Tag Archives: Imbolc

KIDS’ ACTIVITIES FOR IMBOLC

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EXPLANATION & INFORMATION

STORIES

  • “The Cailleach of the Snows” from the book “Celtic Memories” by Caitlin Matthews (for ages 8 and up).

CRAFTS

  • Make candles with beeswax sheets.
  • Make candle holders with salt dough.

ACTIVITIES

  • Look for early signs of Spring. What is the first flower to make its way through the thawing soil? What kinds of birds and other wildlife do you see? This is a good time to start a nature journal.
  • Do a Spring cleaning of your room, as well as helping the grown-ups clean the rest of the house.
  • With a grown-up’s help, make juniper room spray with a few drops of juniper oil (or a sprig of juniper) in a small spray bottle of distilled water. Use this as a spiritual cleanse on Pagan holidays.
  • Decorate a nature table with an Imbolc nature scene; put down a white cloth for snow, some green cloth for the greening land, a doll dressed like the goddess Brigit, and some of her animals (swan, cow, sheep, hibernating animals…).
  • Help grown-ups with preparing special Imbolc foods.

Kids' Activities for Imbolc

Hallow Magic for the High Days

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Most ADF rituals emphasize worship over magical workings, or so I’ve heard. It doesn’t have to be so… why not have it all? The Druid-style rituals I piece together tend to be short and sweet, so there’s plenty of room to add a little magic. Here are some ideas I’ve had for High Day themed magical workings that are aligned with the Triple Hallows. Most of these ideas are for outdoor rituals. For some of these, you may want to have a crafting session ahead of time, then have participants bring their finished work to the ritual, ready to give it that final “oomph” of energy before activating in the Hallow.

In the following workings, I use the word “intent” a lot. What I mean by this is the goal of your magic, and the act of thinking about it and letting the energy of it flow into what your are crafting or doing. Your intent can be for increase (like for prosperity, wisdom, love, for a few examples), or your intent could be something you want to release to the universe (like negativity, bad vibes… things that hold you back) for the Kindreds to transform it into something better or make use of somewhere else.

As a general guideline, do “releasing” work in the waning part of the year (Lughnasadh to Yule) or during a waning moon, and “increasing” work in the waxing part of the year (Imbolc to Midsummer) or waxing moon. Whatever your intent, you can often change it’s nature by perspective and wording, to flow with the season. For example; if you want to do prosperity magic, but it’s a waning season/moon phase, make it a “poverty banishing” working instead.

FIRE
These are items that are fashioned to be burned in the Fire Hallow.

  • PRAYER LEAF: Hand out big Sassafras leaves (or other big leaves) and markers for participants to inscribe their intent through words symbols or pictures. This one is ideal for any High Day. I like to use it for Samhain, and with bay leaves on Imbolc. (For indoor rituals, use slips of flash paper instead; to avoid having a room filled with smoke.)
  • SUN SYMBOLS: Hand out thin straight sticks or wheat stalks and sun-colored yarn/raffia for participants to make rustic “god‘s eyes”, weaving with the energy and intent of their goal. This one is ideal for Summer Solstice.
  • HARVEST FIGURES: Hand out string, sticks, corn husks, raffia, and/or other dried plant materials for participants to shape and tie into human or animal form, representing a goal or intention completed. This one is ideal for Harvest holidays. I like to use it for the Autumn Equinox.

“At this time we shall infuse our ______ with the energies of our intentions.
When you are ready, you may come to the Fire and burn them.”
After all have done this, say:
“Our intentions have been released to the Sky, to the Kindreds,
and to the passing of the seasons. It is done.” ALL: “So be it!”

WELL
These are items that are fashioned to be placed in the Well Hallow. Consider using a flowing stream for your Well Hallow.

  • PRAYER BOATS: Hand out paper and markers/crayons for participants to make origami boats and inscribe their intent on them through words, symbols and/or pictures. I like this one for Lughnasadh/Freyfaxi.
  • FLOWERS: Let participants choose from a basket of flowers, the one that represents their intent, or make paper flowers. This one is ideal for Beltane.
  • PRAYER SLIPS: Hand out pens and strips of water soluble paper for participants to inscribe their intent. This is another good one for Imbolc.

“At this time we shall infuse our _____ with the energies of our intentions.
When you are ready, you may come to the Well and set them afloat.”
After all have done this, say:
“Our intentions have been released to the Waters, to the Kindreds,
and to the passing of the seasons. It is done.” ALL: “So be it!”

TREE
These are items that are fashioned to be hung from the branches of the Tree Hallow.

  • CLOOTIES (prayer flags): Pass around a basket of various colors of thin natural fabric cut in strips (or participants may bring their own; the magic is especially powerful when it is cloth torn from one’s own clothing). Participants choose color and pattern of cloth based on their intent and infuse them with the energy of their intent with touch and prayer. Each dip their cloth in the Well and tie to the tree. Ideal for any warm weather High Day.
  • TREE ORNAMENTS: Hand out toast, peanut butter, birdseed, string, and cookie cutters. Participants cut shapes from the toast, spread on peanut butter, and sprinkle on birdseed (all with intent!) then poke a string through for hanging. This one is a good one for Winter Solstice.
  • WISHING EGGS/SPHERES: Hand out papier-mâché eggs (with 2 holes poked in one end), paints, markers, and string. Participants use paint and markers to inscribe their intent through words, symbols and/or pictures on the eggs, then hang them on a tree or shrub with string.  Do this one for the Spring Equinox.

“At this time we shall infuse our ______ with the energies of our intentions.
When you are ready, you may come to the Tree and tie them.”
After all are tied, say:
“Our intentions have been released to the Land, to the Kindreds,
and to the passing of the seasons. It is done.” ALL: “So be it!”

Mint Water

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This year I had a few folks come to my to my house for an Imbolc ritual. I invited everyone on the message group for my protogrove, plus just about every Pagan I know. Funny how no matter how many people I invite, the amount of people that shows up is always the perfect number for filling up all the chairs around my dining room table! So we had a cozy little group and our ritual was very similar to last year’s ritual, except this year I added a segment for people to share poetry or song. A twelve year old guest recited a delightful poem about Imbolc. We shared in song and meditation and stepped through Brighid’s Girdle.

For our “Waters of Life”, I prepared a half gallon jug of mint water. So cool and refreshing! The visual of fresh green sprigs in a chilled jug of water certainly fit the name “waters of life”. I will probably be using this simple and refreshing drink for many more ADF-style rituals to come. To make mint water, simply clean a bundle of mint springs. Lightly bruise them and pop into your jug (I filled mine about half way, but probably would have used more if I had more). Fill with water and put in the fridge to chill.

Mint Water

Simple Salt-Dough Goddess Plaque

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If you’ve never really worked with salt dough before, or are looking for a Pagan craft project for your children, this is a fun, easy, and meaningful project to start with. The plaque pictured is a depiction of the Celtic Goddess Brigid, but this method can be easily adapted for making other goddesses as well by changing the details; put flowers or a rabbit in the hands for Ostara, fruits for a harvest goddess, etc. I used a strong salt dough formula for this project so that the finished project will be strong enough to hang on a wall.

supplies:
1 batch of mixed & kneaded strong salt dough
tools: clay cutting tool or butter knife, pencil, wooden spoon, raised thumbtack
wax paper
cookie tray
paint (optional)

Step 1: Break off a handful of the salt dough and roll out a cylinder shape, narrower at the top, and flatten. This is the base of your plaque. When attaching additional dough pieces, remember to lightly dampen areas of the base with fingers dipped in water.

Step 2: Use the handle of a wooden spoon to press in ridges to resemble a flowing skirt.

Step 3: Roll out an oval-shaped ball of dough. Press onto top of base.

Step 4: Roll out a snake shape for the arms. Drape over the top and curl to meet slightly below the breasts or at the stomach.

Step 5: With dampened fingers, smooth top crease and shape shoulders and neck.

Step 6: Roll out a ball for the head and attach to the top.

Step 7: Roll out a thickish snake shape for the hair. Flatten and drape over top of head.

Step 8: Use a clay tool or butter knife to make a part in the hair, lines in the hair, and the neckline of a dress.

Step 9: Use a pencil to make eye holes, slanting the pencil to the side to shape. Roll out a small ball for a nose and blend into face with dampened fingers. (Paint on a mouth after drying, if desired.)

Step 10: Add something for her to hold. This one is holding a flame. To make a flame, shape a little lump of dough into a teardrop shape, cut wavy lines in it, and place it atop her hands. Roll out a narrow coil for a snake and place at the end of her skirt. Lay completed project flat to dry on wax paper-lined cookie sheet. After the top is dry, turn over and press a hole in the top center with the blunt end of a raised tack, for hanging. Let dry completely and paint, if desired.

goddess plaque how-to

Imbolc Ritual 2013

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This year, a friend of mine started a group to learn more about Paganism and magic. The group consists mostly of women I’ve known for years, so I am delighted to be a part of it and build on that sisterhood. For our first ritual, I hosted and pieced together this ADF-style ritual, using my favorite tidbits of ADF and CR liturgy, tailored to the personalities of the group:

IMBOLC RITUAL SCRIPT        2013

SCRIPT KEY
•Speaking parts are in italics.
•Songs are underlined.
•Script has the option for
3 Priestesses to officiate:
P1, P2, P3.
P1(host)_____________
P2:_________________
P3:_________________

MATERIALS
•Juniper wand and bowl of water for purification.
•Bell or bell branch
•Three Hallows symbols: Fire (candles & matches), Well (small cauldron of water), and Tree.
•Complete Imbolc altar with Bríde doll & basket.
•Bríde’s Girdle
•Chalices/goblets for all participants
•Pitcher of drinking water or other beverage
•Tarot deck
•Wand
•Chant handouts
•Offering bowl & offerings: silver, cornmeal, oats, bread, oil or red ochre

(P2) Purification: Carry fire around ritual site and smudge site with juniper long before people arrive, to let the smoke dissipate (in case someone has allergies to the smoke). Sprinkle site with water. Anoint people with water as they arrive. (All place tools and/or talismans upon the altar as they arrive. These items will absorb energy and blessings from the rite.)

(P1) Introduction & Opening Prayer (ring bell three times)
“The Wheel of the Year turns on and on, bringing us all to and from each Season, and from and to another…  What will be is. What was will be. All time is here and now upon this sacred ground. We now pause to watch the Wheel turn, and to honor the Old Ways on this blessed day, to celebrate Imbolc – the time of newly awakening life. In this moment between time, We come to welcome the goddess Bríde and receive Her blessings of healing and inspiration. We gather to celebrate in joy and reverence as a part of the ever turning Wheel of Life, Death, and Rebirth.”

(P3) Earth Mother Blessing“…and now we ask the Earth Mother to bless our rite:
O beloved mother of all, from whose starry womb the green earth springs, you who are the bearer of all life, I pray you bless and uphold this rite.”

(P2) Three Realms Meditation
“Three was a sacred number to the Celts. They did not categorize things into four elements,
but rather they viewed the world as being made up of three parts.
The three realms are- the Land, the Sea, and the Sky.
We may attune ourselves to these realms with a centering meditation…
Close your eyes. Take a deep breath, and as you let that breath out, imagine you are a tree sending a taproot down into the Earth… Now begin to feel the roots growing outward, spreading all around… Every time you exhale, send more and more energy down through those roots, until you feel firmly rooted to the ground…
We stand firmly upon the land.
Your roots grow deeper… Be aware of the cavernous Underworld kingdoms below you, where underground rivers seep through the unutterable darkness to their ultimate destination…
The Sea always surrounds us.
Now feel your roots absorbing water and nutrients from the soil. As you breathe in, feel this energy rising up though your roots, into your body… With each breath, the energy rises… until your entire body is filled with the energy of earth and water… Breathe deeper and let it flow out through the top of your head like a fountain of light… Feel your branches reach up and outward through the air… Become aware of your green leaves and how they turn toward the sun to receive warmth and light… Feel the energy of the light charging the chlorophyll in your leaves… Breathe in the air and life giving energy of the realm of Sky…
The Sky spreads itself above us.
We are at the center of the Three Realms.”

(P1) Triple Hallows
“At the center, there exists three sacred Hallows, through which we connect with the Spirits of all the Realms. The Triple Hallows are the Fire, the Well, and the Tree…”
FIRE: Light the fire and make an offering of oil. Say:
“I kindle this fire in the name of Bríde, golden flame of hearth and home.
Sacred fire, burn within us.”
ALL: “Sacred fire, burn with us.”
WELL: Pour the waters and make an offering of silver. Say:
“In the depths flow the waters of wisdom, cleansing, and creation- the waters of Bríde.
Sacred water flow within us.”
ALL: “Sacred water, flow within us.”
TREE: anoint the Tree with oil or red ochre. Say:
“From the depths to the heights spans the world tree, interconnecting all things.
Sacred tree, grow within us.”
ALL: “Sacred tree, grow within us.”
ALL chant 3 times: “Fire, Well, and Sacred Tree, flow and flame and grow in me.”

(P1) The Gatekeeper
“Manannan mac Lir, Gatekeeper, Son of the Sea, come to us, ward us as we walk in safety!”
(Place offerings in dish.)
“We ask in reverence, open now the sacred boundary between the worlds
so that we may commune more directly with the Deities and Spirits.
Let the Fire open as a Gate. Let the Well open as a Gate. Let the Tree open as a Gate…”
(Open Hallows with a wand or bell.)
“The Gates are open. Sisters, we are now woven into the fabric of the universe.
Here the Kindreds can see deeply into our hearts. So let there be only truth here.”  

(P2) Inviting the Kindreds
“Tonight we call upon the Spirits of Place, of the land all around us,
to be at peace with us and walk among us.” (Place offerings in dish.)
ALL: “Noble Ones, come. Be welcome.”
(P3)“Tonight we call upon our Blessed Ancestors, those who have gone before
and who watch over still, to join us at this celebration.” (Place offerings in dish.)
ALL: “Mighty Ones, come. Be welcome.”
(P1)“Tonight we call upon the Deities and Spirits of Hearth & Home, whose names each of us hold in our hearts, to be with us in reverence and blessing.” (Place offerings in dish.)
ALL: “Shining Ones, come. Be welcome.”

(P1) Inviting Bríde
“We are calling upon Bríde- Queen of the Hearth and Flame,
Midwife and healer, Poet and Seer, Lady of the Mantles…”

Song: Holy Water, Sacred Flame

“Bríde, Bríde, come thou in, thy bed is made.”

ALL CHANT SOFTLY THREE TIMES: “Let Bríde come in, Bríde is welcome.”

(The Bríde doll is brought out from behind the altar and placed in the basket.)

Song: Welcome Bríd

(P3) Bríde’s Girdle  
“Arise, in the name of Bríde, and go out three times.
Go through and emerge replenished and renewed.”

Song: Born of Water  -during song, all circle around and go through Bríde’s Girdle until all have gone through three times.

(P2) Omen
“We are reborn! Let us see now what blessing the Spirits give us.”
Everyone takes a random card from a tarot deck to divine ones personal blessing,
and one is taken as a general omen for the ritual.

Song: Way to the Well

(P1) Blessing Cup
“Close your eyes and let your body still. Using your inner vision, let your mind roam to look around and above us. Look at the crowd of friends gathered in this realm and in the other realms. Spirits of this place, Ancestors, Shining Ones, the Goddess Bríde– all these Blessed Kindreds looking at us with love in their hearts! We ask you now, gathered host, return to us your blessings! Send them to us in these vessels of water. Gathered Host, we ask this of you!
…Behold the Waters of Life! May we drink deep of peace, of blessing, of healing.”
(All drink, bask in blessing.)

Sharing & Magic
At this time, anyone who wants to share (a song or poem etc.) may do so.
Requests for healing are attended to, and/or workings of magic.

(P1) Final Prayer to Bríde
“Bríde, gold-red woman, Bríde, flame and honeycomb,
Bríde, sun of womanhood, Bríde, lead us home.
Bríde, you are a branch in blossom. You are a sheltering dome.
You are our bright precious freedom. Bríde, lead us home.”

(P3) Thanking the Powers
“The Kindreds have blessed us. With joy in our hearts, let us carry the magic
from our sacred circle into our lives and work. Each time we offer to the powers,
they become stronger and more aware of our needs and our devotions.
So now as we prepare to close this rite, let us give thanks to those who have aided us…”

(P2)“We offer our thanks to the Mother of All. We offer our thanks to the goddess Bríde,
and to all the blessed Spirits we welcomed here tonight.
May the Kindreds bring joy to all beings, and renew the ancient wisdom.
To the Land, Sky, and Sea, the Fire, Well and Tree- we offer our thanks.
May Wisdom, Love and Power kindle in all beings, and renew the ancient wisdom.”

(P1)Closing the Gates
“Now by the keeper of the gates and by our magic, we end what we began.
Now let the fire be but flame. Let the well be but water.
Let all be as it was before. Let the gates be closed!”

ALL: “Let the gates be closed!”

(P1) “May the Ancient Wisdom be renewed, and may all beings know:
Peace, Joy and Happiness in all the worlds.”

ALL: “As it was, as it is, as it evermore shall be. With the ebb, with the flow, blessed be.”

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…and for those without a priestess role, I made this short guide:

IMBOLC RITUAL 2013
~Participant Guide~
Welcome to our Imbolc ritual. The style of this ritual is Celtic. You will notice we will not be casting a circle or calling the quarters. Rest assured, our space is well warded. You may move freely about without restraint. Our power will flow organically. This basic outline is not a script, but will help you keep track of what is happening and be a guide to your participation. Bríde (pronounced “BREE-jah”) is the modern Irish name for the goddess Brighid/Brigit.

Purification
All receive a drop of water on the forehead upon arrival
and place items to be blessed on the altar.

Introduction & Earth Mother Blessing
(All bend to acknowledge the Earth in your own way.)

Three Realms Meditation
Triple Hallows: Fire, Well, & Tree
All repeat phrases after priestess speaks them:
“Sacred Fire, burn within us”
“Sacred Water, flow within us.”
“Sacred Tree, grow within us.”
All speak 3 times in unison with Priestess at her signal:
“Fire, Well, and Sacred Tree,
flow and flame and grow in me.”

Calling the Gatekeeper

Inviting the Spirits (Kindreds)
All speak in unison with Priestess at her signal:
“Noble Ones, come. Be welcome.”
“Mighty Ones, come. Be welcome.”
“Shining Ones, come. Be welcome.”

Inviting the Goddess Bríde
Song: Holy Water, Sacred Flame

All chant three times with Priestess at her signal:
“Let Bríde come in, Bríde is welcome.”

Song: Welcome Bríd

Bríde’s Girdle
Song: Born of Water  -during song, all circle around
and go through Bríde’s Girdle
until all have gone through three times.

Omen

Song: Way to the Well

Blessing Cup

Sharing & Magic

Final Prayer to Bríde &
Thanking the Powers

Closing the Gates
All speak in unison with Priestess:
“Let the gates be closed!”

Ending the Ritual
All speak in unison with Priestess:
“As it was, as it is, as it ever-more shall be.
With the ebb, with the flow, blessed be.”

Countdown to Imbolc – Holiday Planner

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January 16th – 19th

  • Begin early Spring deep cleaning and organizing.
  • Begin looking for signs of Spring. Take seasonal outdoor pictures with family/friends.
  • Collect juniper branches to dry out and make smudge wands.

January 20th – 23rd

  • Firm up ritual plans, if you haven’t already. Will you be attending a festival, local event, a family event, or doing something on your own? If you are planning the ritual, decide on location and script/liturgy.
  • Take inventory of ritual and magical supplies.
  • Make candles to replenish your supply for the year (if needed).

January 24th – 27th

  • Make menu plans and a grocery list for your Imbolc feast.
  • Make garden (or windowsill garden) plans for early sprouting.
  • Shop for seeds and other supplies.
  • Obtain blessed water (this can simply be water from a source you consider sacred).

January 28th – February 1st

  • Shop for menu items.
  • Set out a Brat Bríde (a strip of fabric or ribbon for Bríde to bless when she stops by your house).

BlessedImbolc

My Imbolc & Dísablót

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This year I combined my Imbolc ritual with a Dísablót. A Dísablót is a blessing given in honor of the Dísir; the female ancestral spirits and deities who are the guardians of family and home. I used the ADF-inspired ritual I put together last year, and just put the “blót” part in place of the “Blessing Cup”. I didn’t have anything written ahead of time for the blót part. I just called to the Dísir, asked for their blessing, made offerings and libations, then asperged from the blessing bowl.

Imbolc-Disablot Altar

I offered incense and deliciously tangy buttermilk candy. I wonder if anyone has ever done blót with milk besides me?
I used a little table with a shelf underneath for an altar for this, so my brídeag hid under there till it was time for her to come out.

I hope everyone has been having a blessed holiday! Here is my recipe for Buttermilk Candy:

Buttermilk Candy
4 cups sugar
2 cups buttermilk
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups chopped nuts
Line an 8″ square baking pan with foil, leaving overhang on all sides. Grease the foil. Combine sugar and buttermilk in a heavy saucepan (I used my soup pot), and bring to a boil over meduim-high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer until mixture reaches soft ball stage on a candy thermometer (about 234º F). This will take about 35 to 40 minutes, stirring constantly.
Remove from heat. Add butter, mixing with a wooden spoon until candy begins to thicken, about 5 minutes. Stir in nuts until mixture becomes a little difficult to stir, about 3 minutes. Spread into the prepared pan and let cool completely, at least 2 hours. Using the foil overhang, lift candy from pan and cut into 1″ squares. This candy can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.