There’s been lovely, bright sunshine all day! This is one of those days that make it worthwhile to live out here. 50F, wind at 2, AQI 14, UV1. We only got 0.01 inches of rain after midnight and it’s pretty well dried up, but that’s after getting most of 1/3 of an inch, yesterday. There’s no rain in the forecast until next Wednesday, either.
Yesterday wasn’t a good day. Tempus and I aren’t sure, but we think that we’ve had the flu for several days and it clobbered me, yesterday, so pretty much all I did was read and embroider in bed. Tempus didn’t get much done, either, except moving some things out of the aisles.
So, today, not much has happened, either. The car’s been in the shop all day and there’s not-so-good-news on it. $1200 worth of work, needed. <sigh> So we’re got some thinking to do. Tempus is going into Newport, early, to pick up something that might help with the car and to drop off some of the soup samples.
Once he’s back, we’ll have supper and then he has to go start the paper route.
Interesting podcast on the nature of the sun’s light. https://www.almanac.com/podcast/why-isnt-sun-green ?
Feast day of St Francis de Sales – Francis, Count of Sales, left a life of riches for poverty and became a preacher. Francis died in 1622, aged 55. Francis of Sales was beatified in 1661 by Pope Alexander VII, who then canonized him in 1665. More here:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francis_de_Sales With Jane Frances de Chantal, he founded the Order of the Visitation of Holy Mary, called the Salesian Sisters. More here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Order_of_the_Visitation_of_Holy_Mary I went on a retreat at their convent in Georgetown. picture is Francis de Sales and Jane Frances de Chantal, medal 1867
Flowering fern [Royal fern], Osmunda regalis, is today’s plant, dedicated to this saint. Osmunda regalis belongs to the oxymoronically named flowering fern family, so called because the densely-clustered sporangia resemble flowers. It is said by some to be one of the most handsome European ferns, hence the name. It is widely distributed in Europe, Asia and North America. The ‘Royal Fern’ is also known as the ‘Queen Flower’. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Osmunda_regalis (pictures are the American variety of this fern)
According to Slavic mythology, the sporangia – called ‘Perun’s flowers’ – have assorted magical powers, such as giving their holders the ability to defeat demons, fulfil wishes, unlock secrets, and understand the language of trees. However, collecting the sporangia is a difficult and frightening process. In earlier traditions, they had to be be collected on Kupala night; later, after the arrival of Christianity, the date is changed to Easter eve. Either way, the person wanting to collect Perun’s flowers must stand within a circle drawn around the plant and withstand the taunting or threats of demons.
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Love & Light,
Today’s Astro & Calendar
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. Waning Gibbous Moon – Best time for draining the energy behind illness, habits or addictions. Magicks of this sort, started now, should be ended before the phase change to the New Moon. – Associated God/dess: Hera/Hero, Cybele, Zeus the Conqueror, Mars/Martius, Anansi, Prometheus. Phase ends at the Quarter on 1/27 at 1:10pm.
With the waning gibbous Moon now gone from the early evening sky, is your sky dark enough for you to see the winter Milky Way? After dinnertime it runs vertically and across the zenith: from bright Canis Major low in the southeast, up between Orion and Gemini, through Auriga and Perseus almost straight overhead, and down through Cassiopeia, Cepheus, and Cygnus (including the Northern Cross) to the northwest horizon.
And take advantage of these dark evenings to explore telescopic sights high overhead with Sue French’s Deep-Sky Wonders column, “Meridian Observing,” in the January Sky & Telescope, page 54.
Although Saturn passed on the opposite side of the Sun from Earth early this month, it already appears low in the southeast during morning twilight. From mid-northern latitudes, the ringed planet rises more than an hour before the Sun and climbs 5° above the horizon a half-hour before sunup. Saturn shines at magnitude 0.5, which makes it the brightest point of light in this part of the sky. Still, it won’t be easy to pick out of the bright twilight. To find it, use binoculars and scan to the lower left of Venus and Jupiter.
Uranus (magnitude 5.8, at the Aries-Pisces border) is high in the south-southwest right after dark. It’s visible in binoculars if you have a good finder chart and if you know the constellations well enough to see where to start with the chart.
Old Farmer’s Almanac Sky Map for January
Goddess Month of of Bridhe, runs from 1/23 – 2/19
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.
Runic half-month of Elhaz/Algiz, from 1/28-2/11. This half month: optimistic power, protection and sanctuary.
©2018 M. Bartlett, Some parts separately copyright
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.
Day High Tide Height Sunrise Moon Time % Moon
~ /Low Time Feet Sunset Visible
Th 24 High 3:00 AM 8.1 7:43 AM Set 10:10 AM 90
~ 24 Low 8:47 AM 2.0 5:14 PM Rise 9:56 PM
~ 24 High 2:34 PM 8.4
~ 24 Low 9:16 PM -0.7
Affirmation/Thought for the Day – It isn’t easy to keep your mouth and your mind open at the same time.
~ Joy is not in things! It is in us! – Benjamin Franklin
~ We need to become conscious of ourselves, not as individuals, but as mankind. – Nietzsche
~ Americans love to fight. All real Americans love the sting of battle. – George S. Patton, Jr. (1885-1945) US general
~ All I know is just what I read in the papers, and that’s an alibi for my ignorance. – Will Rogers (1879-1935) US actor, humorist
Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To know that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice. –Robert Frost (1874–1963)
Imbolc Magick – Lore – Witchery Press – Imbolc Lore & Rituals: Let there be Light – January 25, 2017 – Juliet Diaz – https://witcheryblog.wixsite.com/witcherypress/single-post/2017/01/25/Imbolc-Lore-Rituals-Let-there-be-Light
Let there be Light…
Imbolc is an ancient Celtic festival that marks midwinter in the solar calendar and is a time for preparation for coming out of the dark time of the year and into the light of spring. This is the time of celebration for the Goddess Brigid, which teaches us about healing, home, hearth, birth, inspiration, and the work we must do inside and outside ourselves to walk out of the cold of winter and into the warmth of spring.
The feeling of Imbolc is a fragile one, we often experience feeling uncertain and unsure. This could be related to the thousands of generations before us who felt unease at this time of year as there was great threats that the firewood and food supplies were running low. We can experience this unease of Imbolc throughout the year and even more so with our political climate threats on our environment which affects women, animals and the land who are all seen as resources to be used.
Brigid’s Day. One of the 4 Celtic “Fire Festivals. Commemorates the changing of the Goddess from the Crone to the Maiden. Celebrates the first signs of Spring. Also called “Imbolc” (the old Celtic name).
This is the seasonal change where the first signs of spring and the return of the sun are noted, i.e. the first sprouting of leaves, the sprouting of the Crocus flowers etc. In other words, it is the festival commemorating the successful passing of winter and the beginning of the agricultural year. This Festival also marks the transition point of the threefold Goddess energies from those of Crone to Maiden.
It is the day that we celebrate the passing of Winter and make way for Spring. It is the day we honor the rebirth of the Sun and we may visualize the baby sun nursing from the Goddess’s breast. It is also a day of celebrating the Celtic Goddess Brigid. Brigid is the Goddess of Poetry, Healing, Smith-craft, and Midwifery. If you can make it with your hands, Brigid rules it. She is a triple Goddess, so we honor her in all her aspects. This is a time for communing with her, and tending the lighting of her sacred flame.
WASH YOUR HANDS & YOUR SPIRIT
The word “February” comes from the Roman “februa” which translates roughly as “purification.” The Romans even celebrated a Februa Ritual, dedicated to the idea of purification. Imbolc is a wonderful opportunity to return to the original meaning of February and engage in some spiritual housecleaning.
After the hustle and bustle of Samhain and Yule, Imbolc can be a breath of cleansing sabbat air. Take advantage of the “down time*” to evaluate what’s working and not working in your own spiritual practice. Throw out or re-develop the parts that might be holding you back, and then do some inventory as to why the successful bits are that way. Clean out your ritual space, ridding it of any lingering negativity there from the previous year. “Spring cleaning” isn’t just for the home, it can be a part of our spiritual practice too.
Many of my Imbolc rituals over the years have stressed ridding one’s self of negative influences. Instead of asking for something at this stop on the Wheel, ask the gods to take something away. Looking inward and evaluating what tendencies need to go or be changed is difficult, but oh so rewarding when done properly.
Bless your candles for the upcoming year at Imbolc. Imbolc is the perfect opportunity. It’s also usually an indoor ritual, blessing a bunch of tools is easier when you don’t have to lug them into the woods.
This idea of preparedness can also be found in the Catholic holiday of Candlemass (a name still used by many Witches for Imbolc). Not surprisingly Candlemass tapped into the purification aspects of Februa and was also the date on the calendar when the Catholic Church blessed their candles for remainder of the calendar year.
Imbolc (February 2) marks the recovery of the Goddess after giving birth to the God. The lengthening periods of light awaken Her. The God is a young, lusty boy, but His power is felt in the longer days. The warmth fertilizes the Earth (the Goddess), and causes seeds to germinate and sprout. And so the earliest beginnings of Spring occur.
This is a Sabbat of purification after the shut-in life of Winter, through the renewing power of the Sun. It is also a festival of light and of fertility, once marked in Europe with huge blazes, torches and fire in every form. Fire here represents our own illumination and inspiration as much as light and warmth. Imbolc is also known as Feast of Torches, Oimelc, Lupercalia, Feast of Pan, Snowdrop Festival, Feast of the Waxing Light, Brighid’s Day, and probably by many other names. Some female Witches follow the old Scandinavian custom of wearing crowns of lit candles, but many more carry tapers during their invocations.
CELEBRATE WHERE YOU ARE ON THE WHEEL
A lot of sources list Imbolc as the “start of Spring.” While that might be true in certain parts of the Western World, it’s certainly not true everywhere. Imbolc can be the start of Spring, but for others it’s the height of Winter.
For me, Imbolc is often a bitterly cold holiday, and snow was the norm. Instead of despairing over that ice and frost it’s better to think about what those elements mean in the long-term. All of that cold and snow set the table for the beauties of Spring, Summer, and Fall (and sometimes there really is nothing more beautiful than a snowy night). Snow fertilizes the fields and fills our rivers and streams when it melts. For so many places it’s a vital part of the eco-system. Instead of lamenting the reality of the situation, celebrate it!
The Romans Celebrate
To the Romans, this time of year halfway between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox was the season of the Lupercalia. For them, it was a purification ritual held on February 15, in which a goat was sacrificed and a scourge made of its hide. Thong-clad men ran through the city, whacking people with bits of goat hide. Those who were struck considered themselves fortunate indeed. This is one of the few Roman celebrations that is not associated with a particular temple or deity. Instead, it focuses on the founding of the city of Rome, by twins Romulus and Remus, who were suckled by a she-wolf — in a cave known as the “Lupercale”.
The Feast of Nut
The ancient Egyptians celebrated this time of year as the Feast of Nut, whose birthday falls on February 2 (Gregorian calendar). According to the Book of the Dead, Nut was seen as a mother-figure to the sun god Ra, who at sunrise was known as Khepera and took the form of a scarab beetle.
Christian Conversion of a Pagan Celebration
When Ireland converted to Christianity, it was hard to convince people to get rid of their old gods, so the church allowed them to worship the goddess Brighid as a saint — thus the creation of St. Brigid’s Day. Today, there are many churches around the world which bear her name.
The Goddess Brighid
Like many Pagan holidays, Imbolc has a Celtic connection as well, although it wasn’t celebrated in non-Gaelic Celtic societies. The Irish goddess Brighid is the keeper of the sacred flame, the guardian of home and hearth. To honor her, purification and cleaning are a wonderful way to get ready for the coming of Spring. In addition to fire, she is a goddess connected to inspiration and creativity.
Brighid is known as one of the Celtic “triune” goddesses — meaning that she is one and three simultaneously. The early Celts celebrated a purification festival by honoring Brighid, or Brid, whose name meant “bright one.” In some parts of the Scottish Highlands, Brighid was viewed in her aspect as crone as Cailleach Bheur, a woman with mystical powers who was older than the land itself. Brighid was also a warlike figure, Brigantia, in the Brigantes tribe near Yorkshire, England. The Christian St. Brigid was the daughter of a Pictish slave who was baptized by St. Patrick, and founded a community of nuns at Kildare, Ireland.
In modern Paganism, Brighid is viewed as part of the maiden/mother/crone cycle. She walks the earth on the eve of her day, and before going to bed each member of the household should leave a piece of clothing outside for Brighid to bless. Smoor your fire as the last thing you do that night, and rake the ashes smooth. When you get up in the morning, look for a mark on the ashes, a sign that Brighid has passed that way in the night or morning. The clothes are brought inside, and now have powers of healing and protection thanks to Brighid.
Origins of Brighid
In Irish mythological cycles, Brighid (or Brighit), whose name is derived from the Celtic brig or “exalted one”, is the daughter of the Dagda, and therefore one of the Tuatha de Dannan. Her two sisters were also called Brighid, and were associated with healing and crafts. The three Brighids were typically treated as three aspects of a single deity, making her a classic Celtic triple goddess.
Patron and Protector
Brighid was the patron of poets and bards, as well as healers and magicians. She was especially honored when it came to matters of prophecy and divination. She was honored with a sacred flame maintained by a group of priestesses, and her sanctuary at Kildare, Ireland, later became the home of the Christian variant of Brighid, St. Brigid of Kildare. Kildare is also the location of one of several sacred wells in the Celtic regions, many of which are connected to Brighid. Even today, it’s not uncommon to see ribbons and other offerings tied to trees near a well as a petition to this healing goddess.
Brighid’s Many Forms
In northern Britain, Brighid’s counterpart was Brigantia, a warlike figure of the Brigantes tribe near Yorkshire, England. She is similar to the Greek goddess Athena and the Roman Minerva. Later, as Christianity moved into the Celtic lands, St. Brigid was the daughter of a Pictish slave who was baptized by St. Patrick, and founded a community of nuns at Kildare.
In addition to her position as a goddess of magic, Brighid was known to watch over women in childbirth, and thus evolved into a goddess of hearth and home. Today, many Pagans honor her on February 2, which has become known as Imbolc or Candlemas.
Winter Cymres at the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids, calls her a “complex and contradictory” sort of deity. Specifically, “She possesses an unusual status as a Sun Goddess Who hangs Her Cloak upon the rays of the Sun and whose dwelling-place radiates light as if on fire. Brigid took over the Cult of the Ewes formerly held by the Goddess Lassar, who also is a Sun Goddess and who made the transition, in the Isles, from Goddess to saint. In this way Brigid’s connection to Imbolc is completed, as the worship of Lassar diminished, only to be revived later in Christian sainthood.”
Crafts to Honor Brighid
In many Pagan traditions today, Brighid is celebrated with crafts that honor her role as the protector of the hearth. You can make a Brighid corn doll, as well as a Bride’s Bed for her to sleep in. Perhaps the best known decoration is the Brighid’s Cross, whose arms represent the place where a crossroads comes together, the space between light and dark.
Brighid and Imbolc
Like many Pagan holidays, Imbolc has a Celtic connection, although it wasn’t celebrated in non-Gaelic Celtic societies. The early Celts celebrated a purification festival by honoring Brighid. In some parts of the Scottish Highlands, Brighid was viewed as a sister of Cailleach Bheur, a woman with mystical powers who was older than the land itself. In modern Wicca and Paganism, Brighid is sometimes viewed as the maiden aspect of the maiden/mother/crone cycle, although it might be more accurate for her to be the mother, given her connection with home and childbirth.
Imbloc (Candlemass, Imblog, Imbole) – February 2nd
Incense: Rosemary, Frankincense, Myrrh, Cinnamon
Decorations: Corn Dolly, Besom, Spring Flowers
Colours: White, Orange, Red
Brighid; Bride (Scotland), Brid, Brigit, Bridget, Briganta (England), Brigan, Brigindo (Gaul), Berecyntia, Brigandu (France)
Name means Bright One, High One, Bright Arrow, Power.
Christianized forms: St. Brigit (Irish), St. Ffraid (Welsh), St. Bridget (Swedish), Queen of Heaven, Prophetess of Christ, Mary.
Ground Hog’s Day (USA); Aztec New Year; Chinese New Year; Roman Lupercalia; Valentine’s Day (USA); Armenian Candlemas.
Flames: Sacred Fire
- torchlit processions circling fields to purify & invigorate for the coming growing season (old Pagan)
- lighting & blessing of candles (11th century, Christian)
- sacred fire of Brigid (Celtic Pagan)
- torchlit procession to honor Juno Februata/Regina (Pagan Rome; Christianized, 7th century)
Brigid: Celtic Goddess
- Goddess of Inspiration – poets, poetry, creativity, prophecy, arts
- Goddess of Smithcraft – blacksmiths, goldsmiths, household crafts
- Goddess of Healing – healers, medicine, spiritual healing, fertility (crops, land, cattle)
- Fire – flames, candle crown, hearth
- Water – cauldron, springs, wells
- Grain – Brigid wheels, corn/oat sheaf Goddess effigy, Brigid’s Bed
- Creatures – white cow with red ears, wolf, snake, swan and vulture
- Talismans – Shining Mirror to Otherworld, Spinning Wheel and Holy Grail
It is traditional upon Imbolc, at sunset or just after ritual, to light every lamp in the house – if only for a few moments. Or, light candles in each room in honor of the Sun’s rebirth. Alternately, light a kerosene lamp with a red chimney and place this in a prominent part of the home or in a window.
If snow lies on the ground outside, walk in it for a moment, recalling the warm days
the festival of calving. Sour cream dishes are fine. Spicy and full-bodied foods in honor of the Sun are equally attuned. Curries and all dishes made with peppers, onions, leeks, shallots, garlic or chives are appropriate.
Spiced wines and dishes containing raisins – all foods symbolic of the Sun – are also traditional.
Ritual for Imbolc/Candlemas
Supplies: Symbol of the season, such as a white flower, snow in a crystal container, also needed, an orange candle anointed with cinnamon, frankincense or rosemary oil (unlit), red candle to represent the elements, and your ritual supplies.
Arrange the altar, light the candles and censer, and cast the Circle.
Invoke the Goddess and God.
Say such words as the following:
“This is the time of the feast of torches,
When every lamp blazes and shines
To welcome the rebirth of the God.
I/we celebrate the Goddess,
I/we celebrate the God;
All the Earth celebrates
Beneath its mantle of sleep.”
Light the orange taper from the red candle on the altar. Slowly walk the circle clockwise, bearing the candle before you.
Say these or similar words:
“All the land is wrapped in winter.
The air is chilled and
Frost envelopes the Earth.
But Lord of the Sun,
Horned One of animals and wild places,
Unseen you have been reborn
Of the gracious Mother Goddess,
Lady of all fertility.
Hail Great God!
Hail and welcome!”
Stop before the altar, holding aloft the candle. Gaze at its flame. Visualize your life blossoming with creativity, with renewed energy and strength.
If you need to look into the future or past, now is an ideal time.
Works of magick, if necessary, may follow.
Celebrate the Simple Feast.
Thank the Goddess and God.
Release the Circle.
Simple ways to celebrate:
Make a Brigid straw doll (Brideog)
One way to bring the magic of Brigid into your homes at Imbolc is to make a Brideog (pronounced Bree-jog). This was traditionally undertaken by the men in the home and the little Brideogs were hung over the doors of people’s homes. Brideogs are made with straw or rushes twisted into the shape of a doll, wrapped in white fabric to represent a little dress and decorated with the first flowers, greenery from the garden, and other pretty things you find in nature.
Make a Brigid cross
Brigid crosses were also made at this time of year and may be familiar if you had a country childhood. Straw which has been soaked overnight is woven around a frame made of sticks. For younger kids you might want to use pipe cleaners. There are many different styles, some with three or four arms, Googling Brigid crosses comes up with various ideas for your family. Hang your Brigid cross wherever you like in your home, but children’s were usually hung over their bed. It was believed that a Brigid cross tucked under the mattress helped aid conception, and they were used to bless seed before planting in spring.
Feasts and fire
Another Imbolc tradition, as with many Celtic celebrations, is the lighting of fires. Fires celebrated not only the Fire Goddess Brigid, but also recognised the returning power of the sun. In the Christian calendar, Imbolc is known as Candlemas, when candles are lit for Virgin Mary. Lighting a fire is a good opportunity to gather with friends and family, and reflect, share and laugh together. Imbolc was also a time of feasting so you might want to make some food you can cook in the fire, and toast some marshmallows!
Spring clean your home
Now is the perfect time for a good spring clean of your home, usually undertaken before Imbolc Eve. Get rid of anything that is cluttering up your home and stagnating the energy, and scrub all the surfaces down thoroughly. If you can bear the cold, open all the windows and let some refreshing clean air flow through your home. Making it in to preparation for a celebration is also a great way to tempt kids to tackle their rooms and get rid of toys they don’t want any more!
Visit a stream, river or well
Traditionally, Imbolc was a time for visiting holy water; a spring or a well, to both purify us and bring fertility to our dreams. Why not set off on an adventure together as a family to find some water near your home: a river, stream, or well. If the water’s clean, splash some over yourself as you set your intention to cleanse and purify. Glennie Kindred suggests dipping a piece of ribbon in the water and then hanging it from a nearby tree (trees near water are especially sacred) to carry messages of hope and healing. She also reminds us to thank the spirits of the place you visit and pick up any rubbish you see nearby as an act of gratitude.
FOR MORE IDEAS SEE OUR School of Witchery Pinterest https://www.pinterest.com/witcheryschool
References & Sources
- Farrar, Janet & Stewart (1987). The Witches Goddess. Custer, WA: Phoenix. Chapter 14 & page 206.
- Fox, Selena (1996). Weems-Wemyss-MacDuff Family History. work in progress. ancestral lineage chart.
- Green, Miranda (1995). Celtic Goddesses. London: British Museum Press. Chapter 9.
- Jones, Kathy (1991). The Ancient British Goddess. Glastonbury: Ariadne. pages 23-38. Monaghan, Patricia (1990). The Book of Goddesses and Heroines. St. Paul: Llewellyn. pages 59-60.
- Moncreiffe, Sir Ian (1977). The Highland Clans. Bramhall House edition. pages 46, 101.
- Walker, Barbara (1983). The Woman’s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets. San Francisco: Harper. pages 166-118
Silliness – Helping Dad
A clergyman walking down a country lane and sees a young farmer struggling to load hay back onto a cart after it had fallen off.
“You look hot, my son,” said the cleric. “why don’t you rest a moment, and I’ll give you a hand.”
“No thanks,” said the young man.
“My father wouldn’t like it.”
“Don’t be silly,” the minister said.
“Everyone is entitled to a break. Come and have a drink of water.”
Again the young man protested that his father would be upset. Losing his patience, the clergyman said, “Your father must be a real slave driver. Tell me where I can find him and I’ll give him a piece of my mind!”
“Well,” replied the young farmer, “he’s under the load of hay.”