Happy Beltane!

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I Am Imbolc

I Am Imbolc

I am the dream of awakening.

I am the returning of the light.

I am the tough green shoot pushing up through the pavestones, I am the first kiss of sunlight on the unfurling petals of the snowdrop. I am the wind which whispers the gentle pull of home to the migratory bird.

I am the drop of ice melting on the mountainside with its great dream of the ocean.

I am the sap rising in the blossom tree just before it reveals its sticky buds to the sky; I am the riotous celebration humming away beneath the earth’s mantle of frozen sleep.

I am the rousing of the bee from its winter slumber, and the soft pad of the mother-wolf’s paw on the snow as she prepares to birth her pups.

I am hope, potential, rebirth and promise. I am the kindling breath which transforms the flicker of inspiration in your creative core into a blazing torch.

Give me the silent crescent moon rising over the sea and I will build you a bridge of silver light so you can walk up and lie in it.

Give me the frost-hardened wilderness and I will breathe radiant green life over it.

Give me the healer, the writer, the craftsperson and the storyteller, and I will replenish her essence and make her new again.

I am Brigid, Bast, Inanna and Hestia. I am the fierce protectress of the sacred fire.

Tonight I bestow my gifts of power and courage at the hearth of your soul: power to step out of the shadows of self-doubt and negativity which have held you in darkness for too long, power to shed all that which no longer serves you, and courage to clear your heart and mind for the dawn that awaits you.

I am the time to honor your unique gifts for their true worth and to protect and nurture your creative self as you would a child. I am the deep longing of the spirit which refuses to be consumed by a narrative of fear and chooses instead to place itself vivaciously on the side of love.

I am the stirring in your belly which knows exactly what you are capable of — and that it’s time the world found out.

I am the fire within which will not be contained any longer.

I am the quickening, I am the serpent uncoiling, I am Imbolc.

I am the dream of awakening.

Caroline Mellor lives close to the sea and the green hills of southern England with her daughter, cat, and husband. As well as being a mum, writer and massage therapist, she enjoys traveling, one-pot cookery, gardening, Yoga, and drinking red wine. When not partaking in one of the above, she is probably daydreaming about her next holiday. You can connect with Caroline through her Facebook page or her blog.

Imbolc 2016: Facts, Dates, Traditions And Rituals To Know

Hail, Brigid!

01/29/2016 07:29 pm ET
  • HuffPost Religion EditorsThe Huffington Post

For many in the U.S., the only ‘religious’ event this time of year is the Super Bowl. But for many pagans and Wiccans, February 2 marks the important holiday, Imbolc, and their attention may be focused somewhere other than the television screen.

GMNICHOLAS VIA GETTY IMAGES
Imbolc is one of four major pagan sabbats, or holidays.

1. Imbolc is one of four major pagan sabbats, or holidays, along with Beltane, Lughnasadh and Samhain. In between these sabbats, pagans celebrate the seasonal solstices and equinoxes.

2. Imbolc is pronounced “IM-bulk” or “EM-bowlk.”

MICHAEL KRABS VIA GETTY IMAGES
Imbolc falls on the midway point between the winter solstice and the spring equinox.

3. Imbolc falls on the midway point between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. Although it is attributed to the ancient Celts, ancient Egyptians, Babylonians and indigenous groups are also believed to have celebrated an equivalent holiday.

4. Nowadays Imbolc may be related to Candlemas and Groundhog Day, and indeed there is evidence from early Irish lore surrounding weather divination this time of year.

ANNIE GORMLIE/FLICKR
Imbolc honors the Celtic goddess, Brigid.

5. Also called Brigid’s Day, Imbolc honors the Celtic goddess of fire, fertility, midwifery and the young. Many Pagans will pay tribute to Brigid by arranging an altar and ‘invoking’ the goddess through prayer.

6. The term ‘Imbolc’ derives from Old Irish and means “in the belly,” or alternately “ewe’s milk.” The interpretation lends significance to the holiday as a celebration of fertility, reproduction and the young — all overseen by the goddess Brigid.

ANDREUSK VIA GETTY IMAGES
Seed and bud imagery may be used in Imbolc rituals.

7. Imbolc observes the waning of winter and approach of spring. Pagans often use fire and other forms of light to encourage the lengthening of day. Seed and bud imagery may be used, as well, to promote the growth of new life ensured by springtime.

8. As with many pagan holidays, food and music are essential. Dishes for Imbolc tend to incorporate seeds, dairy and other spring-evoking foods.

EDITOR B/FLICKR
Celebrants often prepare talismans to use during Imbolc ceremonies, including the Brigid’s Cross.

9. Celebrants often prepare talismans to use during Imbolc ceremonies and then keep in their homes. These include a Brideog — a small straw doll dressed in white cloth — and a Brigid’s Cross, also often woven from straw.

10. Imbolc is a time for spring cleaning. Some clean their homes, take ritual baths and de-clutter their lives in other ways. This is believed to create space for the goddess to come into people’s live and for new seeds to take root in the coming spring.

Who Is Krampus?

Participants dressed as the Krampus creature walk the streets in search of delinquent children on November 30, 2013 in Austria.

Merry—or not-so-merry—Krampus! This beast with Germanic roots is St. Nicholas’s other half and scares children into being nice, not naughty.

PHOTOGRAPH BY SEAN GALLUP/GETTY IMAGES

Tanya Basu

National Geographic

Published December 17, 2013

Bad Santa, meet Krampus: a half-goat, half-demon, horrific beast who literally beats people into being nice and not naughty.

Krampus isn’t exactly the stuff of dreams: Bearing horns, dark hair, and fangs, the anti-St. Nicholas comes with a chain and bells that he lashes about, along with a bundle of birch sticks meant to swat naughty children. He then hauls the bad kids down to the underworld.

We wondered: What are the origins of this “Christmas Devil”?

Krampus, whose name is derived from the German word krampen, meaning claw, is said to be the son of Hel in Norse mythology. The legendary beast also shares characteristics with other scary, demonic creatures in Greek mythology, including satyrs and fauns.

The legend is part of a centuries-old Christmas tradition in Germany, where Christmas celebrations begin in early December.

Krampus was created as a counterpart to kindly St. Nicholas, who rewarded children with sweets. Krampus, in contrast, would swat “wicked” children and take them away to his lair.

According to folklore, Krampus purportedly shows up in towns the night before December 6, known as Krampusnacht, or Krampus Night. December 6 also happens to be Nikolaustag, or St. Nicholas Day, when German children look outside their door to see if the shoe or boot they’d left out the night before contains either presents (a reward for good behavior) or a rod (bad behavior).

A more modern take on the tradition in Austria, Germany, Hungary, Slovenia, and the Czech Republic involves drunken men dressed as devils, who take over the streets for a Krampuslauf—a Krampus Run of sorts, when people are chased through the streets by the “devils.”

Why scare children with a demonic, pagan monster? Maybe it’s a way for humans to get in touch with their animalistic side.

Such impulses may be about assuming “a dual personality,” according to António Carneiro, who spoke to National Geographic magazine earlier this year about revitalized pagan traditions. The person dressed as the beast “becomes mysterious,” he said.

Lump of Coal Preferred?

Krampus’s frightening presence was suppressed for many years—the Catholic Church forbade the raucous celebrations, and fascists in World War II Europe found Krampus despicable because it was considered a creation of the Social Democrats.

But Krampus is making a comeback now, thanks partly to a “bah, humbug” attitude in pop culture, with people searching for ways to celebrate the yuletide season in non-traditional ways. National Geographic has even published a book in German about the devilish Christmas beast.

In the U.S., people are buying into the trend with Krampus parties. Monday night’s episode of American Dad, called “Minstrel Krampus,” highlighted the growing movement of anti-Christmas celebrations.

For its part, Austria is attempting to commercialize the harsh persona of Krampus by selling chocolates, figurines, and collectible horns. So there are already complaints that Krampus is becoming too commercialized.

Looks like Santa might have some competition.

National Geographic