Tarot Card of the Day: Two of Pentacles and Daily Meditation on Wisdom

Upright Two of Pentacles Tarot Card Meanings

Biddy Tarot

In the Two of Pentacles is an individual whose consciousness, represented by the waters, is tossed by seemingly conflicting interests. While the Ace of Pentacles represents the beginnings of a new business or financial venture, the Two represents the need to balance that venture with other important areas of life such as family, friends, and even our own physical, mental, and spiritual well-being. This card indicates the necessity for balance between opposing desires and interests. Life will always be uncertain, yet if you can produce balance and harmony among all the demands upon you, you will ultimately live happily and in prosperity.

Thus, the Two of Pentacles serves as a reminder to remain alert, agile and patient as you attempt to juggle your family, your friends, work, finances, health and new challenges. You need to be very clear on your priorities and where you want to invest your time and energy. There is a tendency to be distracted by day-to-day affairs and general busy-ness, so prioritising your activities and carefully managing your time is essential.

The Two of Pentacles brings you back down to earth and reminds you to not only focus on your broader life goals but to also make sure your day-to-day affairs are in order. This is a card of good time management and financial management, ensuring that your bills are paid on time, that you keep a record of all your appointments and daily commitments, etc. It may sound tedious having to focus your attention on these more mundane issues but this card reminds you that sometimes getting on top of your daily affairs is as important as pursuing your broader life goals.

Sometimes, the Two of Pentacles can indicate that there are problems and difficulties in the future. There may be obstacles erected which hinder the attainment of what you wish to pursue or obtain in life. The situation may cause undue worry and again, you will be required to juggle your priorities and manage your time effectively to stay on top of the situation.

Similarly, the Two of Pentacles predicts change. You need to be able to cope with change, remaining flexible and adaptable in your approach. Rather than putting all your eggs in one basket, you may be better to keep two or more things going at once so you have the luxury of choice, should one option fall through. You must stay centred while you stay flexible and keep informed. Look for new possibilities, be open to change and go with the flow as best you can.


Daily Meditation 
Walk with the wise and be wise; walk with the stupid and be misled.~Proverbs
We may not believe we are wise. We may ask, “how could I be wise if I got myself into so much trouble and pain? How can I be wise if I now need the help of others to stay out of trouble and feel less pain?”

But what is wisdom? Very simply, it is good sense. it is the ability to make a choice that will be good for us. No one is born with wisdom. It is learned through trial and error. Just a glance into our past will assure us we have certainly had our share of trials and errors.
Have I made wise decisions today? How can I access my Higher Power to gain wisdom?

Right now, I have so much going on. I have three blogs, an Etsy site that I am selling hand made crochet items on, my child, trying to move into a place of our own, money issues, etc… I feel sometimes like the man in the Two of Pentacles standing on a rolling ball juggling a bunch of other balls and if I make one misstep, everything collapses and I fall. I am endeavoring to access my Higher Power daily (multiple times) through a prayer dialogue so that I can make wise decisions about all that is going on in my life. I have to say that I believe right now that if I relied on my own strength, none of this could be accomplished. What wisdom I have gained in my life, though it may be greater than some others, is nothing compared to the wisdom of the One. This seems to be a lesson that I have to keep relearning. I wish that I didn’t have to keep coming back to this place where I have to learn to trust all over again, but it seems to be the nature of me and it may be a cycle that I need to find out how to break. All I can say right now, though, is I am very thankful for the steadfastness and immovability of the One. Otherwise, I would be screwed.

An Extremely Strong Spell To Bind Your Enemies’ Feet

woman spell casting

BE WARNED: This spell is very dark and causes much suffering to the person it is placed upon and will eventually cause them to die. BE VERY SURE that you want to do this before you do it. I, in no way, am responsible for the effects of this spell on the caster or the person it is put upon. This spell causes so much suffering to the person it is placed upon that they will be too miserable and surrounded with calamity to even think about hurting you. Their emotional, mental and physical states will deteriorate. They will suffer financial hardships. Their lifelong friends will abandon them. Their family will abandon them. They will most likely attempt suicide and fail. The spirits who exact this spell will not let the person die until they have suffered for years.

WHAT YOU NEED:

1. Shoe box or small cardboard box.

2. Several yards of black ribbon.

3. A photo of the person on whom you want to place the spell.

4. A pair of chicken feet.

WORKING THE SPELL:

1. Write the name and birth date of the person on the back of the photo. This provides the spirits who will execute the spell an added connection to the person.

2. Place the photo of the person against the pair of chicken feet FACING OUTWARDS away from the chicken feet.

3. Take 1/3 of the length of black ribbon and tie the photo to the chicken feet.

4. Place the bundle of photo/chicken feet in the shoe box or cardboard box.

5. Put the lid on the box.

6. Take what is left of the black ribbon and tie up the box with it.

7. Bury the box 3 feet deep at a crossroads or in a cemetery.

8. As you leave the area (this is very important) DO NOT LOOK BACK at the area where you have just left.

old cemetery

SOME DETAILS ABOUT THE SPELL:

1. The photo, name and birth date of the person form a link to the person.

2. The chicken feet represent the person’s psychic feet.

3. When you wrap the photo to the chicken feet, STRONGLY SEE AND VISUALIZE the person on whom you are casting the spell to be bound, immobilized and unable to harm you. THE STRONGER YOUR VISUALIZATION, THE STRONGER THE SPELL. (Personally, I find it useful to pull up memories of the person to evoke strong emotions towards that person: for instance if the person has harmed you physically, try to remember how powerless you felt at the time and how much you wanted that person not to harm you. Then visualize that person bound with ropes or in a cage, etc… whatever works for you. These types of spells call on the emotions of the person harmed so the stronger your emotions and the stronger your visualizations, the more effective the spell will be.)

4. When you are burying the box, AGAIN STRONGLY VISUALIZE THAT YOU ARE NOT BURYING THE BOX, BUT THE PERSON. If you need to, call on your emotions connected to this person again to visualize how much you want them “buried” and unable to harm you. Again, the stronger and clearer your visualization, the stronger the spell.

5. When you leave and don’t look back, what you are doing is effectively divorcing yourself from the need for validation or the need to see the effects of the spell. What you are saying (without saying) to the spirits who will work the spell is that you trust them to work out the spell.

Basically, what this spell does is return your enemies’ venom to them. So, the more they hate and want to harm you, the more they will suffer. However, and let me state again, that this spell is very dark. Personally, I would only perform it if my life or the life of someone I love were in danger from someone. Again, I do not take any responsibility for the effects of this spell on the caster or on the person on whom the spell is cast.

cross roads

Candle-gazing to enhance scrying: an intermediate technique

Scrying and candles go together like peanut butter and jelly.  Candles provide the low, incandescent light that most scryers prefer.  The slow, flickering beam of the flame casts animated shadows on the reflective surface of a mirror or crystal.  The heat it generates soothes and relaxes the body.  And aesthetically speaking, there is simply nothing better than a candle or lamp flame for evoking a spiritual, mystical atmosphere in a room where magical work is taking place.

But did you know that you can deliberately use your trusty altar candles as a trance induction device?  This technique has been known in the East for centuries, as part of the discipline known as tratakam, or yoga of the fixed gaze.  It is defined as sustained, single-pointed focus on an internal or external point.  The practice helps to improve concentration, access altered states, and achieve inner sight.  Candle-gazing in particular is thought to stimulate the pineal gland, the light-sensitive “third eye” which is linked with clairvoyance.

I first discovered this technique would work for scrying in the somewhat unlikely setting of a strip-mall yoga center.  The class was what I call the “hatha-plus” variety.  We did mostlyasana (physical poses), but now and then the teacher would sneak in a bit of her more esoteric knowledge.  One day, after we had completed our asana sequence, the teacher passed out tea lights and informed us we would be trying a candle-gazing meditation before settling down for our final resting pose.  The students each sat in a seated position, palms resting on knees, with the candle resting on the floor a few inches in front of the feet.  With a straight back and neck, we cast our eyes downward to settle upon the wick of the candle.  The teacher dimmed the lights, then walked around the room and lit each candle.  Immediately a soothing orange glow filled my field of vision.  The teacher began to lead a rhythmic breathing exercise, and invited us to alternately open and close our eyes.  When my eyes were open and gazing at the candle, I felt blissfully absorbed by the flame.  With my eyes closed, I could still see the after-image of the candle and feel its light and heat, but there was also a welcome darkness, pregnant with images and meaning.  I opened my eyes for another breath, then slipped back into the darkness.  The room I was in disappeared and my sense of time dissolved.  I didn’t snap out of it until I heard the instructor abandon her usual clouds-and-honey yoga teacher voice for a sterner tone:   “Okay, we’re done working with the candles now.  We have ten minutes left in class.  Please move to your mats and prepare for shavasana.”  Oops.

The effects of the trance gradually wore off as I lay there on my mat, but spectacular visions continued to play out on the inside of my eyelids.  Of course, since yogic meditation discourages wandering thoughts, I spent the rest of class trying to banish these “distractions.”  It wasn’t until later that I realized that this simple candle meditation had allowed to me to reach a faster, deeper, more visual trance state than I had thus far been able to achieve by scrying alone, and that it might be helpful to hijack the technique for my scrying practice.  Incidentally, I no longer have a regular practice of Eastern yoga, mostly because I’m lazy and don’t really like to break a sweat, but also because I don’t always find it to be compatible with the Western esoteric systems I use.  Nevertheless, I’m grateful for the time I have spent studying yoga, because it’s helped me to develop concentration, feel more comfortable in my physical body, and perceive and direct my subtle energy.

Want to try this method?  Here’s some instructions.  (Keep in mind that I’m not a yoga teacher, nor is this method strictly yogic–it’s just a personal practice that I’m sharing because it gets good results.)

So, you’ll need a candle or lantern, a chair (or cushion for the floor), your favorite scrying medium (I generally use a crystal ball ’cause I’m old school like that) and a surface in front of you to rest it on.  Light the candle, and make sure you have something non-flammable to set it down on.  (Because nothing kills a psychic buzz like accidentally burning your house down.) While you can do this in exercise in pitch darkness, I find that the contrast creates too much eyestrain.  So I recommend lighting a few other candles around the room or having another dim light source going at the same time.

Next, sit up straight with your scrying medium directly in front of you.  Place the candle in the center of your line of sight, in front of the speculum.  (You can always move it away to the side when you’re ready to scry).  Once you’re all situated, do whatever you usually do to prepare for divination: ground and center, set your intention, cast your circle, invoke your guides, whatever.  Now begin taking some yogic breaths.  This is deliberate, deep, and rhythmic breathing. (Plenty of tutorials online if you need a refresher.)  Breathe as long as you need to feel your body relax and your mind to begin to clear.  As you continue to breathe steadily, fix your attention on the candle flame and blink naturally.  (If your ocular muscles start to strain or your eyes begin to water, then you’re doing it wrong.  Relax.)  See the flame of the candle, feel its warmth spreading out, observe its tiny movements.  Visualize two beams of yellow light, one from each of your open eyes, traveling out to the candle to form a triangle.  Light from the candle, the apex of the triangle, is traveling back along these invisible paths to your eyes and into your brain.  A third beam appears, going from the candle to your third eye, bisecting the triangle.  When the light reaches the space between your eyes, it spreads out and massages the area with light.  This is a breath-linked practice, so if at any time you get distracted, go back a step and focus on the pattern of your breathing.

The next step is to coordinate the blinking of your eyes to your breath.  The next time you breathe in, intensify your gaze ever so slightly and draw in the light, as if you were hoarding it for later.  As you breathe out, close your eyes.  If you’ve been gazing at the flame for any length of time at all, you’ll notice a “burn in” effect–the shape of the fire will still be visible between your closed eyelids.  Open your eyes as you draw another breath.  Then close them, continuing to gaze at the “phantom” flame.  Continue for a set number of repetitions, or, if you’re not a counter, until you feel your consciousness begin to shift.  Now gaze at the candle for two breaths (in and out, then in and out again), and rest your eyes for a count of two.  Do this for a little while, then shift to three breaths.  As the space between open-eye periods gets longer, more complex images may begin to appear in the darkness.  (By the time I get up to three breaths, I’m usually spaced, but you could try a longer count if you like.)  When you feel ready, or when your inner vision begins to awaken, set the candle aside and take up your bowl, mirror, or crystal.  As you gaze at it, allow your faculty of sight to gently transfer to its surface.  If your preferred method is fire scrying or closed-eye scrying, then you’re all set to go already, you lucky mofo.

Well, I hope this has been helpful.  If you’ve tried this candle-gazing technique or something similar, I’d be very interested to hear how it went in the comments.

Blessings,

M

The Scrying Bowl

I used a green candle earlier, which was anointed and dedicated to St. Lucy, to scry and try to find out things unseen to me: I needed to see if someone is working against me in the spiritual realm and if they were, I wanted to find out who it was. I didn’t get much, but I have only tried to scry a couple of other times. It’s a form of divination and requires intense focus so that your mind doesn’t wander. I included this blogpost because I found it very helpful. I hope you do as well.

Blessed Be.

How To Make A “Sweetenin'” Jar~A Protection Spell For Yourself

karo-syrup

This spell is to “sweeten” someone who has hard feelings for you in any respect. It softens them toward you. This will help with a person who:

1. has hard feelings toward you for any reason

2. has done and is continuing to do you harm

3. you want to help you

4. you want to talk to

5. you want to restore a relationship with

This will be useful, for instance, if you want a promotion at work or if you have some kind of relationship that you want to restore or if someone is doing you harm and you want them to stop but don’t want to do a spell to bind them or you want someone to help you for any reason.

What You Need

1. Empty jar that can be sealed to not leak.

2. Pen

3. Paper (You need pieces of paper small enough to put in the jar, but large enough to write someone’s name on it three times.)

4. Karo Syrup (Can be either light or dark, but I would suggest light.)

5. Tealight candle

Working The Spell

1. Take the pen and paper and write the name/s of the person/people who you want to “sweeten” toward you. Write their name/s on the piece of paper three times.

2. Place the pieces of paper in the empty jar.

3. Add the Karo syrup.

4. Seal the jar.

5. Light a tealight candle every night for 3 consecutive nights and let it burn on top of the sealed jar which contains the karo syrup/paper mixture. Let the candle burn out. Do not blow it out.

6. Every morning when you get up, give the jar a shake to “sweeten” that person/s toward you.

Note: I would suggest that when you are writing the name/s on the paper of the person/people you want to “sweeten” toward you that you actively think about that person and how much you want them to “sweeten” toward you. Think about what you want that person to do for you or how much you want to restore the relationship or how much you want them to stop doing harm to you,…etc. As with all spells, the power of your mind is what sets it into action. A strong mind and visualization=a strong spell.

Blessed Be.

To “Nail” Your Feet To A Property So That You Can Leave Of Your Own Volition~A Voodoo/Hoodoo Spell

square head nailsThis spell is for when someone is trying to wrongly throw you off your property or somewhere that you are staying/renting. This effectively takes the control away from the other person and puts it back in your hands so that you can leave of your own volition instead of being forced out.

What You Need

1. 3 Square Head Nails

2. Olive Oil

3. One garlic clove (crushed)

4. Empty Jar

5. Hammer

Working The Spell

1. Pour the olive oil in the empty jar.

2. Put the crushed garlic clove in the jar.

3. Anoint the nails with the olive oil/garlic mixture.

4. Take the anointed nails and the hammer and go to the front door of your house on the outside.

5. Hammer the three anointed nails into the very bottom part of the door frame on the outside while focusing your mind to visualize your feet being “nailed” to the property.

Bayou Laroux Hoodoo and Conjure


You’re now done.

Just a side note: As with all spells, this one also is all about the power of your mind and your visualizations. You must visualize very clearly your feet being “nailed” to the property. Do this well, and the spell will work well.

Blessed Be.

Tarot Card of the Day: Three of Pentacles and a Meditation on Love, Relationships and Work

shadowscapes three of pentacles

Biddy Tarot

The Three of Pentacles, like the Threes in the other suits, represents the initial completion of a goal or plan. In this case, the Three implies the fulfilment and manifestation of a creative venture, business, or building project. The inspiration of the individual (i.e. the mason) is beginning to be concreted in the material world, and the decisions of the two (i.e. the two monks) have been made successfully. An initial satisfaction is now being enjoyed and the project is well underway. You have all of the skills necessary to accomplish your goals in life, thus you have the ability to succeed in all your ventures. You are keen to improve the quality of your life or your work.

The message of the Three of Pentacles is one of encouragement. If you continue to work toward the fulfillment of your dreams and do not allow disillusionment to dampen your enthusiasm, ultimately you will experience prosperity and success in your goals. You need to do work that is satisfying to you and that you can be truly proud of. What new beginnings are you experiencing in the material realm? Is there some project or creative venture you have been putting off because of fear of failure? The Three of Pentacles indicates that dreams can be made real with persistence, determination, and effort.

The Three of Pentacles may also suggest that you need help to complete your work and can draw on the knowledge and experience of others. It may be beneficial to share your work with a partner but only if they are as conscientious as you.

At the core of the Three of Pentacles is the notion of teamwork and collaboration. In the card, we see a young mason working hard on building part of the cathedral. The two monks enter, with their worldly knowledge and spiritual understanding to bring a new perspective to the mason’s work. Even though their backgrounds, experience levels and knowledge is very different, they are able to come together to share their expertise in a way that creates synergy and improved results. There is no ‘us and them’ or any sense of superiority. Rather, each person has something unique to offer and is willing to learn from others involved in the project. Everyone is getting the job done together and is contributing to the group through effective listening and sharing. This is a positive card to see when teamwork, collaboration and cooperation are required between parties with different levels of experience.

The Three of Pentacles also points to the importance of feedback. The mason is open to listening to the monks and taking on their feedback on his progress so far. His primary goal is to do a great job, and he knows that the monks will be able to help him get there. He does not take it personally but uses their feedback and input to continually improve in his work.

Effective planning, management and organisation are also key components of the Three of Pentacles. In order to accomplish significant goals, such as building a monumental cathedral, it is imperative that detailed planning occurs to ensure that all the components are progressing well. This card therefore reflects a time when it is essential to create a detailed plan and to follow a schedule. This is when good project management will pay off.

The companion book to my Shadowscapes tarot cards says this about the Three of Pentacles: 

They work together as one, creating a human ladder and climbing upon each other’s shoulders. With their combined height, they reach upwards, they yearn towards the sky.

Into the stone wall she inscribes her pentacles and her circles. They form a chain of overlapping arcs, like her interlinked relationships: circles sets of inclusion and combination. It is a mathematical equation of human relationships and interactions.

Each arc is inscribed with care, as if they follow a blueprint. Her fingers trail through the stone as easily as if the surface were malleable clay. The solid stone gives way under the soft flesh of her fingertips. such is the power of their combined wills that what is “impossible” suddenly becomes easy, mundane, achievable. They comprehend the power of unity when one works in conjunction with others.

The Three of Pentacles is the embodiment of teamwork, of functioning together as a unit. It underscores competence and achieving beyond the expected. Sometimes the support of others is required to achieve a goal; not everything can be accomplished solo. Not everything needs to be accomplished alone. Reaching out to others is no failing, but working with others requires patience, planning and compromise to adhere to standards of cooperation.


The mediation for today talks about love and relationships:

Love doesn’t just sit there like a stone; it has to be made, like bread, remade all the time, made new. ~ Ursula K. Leguin

In the first phases of a relationship, everything is new and exciting. It seems as though nothing could ever go wrong.

yet as we move out of this “honeymoon” phase of the relationship, problems begin. Suddenly we notice things about the other person that bother us. We seem to have ore disagreements and more difficulties that take longer to solve. We may even silently choose corners, put up walls, and back away from each other.

It’s easy at this stage to want to end the relationship. But not is when the outcome of the relationship is most critical. If we run away from renewing our love and rebuilding the foundations of trust and faith in each other, we will deprive our love of its nourishment for growth. Love takes constant work and needs plenty of patience. Each day can reveal a new layer of love; each stage in a relationship moves us to a new plateau. But only if we are willing.

I can look at my relationships and see the potential for growth. Help me renew my feelings of love through faith.


Personal note:

I think that the talk of work in all of these meditations is apropos, considering the suit of Pentacles is all about work. Personally, I am trying to build an online business through Etsy and this encourages me to keep going and to make clear goals and follow through with my ideas and persistence.

With my relationships, there is a lot going on right now. I noticed yesterday (which was a bit of a crisis day including me breaking down in tears), that I am moving from a place of trust with a friend of mine to a place of mistrust. I thought I knew what to expect from her, but now I have no idea. So, I find myself drawing into myself as a defense mechanism, which is what I’ve always done for protection. I also find myself thinking petty thoughts, which does no one (especially me) any good. Regarding love for her, I can say that I love her in the sense that I don’t want any harm to come to her and her family, but at this point in my life, I’m ready to be separated from her since I feel like she’s literally pulled the rug out from under mine and my daughter’s existence.

Another relationship that has been developing is the relationship I have with my mother. I can say that over the past few years we have gotten closer and that’s a good thing. Like the mediation on love and relationships suggests, keeping this relationship healthy is going to take a lot of work on both our parts, especially since we don’t have that great of a history. However, over the past few years and especially since I’ve had my daughter, she has really been my only advocate and the only one who has consistently supported me in all ways. So, I am glad of that and I try to be supportive in return, although, I don’t have the means to support her monetarily like she has with me. I wish I had it, but I just don’t at this point.

Overall, I think that this day’s tarot card and meditation are positive and encouraging and I feel encouraged, which is good. I really needed it after yesterday. I think all relationships, no matter the kind (romantic, friendship, family) require work on both parts of the people involved. What I mean by this is that when the difficult times come, and they most certainly will, that we have to endeavor to put our egos and trust issues aside for a moment and try to connect with that person. This is hard to do since most of us have major issues with trust and will withdraw into our protective and defensive corners when we feel hurt or threatened. The challenge is to not withdraw. The challenge is to connect and try to work around whatever differences or hardships occur.

Blessed Be.

Tarot Card of the Day and Meditation on Prayer

four of wands

Reversed Four of Wands Tarot Card Meanings

Biddy Tarot

Four of Wands Tarot Card Meanings tarot card meaning

The Four of Wands reversed suggests there is a lack of harmony or a breakdown in communication in your family or home. There may be tension between family members or loved ones and you are finding yourself getting caught up in other people’s concerns and relationship problems. This may leave you feeling uncertain about your own relationships and what you can and cannot depend on. You may also be going through a period of transition in your family and home life and feeling some tension as a result.

Similarly, you may find your home situation becomes increasingly unstable. There may be an external threat to the peace and happiness you once had in your home. You may be placed into a temporary situation which appeases your immediate concerns but does not yet solve the longer-term issues. Depending on your living arrangements, it may be better to move home for the time being to allow things to settle.

Given the upright Four of Wands reflects stability, the reversal of this card can indicate that you are going through a period of transition where there is little stability and security. You may be experiencing multiple changes in your life, such as changing jobs, moving house and/or leaving a relationship. While you know that this is an important transition that you need to make, it can be quite unsettling, leaving you feeling out of balance and uncertain about your future.

In a relationship reading, the Four of Wands reversed reflects someone who may not be looking for a particularly long-term relationship but is willing to invest in it for the time being. There is a lack of commitment, or even a fear of commitment, which is preventing them from wanting a long-term relationship.

Meditation on Prayer for February 22, 2015

Amy E. Dean

Prayer is neither black magic nor is it a form of a demand note. Prayer is a relationship.~ John Heuss

A conversation requires two parts: talking and listening. When we are only talking, that is a monologue. When someone lectures, we listen. Prayer can be a form of conversation, yet if we examine the way we pray we may find it’s a monologue.

We pray to ask for answers or guidance, to express our gratitude, and to bless those we care for. It’s wonderful to open up a channel to our Higher Power by beginning the conversation, but unless we allow time to listen we will never really develop a dialogue.

We can begin to change our way of praying. We can limit our requests so we are not listing a series of wishes or demands. We can ask for patience to listen and then allow a few moments to listen. The answers will come to us and our guidance will be given when we are truly ready to receive it. An equal balance of talking and listening will help strengthen our relationship with our Higher Power.

I will pray and then listen, to allow my Higher Power some time to communicate with me. 


Just a personal side note: I find that listening is a harder task by far than praying. It’s easy to ask for something. I pray for others all the time. It’s also easy to ask for help to get ourselves out of a bad situation. However, listening takes some practice and we don’t always get the answer we think we want or when we think the right time is. We have to be truly open and willing to accept whatever comes from the Higher Power and/or our Higher Selves and we have to make the time for it. In the spiritual dimension, things happen in the blink of an eye, but if we are not ready, then the answer will hang there waiting on us to open the door.

Blessed Be.

~Myrelle

Three Things About Imbolc

While many were watching to see whether the groundhog Punxsutawney Phil predicted an early spring in the annual ritual Monday, pagans around the world were having their traditional Imbolc festivities. The festival, which falls on Feb. 2, celebrates the first signs of spring.

For pagans, or Wiccans, in the Northern Hemisphere, Imbolc (pronounced “im’olk”) takes place during some of the coldest and darkest times of the year, when people are longing for the warmth of spring and summer. Still, the festival is meant to recognize the small seasonal changes that are starting to appear.

“It’s a time of year when you can physically begin to see the shift,” Bo Nelson, a Wiccan from Wisconsin, told International Business Times. “Sure, it is still cold, and here in Wisconsin we got the most snow we have seen all year hours after our celebration. But the days are getting longer and there is hope and excitement that spring is soon to come.”

For those unfamiliar with Imbolc, below are three answers to common questions surrounding the pagan festival:

What is the history behind Imbolc?

Imbolc originated as a Gaelic festival that celebrated the beginning of spring. Until today, it falls at the midpoint between the winter and spring equinox, usually around Feb. 1. The word “imbolc” refers to sheep’s milk in Old Irish. During ancient times, lactating ewes represented one of the first signs of spring.

Imbolc is also called Brigid’s Day, referring to the Celtic goddess of fertility (later canonized in Catholic tradition) who was reborn on Imbolc from the crone of winter to the maiden of spring. Brigid represents regeneration, livestock and light. Pagans honor her memory during this time by lighting candles and hearth fires and celebrating the sun’s rays.

What are the rituals associated with the festival?

Pagans tend to celebrate Imbolc with rituals that focus on spiritual purification and dedication. Wiccan priestess Selena Fox of Circle Sanctuary, a Wiccan church in Wisconsin, suggests performing purification rites to cleanse one’s body, thoughts and emotions. Other rituals include participating in torchlight processions to jump-start the upcoming agricultural season, lighting candles to represent the return of the sun, and starting a sacred fire in honor of goddess Brigid’s sacred flame.

While some rituals take place in group setting, Imbolc celebrations also encourage personal reflection.

“It is a time when we as individuals begin to make our own personal goals as well, and we talk about the ‘seeds’ (both symbolic and literal) we tend to plant in the coming year,” Nelson said, describing how common topics of conversation in his community involve talking about summer vacations and plans for their gardens. “I think we naturally spend all winter looking forward and making plans for the spring and summer, but Imbolc is the time when we first begin to put those goals into motion,” he said.

Like other pagan holidays, there’s not one single way to celebrate. Nelson’s family draws upon the candle tradition by collecting candle wax from his family’s home altars and from candles burned during other festivals throughout the year.

“At Imbolc we will take the chunks of wax and we will carve in words or wishes for ourselves, our family and our community for the upcoming year. We then melt all the wax down in a single pot and create new candles out of them to light in honor of the festival.  The candles will be lit regularly from then until spring returns,” he said.

For Heather Greene, the managing editor of a pagan news site, the Wild Hunt, Imbolc is an elusive holiday.

“For me, Imbolc is an honoring of what’s not present yet. It represents the words yet to be spoken, the potential in our spirits, the ‘calm before a storm’ of growth, the quiet before the show, and the unknown baby before its birth,” Greene told IBTimes. “Imbolc’s beauty is in its waiting and not knowing.”

How is it related to Groundhog Day and Candlemas?

Imbolc is considered a precursor to two February holidays: Groundhog Day and Candlemas Day. The latter is a Christian tradition that originated in the fifth century to commemorate Mary’s ritual purification 40 days after the birth of Jesus Christ. At the time, children would be taken to the temple in Jerusalem and presented to God by their parents.

In early Christianity, Candlemas was a day when candles were brought to the church to be blessed. Candles served a practical and spiritual purpose. Not only were they light and heat sources during winter but they also reminded believers of Christ and the “light” he brought to Earth. Clergy would distribute the blessed candles. Their longevity represented how long and cold winter would be.

Groundhog Day also shares similarities with Candlemas and Imbolc. The secular festival which takes place in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, among other locations across the state, stems from German lore, where a sacred badger can determine the coming of spring.

http://www.ibtimes.com/imbolc-2015-3-things-you-need-know-about-pagan-festival-1802496