Daily Stuff 1-20-19 St. Agnes eve

Hi, folks!

Featured photo by Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum. Minus Tide at 7:01 PM of -1.8 feet.

This is the very late write-up of Saturday’s events. That’s why it’s out of order! If you want all the pictures you can see them here: https://wp.me/p8ngGY-1ZK This was an official event of the Society for Creative Anachronism. More info here: http://welcome.sca.org/. The SCA is an historical re-creation group focusing on pre-1600’s history.

It was very dark as we left home, at 5am Saturday morning. We had packed all but us, pillows and snacks into the car on Friday night. Not being sure what the weather was going to be like we took the route out 20 to 99W. There was a lot of fog, especially as dawn got going and up through the mountains. We stopped in Philomath for some breakfast and then drove through Corvallis, down 99 to Territorial Highway and then turned onto Ferguson to go to the Long Tom Grange. Google maps has some bad mileages on those roads. The Grange is as least a mile closer on the maps, to the turn, than it actually is, and I think it was closer to 1 1/2 miles.

Tempus offloaded after I found out where to put things and took back off for home. After getting gas, he was an hour late opening the shop!

I got signed in and then got the labels onto our serving dishes that we loaned the crew and found a spot where I was out of the way. Louisa had me fill the oil bottles for the tables and some other small stuff that I could do sitting down.

After that I pulled out my embroidery and worked on that in between watching people setting up, commenting and kibbitzing and looking at the wonderful scenery out the window.

The kitchen was beautifully run. Louisa did a *lot* of planning and it showed. Sitting outside but within sight, I was amazing by how smoothly things were flowing. Some of that was omg-Alys-how-can-you-do-*all*-the-dishes-every-time, and some was Isis chopping and chopping ….had no clue that she wasn’t originally on the team. She’s a pro… and then watching Louisa keep it all going. Seriously impressive! Even had a job for impaired old me that no one sensible trusts with a knife! …although after that pic of <<<<<<< Vesta…. 🙂

A&S Championship – Antonia did a good job of running this. I sat an listened to the judging and the entrants for quite some time. There were some really good entries on this one. Ainslee was the winner.

There were two courts during the day. I got to both. Many awards were given at Principality and Baronial level.

There was also rapier fighting, a dance class, a number of people playing games, darts, and general connecting and talking! I had a good long talk about cheese with a guy whose dad is a pro chef and he gave me some resources for the fig cheese. I got Vesta’s blackworked band done and gave it to her. I also got to talk to a lot of people about our Winter Feast and I think I have a final menu.

…and then the feast was ready! We all ate until stuffed and folks with weird dietary problems were accommodated. Yes, I was able to eat the feast! They served me special versions of the feast dishes and I ate until I couldn’t fit in another bite!

Good company, too! I talked food with Marion and blackwork with her senior apprentice, Janet. A bunch of us all talked about teaching history as stories for quite some time. I passed around the remnants of the tvarog and have sent recipes to the folks who requested that.

Lots of stories and songs got told during the feast and I went and regaled the person who did the song about SCA parents at a teacher’s conference, with the story of my oldest getting expelled from first grade for knowing too much history. 🙂

After the feast folks started to pack up and head out, saying their goodbyes. The staff and crew got going on the clean-up with the few folks who were left at that point. I got a chance to talk to various people, embroidery with one, tablet weaving with another, games with a third and gradually sorted my things into the totes and packed.

Finally my stuff was in Alys’ van and we headed back to her place, going to bed soon after. I was asleep between 9:30 and 10pm, which just doesn’t happen! I woke during the night, thinking it was nearly morning (no clocks) when my air purifier quit. I got up and packed and then realized it must still be too early and went back to sleep for awhile, getting up in morning twilight and embroidering until Alys woke.

We had coffee and breakfast and she showed me a bit of the house, which is a wonderful old one with all the lovely dark wood and built-ins and porches. She gave me a couple of Christmas Cactus starts that I’m going to plant this week.

Tempus got there around 9am and we loaded and headed home. We had a good drive, but I was pretty sleepy, fading out around the time that we gassed up in Florence, since the weather was good enough that we took the more usual way home.

This is the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. I spent a lot of time when I was growing up, going over and under this bridge. This is a pic from Moonrise on 103014 put up by the  Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum. See the moondog and the partial halo?

plant tree maple Acer_macrophyllum_1199Today’s Plant is Big-leaf MapleAcer macrophyllum. This tree has the largest leaves of any maple. I remember being startled by that when I first moved to Oregon. Have you ever played with the seeds? A twin pair, before they separate, is a good charm for separated lovers. Maple syrup can be made from the sap, although it is subtly different from the taste of sugar maple and a bit thinner. Masculine, Jupiter, Air – Maple leaves are used in prosperity and love spells. When doing a baby blessing, walk the child down a row of people with maple wands to help the child to a long life. Maple has long been used for wands, being easy to work and directing energies very well. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acer_macrophyllum

feast 0120 Eve_of_St_AgnesSt. Agnes eve is a traditional fire divination day. There are a bunch of marriage divinations, too. “You must lie in another county, and knit the left garter about the right legged stocking (let the other garter and stocking alone) and as you rehearse these following verses, at every comma, knit a knot.”

“This knot I knit,
To know the thing, I know not yet,
That I may see,
The man (woman) that shall my husband (wife) be,
How he goes, and what he wears,
And what he does, all days, and years.

plant feast 0120 herb flower Helleborus_nigerWhat that all comes from is a martyr from the 4th century, but more probably has to do with leftovers from the worship of Yngona/Annis. More here: http://ketutar.wordpress.com/2007/01/22/saint-agnes-annis-the-black-hag-2/ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Annis  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agnes_of_Rome,http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Eve_of_Saint_Agnesand (text of poem) http://www.bartleby.com/126/39.html

The traditionally associated plant is Christmas Rose http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helleborus_niger

The shop opens at 11am. Winter hours are 11am-5pm Thursday through Monday. Need something off hours? Give us a call at 541-563-7154 or Facebook or email at ancientlight@peak.org If we’re supposed to be closed, but it looks like we’re there, try the door. If it’s open, the shop’s open! In case of bad weather, check here at the blog for updates, on our Facebook as Ancient Light, or call the shop.

Love & Light,
Anja

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Today’s Astro & Calendar

Waxing Moon Magick – The waxing moon is for constructive magick, such as love, wealth, success, courage, friendship, luck or healthy, protection, divination. Any working that needs extra power, such as help finding a new job or healings for serious conditions, can be done now. Also, love, knowledge, legal undertakings, money and dreams. Phase ends at the Tide Change on 1/20 at 9:16pm. Full Moon – The day of, the day before, and day after the true Full Moon. “And better it be when the moon is full!”! Prime time for rituals for prophecy, for spells to come to fruition, infusing health and wholeness, etc. A good time for invoking deity. FRUITION Manifesting goals, nurturing, passion, healing, strength, power. Workings on this day are for protection, divination. “extra power”, job hunting, healing serious conditions Also, love, knowledge, legal undertakings, money and dreams. God/dess Aspect: Mother/Abundance/Kingship – – Associated God/desses: Danu, Cerridwen, Gaia, Aphrodite, Isis, Jupiter, Amon-Ra. Phase ends on 1/22 at 9:16pm. Eclipses – Lunar eclipses always occur on the day of the Full Moon. Positive magicks should not be performed in these months until after the eclipse is over. – Associated God/esses: Kali, Shiva the Destroyer. Begins 7:34pm. Totality 8:41 p.m. to 9: 43 p.m. Exact at 9:16pm. Ends at 10:51am. 
Waning Moon Magick – From the Full Moon to the New is a time for study, meditation, and magic designed to banish harmful energies and habits, for ridding oneself of addictions, illness or negativity. Remember: what goes up must come down. Phase ends at the Tide Change on 2/4 at 1:04pm. 

Total eclipse of the Moon – The Full Moon should turn orange at the height of the lunar eclipse on the night of January 20/21. – Damian Peach

Anyone with clear skies across the Americas can witness this week’s biggest event: a total eclipse of the Moon high in a dark sky over the Americas.. The Full Moon, which arrives officially at 12:16 a.m. EST tomorrow morning (9:16 p.m. PST this evening), then lies deep in Earth’s shadow. Partial eclipse begins at 10:34 p.m. EST, total eclipse begins at 11:41 p.m. EST, totality ends at 12:44 a.m. EST, partial eclipse ends at 1:51 a.m. EST.  The shadow appears dusky gray at first, but as more of the Moon sinks into the shadow, it should take on a distinctly orange color. The color comes from sunlight refracted and scattered through Earth’s atmosphere, and appears most prominent during totality.

The totally eclipsed Moon on Sept. 27, 2015, high in a dark sky. (Sean Walker / S&T.)

See the timetable for your time zone, and things to watch for throughout, in Bob King’s Guide to January’s Supermoon Total Lunar Eclipse or the cover story of the January Sky & Telescope.
Prefer audio? Here’s our special podcast for the eclipseby that voice of Sky & Telescope, Kelly Beatty. For most of Europe and Africa, the Moon will set around sunrise on the 21st either during totality or during the final partial phases, although westernmost Europe — including the British Isles — and northwestern Africa will be treated to the whole show before the Moon sets and the Sun rises.
Cloudy where you are? Watch the Virtual Telescope Project’s livestream of the eclipse.

Located about 600 light-years away, the Beehive star cluster (M44) is one of the closest open clusters to Earth. theilr on Flickr

The eclipsed Moon will be in dim Cancer, with the Beehive star cluster about a binocular field-of-view to its east.
Mars (magnitude +0.7, in Pisces left of the Great Square of Pegasus) still glows high in the southwest at nightfall and sets around 11 p.m.  In a telescope it’s gibbous and pathetically small: 6½ arcseconds from pole to pole.

Old Farmer’s Almanac Sky Map for January
Goddess Month of
Hestia runs from 12/26 – 1/22
Goddess Month of of Bridhe, runs from 1/23 – 2/19
Celtic Tree Month of Beth/Birch, Dec 24 – Jan 20
Celtic Tree Month of Luis/Rowan, Jan 21-Feb 17
Runic half-month of Perdhro/ Peorth, 1/12-1/27. – Feast of Brewing, Druidic,Source: The Phoenix and Arabeth 1992 Calendar. 

Sun in Capricorn enters Aquarius at 1am
Moon in Cancer enters Leo at 7:54pm.
Color: Orange

Planting 1/19-20

©2018 M. Bartlett, Some parts separately copyright

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Celtic Tree Month of Beth/Birch, Dec 24 – Jan 20, Beith – (BEH), birch – The silver birch (Betula pendula Roth) is the most common tree birch in much of Europe. It grows up to 30 m (100 feet) high, but is more often found in spreading clumps on sandy soils. It is one of the first trees to colonize an area after a mature forest is cut; this is probably a large part of its symbolic connection with new beginnings. It is cultivated in North America, often under the name of weeping birch. The three trees in my front yard form root sprouts that would take over the bed where they are planted if I didn’t cut them back. The common birch (B. pubescens Ehrh.) is almost as widespread as the silver birch, but grows primarily on acid or peaty soils. It can reach 20 m (65 feet) in height. Birches are members of the Birch family (Betulaceae). Curtis Clark

Beth – Birch – Ogam letter correspondences
Month: November
Color: White
Class: Peasant
Letter: B
Meaning: New Beginnings; Changes; Purification.

Phagos – Beech Ogam letter correspondences to study this month
Month: None
Color: Orange-brown
Class: Chieftain
Letter: PH, IO
Meaning: New experiences and information coming

Celtic Tree Month of Luis/Rowan, Jan 21-Feb 17, Luis (LWEESH)/rowan – The rowan, or mountain ash (Sorbus aucuparia L.) is related to servceberries. The red berries were historically used to lure birds into traps, and the specific epithet aucuparia comes from words meaning “to catch a bird”. Birds are also responsible for dispersing the seeds. Rowans thrive in poor soils and colonize disturbed areas. In some parts of Europe they are most common around ancient settlements, either because of their weedy nature or because they were planted. Rowans flower in May. They grow to 15 m (50 feet) and are members of the Rose family (Rosaceae). They are cultivated in North America, especially in the northeast.

Luis – Rowan Ogam letter correspondences
Month: December
Color: Grey and Red
Class: Peasant
Letter: L
Meaning: Controlling your life; Protection against control by others.

Quert – Apple Ogam letter correspondences to study this month
Month: None
Color: Green
Class: Shrub
Letter: Q
Meaning: A choice must be made

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Tides for Alsea Bay

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Day        High      Tide  Height   Sunrise    Moon  Time      % Moon
~            /Low      Time    Feet     Sunset                                    Visible
M   21     High  12:48 AM     7.4   7:45 AM     Set  8:15 AM      99
~    21      Low   6:07 AM     2.7   5:10 PM    Rise  6:06 PM
~    21     High  11:58 AM     9.6
~    21      Low   7:01 PM    -1.8

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Affirmation/Thought for the Day – Believe in Magic!

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Journal Prompt – What do you think? – Why do you think tact is an important quality?

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Quotes

~   A pint of sweat, saves a gallon of blood. – George S. Patton, Jr. (1885-1945) US general
~   The beginning of wisdom is the definition of terms. – Socrates
~   I believe the most important single thing, beyond discipline and creativity is daring to dare. – Maya Angelou
~   And we must think no further of you. – Thomas Stearnes Eliot (1888-1965) US writer

The night’s drifts
Pile up below me and behind my back,
Slide down the hill, rise again, and build
Eerie little dunes on the roof of the house. – James Wright (1927–1980)

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Imbolc Magick – Lore – The Hidden Imbolc – February 1, 2011 by psufenasviriuslupus    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/pantheon/2011/02/the-hidden-imbolc/

Of the four Irish quarter-days (Samain*, Imbolc, Beltene, Lugnasad), Imbolc superficially seems like a fairly straight-forward festival. It is considered, even in modern Ireland, to be the beginning of Spring, and it is a festival that is particularly associated with the goddess Bríg or Brigid, who is considered to be fundamentally the same as the Christian St. Brigid of Kildare, who was feted on the same day (February 1). Various signs of the beginning of Spring, therefore, have been attached to the festival, and some of the folk customs that have survived into modern Ireland in connection with the saint have been adopted, adapted, and re-paganized by modern Pagans across a variety of traditions who celebrate the festival. There is still some debate within academic Celtic Studies on whether the characteristics of the festival have their origins in Christian notions of the saint, in certain practices associated with the adjacent Christian festival of Candlemas (in honor of the purification of the Virgin Mary and the presentation of Jesus in the Temple), or whether these customs do reflect genuine survivals and continuations from pre-Christian Pagan religions in Ireland. While it does seem likely that Celtic cultures outside of Ireland had some sort of festival on or around this date, what their character may have been is probably beyond recovery, and has made little impact in the surviving records. Some stone circles in the southwestern part of Ireland, dating to the Bronze Age, mark only the sunrise on the quarter-days of Samain and Imbolc, suggesting that this dark quarter of the year was of particular significance, for example; but the situation is far less certain in other locations. Thus, to talk about Imbolc and its customs as in any sense “Celtic” (understood to mean something that includes several different Celtic cultures) is a bit of an exaggeration, unless one counts all of the ways in which Brigid’s Christian cultus spread to Scotland, Wales, and elsewhere. But that is a side issue for the moment…

A further debate remains to be had, not only amongst the (often monotheistic, or at least monistic-inclined) scholarly community but also amongst various groups within modern Paganism, in terms of Brigidine theology. There are various figures who are called Bríg, Brigid, or Bríd in both the ecclesiastical literature of Ireland and Scotland, as well as in the so-called “secular” tales of gods and heroes (“so-called” because both literatures were produced by the same group of authors for the majority of history, often with these disparate materials existing side-by-side in manuscript miscellanies). Are all of these various Bríg/i/d figures the same, or different? Is the Brigantia of Northern Britain the same as the Brigid of Ireland? Much depends on one’s theological standpoint–a limited monism would suggest that they are all one, while a less limited monism might suggest that they all derive from the same figure ultimately, but are distinguishable in latter ages; but, a hard polytheist viewpoint would suggest that, at very least, Brigantia and Brigid are different. Looking at the actual sources involved, however, can shed some further light on this. The ways in which Brigid is characterized as poetess, smith, and healer in modern Paganism certainly has roots in Irish sources–specifically, Sanas Cormaic (“Cormac’s Glossary”)–and it is also there that Brigid is said to be the daughter of The Dagda. However, in that case, Brigid is not a singular figure: in fact, it is three sisters who are The Dagda’s daughters, and each of them has a specific proficiency. The liturgical formulation of calling upon Brigid as poetess, smith, and healer, then, presupposes a singular being, when it would in fact be more appropriate, based on the original sources involved, to refer to her as “the Brigid who is smith, the Brigid who is poetess, and the Brigid who is healer,” which would then allow those who think of the Brigids as three beings to interpret it in that fashion, and those who think of a singular Brigid to do so equally well, even within the same ritual. Precise use of language in ritual speech and theology is something that is always useful, especially when more attention to doing so can include this sort of theological diversity!

But, the significance of the holiday also seems to have several possible lines of inquiry, which have not been explored very heavily in modern Paganism before. Many holy days have a significance that varies for different people in a given society–the way that a householder would celebrate a festival might be different than the way that a warrior might, for example. And, the warrior-specific significance of the holy-day of Imbolc has emerged in recent scholarship. The usual folk etymologies given for Imbolc attempt to make it a seasonal or agricultural festival; the variation on the name, Oímelc, said to mean “ewe’s milk,” is actually not linguistically viable, nor is i mbolg (“in the belly”), nor imb-fholc (“washing oneself”), though the latter does have some applicability to the occasion. One recently proposed etymology is to take it as it stands, and interpret it as imb olc, “butter of wolves.” While this might conjure images of a Red Riding Hood-like grandmother with a wolf’s head in the shape of a dark bottle of maple syrup–”Mrs. Butterwolf makes the best warriors because she takes her own sweet time!”–a closer examination of the material relating to Brigid demonstrates that this simplest and most linguistically viable option may have a very good viability in context.

The surviving hagiographies of St. Brigid include a huge number of miracles associated with food generally, but milk, butter, and other dairy products seem to get a particular emphasis at various points. She was said to have been baptized in milk, for example (at which mainstream Christian theology would balk, incidentally!), which suggests that milk was considered a spiritual cleansing product in Irish culture, which is borne out by examination of other narratives where milk is used in a similar fashion. Butter, and its obvious derivation from milk, was an extremely important food for the Irish, and was surrounded with many supernatural associations; it was used as a medium for certain spells, and as a general emollient and anointing agent, since oils of other types were not usually available. Butter was valuable, and could be preserved for much longer periods than milk, particularly if buried in a bog; and in fact, good stores of butter would have been essential in order to survive the winter in Ireland. Butter’s importance, and its connection to Brigid, therefore, are easy to establish. But, there are also a great many canid (meaning both canine and lupine) connections with Brigid–for example, one possible form of Brigid, Bríg Ambue (“Bríg of the Cowless/Outlaw Warrior”), is the only female listed in a group of people responsible for the innovation and patronage of particular types of dogs. Dogs and wolves are nearly interchangeable in Irish, with many of the terms used possibly meaning either one– can mean either “dog” or “wolf,” and cú allaidcan mean “wild dog” or “wolf,” as just a couple amongst many possible examples. Furthermore, there are names for the season around Imbolc in both Irish and Scottish sources that indicate that the period was a “wolf-month,” e.g. Scots Gaelic Faoilleach, which is matched by names found elsewhere in the calendrical traditions of Europe.

According to some sources, the warriors of the fíanna (roving, usually youthful, quasi-outlaw warrior-bands closely identified with dogs and wolves), and their close relations the díberga (“marauders”), were active during the summer and were settled during the winter; but, some other narratives suggest that the time of Samain to Imbolc was one particularly associated with warfare. The great medieval Irish heroic epic, Táin Bó Cúailnge, focuses upon a cattle-raid that becomes an inter-provincial war, and the raid starts just before Samain and lasts until after Imbolc. During this campaign, in which Queen Medb of Connacht’s army besieges Ulster, the young hero Cú Chulainn–whose very name connects him to hounds or wolves–single-handedly defends the province of Ulster from the invading army, and his single-combats last from Samain to Imbolc. Thus, his final fateful battle against his foster-brother Fer Diad likely had its culmination on or around Imbolc. In other sources, Cú Chulainn seems to be particularly linked with this quarter-day, in the same way that his divine father Lug was connected to the quarter-day at the opposite end of the year, Lugnasad–and that particular period of the year, in Irish as well as in other European cultures, was the “dog-days.” So the winter in late January/early February seems to be the “wolf-month,” just as the days of late July and early August are the “dog-days.”

But, what is the direct connection between butter, wolves, and Imbolc? The status of the fían-warrior or the díberg in Ireland was a temporary one; it was a state tied to one’s age-grade and property- and legal-status, and it was something that many people would eventually leave, or may unexpectedly enter if they fell on hard times. In some of her hagiographies, St. Brigid cleanses the díberga of their “diabolical signs,” which seem to have been worn on their heads, and it marked them as people with oaths to kill and do harm, thus removal of these signs changed their status and relieved their obligations. The medieval Christian church in Ireland considered both the fíanna and díberga to be inherently evil and Pagan (in every sense!) classes of society, which they ruthlessly tried to stamp out. This entire warrior class seemed to carry on some of the traditions of pre-Christian Pagan Irish religion longer than any other class in Irish society, and they were not fully suppressed until about the fourteenth century CE, when a number of conquering Norman English settlers began taking up their ways and their hairstyles, and they were formally outlawed, where up until then they still had limited rights under the native system of Irish law. Perhaps, in these accounts of St. Brigid, she was simply playing a role that she always had in the pre-Christian Pagan religion, and was cleansing the warriors returning from their díberg or fían status. If the cleansing was not done with milk, perhaps it was done with butter, or an anointing with butter in blessing happened afterwards. Thus, “butter of wolves”!

The youthful wolf- or dog-identified warband existed throughout Europe, and in Rome, the twins Romulus and Remus who founded Rome certainly existed as hunter/warriors before they went on to found the city. On the annual festival of Lupercalia, held on February 15, the Romans had a ritual in which a group of youthful priests helped to perform a sacrifice of a goat and a dog, then spread the blood of these on their foreheads. Another priest then dipped some wool in milk, and cleaned the blood from their foreheads, whereupon they laughed. The Romans did not understand what the significance of these rituals was in late antiquity, but the traditions were held to have come from Arcadia, a place in Greece that was considered to be quite archaic, and which was associated heavily with werewolves, which are often simply another form of the youthful wolf/dog-identified warband. What may be going on in the Lupercalia ritual is that the “diabolical signs” (blood on one’s forehead) was being removed–and even though it was not being removed with butter, the fact that milk was used in this manner suggests that Lupercalia may have a great deal of suggestive power in terms of how St. Brigid (and her pre-Christian goddess predecessor or her human representatives) performed their ritual; and likewise, the Irish evidence may shed a great deal of light on the significance, origin, and meaning of the Roman ritual.

In Rome, the sacrifice and rituals of the limited Luperci priesthood took place somewhat privately, whereas the rest of the festival was public, and involved the Luperci running a race around the old boundaries of the city, flogging passers-by on the hands, who thought being so flogged was auspicious and promoted fertility (particularly for women). The fierceness of the warriors, when re-integrated into society, could be turned into the flowering and fertility of wider society by its active protection. Likewise, the exterior and householder, agriculture-based celebrations of Imbolc may have appealed to the majority of society, while the individual warrior re-integrations took place on a more limited and private scale. The two activities work in concert with one another, and the warrior institution ultimately supports settled life, while likewise the settled people support the warriors.

An interesting further comparandum, though one that cannot be explained by direct contact nor common cultural descent in the manner that Lupercalia and Imbolc share, is found in the Shinto festival of Setsubun, which takes place around the beginning of February each year. Setsubun means “season division,” and it is celebrated in a particular fashion with a practice called Mamemaki, “soybean-throwing.” Shinto priests shoot misfortune-dispelling arrows in the auspicious direction of the particular year, and then roasted soybeans are thrown in various directions for purification and blessings. In some celebrations of the festival, people dressed as oni(often translated “demons”) attack from the inauspicious direction of the year, and are pelted with the roasted soybeans! So, the significance is similar, only the primary medium of purification is not milk or butter, but instead soy! For vegans, the Shinto alternative is certainly a viable one!

But, apart from the specific cultural and seasonal celebrations involved in Imbolc (and Lupercalia), perhaps a wider significance can be taken for this festival, which is desperately needed in today’s society. Currently, the U.S. is engaged in wars on two fronts (even though Iraq is “officially” no longer a war), and soldiers of all religions are trained in the U.S. and sent off to do their duties in these various places without always being given clear ethical standards or rules of engagement, nor are they given sufficient transitional rituals to facilitate their re-integration into society after returning from combat. The rules of the battlefront are not the same as the rules of settled society. Without such recognitions of changes in status, both going and coming, the likelihood of PTSD, general levels of stress and strain on non-military relationships and situations, and a variety of other things are not only likely, they’re nearly unavoidable. The number of suicides in the U.S. Armed Forces last year is slightly larger than the total number of U.S. servicemember casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan for the year. While some may think this is an indication of the unfitness of service of the people involved, I think a great deal could be gained by people in every religion honoring their warrior-classes more, giving them the proper spiritual support, and allowing them to contextualize their experiences in a spiritual manner through these rites of transition, which might in fact do a great deal in preventing PTSD, suicide, and other forms of distress and trauma experienced by servicemembers. One does not have to necessarily “believe” in the gods and spirits involved in order to get a psychological benefit from a good ritual of transition. Just as aspects of Imbolc that suggest particular warrior significance are hidden, so too is the plight of many of our currently serving warriors, as well as the returning and returned wounded warriors and veterans who live among us.

By all means, thus, make the Brigid’s crosses and the corn dollies on Imbolc, and welcome in the coming Spring with great joy; but do not forget that the Brigid who is the smith, the Brigid who is the healer, and the Brigid who is the poetess each serve the warriors as well, by making weapons and equipment, by tending to their wounds of every sort while in battle and when returning, and by recounting their deeds and their stories as they happen and afterwards. And, there is also a Brigid, Bríg Ambue, who is the patroness of the “Cowless Warriors,” the equivalent of which in our own society are the often young and disenfranchised men and women who make up the majority of the enlisted servicemembers in the U.S. Armed Forces. She will always be their guide and their supporter, and the one who joyfully receives them back when they return, tending to their visible wounds and cleansing their invisible scars. We should never forget them, nor should we neglect Her in our observances.

*: Note that I prefer to use the Old Irish spelling of this festival, as well as most of the other Irish terms employed in this article.

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Silliness – Mr. Smith is Dead

A law firm receptionist answered the phone the morning after the firm’s senior partner had passed away unexpectedly.
“Is Mr. Smith there?”, asked the client on the phone.
“I’m very sorry, but Mr. Smith passed away last night,” the receptionist answered.
“Is Mr. Smith there?”, repeated the client.
The receptionist was perplexed. “Perhaps you didn’t understand me I’m afraid Mr. Smith passed away last night.”
“Is Mr. Smith there?”, asked the client again.
“Ma’am, do you understand what I’m saying?”, said the exasperated receptionist. “Mr. Smith is DEAD!”
“I understand you perfectly,” the client sighed. “I just can’t hear it often enough.”

 

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