Saturday, January 29, 2011

Brigid and Imbolc

As Imbolc approaches I am gathering all my material. This year I am planning an Imbolc ritual for the Neo-Pagan Alliance. This year we have formed our full moon ritual that we will be using for each full moon and I am really excited about this. I am excited because so much of our time last year was used to plan full moons. I love full moon ceremonies because that is what got me started on practicing and taking leading roles in my new spiritual path, but for the NPA we want to do more than full moon this year. Before the semester started Mark, Becca, Liz and I all got together to plan out the semester. This meeting was very useful. We planned out meeting days and planned the 1st four meetings of the semester! WE also decided that we wanted to celebrate more than the full moon so we agreed to write the full moon ritual and have that be the format we use. We did this so a) anyone who is new to the group and wants to come can easily fit into the ritual and feel comfortable b) so we could allow the group time to work on their own spiritual path c) so we can teach everyone who comes about the particular moon and d) so the group can work on writing other rituals. The one thing I am having trouble with is finding information out about the full moons and what they mean. I have different names for them but I need to find what they mean. If any of you have a good website or book that talks about the full moons and their meanings I would love the link or info! Thanks!

At last night NPA meeting we solidfied the time and date of the ritual and now I have to get working on all of it entirely. So I had to do some research on Imbolc and what kind of activities go on during this event. What I found is that the holiday is also known as Brigid (after the goddess the holiday is centered around) or Candlemas. This holiday celbrates the coming of the Spring. We prepare the way as the snake emerges from the depths of the Underworld to tell us how many more days of Winter there will be. The warmth is coming and on Imbolc we recognize that and honor that.
First I think I will provide a little herstory of Brigid.

The first thing you should know about Brigid is that she is a Celtic Triple Goddess. And for those of us who work with triple goddesses we know they are cpmplex be-ings that also have a great deal of power and respect for those who call on her name. One figure of her triple aspect is the Callieach. The Cailleach is seen as a seasonal deity or spirit, ruling the winter months between Samhainn (November 1) and Beltane (May 1), while Brìghde rules the summer months between Beltane and Samhainn. Some interpretations have the Cailleach and Brìghde as two faces of the same goddess, while others describe the Cailleach as turning to stone on Beltane and reverting back to humanoid form on Samhainn in time to rule over the winter months.
The second thing you should know about her is that she goes by many names here is a list of examples:
Scotland: Bhrìghde, Brighid, Bride
Ireland: Brigid, Brigit, Brighid, Brìd, Brígh
Manx: Breeshey
Wales: Ffraid
England: Brigantia, Brittania
France: Brigandu

Brigit is the Celtic Saint and Goddess of Poetry, Healing and Smithcraft. She has been worshiped by the Celtic people as a Saint for over fifteen hundred years, and as a Goddess long before the Roman invasion of Britain and the birth of Christ. As the goddess of smiths and of healing.
Fire is a crucial element for her. In her temple and in her convent in current Ireland there was and is a fire burning at all times. It is said that her 19 handmaids service the fire and on the 20th day Brigid herself tends the fire. I found this amazing tradition on an amazing blog called Celtic Dreamscape! One folk tradition that still continues in certain places on Imbolc is that of the Brigid's Bed. The girls and young, unmarried women of the household or village make a corn dolly of wheat, rushes, or grain from the last of the harvest to represent Brigid; they adorned it with ribbons and baubles such as shells or stones. The dolly was then placed in a basket which had been lined with a white flower bedding. Often, a public ceremony would be held, and the village girls, dressed in white, would carry the basket door to door and each household bestows a gift upon the image. The gift may be a shell, a crystal, a flower, or a bit of greenery to decorate the person of Bride. Click here to find out the rest of that tradition. When Christians took over Gaul and Ireland they took Brigid and converted her into a Saint. Her evolution from Goddess to saint linked Pagan Celtic and Christian traditions much the same way the Cauldron of Cerridwen and the Holy Grail were combined in Arthurian legend. She acts as a bridge between the two worlds and successfully made the transition back to Goddess again with most of Her traditions retained. The worship of Saint Brigid has persisted up until the early 20th century with Her Irish cult nearly supplanting that of Mary. She is commemorated in both Ireland and the highlands and islands of Scotland.
In order to incorporate Brigid into Christian worship, and thus insure Her survival, Her involvement in the life of Jesus became the stuff of legend. According to the stories in The Lives of the Saints, Brigid was the midwife present at the birth, placing three drops of water on His forehead. This seems to be a Christianized version of an ancient Celtic myth concerning the Sun of Light upon Whose head three drops of water were placed in order to confer wisdom.
Further, as a Christianized saint, Brigid was said to be the foster-mother of Jesus, fostering being a common practice among the Celts. She took the Child to save Him from the slaughter of male infants supposedly instigated by Herod. She wore a headdress of candles to light their way to safety.This happened quite often in ancient times to powerful goddesses and gods. It was the easiest way to convince the "pagans" to follow Roman rule. Another popular thing for Christians to do to cover up pagan holidays is to replace the original holiday with something new and exciting. Imbolc was replaced by groundhog day. In modern times the groundhog comes out to tell us when winter will end, but in ancient times it is said that on Imbolc, the snake would slither out of its mound. It had been hibernating there all winter and as such the snake is seen as a creature of regeneration as well as lying between the worlds. Snakes were demonized by Christianity, so I think it is clear to see why they used a groundhog instead of a snake.
She is seen as the patroness of Imbolc and for that the NPA will honor her in our ritual.

Here is what we are going to do for our ritual.
First we are going to cleanse and ground with sage!
Then there will be a greating of the audience.
The Herstory of Brigid and the meaning of Imbolc.
Calling the Directions
Casting the Circle (using an aspen wand from the forest by my house)
Invoking the Goddess
Lighting the Brigid Crown
Carving Snake Medallions (made of crayons)
Meditation (possibly design Brigid knots)
Blessings of cups and cakes
Releasing Directions and Circle
Then Grounding and more snacks!

I am super excited to lead hte event and take a leadership role in this ritual. It will be the second holiday ritual that I have planned and lead for others! I can't wait!

Blessings to all of you as Imbolc approaches! And may Brigid bless you as the Spring approaches faster and faster!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Garlic Protection Spell

Here is an amazing protection spell my wonderfully talented friend Caitlin created. When I first visited her house I saw in her room a clove of garlic. I asked her what that was for and she said it was for protection in her room. Her roommates at the time were a pain in the behind so she felt the need to add some protection (which couldn't hurt anyone). I asked her if I could post this to my blog for others to see it. She said I could but I would ask that you honor her and do not publish this as your own!
Her instructions were:

Say the words below over your clove of garlic and visualize a ring of protection around your home, then use the garlic to draw pentacles on the walls, floor, and ceiling going clockwise. Thank the garlic and place it above the door. You can use candles or whatever you want for the blessing, and maybe sprinkle salt on the garlic after you have placed it to strengthen the grounding. If you want your room to be secure, maybe do this twice, once for the house and once especially for your room.

Clove of garlic
grown in earth
a ring of protection
now give birth

bless this space
within and without
keep all here safe
without a doubt

keep out bad energy
but save the good
and ground out the excess
so things run as they should

suffer no danger
to enter these walls
and keep us all safe
from snares and pitfalls

with good for all
and harm for none
by earth and living herb
this spell is now done

Thank you so much Caitlin! And blessings to everyone who uses the spell. It has been a comfort for me since I felt betrayed by people who visited my home!

Blessed be!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

First Day of the Last Semester

Today is my first day of my last semester of my undergraduate career. I am nervous but know that I am ready for this moment. I am ready to be done and to look back and see what I did.
I have been very reflective mostly because it is the end of the dark season and I am reading a new book that has lots of questions to be working on it.
The book is the Earth Path by Starhawk. If none of you have read it I suggest starting it. I really enjoy her perspective on working with nature and how to develop our relationship with her!

This semester is going to be challenging but I am ready. I know that I can finish strong and besides last night I asked the goddess and god to bless my sleep and my journey to the end of the semester. I slept wonderfully so I am taking it that they are watching out fro me today and I will do my best to enjoy and live to the fullest this day!

Blessings on everyone!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


I have to apologize in advanced. I feel like my posts reflect the roller coaster I am on right now in my life!
I have not been posting for a bit because on December 30th,my grandpa went to the hospital for chest pains. He suffered a massive heart attack which had actually started the day before doctors say. He is an extremely tough man and when the doctors opened him up to look at what was going on they were shocked. They found that 2/3rds of his heart tissue was already dead. It was dead because it had a lack of oxygen and blood. They put a pump in his heart because doctors have a certain code of ethics. Before he went into surgery he told the doctors that he did not want to be resuscitated if he died. This was hard for my grandma and my uncles and aunts to hear I am sure, but they can at least know that their father made that decision.
By the end of the surgery most of my 23 cousins and 9 aunts and uncles with their partners were at the hospital. We were all in town for our family Christmas. It is a tradition that my grandpa brought from his family in Pennsylvania. His parents had brought the tradition of celebrating the Epiphany with them from the old country and each year the day is different to accommodate the out of towners and this year we were celebrating on the 1st.
Anyway, my sister and I headed to the hospital once we found out what was going on. I had been holding it together pretty well. My father had sent me a text saying "dad had heart attack. on way to hospital" (he is new to texting) and for a moment I was worried. I was worried because I thought is this someone texting me from my dad's phone telling me he had a heart attack. Instead of freaking out I called my sister and she was balling. I started to freak out, but then she said that grandpa had a heart attack. I know this sounds bad, but I had a slight moment of relief. I told her to come home and that we would head over to the hospital. I didn't cry but I didn't know what to do, so I did the only thing I could do, eat. I had been about to eat a slice of pizza before this all started, so I decided to do just that. I felt like I should cry, but the tears weren't coming yet. When my sister got home and I saw her crying, I started crying. I got myself under control and we left for the hospital. As we walked the long hallways to the Heart and Lung Tower I was reminded of an episode of Grey's Anatomy. My sister and I turned the corner and BAM there was my family. They were all gathered in a waiting room, but since it was a waiting room a little out of the way we took up the entire room. As I started to get closer and I could see their faces I could see that they had been crying as I had.This made me cry even harder than I had before. Seeing my little cousins was rough.
As the whole family gathered and the family priest arrived the family got ready for the Catholic sacrament of the Sick. The nurses at the hospital were nice enough to let all 35 of us fit into the room my grandpa was in and stay there for the sacrament. They also managed to keep the room to just my grandpa so family could visit whenever. As the priest began to pray I held my grandfather's foot and did what I could. I was not really listening to the priest since I was not following the prayer. I wanted to do my own personal type of healing prayer. As I was doing my prayer in my head and sending all the love and positive energy I could I felt something. It was unlike any feeling I have ever had while praying. It felt like death was in the room. It was not a bad thing, rather a comforting feeling. It was warm and powerful and I felt secure. I didn't know what to think. We all got to say something to our grandpa and he recognized all of us. When I left the hospital I didn't think I would see him again.
But my grandpa being the trooper that he was held on till 2011. My sister and I went to visit him on the 2nd and he looked bad. He did not look like he had when he first arrived in the hospital. By this point they had taken him off most of the meds except pain killers. And while we were there the nurse came in and lowered the heart pump machine to put out a pump for every 3 of his. My grandma being the powerhouse she is made sure that was not keeping him alive, because that is what my grandpa wanted. She was so strong. I did not see her shed one tear till the funeral. The nurse said no the machine was only doing the pump because it prevented blood clots. They were married for 65 years and the love I saw he pour out for her husband at the hospital brought me to more tears. My grandma also is a reiki master and I believe that while she sat by his bed for all those days and hours she was not only thinking back on the 65 years but doing what she could with her universal positive energy.
I learned a little about my grandpa from my grandma during the 2 hours we spent there. As I left I knew that would be the last time I saw my grandpa alive. He died the next morning and I was happy to see his suffering come to an end. I wished his soul peace and rest and lit a candle in his honor.
The next few days were a blur. Then the viewing happened and then the funeral on last Friday. It was a beautiful service and during the whole experience the family has grown closer. My partner came out the day after my grandpa died. I am so happy he did because I was having a rough time.
My grandpa grew up in Western PA and Graduated from Ligonier High where he lettered in football and basketball. In the Wilpen area, he played baseball for a local semi-pro baseball team starting at age 14. He spent a year recovering from asthma and bronchitis after High School. On the advice of his doctor, he moved West to Arizona in search of a drier climate for health reasons. Upon arriving in Arizona in 1942, he went to work for Goodyear Aircraft as an Assistant Chief Inspector for the "flying squadron". Later while at Goodyear Aircraft, he was assigned to "Central Communications". He was later assigned to the conversion of B-24s into PB2Y3s for the War effort. This included the repair of B-25s damaged while making bombing runs over Tokyo, and other Japanese cities in 1942. While working in Phoenix at that time, he also played semi-pro baseball for the Phoenix Thunderbirds and the Glendale Grays. He built a reputation as a talented baseball player and was offered a scholarship to the University of Arizona to play football and baseball in 1945 and 1946, where he earned letters in each. Dad was very proud that he played on the ONLY untied, undefeated Wildcat football Team in school history in 1946. After his sophomore year he signed a Professional Baseball Contract with the Boston Braves Organization for whom he played for three years before a shoulder injury cut his career short. After baseball, he moved back to Phoenix to work for Schade Storage and Transfer. He later went to work for McKesson & Robbins in 1950 as a salesman, where he excelled. His McKesson Division was later sold to William Schubert, where he enjoyed further success. Glenmore Distilleries hired him as their Regional Representative. Three years later he began a series of entrepreneurial enterprises.
He lived a wonderfully long life and had many experiences. His legacy will continue for hundreds of years and he has helped me realize the value of family and life! My grandfather is buried right under a big pine tree and next to an olive tree. I am happy to know that while I am finishing my last semester of college in a pine forest and my grandfather has reminder that he is in my heart with the pine tree next to him.
While his casket was going into the ground I noticed that there was a black cat in the background. I know you can't see her in this picture but she looked magnificent. She had a huge fur coat and huge yellow eyes. I think that she was the guardian of the area. She keeps watch and as the priest said his words, I sent a silent message to her asking her to keep my grandfather safe. And to watch over him.


Blessed be!!!!!!