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 🙂 

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 🙂 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 🙂 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

 

Three Days of Stillness

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Although many people seem to believe that once Winter Solstice is passed the days immediately get longer again this is far from true. Instead the sun  maintains its Solstice position, resting on the horizon, for a total of three days providing us with three days of stillness before we turn towards the light once more.

In what can be ‘crazy season’ even if we don’t buy into the enforced celebration of commercialism that Christmas can bring, three days of stillness sounds like magic. Three days in which we can rest, go within, gain insight, release, give thanks to Mother Earth, the sun, the moon, tune into and recognise the turn of the wheel and make plans for the new year ahead. How many of us though allow ourselves this ‘time out of time’?

I do always manage to stop and mark Winter Solstice itself in some way but three days? Not if I am being completely honest.

This year though is different as I really have no choice. Many times, being less than patient with myself, working through anything rather than giving in, this would be a problem, but at the moment I am strangely Ok with it all, perhaps because my own need to be still coincides with the Earth’s need to stop so we are in some way energetically empathic with each other at the moment. I know from past experience that being still and going into the void often brings me the greatest insights and so instead of being concerned that the house isn’t tidy and that I don’t know what the next meal will be I am just allowing myself to consciously take three days of stillness, admittedly on top of the several days I have already had.

I had begun this part of the year with the idea that I would do some serious reflecting aware that there was a lot that I was pushing myself to do that was maybe not completely right. I had intended to be journalling every step of this process so that I had a record of my decisions, I had decided I would weigh up the pros and cons of everything and then that I would release what I needed to into the fire at the ceremony I had arranged for today. Spirit though seems to have other ideas for I have not picked up pen and paper once but have slumbered in that ‘in between’, state, journeying to non ordinary reality and have thus done all of this there supported by my guides and allies, throwing away things that my guides have then been showing me that I need to reconsider and realising that I was not seeing things clearly. Then being shown how much I still have that does needs to be gone through and sifted out, things that in ordinary reality I might not have even identified. Not one word of this has gone onto paper but it is burnt deeply within me now, so much so that this morning I found myself thinking about whether my shamanic practice  could possibly fit what someone was looking for, before quickly realising that I wasn’t going to do that any more, that the only thing that mattered was what I actually did and not what anyone else was doing, that I didn’t care anymore. Total freedom.

I still have two more days of stillness to come and I am going to make the most of them, excited in many ways to see what other insights and understanding come to me when I completely surrender.

So what else could we use these three days of stillness for should we choose to take the time out to use them?

There are many ways to spend this time including giving thanks for and making offerings to our Earth Mother but these are a few simple ideas of ways to take some time to be still.

  • Sit by a window and spend time gently observing nature
  • Curl up and listen to music, allowing ourselves to receive healing from the sounds
  • Watch the sunrise and sunset
  • Hold a simple fire ceremony, writing down what we wish to release and then surrendering it to the element of fire
  • Sit in the darkness and spend time in reflection
  • Light a candle and welcome the light back in, perhaps thinking of our plans for the coming year, sowing the seeds that the light can germinate over the next months
  • Journey or undertake a guided meditation to meet our guides and ask for support or guidance
  • Journey or undertake a guided meditation to ask to be shown our soul’s purpose for the coming year
  • Make a vision board of your intentions or hopes for the new year

This is a symbolic time, a time of new beginnings, of setting intentions, of the light returning to shine in and push back the dark and lead us forward, so taking time out gives us chance to go into this consciously not blindly in the rush of it all. I for one am determined this year to make the most of it all, working in harness with the energy of the earth instead of running against it.

 

Autumn Equinox / Alban Elfed / Mabon

So many names for the turn of the wheel at this time of year, the time where there is complete balance between light and dark, day and night, a time that prepares us for the coming of winter and Winter Solstice.

Like many others this year, I have been feeling the effects of the planetary shifts this year. The solar eclipse and new moon at the start of the month that coincided with my birthday, the pending Super Moon and lunar eclipse known as a Blood Moon at the end of the month and all that has occurred in between have all taken their toll. It has been hard to stay grounded amongst all the shifts that have been taking place.

Amongst this I have been letting go of a lot of things that are no longer filling me with joy along with some that are doing nothing but taking up space along with taking some time out from work to give myself chance to assimilate the changes and see where I want to go next. I have even been through my Facebook friends and have deleted all those that I have no recall of ‘friending’ or why.

After all these changes and shifts I am pleased to me marking this time of  year in much the same way as I did last year with a labyrinth walk at a friends house. The perfect representation of life, death and rebirth, walking a labyrinth is a great  way of releasing, going within and gaining understanding. I am also delighted that I am meeting and sharing food with other friends before we go, and sharing of food is always a good way ground as well as to mark any occassion.

It is at times like these though that I miss the labyrinth that used to be in my own garden. It was a large seven circuit one, big enough to walk with groups but not so big I got lost when walking alone. The upkeep on it was high and a damaged shoulder meant I couldn’t clip the paths so for me it had to go. For the spirits of the land the labyrinth had done its work and they were asking that the land to be returned to its original state and so it was. I still have a finger labyrinth but nothing beats the physical process of walking so I am looking forward to the rest of the day knowing that by the end of it I will be in a different place to the one I began it in.

A strange Lughnasa/Lammas ritual

Today is Lammas or Lughnasa/ Lughnasadh one of the four Celtic fire festivals and the time of the first fruits of the harvest, time to reap the rewards of work done or seeds sown earlier in the year.

So what have I been doing today?

I think I must have my wheel of the year turned around for I’ve been spring cleaning lol. In some ways though this has come about as the results of seeds sown earlier in the year.

Towards the end of last year we had a break in and our Vax carpet shampooer was one of the items stolen. I only use this one or maybe twice a year if the carpets are very lucky but I missed it. It was only a cheapie from Lidl but they haven’t had them in since ours was robbed and I really didn’t want to pay a lot for one so I have been waiting patiently all the time hoping that one would turn up.

There had been no sign of any and so I had started looking in to hiring a shampooer (we have multituel stoves and they are heavy on carpets and paintwork, it’s not that I enjoy housework). Then on Monday Lidl had in Vax shampooers for about the same as I paid originally so we rushed in to get one. The seeds I had been sowing had ripened as it were 🙂

So in many ways today was the perfect time to be cleaning my carpets, mindful of how long I had waited to be able to do so and grateful that the perfect thing had turned up at the perfect time.

As as aside here as it wasn’t that straightforward and I have had to work for my reward – the first Vax took me 30 mins to put together and then 30 mins to try and work out why there was no water coming through. Realising it was faulty I then had to drive over 10k to Lidl, change it and drive home again. The second one has a faulty locking part for the handle but it does work so this one is staying and I’ll sort the part out somehow. It went together much faster  naturally and I managed to get the carpets cleaned while the sun was still shining so maybe they will dry ok.