Lammas Break: First Fruits

from mooncircles

Seven of Pentacles copy

The agricultural “first fruits” holiday, Lammas, is traditionally celebrated on August 1 and is astrologically exact on August 6/7 (when the Sun reaches 15 degrees Leo, just after this New Moon).   It is energetically exact whenever you become aware of the spiritual truth that you are an expression of the Sun.

To evaluate your current “sunniness” and creative harvest, check into the condition of your solar plexus. Are you feeling strong or weak there? A vital Sun feels confident and potent; a tired Sun feels inadequate and powerless. On the scale between feeling “special” and “lackluster or ordinary,” where do you fall this year? Every year’s harvest is different. Wise farmers don’t beat themselves up for poor harvests; they learn from them. Whether you’re in the midst of a creative high or  low, Lammas is an auspicious time to evaluate your own laboring.  How is this your harvest?  Honor this cross-quarter moment with a small ceremony, nothing fancy, just something sincere. But do give it a little time and attention: take a Lammas break!

If you have an altar, light a candle; observe its flame for a few minutes. Beside the candle place the “first fruits” of whatever work it is you have been involved in over the past year: the page of a book, an article of clothing representing a child, a flower from a garden, a business ledger, musical instrument, or even a tool representing a computer. Think back over the last year. Where and on what have you labored? What stormy weather in the form of dark days of doubt or disbelief did you suffer through? As you contemplate your heroic labors, you may begin to see the ways in which your efforts are beginning to bear fruit. If you are a parent, you may see a subtle maturing in your child; as a writer, you may see how an abstract idea took root to become a fully-formed project; or, if you are a businessperson you may notice how your company is beginning to prosper.

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repost: Sun in Cancer now

On the summer solstice (June 21st), the sun moved from Gemini into protective, sensitive Cancer, where it will journey to July 22nd.  During this time, we look for quality and safety in what we create and surround ourselves with.  Interest may shift from the universal to more personal themes – we are emotionally sensitive, and family/home are a focus during this month.

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“With sun in Cancer, there is an emphasis on family values and on memory; the traditions of the past.  Even though nature beckons, we are family rather than individually oriented at this time.  The ritual of summer barbecue brings everyone together.  There is softness and a nurturing quality to our approach now that cements the ties of kinship and of individual security within the family circle.”

Cancer sun provides a prime time for hanging out and connecting with family and friends over Father’s Day, the Fourth of July, or during summer vacation. It’s time to refuel and rejuvenate with this water sign before the intensity of the harvest cycle gets into full swing.

Tune into places in your life and business where you can create more comfort. Nurture yourself, your projects, your business, and those around you. Create an emotional safe space for what is tender, young, and growing in your life.

Apply liberal doses of love to every creation you are magnetizing into your life. Pouring love into your creation mix means also filling yourself with the pure sweet essence of water’s primary power. Only when your inner water is fully nourished by love and appreciation can you magnetize your dreams from the most grace-filled place. This window is the perfect opportunity to fill yourself to overflowing.

While you are at it, reflect on your creations and see if they need any other element for an abundant ripening. As you align your dreams and desires with the unified field of all the elements (Earth, Water, Air, Fire, with Spirit flowing through all) sometimes an element needs to be strengthened. Perhaps an aspect of your mental beliefs or your old emotional program needs to be cleared for your creations to flourish. Just like growing a garden in your yard, sometimes rocks and roots need to be removed, or fertilizer, water, or more sun need to be added so that your flowers and veggies may thrive.

Choose the one or two ideas you need most to work with, then focus on those. Intentions function best when there are only one or two to concentrate on in any cycle.

Personal Action Suggestions for Cancer Sun:

  • Bathe yourself in love.
  • Go play in the ocean, lake, river, pool, or tub.
  • Nurture yourself with the intent of rejuvenation.
  • Treat yourself to a two-hour massage or your favorite love-your-body treat.
  • Honor Water and give thanks for its nourishment.
  • Spend time relaxing with your family and friends.
  • Love and appreciate the people in your life.

How will you be honoring and using this protective, sensitive energy this month?

Celebrate The Summer Solstice With These 6 Empowering Outdoor Rituals

from mindbodygreen

Celebrate The Summer Solstice With These 6 Empowering Outdoor Rituals Hero Image

Today we celebrate the summer solstice—a powerful planetary event when the Earth’s cycle shifts and our relationship to the sun changes.

It’s the longest day of the year, and the Northern Hemisphere is currently bathing in the fierce fire energy of the sun. Countless cultures throughout human history have revered the summer solstice as sacred and divine.

It’s a beautiful day to find a moment to pause and soak in that rich summer energy and connect more deeply with yourself and your Divine.

Here are six simple yet meaningful rituals to help you harness the power of the summer solstice:

1. Watch the sunrise.

Every sunrise symbolizes a new beginning. Today’s is particularly powerful, and you can use its energy to fuel whatever new beginnings you are currently experiencing.

Find a good place to view the sunrise. Plan to arrive several minutes before the main event so you have time to pause, relax, and really absorb the moment. Take several deep breaths to ground yourself while you wait. As the sun begins to rise, think about what is newly beginning for you. What do you hope will grow with the strength of this summer solstice sun.

As the sun rises higher in the sky, close your eyes and picture that new beginning as a golden orb, burning inside you. As you breathe in, feel the sun’s rich energy adding to that fire. With each breath, visualize it burning bigger and brighter. Walk away with the confidence that whatever new growth you desire has now been lit afire.

2. Have a reading.

The powerful energy of the solstice makes it the perfect day to have a spiritual reading. If you’re able to treat yourself to a professional reading, today is a fun day to do so. But if not, even a total beginner can glean interesting insights by giving themselves a personal reading.

Find a comfortable spot and take several deep breaths to center yourself. As with all these rituals, if you’re able to do it outside, all the better.

When you’re ready, draw three cards (they can be tarot cards, runes, etc.), one at a time. The first one represents your past; the second, your present; the third, your future. Lay all three cards in front of you.

Using the guide that came with your cards, read the meaning of the first card you drew, which represents the past. Spend some time reflecting on what this might mean for you. Perhaps the card represents something you’ve let go of, something you’ve overcome, or something that fueled you to get where you are—your present.

Do the same for the other two cards. Spend some time reflecting on what each card means in the context of your present and future. Don’t worry about getting it “right”; there is no right or wrong. Just breathe, reflect, and see what comes up for you.

3. Light your fire.

The summer solstice is a powerful day to take a sun bath. This is an excellent way to soak in the abundant, passionate, hot summer energy and use it to light your inner fire.

Find a spot to lie on your back in the sun. Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths to ground yourself. As you breathe, begin reflecting on your inner strength, your fire—that part of yourself that is confident, and powerful, and badass. Picture that part of yourself as a fire burning inside of you; it may be fierce and strong, or it may only be a spark.

Feel the solstice sun shine on you, and pull that fierce, fiery, hot summer energy into your body with each breath. Picture its fire adding to your own inner fire. Continue to breathe in the sun’s fire; absorb it as long as you’re able. When you rise, you will continue to carry that fire with you. Whenever your confidence wanes or you need to access your inner fire, picture it burning inside you.

4. Journal.

Again, find a good spot to sit outside. Take a few deeps breaths to ground and center, and let your spirit charge in the sun for a moment. Then, spend some time reflecting on these seasonally inspired questions and prompts:

  • Summer is the season of fire. Reflect on the fire that burns inside of you, that fire that makes you feel fierce and powerful. Express gratitude for that part of yourself. How does that fire manifest in your life? What has it helped you accomplish recently?
  • On the summer solstice, the sun is at its peak. Write about a time recently that you felt at your peak. What are some peak moments you experienced this year? What have you accomplished recently that you feel really proud of?
  • This is also a time of letting go. Once the solstice sun reaches its peak, it has completed its cycle, and we begin letting go as the days grow shorter again. What has come to completion in your life? What are you realizing no longer serves you that you must let go of? How will letting go of these things allow you to change and grow?

5. Watch the sunset.

The sun reaches its peak on the summer solstice. It completes its cycle of growth and we begin to let it go as the days start to grow shorter again.

While you watch this setting sun, spend some time reflecting on what has reached its peak in your life. What feats, large or small, have you accomplished recently? Whatever it is, take a moment to feel proud of yourself. As you enjoy this glorious sunset, tell yourself this: “ I am. So. Damn. Proud of myself.” And mean it! Life is hard. You’re rockin’ it.

6. Light a fire.

The summer solstice is a beautiful evening to (carefully!) light a campfire. You can also do this ritual by simply lighting a candle.

After you’ve lit your fire, take a few deep breaths to ground and center yourself. Reflect on what “debris” you’d like to set fire to. What is no longer serving you that you’re ready to burn away? Get really clear on what you need to let go of. Take a moment and jot these things down on scraps of paper.

Gazing at your fire, continue to take deep breaths. With each inhale, draw in that fierce, hot fire energy. Really feel the fire entering your spirit. With each breath, envision your fire growing larger and stronger until it is raging within you. When you are ready, toss your papers into the fire. (If you are using a candle, make sure you do this extremely carefully. Burn them in the sink or a fireproof bowl.)

As you watch the papers burn, envision that inner fire burning all your debris away. Once the papers are gone and the fire has burned those things away inside you, begin to envision what your life looks like with these things now gone. What rich new life is going to take root? What will now grow stronger within you?

Summer and Winter Solstice Rituals

Solstices are important and ritualistic days that were designed to celebrate the changing of the seasons and a new energy.

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You can read more about this years Solstice energy here, but if you are curious how to celebrate and honour this Divine time, here are some easy rituals.

Summer Solstice

The Summer Solstice celebrates the longest day of the year, a day that is believed to hold the greatest energy, prosperity, vitality and strength.

In Pagan times, the Summer Solstice was referred to as Litha and rituals were conducted to honour the Sun gods, the Divine Light and the element of fire.

People would rejoice and energize themselves under the warm light of the sun, believing that because the Sun was strongest that day, so too was God.

Vibrationally, the Summer Solstice is a time when Yang energy is high as well as the Root, Sacral and Solar Plexus Chakra.

Today, there are many ways that you can pay tribute to the sun including spending time outdoors, bringing nature into your home, setting up a fairy garden, doing yoga sun salutations, chakra mediations or lighting a candle.

Creating a protective amulet for the year ahead that is charged with the energy of the solstice is also a great way to capture the energy and vitality of the Sun. Here’s how:

summer solstice ritual

 

  • Choose your favorite or a new crystal that evokes feelings of strength, passion, fertility, prosperity, creativity, fire or any other energy that you relate to the Sun.
  • Go outside and create a little altar adorned with a Mandala of orange, yellow or red flowers. Alternatively you can decorate your altar with orange, red and yellow fruits and vegetables or herbs.
  • Your altar should also include a small bowl of water to help balance the energy. Keep a space in the center of your Mandala or altar for your crystal.
  • Place your Crystal over your heart or stomach and set your intention- what energy do you want to bring in for the rest of the year?
  • There are no “rules” what intention you create, but because we are dealing with the energy of the Sun, try to set an intention that is based on taking action.
  • Place your crystal in the center of your Altar or Mandala and allow it to soak up the energy of the Sun- best done from sunrise to sunset.
  • To help your intention to be received, spend the day enjoy yourself and basking in the warm, prosperous rays of the Sun.

Winter Solstice

The Winter Solstice celebrates the longest hours of darkness or the rebirth of the Sun and is believed to hold a powerful energy for regeneration, renewal and self-reflection.

In Pagan times the Winter Solstice was referred to as Yule and was a celebration of the Goddess (Moon) energy. It was believed that on this day, the Moon would give birth to the Sun.

Because of this, many celebrated Yule as a day where light reigned over darkness and believed it was a sign of good things to come.

Just like the Summer Solstice, the Winter Solstice was also celebrated with fire however, while the Summer Solstice was more about fertility, the Winter Solstice was honoured as a time of birth or the start of a new cycle.

Yule was traditionally celebrated by lighting a candle or decorating trees with holly. In fact, many Yule rituals have been adopted in the celebration of Christmas.

Today, there are many ways you can celebrate the Winter Solstice such as spending time writing in a journal, inner reflection, doing dream work or meditation, working on your Heart, Throat and Third Eye Chakras and bringing more Yin energy into the home.

You can also celebrate with a Goddess bath on the night of the Winter Solstice to help clear away the old and welcome the new. Here’s how:

winter solstice ritual

  • Fill up a bath with warm (not hot) water and light some candles or incense around the bath.
  • Next, you want to add cleansing herbs to the bath such as sage, chamomile, basil, peppermint, cinnamon, sandalwood, lavender or rosemary. You can add them dried, fresh or as essential oils.
  • As you sink into the warm water, imagine yourself being purified and cleansed from your feet all the way up to your head. Allow yourself to relax into the water and imagine all the old and unnecessary thoughts and feelings being washed away by the energy of the night.
  • Honour your shadow self and offer your fears to the Mother Moon. Allow her to give you the power to re-birth them into something new and positive.
  • After the ritual, drain the tub water out completely and discard the herbs outside in the moonlight.

We are all connected to the Universe, the Sun, the Moon and Mother Earth, so no matter what ritual you choose to do on the Solstice, why not spend a few moments feeling and honouring this Divine connection.

How to Celebrate the Summer Solstice (from sage goddess)

 

Gold Fashion Model Dress, Woman In Golden Silk Gown Flowing Fabric, Beautiful Girl on Stars Sky looking up

What is Summer Solstice

As the passing days grow steadily longer, we prepare to welcome the Summer Solstice – the longest day of the year in the North, and the longest night of the year in the South. In Pagan tradition this day is known as Litha. The Summer Solstice is a Divine midway point; it is a portal into the third space, and the great divider of time and space. It represents balance between light and dark, both outside of and within you. Balance is what we all seek, and at the two Solstice points of the year (summer and winter) we are offered access to a doorway in time, one which our ancestors have historically viewed as sacred and holy. It’s not just the season changing; in the North, it is all of nature surrendering to the fire of light, while in the South, nature surrenders to the shadows to welcome back the returning sun.

When we practice magic, we do little more than mirror nature to work with the natural cadence of life. In summer, the drumbeat is deep and strong, pulsing within and through us. The energies of South and Fire bring courage, passion, enthusiasm, fearlessness, confidence, and control. These are the energies of the Solstice.

This year, the Summer Solstice aligns with June’s Full Moon. How exciting is that? I invite you all to join in my June Full Moon Ritual, which will take place on the Summer Solstice and will honor the Goddess Asherah, Queen of Heaven. The last time this occurred was 1948, and there will not be another full moon on the exact day of the Summer Solstice until 2054! This is a special one, beloveds. Honor it. (Visit the Farmer’s Almanac to further explore the history of the moon and solstices.)

What Summer Solstice energy means to me

I feel the Solstice before it comes. I am attuned to its energy, and I feel a shifting, a renewal. A turning of the Great Wheel propelling us forward into a future which holds infinite possibility. It’s a time of great anticipation, marked and honored by our ancestors since time began. To me, the Summer Solstice is a bridge between the first and last halves of the year; it is our wake-up call to get moving. If 2016 isn’t quite turning out the way you intended, this is the time to ask yourself, “What can I do now to change the outcome of this year?” You are steering this ship. Where are you leading it? This is the day to honor past, present, and future.

Do not focus too much on the coming darkness of harvest season; instead, focus on the fire and light which we have in the present moment. Be mindful, be focused, be clear. Summer is the time of celebrating all that will come to fruition during this season of warmth, as days grow longer and our energy is boosted by the warmth of the sun. My Litha Summer Solstice Ritual Kit is intended to help you both celebrate and welcome the summer, to help you connect to sun energy, and the creative growth of this time. Perform your ritual on June 20, as well as the days preceding and succeeding the holiday, to capture the energy in its fullest form. Use it to light the flame within you. The Earth warms to the caress of Grandfather Sun, and all of nature is alive in this moment. The plants, herbs, and flowers are in full bloom, and we see the newborns of spring mature with each passing day.

A Solstice Full Moon Ritual

What does it mean for the Full Moon to fall on the exact day of the Summer Solstice? This is rare, and I believe this is a grand portal of energy, space, and opportunity, opening for you to connect with your deepest sense of Source or God to ask the big questions about your life. Step out in faith, and imagine what is fully possible for yourself in 2016. Dream an expansive vision for your life which, as the darkness slowly returns, can be harvested come autumn to sustain you through the ever shortening days. Use this powerful portal to let go of fears, doubts, and insecurities. Release anger and sadness to the Solstice fires as the full moon energy calls for completion.  Here are some simple tips for a powerful Solstice ritual you can do alone or with a group:

  • Smudge, and open your circle.
  • Anoint yourself with Solstice Perfume, or another ritual blend of summer herbs such as orange, sunflower, cinnamon, clove, cardamom, and angelica root.
  • Light your Litha, Summer Solstice, or Full Moon Candle.
  • Work with Solar Plexus Chakra stones such as citrine, honey calcite, or yellow aventurine.
  • Visualize yourself crossing a bridge – the land you leave on one side is what has already been. The land you approach is all that awaits you. The bridge is all that is right now.
  • Ask yourself: What does your future look like? Who are you taking with you into the months ahead? Who or what are you leaving behind? What new opportunities, experiences, jobs, and connections do you wish to experience?
  • Visualize what might come to pass as you gaze into your candle’s flame.
  • Ask the Universe to bring your dreams to life, for the Highest Good of all. Claim balance and alignment on this midway holiday.
  • Close your ritual and circle with the conclusory affirmation “Amen, Aho, and So it is.”

This is a great night to divine what lies ahead in the year for you. Read your tarot, scry in your spheres and mirrors, ask of your pendulum, and see what insight comes to you. Set your intentions on your summer altar, with these Litha tools, to see your dreams come to fruition as the sun begins his journey south.

Solstice blessings,
Athena

Happy First Day Of Spring! 6 Rituals To Tap Into The Season’s Energy

Although we have gone from blizzards to uncanny warm days this winter, spring is finally in the air. Spring is the time when cultures around the world celebrate the possibility of new growth and fresh beginnings. In fact, the New Year was originally celebrated in March and early April, and anyone who didn’t realize it was considered an “April fool.”

Remember, symbols are the language of the soul, and ritual speaks that language fluently.

Here are six powerful rituals you can use to welcome spring and experience the seen and unseen worlds of infinite possibilities:

Happy First Day Of Spring! 6 Rituals To Tap Into The Season's Energy Hero Image

1. Love Mother Nature.

Every culture, past and present, celebrates the natural beauty of spring with yearly rituals. In Rome, the lengthening of the day that followed the vernal (spring) equinox was marked by sacrifices to celebrate the death and rebirth of Attis—the god of vegetation. Goddesses of fertility—the Greeks’ Aphrodite, the Native Americans’ Spider woman, Mexico’s Tonantzin, Africa’s Oshun, Norway’s Freya, and Rome’s Flora—were all honored in the spring as well.

Outdoor rituals infuse the world with new energy, so go out and plant a tree, clean up your local park, or participate in a community garden. Have a picnic in nature and bless some seeds for the coming season—hold them in your hands and visualize how each one holds the full potential for life. When you are finished, plant them in the earth and leave some for the birds to eat. Think of nature as a window into the natural world of the Divine.

2. Clean your home.

In ancient Rome, women cleaned their houses in honor of Vesta—the goddess of the hearth. Take a cue from them and release the heaviness of winter by cleaning out your home. Get up early and gather clothes, toys, books, and other items that add clutter to your space. Donate them to a shelter, school, or needy family.

This is a great way to create space for new life to emerge and reinforce the idea that giving is a blessing. When you’re finished, you’ll feel lighter, and so will the energy in your home. Purify your space even further by burning sage or copal, or opening all the windows to let in the fresh air.

3. Disconnect from negativity.

Our thoughts affect our emotions, which then influence the choices we make. Think about how you feel when you walk into a room where everyone is happy and positive, and then consider how you feel when you’re surrounded by complaints and negativity. Emotions are contagious, so decide whose opinions you want to listen to and drop the rest. Carefully pick films, books, and TV shows that lift your spirit, and tune out the negative ones this season.

4. Create a basket of support.

On separate pieces of paper, write down the names of people, places, animals, or objects that you feel support your efforts and have your back. Include those who have passed on to Spirit. Place the slips of paper into a basket or bowl and, once a week or more this spring, pick out a name from the basket and consciously send and receive love with that person throughout the day.

You can send them an email, pick up a phone and call them, or simply think of them. It’s been amazing to hear some of the people I reach out to tell me that they’d been feeling sick or scared and saw my presence as a source of comfort.

5. Gather scented gemstones.

Aries is the first sign of the zodiac and the one that begins our spring season, so why not create a magical bowl of scented gemstones to harness the symbol’s energy? Gather gems that elicit spontaneous, daring, active, and courageous energy for springtime, like jasper, garnet ruby, diamond, amethyst, aquamarine, carnelian, or topaz. Anoint them with clove, coriander, frankincense, neroli, or pine, and breathe in the aroma to strengthen the Aries in you.

6. Make flower wishes.

Write your wishes for the season on ribbons and tie them around flowers. You can gift these spirited bouquets to loved ones, friends, and even people you’ve just met. This simple act of generosity reminds me of the early peace marches in New York when people gave daffodils to strangers as a sign of peace and hope for the world.

the Great Goddess: Eostar


The Great Goddess –
Eostar

Eostar/Spring Equinox

Spring Returns, the sun warms the soil. Seeds awaken, pushing roots into dark earth. Shoots push up into the light, and sap rises as trees break into leaf. 

Eostar was the ancient, Germanic Goddess of the spring. Her colorful eggs are the symbols of renewed life. The magical, fertile hare, that leaps up from the fields just as the life force leaps up within us, was her sacred animal.

Day and night are balanced now. Justice means balance – balancing one set of needs against another, balancing what we take with what we give. May justice arise, cracking through the deadening systems of oppression like grass breaking through pavement. 

Plant a seed, this springtime. Hold it in your hand, and envision a world in which we live in balance with nature, at peace with one another, where creativity and love can flourish. Place your seed in the earth. Water and tend it as you tend those qualities and take those actions which can bring that world to birth.

Starhawk 2007, and We’Moon’08

let us welcome ostara…

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Intentions of Light on Ostara
from Sage Goddess blog

Our roots to the Earth and our connection to her seasons go deep. Our ancient ancestors knew this and venerated the cycles accordingly. The Vernal Equinox is one of only two such magical times of the year where night and day are precisely balanced; the wheel of the year is sliced in half. Only on the equinox does the equator, the point of solar termination on Earth, line up with the Sun, creating this vortex of energy, this point of balance.

When you celebrate the Equinox, you connect to all of our ancestors who have participated in ritual and ceremony on this occasion for millennia.

This year we celebrate Ostara on March 20th, bringing the energy of light, hope, fertility, growth, and new beginnings. However, before we transition into the light-filled part of the year, we pause in ritual and recognition to honor the Old Ways; we take time to honor that point of balance between light and dark. I created a special Ostara Ritual Set just for your use on this magical day. Use it to cleanse, heal, balance, sow new seeds, and regenerate with the energy of the equinox.

History of Ostara

The native pre-Christian Germanic tribes of northern Europe worshipped a goddess of spring called Ostara. The Saxon tribes of old Britain called her Oestre. Her feast day was held on the full moon following the Vernal Equinox, much like the modern Easter. In Western tradition we see ‘Easter eggs,’ which date back to ancient times, as a symbol of fertility and rebirth. In Persia, eggs were painted and colored for 1,500 years as part of the spring celebration of No Ruz, a tradition of the Zoroastrian New Year on the Vernal Equinox.

All around the world, ancient and indigenous cultures have rituals, feasts, and celebrations of the Vernal Equinox. Ancient Roman followers of the goddess Cybele believed she had a consort who died and was resurrected on this day. The ancient Mayans have celebrated this event for ten centuries; as the sun sets on the day of the equinox, the western face of the Mayan pyramid El Castillo is fully bathed in sunlight, and is designed to work with the lengthening shadows, giving the appearance of a diamondback snake descending down the wall.

Ostara Rituals

What I love about the veneration of nature and the Universe is the inclusivity of the practice. You worship when you choose to worship. You do rituals based on what calls and speaks to you. There is no one dictating who may join the church of nature celebrations and rituals; they are deeply personal and steeped in ancient magic. I recommend starting now; there’s no better time, with the energy of Ostara upon us, for ushering in a new ritual. This is, after all, the season of renewal and rebirth.

No matter if you are a seasoned priestess or newly finding your magical powers, I encourage you to welcome Ostara this year. I have a simple Ostara ritual I’d like to share with you. Start with lighting an Ostara candle on your altar and speak this blessing with it.

“Spring goddess, you bring hope and warmth
as the Wheel turns and days lengthen.
Speak, Ostara, of hope and growth – your gifts to us
in this season of renewal and rebirth.
My soul blooms in spring sunshine
and I celebrate the return of light to the Earth.
Amen, Aho, and So it Is.”

If you can leave it burning, then do so. If not, welcome the light, acknowledging the symbolic flame for a few moments before extinguishing.

After your blessing, take your sacred gems, spheres, and stones outside to place them in a sunny place to charge in the light of the equinox. This is especially powerful at noon, when the sun is at its highest point in the sky, as well as the specific hour of equinox which varies by geographic location. In your time outside, take a moment to center yourself, grounding into the Earth, breathing in the renewing and balancing energy that abounds on this day. Feel the light, smell the scents that linger on the breeze. Maybe there is still a lingering winter chill; acknowledge this and thank it as it passes. Turn to the sun and soak up the renewing energy of its rays. Bow in gratitude for All That Is when you feel your ritual is complete.

With blessings of balance and light,

Athena

Celebrating Imbolc

I’ve collected ideas for Imbolc over time.  This year, in a stroke of synchronicity, it felt right to make vision boards around this time, and that’s perfect for planting the seeds of what we want to “grow” the rest of the year, so I will be doing that this weekend with an awesome witchy friend.

Other ideas below…have a blessed Imbolc!

 

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  • Also called:Candlemas, Oimelc, Brigid’s Day; merged with Lupercalia/Valentines Day
  • dates:February 2, early February
  • colors: white, red
  • tools: candles, seeds, Brigid wheel, milk
  • energy: conception, initiation, inspiration
  • goddesses: Brigid, Maiden
  • gods: Groundhog, other creatures emerging from hibernation; young Sun
  • rituals: creative inspiration, purification, initiation, candle work, house & temple blessings
  • customs: lighting candles, seeking omens of Spring, cleaning house, welcoming Brigid

By February, most of us are tired of the cold, snowy season. Imbolc reminds us that spring is coming soon, and that we only have a few more weeks of winter to go. The sun gets a little brighter, the earth gets a little warmer, and we know that life is quickening within the soil.

Imbolc is a time of magical energy related to the feminine aspect of the goddess, of new beginnings, and of fire. It’s also a good time to focus on divination and increasing your own magical gifts and abilities. Take advantage of these concepts, and plan your workings accordingly. Because of its proximity to Valentine’s Day, Imbolc also tends to be a time when people start exploring love magic — if you do, be sure to read up on it first!

Imbolc is the festival of the lactating sheep. It is derived from the Gaelic word “oimelc” which means “ewes milk”. Herd animals have either given birth to the first offspring of the year or their wombs are swollen and the milk of life is flowing into their teats and udders. It is the time of Blessing of the seeds and consecration of agricultural tools. It marks the center point of the dark half of the year. It is the festival of the Maiden, for from this day to March 21st, it is her season to prepare for growth and renewal. Brighid’s snake emerges from the womb of the Earth Mother to test the weather, (the origin of Ground Hog Day), and in many places the first Crocus flowers began to spring forth from the frozen earth.

The Maiden is honored, as the Bride, on this Sabbat. Straw Brideo’gas (corn dollies) are created from oat or wheat straw and placed in baskets with white flower bedding. Young girls then carry the Brideo’gas door to door, and gifts are bestowed upon the image from each household. Afterwards at the traditional feast, the older women make special acorn wands for the dollies to hold, and in the morning the ashes in the hearth are examined to see if the magic wands left marks as a good omen. Brighid’s Crosses are fashioned from wheat stalks and exchanged as symbols of protection and prosperity in the coming year. Home hearth fires are put out and re-lit, and a besom is place by the front door to symbolize sweeping out the old and welcoming the new. Candles are lit and placed in each room of the house to honor the re-birth of the Sun.

Another traditional symbol of Imbolc is the plough. In some areas, this is the first day of ploughing in preparation of the first planting of crops. A decorated plough is dragged from door to door, with costumed children following asking for food, drinks, or money. Should they be refused, the household is paid back by having its front garden ploughed up. In other areas, the plough is decorated and then Whiskey, the “water of life” is poured over it. Pieces of cheese and bread are left by the plough and in the newly turned furrows as offerings to the nature spirits. It is considered taboo to cut or pick plants during this time.

Deities of Imbolc:
All Virgin/Maiden Goddesses, Brighid, Aradia, Athena, Inanna, Gaia, and Februa, and Gods of Love and Fertility, Aengus Og, Eros, and Februus.

Symbolism of Imbolc:
Purity, Growth and Re-Newal, The Re-Union of the Goddess and the God, Fertility, and dispensing of the old and making way for the new.

Symbols of Imbolc:
Brideo’gas, Besoms, White Flowers, Candle Wheels, Brighid’s Crosses, Priapic Wands (acorn-tipped), and Ploughs.

Herbs of Imbolc:
Angelica, Basil, Bay Laurel, Blackberry, Celandine, Coltsfoot, Heather, Iris, Myrrh, Tansy, Violets, and all white or yellow flowers.

Foods of Imbolc:
Pumpkin seeds, Sunflower seeds, Poppyseed Cakes, muffins, scones, and breads, all dairy products, Peppers, Onions, Garlic, Raisins, Spiced Wines and Herbal Teas.

Incense of Imbolc:
Basil, Bay, Wisteria, Cinnamon, Violet, Vanilla, Myrrh

Colors of Imbolc:
White, Pink, Red, Yellow, Green, Brown.

Stones of Imbolc:
Amethyst, Bloodstone, Garnet, Ruby, Onyx, Turquoise.

Activities of Imbolc:
Candle Lighting, Stone Gatherings, Snow Hiking and Searching for Signs of Spring, Making of Brideo’gas and Bride’s Beds, Making Priapic Wands, Decorating Ploughs, Feasting, and Bon Fires may be lit – and Vision Boards!

Ideas for Imbolc:
Place a lighted candle in each and every window of the house, beginning at sundown on Candlemas Eve (February 1) , allowing them to continue burning until sunrise.

Hold a candle-making party and then bless all the candles you’ll be using for the whole year.

This is one of the traditional times for initiations and rededications into the Craft.

Take a hike and Search for Signs of Spring.

Perform rites of spiritual cleansing and purification.

Make a potpourri for Imbolc by taking a piece of fabric, filling with dried leaves, pine cones, and fruit peels. Tie with a ribbon.

 

Imbolc candle activities:
Gather a white candle for each window of your home. Empower each candle with a goal that you would like to accomplish before the next Imbolc Sabbat. Place each candle in a fire safe holder. Put a candle in each window of your home, lighting each candle as you go. Leave the candles burning until they are gone.

Clean and cleanse your home:
Take some time during the week before Imbolc to clean your home. Go through your belongings. If there are things you no longer need, donate them to charity or give them to a family that you know could use the items.

This is a good time to cleanse the home of negativity. One of the easiest ways to do this is by burning sage incense in each room of your home. You could also take a broom and sweep the negative energy from your home.

Start an herb garden: Herb garden kits can be found at stores. Pick up a couple of these kits before the Sabbat. Spend some time on Imbolc planting an indoor herb garden. One of the potted seeds can be placed on the altar for decoration.

Solitary Imbolc rituals: Remember to honor the Goddess by doing a solitary Imbolc ritual. There are many rituals available online. If you don’t want to use a ritual from a web page or book, you can create your own ritual.

 

Imbolc & other springtime traditions

This isn’t my post, it’s from Sage Goddess – I am looking forward to celebrating Imbolc with some vision boarding this weekend!

Imbolc and My Favorite Springtime Holiday Traditions

The History Behind February 2nd’s Many Magical Holidays

Over the centuries, many cultures have celebrated the coming of spring. While there is much wisdom to gain from the stillness of winter, I cannot deny how I welcome this season with open arms. February 2nd has become known as the day to honor this transition, but the varied holidays for its celebration are many. Today I’m sharing what I know of these days and how you can work with their unique traditions to bring magic to this special time of year.

IMBOLC

The first of these days is Imbolc, a holiday founded in Pagan tradition. It is celebrated as a mark on the Wheel of the Year when we receive our first sign of Spring, at center point between Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. This 24-hour festival began and ended at sunset to acknowledge the sun’s returning strength. While the festival has many callings, it is centered around celebrating the warmth of hearth and home. Villages also associated Imbolc with the start of lambing season, tying the roots of its name to mean “in the belly” of their pregnant flocks. The day honors new life, a fresh start, and applying what lessons were learned from the passing winter’s introspection. The force of an ignited flame is seen as the key element we activate during Imbolc, symbolizing the warmth of the sun, the fire keeping us warm through winter, and the budding flame in our spirit. This holiday is what I believe to be the root of all this season’s celebrations. Learn how you can celebrate Imbolc with this simple ritual.

ST BRIGID DAY

Brigid is the Celtic fire goddess most closely tied to this season’s holidays. Rituals and feasts in her honor began in Ireland to call upon divine feminine energy to support the fertility of village livestock. We declare a strong start to the harvest season, and pray for warmth to sustain us through the final months of winter. Traditional practices include creating a corn husk doll in Brigid’s image, adorned with ribbons and gems. The goddess is believed to walk the Earth on St. Brigid’s Eve, so before going to bed, families would leave out articles of clothing to be blessed by her hand and keep them warm through winter’s end. On this night, she brings us out of the darkness and into the light. In February we honor Brigid with a special Full Moon ritual. Click here to learn more.

CANDLEMAS

The second holiday tied with February 2nd is the Christianized holiday of Candlemas, otherwise known as St. Brigid Day. Candlemas celebrates the day when Mary first revealed the infant Jesus to the community at large. This presentation marked the last night of the ritual purification of Mother Mary. For 40 days and 40 nights she raised her infant son, leading up to February 2nd at sundown when the village gathered in a procession, each carrying a candle to light her way to the church. This day celebrates the return of light not only in a physical sense, but also the light in our spirits.

GROUNDHOG’S DAY

In modern times, Groundhog’s Day is the most widely known holiday celebrated on February 2nd. Historically, this day is traced back to Germanic mythology, where it was believed that Badgers were intuitive forecasters, as they would look to these animal guides to inform their planting season for the year ahead. Because many German communities settled in the continental United States, this practice was adopted with groundhogs, who were more local to the lands. The question nowadays is this: does the groundhog see his shadow? If he does, we can expect six more weeks of winter; if he doesn’t, Spring will come sooner than we thought!

I feel my inner fire heating up already, don’t you? There is a wealth of information to explore about the seeds of this special time of year. I encourage you celebrate this time with your own special rituals and practices. You can draw from any of the holidays here, or start your own tradition!

May your heart be warm and your spirit bright,
Athena