You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘sabbats’ tag.
At Imbolc we prepare for and rejoice in the coming spring. It’s a time of clearing away, planning, and preparations. It’s a time of promise and hope. There is still cold to be endured, but the darkest parts of winter are over.
Over the last year our family has been through Hell more than once. While it has fortifies us, it has also left us with a thick layer of ash and detritus of things that no longer serve us, those things we had to burn before we could move forward. A few weeks ago Hubby and I began the process of cleaning out not only the emotional litter and clutter, but the physical as well, and it really has made a lot of difference in our strength as a team.
One of the deities most associated with Imbolc is Brighid. I have dedicated myself Brighid for many years now. I have made offerings and called to her in times of celebration and need, and she has become a very important aspect of my spirit, but lately I have felt the need for a better connection to my inner Brighid, the part of me that has seen me through the times of greatest fire. This year my Imbolc celebration and personal work centered on making this connection. I have a litany of ambitious goals for the coming year, and if there is to be any progress then I will need her with me in all her forms.
The maiden to keep a creative, whimsical optimism to lead me through the most mundane tasks with the knowledge that something magical and truly happy awaits at the end.
The mother and midwife to help me give birth to my ideas and passions and nurture all my undertakings, and to help those around me do the same for theirs.
The crone to have the wisdom to succeed where I can and let go of what just can’t be done.
The warrior to be strong even when I am weary and outnumbered.
The blacksmith to fortify those around me who may feel weak.
The healer to keep myself and my family healthy and tend to them when sickness or uneasiness settles upon us.
The poet to keep the words flowing, the inspiration lighted, and communication smooth.
Never before have I felt the heat of Brighid’s dancing flame and the depth of her healing waters, and never before have I felt so empowered. I spent this Imbolc alone with my thoughts, my soul, and my words, and I was able to finally make a connection to the goddess that has been waiting inside me. All she needed was a spark.
When you plant a seed you have an idea of what it will grow into. You hold that picture in your mind as you watch the seed sprout and move through all the crucial stages of development, until one day it is right there in front of you in full bloom. Sometimes the end result is exactly what you expected. Sometimes you get something completely different, and you can choose to either appreciate it for what it is or feel disappointed. Either way you have invested time, energy, and patience to watch your seed grow.
That’s what it takes to be the farmer, but what does it take to be the seed? What does it take to possibly have no idea what you will become or how long it will take? What does it take to have faith that you will grow into a boon not a burden and trust the one or ones tending to you to know what you need and keep you safe and healthy? What does it take to truly know that all the stages of your growth are important and that the end result is exactly where and what you should be? What does it take to be confident in your knowledge of how to grow and be strong, when to push that growth, and when to let nature take its course?
At Mabon we celebrate the harvest as we reap the rewards of patient tending and take a lesson from the patience and dedication it took to sustain that which will sustain us through the cold season. This year my message has been a hard and heavy one about no longer looking at myself as the farmer and instead accepting my place as the seed. Where I would generally shape I must let myself be shaped. Where I would guide I must let myself be lead. This doesn’t mean I stop trying, it simply means I try differently. Patience, intuition, and introspection. Only then can I grow into something that will sustain and reach its full potential. Only then can I nourish the world.
Litha, the longest day of the year, a day of potency and joy, and a celebration of opportunity.
This is the first summer solstice I have spent covenless, yet it comes in a year that has been more substantial and blessed than most. I feel more powerful, more healthy, and more driven than I have in years. Still, this has always been one of the celebrations in which I surround myself with friends and loved ones, and this year it seems to be lacking.
As the day approaches I find myself on several precipices at once. I am on the verge of being a licensed driver for the first time in my life, I am taking huge steps with both my personal and professional life, my health is ever improving, and though we are in a time of change within our family we are still in a very positive and healthy place. My first focus will be to empower my final push in all of these areas.
My second focus is the present. There is no coincidence that summer represents celebration, flirtation, and youthful abandon. It has become abundantly clear to me that I let myself keep my eyes firmly fixed ahead of me, and that much of my energy and frustration is spent on the next step instead of the current one. A recent conversation reminded me that this was not, and should not, always be the case. I need to embrace the spontaneity that once fed my spirit and let myself live in the moment a little more. I need to enjoy the now and not worry about where it leads. I also need to stop letting past experiences hold me back. I am not who I was, and I have wrung every drop of lesson I can from those memories. I can no longer let myself hide behind apprehension in the guise of self-preservation. I need to live my life rather than always planning the next minutes of it or fearing a rerun of my past. Tomorrow will come whether or not I’ve put it in my Google calendar, but today will never come back.
My solstice ritual this year will be unplanned. I will find myself a spot near the river or in a park somewhere and let it happen however it feels right. I will most likely be alone, and more and more I’m content with that. I will have a few basic items with me, but for the most part my spirit will be my ritual tool. This will be an exercise in flow and living in the present, tapping into a place from which I used to draw all my strength, blending it with the energy I’ve found elsewhere and honed over time, and using my drive and determination for the future to fuel the fire. Only by finding and combining all three tenses within myself will I truly be using my full potential, and it’s time.
No matter what your plans are for the solstice this year, I want you to enjoy the day for the day, not just for what it leads you toward. I think you’ll find a lot more power and meaning in it as a moment than as a stepping stone. I know I will.
Go now…be now.
It’s that time of year again. Well, it’s several “that time of year”s again, but I mean one in particular. As witches, it is our 15 minutes of fame. Suddenly, we’re everywhere. We’re in movies, cartoons, the costume aisle at Target (what exactly is a Future Witch anyway?), and all sorts of mass media. The History Channel starts running documentaries about everything from the Salem Witch Trials to the rituals of the Knights Templar. For a couple of weeks no one has any problems with us. Now, I realize that’s a grave simplification, and there are still people who make their displeasure with the pagan community known, but for a short time every year we are a flamboyant commercial cliché. In a few months we will see the same thing as Christians everywhere fight their own “Jesus is the reason for the season” battle, even going as far as the ever more popular image of Santa bowing over the baby in the manger. This image alone is why I write on this particular topic, because it illustrated something poignant about holidays, the innate fact that they are both sacred and secular in nature does not have to be a negative thing.
There seems to be a belief that Jesus Christmas and Santa Christmas cannot coexist. I believe that they can, and do, as two separate pieces of a celebration. In some ways the two have become two unique holidays, as some people celebrate one but not the other. I don’t believe it is disrespectful, and I don’t ever believe a day that brings people together in a spirit of joy and hope is wrong. Pagans have been doing it since before it was Christmas, calling it Yule, and we didn’t complain when new holidays with suspicious similarities started cropping up.
All snark aside, there is nothing wrong with secular celebration. As little witches our kids learn to honor their ancestors on Samhain. In time, they will learn the Wheel of the Year and what the sabbats mean. They learn Samhain traditions and correspondences in the same way we know and celebrate them. They learn to respect and revere the holiday as something sacred. They also get to dress up in the costumes of their choice, go trick-or-treating, carve pumpkins, and all the other fun stuff that Halloween brings. In that same vein, Santa will visit our house on Christmas, but we will have had our Yule fire.
It is also important to note that when the kids are older they will also know the history of the traditions for both sacred and secular holidays, as one is just as important as the other. We must know about our history and how our cultures have evolved over time. We must know how people of the past have celebrated and why to really appreciate the seasons now. Yes, we add our modern touches, which are also important, as holidays must grow and evolve with us, but nothing can grow without roots.
There is nothing that says that celebrating a secular holiday takes anything away from the sacred holiday that generally accompanies it. We are complex and beautiful creatures, and it is that multi-dimensional capacity that makes us unique. While the sacred days bring us together in the spirit of faith, the secular days bring us together in the spirit of community no matter what our beliefs are. The more fundamental reason for the season is joining in celebration, no matter what you call it.
So, yes, this weekend I will be partying in costume, handing out candy dressed as the most cliché witch I can muster (don’t judge me, the costumes are all in storage), and honouring my ancestors in both private and group ritual. I will watch the same rerun documentaries on the history channel, and I will giggle every time they use the same outdated clip of some Samhain ritual from the 70s. I will meet with friends and family of all beliefs and traditions, and we will find a few moments of joy and laughter in a time when there is so much negativity and uncertainty flowing about us. This, my friends, is the reason for the season. Well…this and giant bags of candy.
Go now….smell my feet, give me something good to eat…
Last weekend we celebrated Mabon, a festival of harvest and abundance. We are beginning to reap blessings from the hard work we’ve sown, and we are entering a time when we have to look within to assess what is growing there. This also makes Mabon a time for cleaning out and letting go of that which no longer enriches and sustains us. After all, if there isn’t any room for new things they will be left to the elements where most of them will wither and die, and the year’s effort will have been in vain. In a season of duality and balance, light and dark, there must be a balance between what we store and what we release.
This year has been huge in terms of blessings and progress for our family and as individuals. This also meant there came a time to re-evaluate what was still beneficial and good in my life. The answer came swift and hard. I needed to look closely at the people in my life and decide who I could actually call a “friend”. No matter how busy my life get I consider my friends family and make it a personal commitment to make sure I never neglect those friendships, sometimes lieu of personal time and attention. In some cases this has led to beautiful, blossoming friendships that have supported me at my weakest. In others no matter how hard I try nothing will grow. Sometimes something wonderful grows, but has its season and fades away. So why continue to spend valuable time and energy tending these things that are no longer viable in my garden?
This Mabon it was abundantly clear that it was time to thank the superfluous or wilted things in my life for the needs they did fulfill in their own time and acknowledge the need to focus on not just the new, but also the consistently good things that continue to enrich and enliven me. My next steps are big ones, and I can no longer be distracted and held back by cumbersome sentiments that no longer exist. Only by being honest with myself and cutting them free can I move on.
It’s been painful, but it’s also been an amazing healing experience. By tossing aside the detritus in my life I have felt more free, more focused, and more driven than I have in years. All that extra energy is finally going forward, and the space I’ve made available is full of new possibilities.
This harvest has been bountiful,, and I have no doubt that I will continue to be blessed, nourished, and sustained in the coming season. This is the breathtaking feeling of balance. This is the feeling of Mabon.
Go now, harvest something delicious.
I was going to write this year’s Ostara piece on spring cleaning, as it has been in the forefront of both my mundane and magickal lives on an almost constant basis. Then our coven met for ritual, and it managed to throw that thought process into a tailspin that changed the scenery of that forefront quite a bit.
This year Ostara was all about balance and equalization, internal and external harmony. As I reflected quietly on where I needed a little more equilibrium in my life, the term “help not hinder” came to mind. It is here that I see a fork in my path, and I must make a choice.
Quite often we focus on the obstacles not the opportunities, and in trying to clear them away we lose sight of new doors opening to us. I have fallen into a magickal rut centered around clearing away instead of manifestation, and I have resorted to merely chasing my tail in an empty space. This is where I need my balance.
I’ve always been a purger, the time has come to claim my power of manifestation and intuition when it comes to new paths and clearings. It’s time to unlock and throw open the windows of opportunity and breathe the fresh air they provide. It’s time to seize what will not wait for me to notice it. I cannot stop removing the detritus from my life, but that task alone cannot be allowed to consume me or I will be nothing but empty and stagnant.
Ostara reminds me that this is a time for new growth and rejuvenation. I will not be able to appreciate the spring in my soul while keeping myself holed up in this dusty old perspective and stale routine. It’s time to feel the sunshine, and my goddess it feels good to be outside.
Brighid (Imbolc) this year was unusual for me. On a day where we celebrated the signs of spring emerging from the harsh winter crust I was in a skirt and sandals in 75 degree weather. Still, at home the snow and ice were making it very clear that their season had not passed.
I didn’t notice the signs of seasonal depression or the changes within myself until a few years ago. I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area where all my seasons were internal and symbolic, and by the time I encountered the winters of the Northeast I was in such a constant state of depression and emotional flux that the lack of sun never had much of a noticeable effect. All the trials of life seemed to naturally take hold in the winter. Again my seasons were internal.
This year I fell into a seasonal depression like a dark well. It was then piled on top of a wanderlust that became physically painful and the blessing of health well enough to work myself to death. The darkness enfolded me, and all my introspection turned negative. The light within me began to flicker and fade.
A few weeks ago I started to feel my spirit again as some of the ice thawed and Imbolc approached. No, the darkness isn’t over yet, but the light is returning. I started being inspired and creative again, as new ideas and strategies emerge, and I was able to open both mind and heart to embrace life and energy all around me. The dark well in which I had fallen became instead refreshing, quenching, and healing, as once again I felt embraced by Brighid. She had never really left me. She had just been waiting for me to see past my own flickering flame to reconnect with hers.
As Imbolc passed under the brilliant Florida sun I planned the landscape of the beautiful garden that is the coming season of light. I set my goals and began directing energy their way. I cleaned out unnecessary clutter and prepared space for new growth. In the coming season I will forge new bonds, be inspired, and use my gifts to heal myself and the world around me.
Most importantly I will learn to embrace Brighid’s light. I will hear her words and drink from her well, and there is no doubt in my mind that the coming year will be beautiful, powerful, and profound.
As i sat enjoying the Florida sun, I was refueled and ready to face the second half of winter. I found solace int he forest, but I carried its life back to Philadelphia to light my way from the dark.
Go now, find light in your darkness.
The festival of Mabon marks the beginning of the dark part of the year. The leaves are falling, the days are shortening, and the air is starting to chill. It is not yet winter, but a fair part of the bounty has come and gone. To our ancestors it was a lot more scary and unstable of a season than it is now, but we still carry that inherent link within us. Yes, we can go to a grocery store for food, and we have electric and gas heaters whenever we need them, but there is still that intuitive feeling of darkness for those of us who feel the seasons.
This isn’t a bad thing. The darkness is imperative to growth and change. The darkness challenges us to look deeper within and rid ourselves of impediments and weakness. The darkness forces us to face our fears and uncertainties head-on and learn from them.
I admit for much of my life I either lived in the darkness or ignored it. The constant state of imbalance meant I was spinning my wheels when it came to any progress in my life. Living in darkness I missed a lot of opportunities and lost my way a few times. Avoiding it I not only neglected an important part of myself but allowed myself to be comfortable and what I thought was content. In reality all it did was let the darkness grow, until it demanded attention. At that point I was back at living in the darkness. It’s a detrimental cycle to be sure.
I am still learning to not fear the darkness, to take it as it comes, and to let it go. I am still learning to understand that in order for there to be light there must also be dark. I am still learning to not consider darkness “bad” or “evil”. I am still learning to accept that the path is not always well-lit, well-worn, or easily travelled. If it were I would be getting nowhere.
This year we’ve been blessed with a lot of light, but it took us a long trudge through the darkness to get there. Issues with partners and our marriage made us recognize things we needed to resolve to be a stronger couple. Those same issues brought up individual insecurities and resentments from our respective pasts that needed to be addressed before we could progress in our life together. Losing jobs and our house brought us closer to family. On my end it bolstered me to work harder to provide for my household and forced us to learn to save and budget. It also gave us the opportunity to pay off debts that have been blights on our credit for years. Health problems have given me a better look at where and how I need to take better care of my body, spirit, and self in general.
It’s been a rough step in our lives together and separate, but it’s been necessary and in a positive direction. There’s still work to be done, and as we enter another dark season I wonder what it will bring, but I’m learning not to fear it but to embrace and learn from it knowing I will come out a better me on the other side. I know things will come to me as I am ready and able to handle them, and I know that my faith will get me through with a little support and love from my community and my family.
Welcome to the dark time, my friends. What will you learn about yourself this year?
Lammas is the first of the harvest festivals. Literally, our house has been full of tomatoes, cabbage, beets, spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, peppers, and an assortment of herbs. Yesterday we welcomed the addition of a food processor into our home. Then we spent hours canning tomato sauce and pickling sweet peppers. By the end of the day I had much earned my reward of Friendly’s and a movie from the Redbox.
The harvest from our lives has been much greater, yet maybe a little more below the surface. In our day-to-day lives we’ve reaped quite a bit this season. We started the year off by uprooting ourselves and moving in with Hubby’s grandfather in order to pay off our debts and start saving to start over in a year or so with a clean slate. We had a lot of issues as a couple that needed smoothing, and I was just starting to improve my health with a reduced casein/gluten diet. We threw a lot of seeds at once, and hoped at least a majority of then stuck. Luckily, we threw them to fertile soil. Through lots of hard work and determination we settled into a new routine that made sure we were both employed. I was able to keep my job in Philadelphia with some help from friends and a little perseverance and sacrifice. I’m working full-time with an illness that still has no name thanks to a staunch vitamin regiment, and we are working towards paying off all our debt. As a couple we are stronger than we were a year ago. We have pulled together to reach our goals, and we are making it happen. With all this progress has come new ways of dealing with challenges, the addition of new people in our lives, and the beginning of our household’s foundations.
In our magickal lives we’re reaped a whole library of new knowledge from seeds we never knew we planted. My Reiki and chakra work continues to intensify, as does my interest in Hawaiian magick. I’ve overcome obstacles and faces fears. I’ve acquired self-esteem and confidence in my abilities in all areas of life. Hubby is devouring books like they’re made of chocolate, and has not only finished a fully functional forge but has also started several other important endeavors.
Today I consider myself extremely grateful for what has come to us in the past few months, and I continually give thanks for the people in my heart, for they are the true blessings I have been given. They really are a fantastic and unbelievable group, and I can’t think of anyone else I’d rather have around my table. The garden of our life is flourishing and vibrant. It still has a few weeds to dig out, and a few of our seeds have yet to bear fruit, but this is only the first of the harvest festivals. We still have half a season ahead of us, and I can’t wait to see what Mabon and Sammhain will bring.
Go, now. Give thanks for your harvest!
So, yes, I’m a couple of weeks late. Bear with me, my schedule lately has been brutal with no internet access if I’m not home.
At Beltaine we celebrate the sacred union of the Maiden and the Youth and the beginning of a time of creativity and vibrancy. Even with symbols like the maypole this can sometimes be an abstract concept for children or the uninitiated to grasp. When I started this blog my aim was not to educate about Wiccan traditions or practices but to share m experiences and offer some practical advice as a parent and neighbour who doesn’t even own a broom closet. Wiccan parenting doesn’t have to be ostentatious, and celebrating in our own backyard doesn’t have to be strange and alienating. This year we went a step further, as we had children and people present who are not part of a practicing household. Instead of alienating ourselves and our guests, we made our Beltaine celebration a more ecumenical event.
We lit a modest fire in our metal fire pit, and Hubby and I blessed it with a jovial incantation and a custom blended incense. A few people were already present, and they merrily sang with us. The rest added a stick to the fire as they entered in order to contribute their energy to the celebration. We sang simple chants everyone could learn and remember and danced around the fire until we were exhausted. I even taught the children to poi with practice, non-fire-bearing poi balls. All this allowed the children to start building a foundation of knowledge and understanding of Beltaine and raising energy in a fun and lighthearted way and kept up the energy for the night. At one point the new neighbour came over with his beer and sat with us, watching the dancing and listening to the singing. He and other people around the fire chatted as one of our newest little sisters practiced her tarot skills.
This experience was the embodiment of our aim for our household. Yes, we’re poly. Yes, we’re Wiccan. Yes, we’re organic and “green”. None of that means we have to be apologetic or undercover. None of that means we have to keep our lifestyle hidden from our children until they’re “old enough to understand”. Our secondaries will not be Aunt So-and-So or Uncle Whojamcallit. We live in a world where having same-sex parents is not uncommon, but generally more accepted and open than pagan or poly ones. Sometimes this is dependent on the climate of tolerance where we live. Other times it’s self-imposed because we feel it’s something taboo or too difficult or “adult” for children to understand. This is a cop-opt. If we can teach Catholic children about a mad being crucified, we can teach them about the sacred union just as innocuously. There is a way to be honest with our children and our communities without being over the top and obnoxious, and it’s happening more and more every day. Food for though, my two cents, and all that.
Go now, share your joy!