|Posted on February 3, 2018 at 11:15 AM||comments (1)|
Imbolg 2018 was a great celebration and a lovely way to start the wheel of the year turning again. Out of all the sabbats, Imbolg is one that means a lot to me personally, and I see the day as special (well isn't it not?). I planned on having some friends come over a week in advance so it would give me enough time to plan everything I needed. I really wanted to make this night one to remember~
Imbolg (pronounced 'im-molg') means "in the belly", and refers to the first stirrings of foetal light in the womb of Mother Earth. It is a time between winter - of Yule - and spring - of Ostara; it is the time between the times, and a celebration involving purification, fire - and quite good spirits!
There are a lot of traditions around this time, and incidentally Imbolg has something to do with the origins of spring cleaning: it was originally part of a fertility ritual involving inviting the re-fertilizing properties of the Sun in the cold barren womb of Earth - all that was of the last year was burned, buried or removed in preparation for the birth of the new. Imbolg is a time when the fields should be cleared for the year-to-come's harvests, and the first signs of the quickening year are made apparent.
Lots of luscious greenery and wild foragble edibles are alive at this time. Imbolg is a good time of the year to start identifying types of trees, plants and other things as well, the lack of foliage making many flora more easily identifiable. In Ireland the tradition of having the 'impersonator of the saint' [Brigid] come door to door and be invited in the dwelling lives on and well, and is surely a remnant of a pre-christian tradition.
Enough with the general background! Check out what we did for our own local Imbolg celebrations~
On the day-of, I woke up around 5 AM and went out into our fields before the crack of dawn and harvested rushes with my boline, singing songs to Brigid. I brought them back to the stead and started to strip their stalks of small branches and leaves, leaving only the hearty major stalk remaining. Eventually I had a nice small pile of these rushes to make Brigid's crosses with.
I also cut up an old pair of jeans into strips or 'clooties', and laid out pens so as to write our wishes, hopes and dreams for the coming year; which will then be tied to a tree at the "fairy house" at the far end of our property. Also visible is a pack of beans (suitable as a reminder of imbolg), with which we will all plant a few in the soil. My previous years' Brigids' cross sits atop the pile of rushes next to a spool of string, and my ornate crescent-moon boline sits sheathed nearby. In the distance is the unlit Brideog ('brideog' means 'little brid').
Here in this picture you can see my good friend Miguel taking part in the age-old tradition of tying a strip of cloth (or a 'clootie') to a tree. He had arrived before everyone else so he was the first one to tie his cloth! I had brought my cauldron out to the 'fairy house' at the far-end of our country property and filled it with water - acting as "Brigid's Well"; where everyone would have to walk out and voyage to, to dip before tying. You can notice to the left a small wattle enclosure - where we would be planting our beans in the moonlight later that night~
Brigid in her Bed, with candles lit and placed on either side. Usually my Brideog is very simple - just the corn doll and wand laid on a blanket with the candles on each side; but since we were having our first coven meeting, I decided to really make it beautiful~ I wrapped the doll in some old decorative cloths made by my great grandma, and placed that in another (more modern) colourful one; necklaces (also 'ancestral') adorn it, and a small crystal sits at the heart of the image. Lemons grow around this time and so I appropriately placed some around the bed, as a seasonal tinge. Incense sticks sit waiting to be lit.
Another wider shot of the Brideog. Note the plants behind it; I had stuffed the back with hay to prop the doll up a bit and used some green tree-branches to hide the ends, as well as make it look nice~ You can really see the full image now.
Great importance was atttached to the burning of last years' crosses. Miguel had mentioned that while it's possible to just "do this in your mind" - that is, symbolically "letting go" and re-making our new year - when we have these materialized manifestations of those things it certainly makes it a lot more alive, palpable and memoriable for everyone involved. A great symbolic gesture - the form is meaningless unless the intent be there! It's time to get rid of the old and in with the new!
Here you can see my Mom and I's crosses. These are not Brigid's crosses, but God's Eyes. Reason we made these instead was that the rushes I had harvested didn't soak long enough to be pliable so we all thought it would be easier to make these instead; and they look as nice and suit the purpose just fine. We started to notice an emerging pattern with how we created ours~
Here our coven members Summer and Rachel tend to the Imbolg fire~ We burned our Yule Log from last year.
Imbolg fires are burning! All hail Brigid!
Brigid in her Bed, with all of our crosses at the foot of it, as to procure the blessings of Brigid upon them before we all left. There was a distinct way of wrapping we all noticed, the men making the crosses by tying the string 'under over under over', while the females all tyed it 'over over over' in the same way; we took note of these already-emerging local 'styles'.
The Imbolg fire now smoulders.
When the night came and the moon rose up - and we all were buzzed enough - we decided to try doing a wheel or cord dance. It was just four people, but we were able to have a man hold one side of the cord and a female another, and like this had all held by the right 'polarity', and had the cords in such a way that it was taught at a point in the centre, and we all danced deosil in the moonlight, practice dancing but still having fun. We started to laugh and had a good time.
When it was time for everyone to depart we made sure everyone took their cross with them, and gave them a dozen eggs each (we have chickens); with thankful goodbyes, smiles and kind departing words I watched as they rode off into the night. Looking back up at the moon, I smiled in the silent relish of a good sabbat.
Merry 2018 Imbolg!
|Posted on November 19, 2016 at 9:15 PM||comments (0)|
So in my lengthy article about shrines, I got into depth about local spirits and their losses of localised places in which contact was made with them. Having not found any spirit shrines to more primitive or local spirits I decided to create my own. I made one on the banks of a local creek situated beneath an old dead tree that overlooked the watershed from the cliffside, arranging large rocks from the creekbed below in a circular-shaped enclosure at the base of the trunk. I had constructed also a figure to represent the spirit of the area; fashioned out of creek mud and stones.
Now this was all fine and dandy, but I knew that since the creek is frequented by local teenagers and high-schoolers, that it was bound to be tampered with. I had left a note, and I feel like if not for that it would have seen far quicker ruin. However, the figure inside the stone enclosure was found dismantled and strewn beside the path one time, so I created another - but that disappeared. So when exploring the creek I had found a [plastic] bull statue, so I decided to place that in the shrine instead, and that has seemed to stay. The note has dissolved into the earth of the shrine on account of the rains that we've been having, and the grass grown up around the shrine makes it look more of a part of the landscape.
The path that leads up to the shrine appears more trodden - and not just by me - so people have been visiting it. Even if they aren't sure what "it" is. The spirits are always around all the time. It pleases them to have interaction at this place - and it feels different, too. Friendlier.
|Posted on November 3, 2016 at 2:30 PM||comments (0)|
Who wants to come with me to the Sabbat? I made a ritual space out in our local creek. Finally after months and months - our old buddies moved out and went to a new spot, so I was finally able to 'renovate' the area~ Fire pit is covered by a pan; some misc things to take care of - still a little messy, but more in the works. This should be the outdoor meeting place for the coven or any group rituals. It's secure, and private enough for magical operations without having curious onlookers~
|Posted on September 7, 2016 at 9:30 PM||comments (0)|
Paganism and Spirit Shrines
"Just to awaken in the night from a drowsy slumber, to gaze out through the window upon the glorious rounded full moon. Silently flying and all is still outside, for a moment awake I sit transfixed by that serenity, almost captured within by those moon beams, and the lustrous magnificence of that disc that rules the night."
Even without those rituals, being in the experience directly is oh such the more powerful. As a child my spiritual and supernatural experiences were dynamic. Much was /play/. But a lot came naturally, the way of interaction with these other forces and realms was almost child-like; meaning that there was no hindrance in the activity, and as a child one is pure of cognitive filler, so it comes easily. Not having the long drawn and complex ceremonial procedures, by having that child-like direct experience or contact, with that divine entity leaves an impressionable memory upon the individual that strengthens the bond therewith, and leaves the gate open wide for further dynamic, creative rapport and experiences, even say, in hallowed places where the nous may be dreadful and terrifying rather than kind and benevolent.
As a child I was having these very real, direct experiences with supernatural forces of nature by doing simple child-like things, or ways of interacting with them. I believe paganism could be related to this way, in that matter. There were no rules or order on how to approach any such spirit or thing, so it was all very real and subjective, and fluid. There were many different beings, not even any sort of hierarchy. I all thought of it as very "together", that is, all very on the same plane. It wasn't very hard for me to understand as a child, because a lot of what I was doing were things a child could understand. I didn't need (or have) any system that I interpreted these things through, so it was all very personal, and the way I had gone about things was direct and there were many ways of having these interactions. Incidentally which is a reason why I believe paganism is "child-like" - not in the regard of not being developed or any such manner - but because there are no restrictions upon spirituality, the supernatural is very much dynamic, and many-faced. Such are the ways of paganism.
I find myself even now interested greatly in the local and wayside shrines and spiritual and hallowed places. It seems as if many of these beings that reside at these places had their origins in some small local deity of supernatural figure, which through time concreted and into the form which it is venerated today. Perhaps many of these figures had their origins within the brains of that child-like paganism, manifesting from the endless ways that nature mysteriously does, and nothing is homogenous because of it. So we see hundreds or even thousands of these very specific, highly individualised spirits and beings.
These local and very personalised entities preoccupy the world with the living. They are given physical images and forms, vehicles or vessels of manifestation. And regardless if an individual does not believe in these entities themselves, they still exist regardless, in their forms or concepts.
I made an effort to seek out some of these local shrines and spirit-enclosures. Of course, as one would probably suspect, living in 2016 in California, you aren't going to find many places. Beyond the Temples and Sanctuaries for the religions of the non-abrahamic kind where one could usually find shrines and spirit houses, I could not locate a single one. Wayside memorials are a kind of shrine, but it is not in my interest to visit every roadside accident! Even though I do pay my respects to them if I happen to pass.
I was interested in those strange and country-located spirits. The small altars and places where local divinities or forms happen to be located. Much of the population here in this area is devoted Christian or Catholic. And considering that my particular town has over seven churches in it's 3 mile radius, there aren't many people who would keep up these shrines or so publicly admit to where they are. So I was off on my quest.
I was led into the rich history of my local area. I learned about the local indigenous tribes and their cultures. I even wrote to one but elicited no response. From my own research I had discovered that sacred places were seen as numerous, before the arrival of the colonists and white settlers; apparently there were many springs, and lush vallies, etc. - many places of unusual configuration deemed sacred. But the emproachment of the foreigners and the forced conversion of their peoples quickly wiped out much of the surrounding lore.
What does exist is fragmentary.
I started to ask around from people I knew. Some said they knew not a clue, others recommended haunted houses or other-such-locations. But I was not interested in communing with the ghosts. I had researched about my particular county and discovered that there were many former settlements in the area which are no longer on modern maps and are no longer maintained by the county. But there was little to no information either save for the place-names and locations.
In lieu of having little to no avail in my search for the more mysterious spiritual shrines, I decided to construct one, myself. On the banks of Stony Creek at the base of an old dead tree is a small enclosure made of loosely stacked stones taken from the creek bed, into a circular shape, with a gap as the 'entrance' and only standing maybe 8 inches tall off the earth. Inside the little enclosure sits a red jasper stone (a 'heart') on which is a small figure fashioned of creek mud and rocks, representing the spiritual force or presence of the area. It gives the spirits in the area a place to localise and humans a way to interact with them.
The small shrine at the base of an old dead tree.
I'm observing the status of the shrine as time progresses. If anything is amiss, I replace it properly, and patiently. So far nothing has been strewn or destroyed, about a week later. The note I had left remains, and the small footpath leading up to the shrine seemed more tread, as if people had stopped to see the curious feature. I have yet to see others leave offerings or votives.
When the more "popular" and well-known spirits, saints and entities have their due shrines and places of veneration, but those almost primal - natural, and primitive - spirits don't have a chance - why not give them their own respective shrine? Distinct from the the new age 'nature-shrines' - creative arrangements using natural objects, which are more of spiritual expression rather than contact with a local nous - in a place where perhaps these spirits have never had shrines or places of veneration themselves, it is curious to see that innovation - giving the spirits a voice themselves, will go in an area where it has never been.
Another view of the shrine.
Truly, I believe this very creative process of making a proper shrine to a local spirit, is the very fabric of what paganism is, or can be; it is the fluid and dynamic development of spiritual forces and entities, the act of giving manifestation to these natural presences. It allows for an intimate, deeper and profound connection with the forces of nature and the local "feeling" of a place. Without rigidity, or structure, this very direct connection with the spiritual force of an area gives a different dimension of understanding and the relationship one has between themselves and that place more intimately, and more broadly the forces of nature.
The creek-spirit's form.