Sowing Seeds


With Imbolc almost upon us, although many rituals are about purification for me it is the perfect time to think about sowing seeds, the seeds that will then have chance to germinate as we move through the spring and this gives everything a head start.  

I am of course not talking about actual seeds in the garden, as the earth is too cold for us to do that still, at least it is where I live, but the seeds of ideas, plans, intentions for the things that we would like to bring in during the coming year.

If, like me, you have been using the past weeks to reflect and let go of whatever is no longer needed, then space has been cleared for the new to come in, if not then there is still time to do this, no one says this can only be done once a year or only during the winter. The more space there is in our lives the more we can co-create, without space it is a bit like piling more and more in the wardrobe without moving anything out, something I am  unfortunalty very guilty of. Fortunately in the rest of my life I am much better at having a regular clear out ūüôā 

As an OBOD Ovate I have plenty of access to rituals, but as a shamanic and energy healer I much prefer to use my intuition, listen to my guides and allies and work with the energy of both the place I am holding my ritual in and of course the day itself. Consequently I have no idea what type of ritual or ceremony I will have for Imbolc yet.

These are just two ways that could be used to sow seeds at Imbolc though :

1. Planting Actual Seeds

  • Prepare a pot with soil and have a handful of seeds ready. 
  • Take one seed and hold it in your hand, focus on ONE thing you want to bring in and breathe this into the seed
  • Plant the seed in the pot 
  • Repeat with one seed for each idea
  • Water the seeds and place the pot where you will see it regularly 
  • Every time you see the pot, every time you water the seeds think of all the things you are growing 

2. Working with the Elements Fire and Air

  • Take a sheet of paper and cut it into strips
  • On each strip write one idea, plan or intention 
  • Find a safe place to have a small fire, or use a burning bowl, 
  • Taking one piece of paper at a time read what you have written there.
  •  Do this twice, once internally for your heart and once out loud using your voice and the air of your breath to give your intention power.
  • Place this piece of paper into the flame so the element of fire can transform the energy of your idea. 
  • Repeat with each piece of paper
  • When the fire has dies down and the ashes are cool, blow or throw them into the air doe the element Air can breathe life into your ideas. 
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Brigid and Brigid’s Cross

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One of the first things that I learnt to do when I moved to Ireland was to make a St Brigid’s cross. I hadn’t heard of them at all before I moved and had to be taught not only how to make it but also what to do with it when it was made.

Describing how to make one is complicated without diagrams so having found this online today I thought I would share it in case anyone else is drawn to make one. This link includes a nice video if a child making one, it’s not difficult ūüôā I like that the instructions say to use straws or reeds for there are a special type of reed that grow in wetlands, used to make them here, a reed I recognise whenever I come across it, but the site of which I always forget¬†come February.

I was told that it was the tradition where I live, to make a new Brigid’s cross every year and to place it in the loft on a rafter to protect the house from fire, which used to be a common problem in old houses in Ireland. In old houses chimneys were left¬†unlined and any chimney fire¬†could easily escape and leap through the loft space taking the roof and very often the whole house. I have since discovered that they are also used to ward off evil but maybe I looked too innocent to be told that I might need to do this ūüôā It was a long time ago!

So who was Brigid?

Brigid was a Pre-Christian, Celtic goddess who was associated with smithcraft, poetry, healing, childbirth. She is sometimes spoken of as a Triple Goddess and is always closely associated with fire. In fact the fire associations are so strong that a perpetual fire was set at Kildare in her honour, a fire which still burns today. Brigid is also known of as  Brid, Bride, Brighid, Brigit, Brigantia, Briginda, and Brigdu.

In Irish mythology Brigid appears as a member of the Tuatha Dé Danann and was the daughter of the Dagda, wife of Bres and had a son named Ruadán. To the Catholic Church though she is known as Saint Brigid and spoken of only as sharing her name with the Celtic goddess. It is said that St Brigid was the child of  Brocca, a Christian woman baptized by Saint Patrick, and that her father was Dubthach, a Leinster chieftain. As Brocca was a slave, Brigid was born into slavery. Some stories say that Brigid was baptised by St Patrick, others that she grew up as his friend.

If you would like to read more about Brigid, the Celtic goddess though the OBOD have an article that can be accessed here and which contains a lot of additional information.

What is known is that the¬†the¬†pagan festival of Imbolc or Imbolg, is associated with the goddess Brigid. The festival marks the beginning of spring has been celebrated since ancient times. It is a Cross Quarter Day, midway between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. ¬†It can actually fall anywhere between 2nd & 7th of February as it is calculated as the mid point between the astronomical Winter Solstice and the astronomical Spring Equinox, however it is often celebrated on 1st February, which is the same date as the Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox Church and the Anglican Communion celebrate St Brigid’s Day.

And what about Brigid’s crosses?

There are many stories her as to how the tradition of these crosses originated and this is just one of them:

There was an old pagan Chieftain who was on his¬†deathbed in Kildare when his servants summoned Brigid to his beside in the hope that the she might be able to¬†calm his restless spirit. Brigid is said to have sat by his bed, consoling and calming him . Whilst she was here she picked up some rushes from the floor and began weaving them into the distinctive cross pattern. As¬†she weaved, she explained the meaning of the cross to the sick Chieftain and it is thought her calming words brought peace to his soul and requested that he be baptised as a Christian ¬†before his passing. Ever since that day it has been customary on the eve of Brigid’s Feast Day on 1st February, to fashion a St Brigid’s Cross of straw or rushes and place it in the roof of the house over the door as a means of protecting the house.

Brigid has always been¬†held in high regard in Ireland, many wells in all parts of the country are named after her, the symbol of her¬†cross is to be found in many Irish designs and there is even a pilgrimage route that can be walked, known as an the Brigid’s Way an¬†Ancient Path between Sky and Earth

 

Getting Back On Track – Ancestors

The year I began my blog there was a Pagan Blog Project running where each week the organisers would post the letter for the week along with some suggestions of what we could write about. There was even a Facebook group for us to share our blogs in. This project was a real blessing as it made me write and helped me to blog regularly. Following this I found a group for Monday Musings which also helped me to keep blogging but sadly both of these ended and ever since I have found it harder to ensure I am blogging regularly. So this year I have made a decision:)

I am not going to pressurise myself by promising I am going to post every week, sometimes it may be more, sometimes less, but what I am going to do is go back through the alphabet and start again at A. I have decided that I will do two things.

1) I will write a new blog using a different word for my letter of the week

2) I will add a link to any Pagan Blog Projects or Monday Musings that are for the same letter

This way some weeks you will get two blogs for the price of one without having to search back through the archives.

So¬†here we go ūüôā

A is for Ancestors

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When I think about my ancestors there are two strands to my thoughts. One of these is ¬†my family and the other ‘all that exists’.

If I take my family first ¬†don’t know a lot about my ancestors, only my immediate family, as far back as my grandparents. I know stories and snippets of memories beyond this but no hard facts and my pathetic efforts at tracing my family ground to a resounding halt.

Some things I do know, such as the fact that my maternal grandmother was one of, I believe seven,¬†but they were¬†spread out between various places in the United Kingdom and U.S.A. and¬†contact between them became intermittent. I know that I have relatives¬†in USA some of whom are of Italian/American decent.¬† I also know that my paternal great grandparents were Irish but with family records being lost after my father passed I don’t know their names or where they were from. Like many things, by the time I was interested those who could have told me were no longer with us.

Growing up we were never a family who had photographs of ancestors, or of anything else on display and despite being an avid photographer, like my father was, it is scenery and animals that I take photos of, not people, and again none are on display. This is in stark contrast to those who might not only have photographs or paintings of their ancestors around the house but also on their altars as a sign of respect and constant remembrance. Just think about stately homes with large paintings depicting generations of ancestors, a constant reminder of those who have walked this path before. How far away from this some of us, myself included have moved.

In shamanism though I am very fortunate for I can journey to meet and spend time with my ancestors even if I do not know who or what they were. I am still able to make and develop connections. Quite early on my shamanic path I was journeying to meet my ancestors and can still remember my surprise at being able to meet and connect with generations of ancestors despite having no information on them or knowledge of them. I have walked back in time in shamanic dance workshops, connecting with my ancestral past as I have travelled, I have sat with ancestors deep in conversation and am fortunate enough to have a past life ancestor as one of my guides, someone whom I count as one of the biggest influences on my shamanic path.

It is though the sense of being one with everything which gives me my greatest connection to my ancestors and again it was early on my shamanic path that I was shown this. During a shamanic journey working with my ancestors I found myself becoming pure energy and in that energetic state was flew around becoming one with animals, birds, trees, plants, earth, sand, sea, sky, stars and in this realised the truth of my ancestors and I being part of all that exists and that all that exists are my ancestors.

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My original post for A was on Altars and if you click here you can read about them too

A Day With My Inner Child

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This might not look much to those of you who get lots of snow or who live where it snows often but for me this is a big deal as it rarely snows where I live. Yesterday the forecast was for everyone getting some snow, except for us which is often the way, so this is a real bonus.

My inner child loves snow and she was really excited by the forecast that was giving out snow warnings and then really disappointed when it looked too warm here to get any. She always lives in hope though and spent the day watching the weather just in case.

Now I can, and do, work with weather spirits but usually only if there is a real need and never simply to keep my inner child happy, it therefore never crossed my mind to journey, armed with offerings and gifts to plead her case, so both she and the grown up I sometimes pretend to be, waited patiently. We were very happy when the sky darkened, the temperature dropped and it began to snow.

It didn’t snow that much, when I did go out and stand in it for a few minutes, letting it fall on my skin, it was wet snow, disappearing as fast as it came. Sometimes there was¬†brilliant sunshine, blue skies and big white snowflakes being blown horizontally on the wind, sometimes grey skies and nothing, I didn’t get to walk in it, scrunch through it, make snow angels or a snowman as it didn’t settle, but snow it was and my inner child sat inside in the warm and watched happily.

The Return of the Crow

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Last year we had a solitary crow that visited every day, sometimes several times a day, to feed from our bird table. I felt really sorry for it as if other crows were around it would run and hide under the garden table but yet was never bothered by either of us. As winter progressed it taught itself to balance on a dead piece of bamboo and using its weight would creep along the bamboo, bending it until it could reach the bird feeder. It also learnt that by standing on one of the stones that we use to stop the bird table being blown over by the wind if it jumped slightly it could reach the fat balls too.

When spring came the crow disappeared and although there are always crows in the garden, or sitting high in the ash trees of the solitary crow there was no sign.

Until yesterday ūüôā

Yesterday we noticed a crow jumping up to feed from the bottom of the fat ball container. Unlike other crows who hit and run, or grab everything, we watched this crow feed and when it had had enough, wander off down the garden, just like the crow that visited last year had done.

Today it was back again. I am as sure as I can be that it is the solitary crow from last year. It is not bothered by me moving around in the conservatory unlike with other crows the smaller birds and our resident pigeons are unafraid of it and happy to continue feeding while it is there. I am happy that it has remembered it can feed here and I look forward to watching it again this winter too.