering: Give aid to a child who has lost their mother.
Daily Meal: Red meat and milk.

Imbolc Eve Invocation

Go, my children, to the riverbank,
In the dark of the night when the wind is howling,
And you shall hear the wails of one who mourns,
And you shall see her kneeling by the water,
Washing the bloody clothes of those
Who did not survive the giving forth of life.
She weeps for the mothers lost,
She weeps for the children lost,
She weeps for the life cut short,
What should have been a joyous day
Become a night of mourning.
She weeps above all for those
Who have no one else to weep for them.
So we shall light a candle, on this night
Before the morn of Candlemas,
For all those who have no one to weep for them,
And we shall shed the tears
And we shall be the voice,
And we shall do the work
Of the lonely Bean Sidhe.

(The cup of blood is poured as a libation. Each comes forward and lights a small votive candle, and then all wail in a great torrent of sound together, with one playing the flute wildly over the cacophony. Those who can shed tears should do so. This should go on until all are exhausted from wailing, and then all should go quietly to their other tasks in silence until Hesperis.

[Pagan Book of Hours]

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Imbolc Incense

Imbolc Incense

3 parts Frankincense

2 parts Dragon’s Blood

1/2 part Red Sandalwood

1 part Cinnamon

a few drops Red Wine

To this mixture add a pinch of the first flower (dry it first) that is available in your area at the time of Imbolc (February 1st). Burn during Wiccan ceremonies on Imbolc, or simply to attune with the symbolic rebirth of the Sun — the fading of winter and the promise of Spring.

 

(The above recipe for Imbolc Incense is directly quoted from Scott Cunningham’s book: The Complete Book of Incense, Oils & Brews, page 72, Llewellyn Publications, 1992.)

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The Wheel of the Year and It’s Influences in our Daily Life

The Wheel of the Year and It’s Influences in our Daily Life

Author:   MissElphie   

Wicca, and many other pagan paths, celebrate the Wheel of the Year. The festivities around the Seasons and the Path of the Sun in the Sky have been a motive of celebration in History. Today I’m going to talk about its influence on modern practitioners and its influence in our daily lives.

The Wheel of the Year is something very important and essential in a Pagan’s life. It celebrates the path of the Sun God throughout the year. We celebrate the different phases: Birth, Growth, Marriage, Aging, Death and Rebirth. We cast spells to bring happiness and wellness to our loved ones and us. We light bonfires to celebrate fertility in our lives. We light candles to help the God rise higher and higher in the Winter Skies… But, do we feel those changes? Has anyone ever wondered how important and meaningful all of these changes in Nature are in our lives?

Some of you might know what I’m talking about, but for those who don’t, I’ll explain. The Wheel of the Year isn’t just eight times a year; it’s in every minute of our lives. We feel those changes in ourselves and eventually we won’t even need to look at the calendar to see that a Sabbat is approaching. All around us we see Nature change; we see the changes that we usually celebrate.

When Autumn is coming you can see that some birds are already migrating, that the leaves are falling from the once full trees, those little animals are getting ready for the cold Winter that is getting closer and closer. You can see that with your own eyes. You can see the flowers growing, snow and rain falling, bees and butterflies and every little thing that changes in Nature. Even in a city, you can see that. I live in a fairly big city and I see that. In the trees and gardens that are scattered around town, in the birds… and even in the weather. When it starts raining, getting colder and colder, maybe even a bit of snow… You can see and feel that.

The Wheel of the Year is part of our daily life.

The modern man has grown accustomed to routine. You get up, have breakfast, take a shower, drive to work, work, get back from work, sit on the couch and watch some lame TV show, go to bed and in the next morning you do it all over again. You repeat this process every single day. Never caring about what happens outside, in Nature.

A Pagan usually does not do that. Yes, he or she has his/her normal routine but with a small change. When getting up in the morning, a pagan might look outside and see how nature is going and maybe even take a few minutes to just watch what’s happening.

When driving to work, or back from work, instead of listening to a radio show and cursing the other drivers, he or she might be more aware of what’s going behind the cars and the smoke and all the pollution included in traffic jams. And even at work he/she might notice those little things, little details, that shows us that something is changing. A co-worker that brought his scarf today because it was getting colder or a friend who dressed a t-shirt instead of a sweater because the temperature was rising.

These are the little details in our life that we usually don’t care. We just don’t notice that all of this is going around us and happening. We tend to ignore it because we are so consumed by this consumerist and materialistic society and way of life that we ignore the simplest things that show us the world and nature at its best.

Life has more to it than buying, selling, partying, studying, etc. It has an essence. And its essence has been getting lost for the past centuries. Mankind has been driving further away from Nature, using it only for its own selfish purpose and not to connect with it. Our Ancestors lived with Nature, felt Nature and saw Nature with different eyes. Why should we, a so-called modern society, forget that we are a part of Nature? That she can, and will, live without us but we can’t live without her? She is part of us and we are part of her.

So, I’m telling you: Be more careful with details. See those little things in your daily life that connect yourself with the Divine and with Nature.

Look at your friends. How are they dressed? What are they doing? Look at Nature. How are the trees? Are they big and filled with bright green leaves? Or are they naked and numb for the cold Winter? How is the weather? Hot? Cold? Rainy? The flowers, the animals, the smell in the air, the heat and love you feel from the solar rays bathing your skin in a warm summer afternoon or the delight of being at home drinking hot coffee while it’s raining outside.

Don’t just watch the World. We are no longer just watchers of the World and Nature; we are a Part of it. We need to live with it. Feel it.

Feel the hot Summer breeze, the cold Winter snow, and the fresh rain in the Autumn and Spring. Try to connect. Go out for a walk on the beach, feel the waves and listen to the seagulls and the splashing of the waves on the sand. Go to the countryside and see the animals, smell the fresh and clean air, feel the sun and the warm breeze…

Paganism, no matter what tradition or path, isn’t just a religion. It’s a way of life. Being a Pagan isn’t just going to be for 4 times a month (Lunar Celebrations) and 8 times a year (Wheel of the Year) or any other celebrations you might have. Being a Pagan is going to influence your entire life, entire way of watching, feeling and connecting to the World around you. No matter where you live, whether it is in the biggest city of the World or the farthest countryside.

So, my advice is just to be aware. Look beyond the obvious and into the core of Nature and its essence. Live the Mysteries that Nature has to offer. Nature is something beautiful and constantly changing. It’s a never-ending cycle. Live it. Feel it. Feel it in your life and all around you. How it influences you, the ones you love, everyone and everything.

Be with Nature. Don’t just watch it.

Blessings!

MissElphie

The Witches Magick for Oct. 30th – Solitary Samhain Ritual

cat

Solitary Samhain Ritual

Place upon the altar apples, pomegranates, pumpkins, squashes and other late autumn  fruits. Autumn flowers such as marigolds and chrysanthemums are fine too.  Write on a piece of paper an aspect of your life which you may wish to be free of; anger, a baneful habit, misplaced feelings, disease. The cauldron or some similar tool must be present  before the altar as well, on a trivet or some other heat-proof surface (if the legs aren’t long enough). A small, flat dish marked with an eight-spoked wheel symbol should also be there. [This is just what it sounds like. On a flat plate or dish, paint a large circle.  Put a dot in the center of this circle and paint eight spokes radiating out from the dot to the larger circle. Thus, you have a wheel symbol  – a symbol of the Sabbats, a symbol of timelessness.]

Prior to ritual, sit quietly and think of friends and loved ones who have passed away.  Do not despair. Know that they have gone on to greater things. Keep firmly in mind that the  physical isn’t the absolute reality, and souls never die.

Arrange the altar, light the candles and censer, and cast the Circle of Stones. Recite the Blessing Chant. Invoke the Goddess and God.

Lift one of the pomegranates and, with your freshly-washed Boline, pierce the skin of the  fruit. Remove several seeds and place them on the wheel-marked dish. Raise your wand, face the altar and say:

On this night of Samhain I mark Your passing,
O Sun King, through the sunset into the Land of the Young.
I mark also the passing of all who have gone before,
and all who will go after.
 
O Gracious Goddess, Eternal Mother,
You who gives birth to the fallen,
teach me to know that in the time of
the greatest darkness there is the greatest light.
 

Taste the pomegranate seeds; burst them with your teeth and savour  their sharp, bittersweet flavour. Look down at the eight-spoked symbol on the plate; the Wheel of the Year, the Cycle of the Seasons, the End and Beginning of all Creation.

Light a fire within the cauldron (a candle is fine).  Sit before it, holding the piece of paper, gazing at its flames. Say:

Wise One of the Waning Moon,
Goddess of the Starry Night,
I create this fire within
Your cauldron to transform
that which is plaguing me.
May the energies be reversed:
From the darkness, light!
From bane, good!
From death, birth!

Light the paper in the cauldron’s flames and drop it inside. As it burns, know that your ill diminishes, lessens and finally leaves you as it is consumed within the universal fires.  [The cauldron, seen as the Goddess.]

If you wish, you may attempt scrying or some other form of divination, for this is a perfect time to look into the past or future. Try to recall past lives too, if you will.  But leave the dead in peace. Honor them with your memories but do not call them to you. [Many Pagans  do attempt to communicate with their deceased ancestors and friends at this time, but it  seems to me that if we accept the doctrine of reincarnation, this is a rather strange practice. Perhaps the personalities that we knew still exist, but if the soul is currently incarnate in another body, communication would be difficult, to say the least. Thus, it seems best to remember them with peace and love – but do not call them up.] 

Release any pain and sense of loss you may feel into the cauldron’s flames. Works of magick, if necessary, may follow. Celebrate the Simple Feast. The circle is released.

 

The Herbs Of The Sabbats

The Herbs Of The Sabbats

To be used as decorations on the altar, round the circle, in the home.

Samhain:
Chrysanthemum, wormwood, apples, pears, hazel, thistle, pomegranates, all
grains, harvested fruits and nuts, the pumpkin, corn.

Yule:
Holly, mistletoe, ivy, cedar, bay, juniper, rosemary, pine. Place offerings of
apples, oranges, nutmegs, lemons and whole cinnamon sticks on the Yule tree.

Imbolc:
Snowdrop, rowan, the first flowers of the year.

Eostara:
Daffodil, woodruff, violet, gorse, olive, peony, iris, narcissus, all spring
flowers.

Beltane:
Hawthorn, honeysuckle, St. John’s wort, woodruff, all flowers.

Midsummer:
Mugwort, vervain, chamomile, rose, lily, oak, lavender, ivy, yarrow, fern,
elder, wild thyme, daisy, carnation.

Lughnasadh:
All grains, grapes, heather, blackberries, sloe, crabapples, pears.

Mabon:
Hazel, corn, aspen, acorns, oak sprigs, autumn leaves, wheat stalks, cypress
cones, pine cones, harvest gleanings.

A Samhain Dance

A Samhain Dance

Author: Lady Wolfwind 

The wheel turns. I can feel it. The angle of the light in the morning is different, glowing lower in the sky. The air is cooler. The earth is beginning to give up her heat. The cooler air meeting the warm soil has created a low-lying fog in the meadows. Droplets hang from the long grass. It won’t last long this time of year. Slowly, the rising sun will burn it away. For now it is quiet and it is mine to share with the creatures of the earth. I watch as the squirrels scamper, grabbing nuts and noisily run back up the tree. The birds are busy foraging for their share as well. I see a beautiful red cardinal, his beak full of seeds, land on a nearby tree limb. The yard is alive with activity. Even their frenzied activity tells me that a change is upon us.

This is my favorite time of year. I have anxiously waited for the harvest season. The changing light patterns signal changes in my body. I feel as though I need to prepare for something. Maybe it is an ancestral need to put up supplies for the winter. I feel as though I can take a deep breath, as if the time for rest is near.

Later, in the evening, I return to the yard and it is alive once more. As I sit under the moon, very gradually a vision appears before me. I can see the spirits of my ancestors celebrating around the balefire and they are beckoning for me to join them. The harvest festivals have begun. I hear the drumming and the laughter. I hear the whispered conversations. I see their faces glowing in the firelight. They’re strong, determined faces of people who have know joy and sorrow, of people who have worked hard and the struggle shows in the lines of those faces. I feel their eyes gaze upon me from time to time. They feel my presence as well. They know who I am and they are happy I am here.

Tonight, I sit and I watch. I feel as if I’m an intruder, watching something I shouldn’t. At times I don’t feel it is normal, these glimpses of the past that I am granted. I don’t speak of these things to many people for fear they would think me insane, not even my family. I quietly say a blessing and thank the Goddess for the gifts of insight She has bestowed upon me. I wonder how many people think of their ancestors and all they owe to them.

I sit and contemplate as I watch the dancers celebrate, as I listen to the music quietly suspended in time, meant for my ears to hear. I silently communicate and ask them to tell me about their life as they lived it. I hear snatches quietly whispered in my ear. They tell me of living by the wheel of life. They explain how babies are born and die too soon. They tell me that some years the crops are good and others the crops they rely upon don’t fill the pantries and the cellars. They tell me how it is to be hungry.

Others whisper about good fortunes and fertile cows that they’ve sold for some gold pieces that have increased the family’s standing, about buying more land, and building bigger, better homes for their families. They talk mainly about the harvest and the dark half of the year, of the cold and the boredom and the fear of disease. There is always talk of fear of the dark.

I sit for a while longer and watch. I promise them that I will return on Samhain. I will be ready and we (my children and I) will participate. I’ve always favored Samhain, even before I knew it by its real name or true reason of existence. We will be prepared.

In our home Samhain is a truly special time of year. My daughter and I cook a great assortment of foods. I tell them stories of my family and encourage my husband to do the same. Samhain is a day of feasting and of celebration. Not so much a celebration of the last harvest, but a celebration of our ancestors. I want these people to be remembered, even if it is not by name, but by the fact that they are the reason we are all here today. We build a bonfire and we invite people to our home. They usually are here to celebrate Halloween as they know it, but to us it is nice to have the energy of the living mingling in our midst.

My daughter and I have prepared the names of people who have passed this year and we have woven a grapevine wreath on which to put these names. As the clock tolls midnight we cast the wreath upon the fire and wish those no longer with us safe journeys on the continuation of their paths. We light candles and place them around the yard and the house and invite the wandering souls a quiet, safe place to rest for the night. The quiet, lost souls are always welcome here. I feel them and my daughter sees them from time to time. We both acknowledge their presence and say a welcome to them as long as they don’t cause any trouble.

After all the guests have left, we, as a family, gather together and talk about all we wish to see in the coming year. Samhain is truly the end of this one. I think this year I will speak of my vision and of the departed ones desire for us to participate in their festivities. I think we will throw another log on the fire and dance. We will dance a celebration of life and all that it brings. We will dance to the joys and the sorrows we have faced. We will dance in thankfulness for all that we have and stop longing for all that we think will make our lives better. Most of all, we will dance with all those who have crossed over, one more time. We will not mourn their loss but celebrate all that they have taught us. We will dance in celebration of lives well lived and the gratefulness of having had the opportunity to have crossed paths with these truly special people.

At dawn we will lie in the cool grass and say our farewells and feel overjoyed by the delightful time we have shared with those others have forgotten. The sun will begin to rise and the fire will only be small wisps of smoke. The children and I will look at each other and know that we share a secret, a magical one. We will be hesitant to leave and return to our mundane lives. I think my children have a deeper appreciation of all that it means to be Pagan. We’ve spoken of the Sabbats and we have honored the Goddess at the full moon, but they have never truly been blessed with the presence of the Old Ones reaching out to them. I believe that their lives will be forever changed starting with this new year.

I am thankful for the wisdom I now see in their eyes, wisdom I could never have imparted. They have both been securely set upon their path and I am so ever grateful for this. It gives me a sense of peace that I no longer need to worry about this area of their life. As Pagans I know they will live as kind and compassionate human beings.

Now it is time to look to the future and of the coming year. My children and I will grasp each other’s hands and head into our home to rest. It’s funny how our ancestors have helped strengthen the bond between us. How many people can say something like that? We’ve allowed the long line of family to help build the future. Not only have they helped build our future but also they have helped build it in a positive way.

I hope everyone out there is enjoying this harvest season. It is time to reap what you have sown, may it all be pleasant. If it is not, now is the time to set aside the negativity and allow the positive to flow into your life. A new year and a new start are upon us. You have the power to make this coming year into anything you dream of; you can reach goals you never thought attainable. Take the opportunity of the dark half of the wheel to plan and build your energies, to rest and to prepare yourself to put your plans in place.

I wish you all the greatest Samhain.

Love to all my fellow witches,

Lady Wolfwind