Imbolc 2013

Imbolc 2013 (2)Imbolc Altar

Our Imbolc ritual this year was run by MorningStar and Fox, with Barley and Stormcrow as Handmaiden and Summoner.

Pre-ritual crafts were aplenty, with Stormcrow leading a workshop on making brooms for the New Year. The children made Brigid’s Crosses with pipe cleaners. There was also spinning yarn from Alpaca wool with a drop spindle. With all the other crafting going on, we didn’t have time for any of our Grove‘s chandlers to get all the year’s old candle stubs together. New brooms were made by Bear, a guest from Rogue Star, along with Laughing Shadow, Barley & Fox, and Laughing Wolf.

Imbolc 2013 (15)Broom Making

Imbolc 2013 (8)Imbolc 2013 (13)

Ritual:

Our Imbolc festivities included washing of hands and feet, a touchstone ritual to the chanting of “Water in the Well,” the lighting of a great many candles to welcome warmth and light back into the world, along with fire scrying and spiral dancing to the chanting of “We Will Kindle the Fire.”

Two pairs of deities were invited: Brigid and Dagda, and in keeping with our focus on the Welsh pantheon, Arianrhod and Gwydion were also called. A singing bowl was used in lieu of the bell to welcome the Gods.

Stormcrow told the story of The First Tyngedd, which is the second part of his saga adapted from the Mabinogion, called “A Year and Change in Welsh Myth,” which follows the life of Llew Llaw Gyffes through the Wheel of the Year.

Post-ritual feast was amazing as always, with lamb shanks, colcannon, roasted root vegetables, beer, mead, canned preserves, and cupcakes.

Imbolc 2013 (3)Imbolc 2013 (9)

Imbolc 2013 (6)Imbolc 2013 (4)

Imbolc Fires

Fire-bearers circle figures of The Green Man fighting Jack Frost. Imbolc celebration in Marsden, West Yorkshre, February 2007. Photo by: Steven Earnshaw

As mentioned in earlier entries, Imbolc is the time when we see the quickening of sun’s return. Winter is still here, but spring is on it’s way and coming up fast.  The most commonly revered diety of Imbolc among Pagans is Brighid, for her fires of the forge, and associations with child birth. She is also,  a goddess of Prophecy, Fortune, and Luck.

One of the many rituals observed at Imbolc by Wiccan practitioners is that of Fire Lighting and Candle Lighting, as a reminder of the Sun’s growing presence in our lives again, and as a way to cast off the remaining dark nights.

In our ritual this year we will be also be incorporating Fire Scrying, which is a magical act which combines both Scrying and Pyromancy.

Scrying:

Many different tools are used for scrying,  such as Glass, Mirrors, Stones – things that are usually translucent, reflective, or luminescent. Most commonly used is the Crystal Ball.  No matter the tool used – scrying involves getting oneself into a state of trance so there is usually a medium such as Water, Fire, or Music also present to help relax the mind and tune oneself in with the greater consciousness and allow for unobstructed sight and interpretation from the mind.

The word Pyromancy, comes from Greek pyros, “fire,” and manteia, “divination.” It is suggested/theorized that devotee’s of Hephaestus and Athena may have practiced this ancient art.  Cultures world wide have used Fire to divine the future, see the past, or to figure out which way to go in the present. The Celts, from whom we Pagans garnered the modern celebration of Imbolc, were no exception.

At Imbolc, girls would make a Brighid doll out of a remaining sheaf of last years grain harvest. They would carry this doll from house to house blessing the homes with the fertility of last years harvest. In return they were given cakes, bread, and butter.

From one of my favorite sites; The Pagan Family http://manyhandshouse.blogspot.com

Afterwords, they would place the Brighid Doll, on a “Brides Bed” – a small batch of rushes, with a slachdan in her hand.  The girls would then dance and sing until dawn , and in the morning examine the ashes to see if Brighid had left her footprint. If no print was found, an offering had to be made at a place where three streams met, for luck.

Fire Scrying is less focussed on aspecting the Divine through fire than the elaborate ceremony and ritual of the Brighids Doll and Bed.  It is a practice which uses Divine Fire as a tool to see beyond the known, to the future, and to deep within – the places where normally light does not shine.

Fire has a natural allure, lending itself to gazing particularly when other sources of light are scarce. It is easy to find oneself caught mesmerized by firelight, allowing oneself to relax into the desired trance state, and be a receiver of images first – allow the visions to take place in your mind. If you have a particular question, hold the question lightly in your mind but do not grasp at the answer – allow yourself to take in what is offered to you… interpret it after you part the trance state.

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