For the ancient Celts celebrations for this holiday often involved bonfires, special foods, divination or watching for omens for the coming year. Fire and purification were an important part of the festival because it was a festival of both the hearth and the home. The lighting of candles and fires represented the return of warmth and the increasing power of the Sun over the coming months. A spring cleaning was also customary, removing the old years stagnancy and bringing in the new. Brigid’s crosses are commonly offered to the fire as offerings to the goddess Brigid and in hope for her blessings during the new year.
This was a time to celebrate the end of winter and the beginning of spring, a time when the snow began to melt and the days became warmer. The exact day may have been moved around according to when the winter actually began to recede but during modern celebrations is commonly celebrated on the first of February around the same time as groundhog day.
Imbolc for me has always been associated with rebirth. My birthday falls into the same week and as a family we would celebrate and hope for good luck during the rest of the year. The warmth of having family around and celebrating the passing and beginning of another year was always the center point as well as eating together a special meal.
when I first think of fertility, sex comes to mind and babies. I think that’s what most people think of when this word comes up. I also think that for most people that’s where it ends and they look no further than the outside or obvious. I would like to think that I am not like most people, I may start at the same place but I don’t end it there. I want to examine what this word means to me in a deeper sense.
As a woman I find that my fertility is not anyone else’s business but my own. At least, not in the traditional sense. I don’t like or appreciate that as a virtue fertility is so limited in other peoples minds. I view fertility as a primary female principle but not for the strictly sexual or even physical context. I mean, it does have those connotations attributed to it but that is not the whole story.
The female principle is symbolized as a cup waiting to be filled. Its about receptivity and opening up to the possibilities. Its being open minded and accepting. its about creating bridges and places for things to grow. its nurturing connections that are necessary for our society to continue.
In the Tarot the queen of any suit is the nurturer, the one that allows things to grow and the King is the one who puts things in their right place, he organizes the chaos of the wild garden.
Fertility is all about potential, letting things grow as the will and nurturing that growth in a healthy loving way. Its not about tearing people down and being judgmental. Itt ps not about putting people in a box and punishing the outsider.
its a word I have come to identify with hard work and an intangible reward. As an ADF member I have struggled with this concept in my efforts to complete the dedicant path and move on to other paths withing the church. Since I joined its been my trial to make the effort to deepen my devotion to the gods and the spirits around me.
I’ve always had an interesting relationship with the word and the act of devotion. since my beginnings as a born again christian I have struggled with defining what true devotion to my gods is to me. I found my christian upbringing lackluster and the stories of martyrs just confused and scared me. my faith was weak at best but I really could not blame myself when around me there were so many examples of the jealous god punishing people I loved. I did not see the caring spirit that loved and nurtured a relationship with its people, even through the hard times.
I felt betrayed and angry when the god I spoke to at night when I was alone, tearfully pouring out my heart and soul, would remain silent. my one sided conversations filled me with emptiness. I was hungry for a relationship, a give and take like what I shared with the people around me and what I read about in biblical lore.
I saw the saints having visions and hearing god speak and could only wonder what I was doing wrong that my god remained silent and aloof. I read the bible, went to church, was kind to everyone but still I was alone and god was silent.
The church I attended did not fill the gaps left by gods silence either. I went to church with the same people I went to school with and I still did not hear god’s voice any affirmation that what I was doing was correct or even meaningful. The cliches that kept me isolated at school only remained barriers at my church.
I am not throwing a pity party though, there were good times and I was mostly happy but my spirit was starving and drowning at the same time.
Then crows started showing up.
I know what crows are supposed to represent but at the time it was just an odd occurrence. I would see crows everywhere or at least at both my work and home. Now I see the portent for change that they were, within the next year my life took an unexpected and sharp turn. I fought it tooth and nail but in the end I think for all the turmoil and pain, I’m in a better place than I was three years ago.
I found ADF by accident google search. I met people who filled that hollow place inside me and warmed me up to my bones.
I caught a glimpse of the relationship in others, that I could have with spiritual beings and was immediately hooked. I wanted to know more.
devotion is not easy, its not a skill you can learn and then forget about. Its a daily commitment, like a good friend that you have to communicate with to grow and nurture the relationship.
its like the conversation you start on the train with the hot person that has sat next to you everyday for the last year. your on the train, the options are open but its up to you to get the conversation going or not. relationships with the gods are the same as with people, sometimes they will chase you down but most of the time you have to seek them out.
I have heard of many rituals that start with a bell or a knocking on the ground, you have to get the gods attention. they don’t sit around waiting to talk to you, mostly, they have their own business to attend to and it sometimes doesn’t include you. all of your mortal friends are not attached to you all the time, sometimes you need alone time or you just have other things to take care of and you don’t need an entourage. all your friends don’t want to watch you in the bathroom, except maybe your kids or your cat. The opposite can be true as well, good communication can make or break a good relationship.
The gods, once we have their attention, ask for our devotion and respond with their own. A gifts asks for a gift in return. Like any relationship that you want to work, you only get what you give.
I am not saying that you should treat the gods like a vending machine, that would just be so wrong on so many levels. how would you feel if you were only someones friend because of the money you had? If the only time someone was good to you was at Christmas or your birthday, that would be a very shallow relationship wouldn’t it? Eventually, if the person had any self esteem then they would leave that person in the dust and go looking for people who appreciate them all the time
Which kind of brings me to the Morrigan, who is the ultimate exception at least in my life and experience. I mentioned before that crows started to show up in my life around the time when big painful changes were happening. well, I wanted to ignore the signs so I was forced to change, that is kind of the Morrigan’s shtick. She can start by poking but if you continue to be bullheaded about it she will get the club of change out and beat you with it until your going the right way.
I do not make offerings to her, I do not show her the least amount of devotions yet, when I need a kick in the ass to get me going, there she is. I think its a mixture of sadistic pleasure and just plain frustration. I don’t like change and will be a stick in the mud. she is what I need sometimes but I really don’t like it. I probably should show her more appreciation and maybe a bit of devotion but she scares me a little…maybe more than a little.
I don’t want to become one of her priestesses, I’m not on that road but maybe a drop of red wine or whiskey on Samhain/Halloween will do to start. I am of the impression that inviting her into my life will bring more change and that is what I adverse to. I may not like the beating but at least I know its only coming out because the change coming is necessary. If that makes any sense. I am a stubborn stick in the mud but it isn’t personal.
On a personal level it might be a little much to begin a daily devotion to the Morrigan but its something that may come in time, I mean I do have a skull painted with a crow on my altar and I do say hello to the crows when I see them. I’m not antagonistic just wary. shes like the stranger on the bus that keeps trying to talk and tells you when your stops up. Its a funny relationship but it is a relationship.its not deep but its deep enough to continue.
Daily devotions are a big part of this path I am on, and struggling to make my own is what I’ve been doing for the last three years. It is something I struggle with, as do many others.
Sitting down and doing the work. I can be a philosophical as a pear if I want but actulaly sitting down and doing the work is hard.
I started doing meditations daily. it was not something that i am proud of, I stopped and started and didn’t really get anything out of it except a sense of worthlessness and emptiness I had not felt since my church going days and it left me chilled to the bone. I tried different techniques, guided meditations put me to sleep and my mind would run away with me rather than concentrate on my boring breath.
My meditations became a dredge rather than a deepening of my devotion, a chore rather than a joy. I struggled with it and about six months ago I added lighting a candle and doing a ogham reading as bookends for my meditation. It sounds so simple but soon enough I was doing my meditation/devotions ritual everyday and loving it. it was a combination of a few things that I was doing that did it.
The meditation itself was very much like the prayers I had done in my childhood, cold and silent. I needed to open up a conversation rather than just putting myself out there.
The candle is a fire, guiding light and a small hearth fire. I invite the kindreds with that simple action of lighting the fire.I have always loved fire and being an air sign, I think its loved me a little bit to enthusiastically.
I then sit and be still, connecting to the world around me and enjoying the sounds of life. I hang out with the kindreds, not really talking but just being with them. I become a part of the cosmos, balanced and filled with the energy I need for the day. I then go to the ogham for the kindreds response to my coming to be with them.. I say thank you and we depart as I blow out the candle.
Its a simple ritual but its holds deeper meaning to me than just simple meditation or prayer. I struggled with prayer, which was someones way of showing devotion and talking to the divine but I’m not much of a talker. I find that sitting and being with someone is something that I can easily do and that is how I show my devotion to the gods and spirits that make up this grand world we all live in.
easy travel, movement, wheel
Buoyancy and healing, rising up
Work, building, wealth, domesticity (at West Side San Jose)
it’s not like I live in a castle, with its secret passages and evil sorcerers in their towers and bubbling potions. I live in suburbia, a normal little town with a lively crime rate but not really a dangerous area. I mean I feel safe enough with my pepper spray and my nose stuck in a book . jaywalking is as dangerous as I get.
I live on a corner and find that my front porch is almost high theater or low depending on the day. Shakespeare would be proud and maybe find inspiration.
There is a duck that visits the cat ladies brood on Thursday for aerobics. Its like clockwork but I still laugh. the saddest ice cream truck guilts me into an almost daily splurge, the single note of the gong announcing its arrival reminds me of a sailor lost at sea. The buoy tolls for you!! now buy some ice cream or I’ll cry!!
my next door neighbor is the most astute gentleman in public and I imagine he works as an accountant with his freshly pressed suits but I always giggle when I remember how he sings soprano in the morning. Beached whale an operetta every weekday morning, or at least that is what it sounds like.
He would be so embarrassed and so would I if I told him that his secret life isn’t.
I almost can imagine what the southern belles watched on their porches and think they would laugh at the gossip I hold back from sharing.
I’m just going to blunt and say that I really have always had a problem with a major part of neopaganism but I’ve always ignored the niggling voice in the back of my mind because there was no alternative that I could see or figure out myself. The problem of the mother maiden crone triad is what I am referring to.
There are so many different things wrong or incomplete about this triad that I cannot easily find a place to begin.
As a woman who does not want children or at least doesn’t see them in her near future, the idea that all goddesses or women can be reduced to their ability to have children is both demeaning and patently untrue.
Having a uterus does not guarantee that we want children(or vice versa) and not wanting children does not make any of us less of a woman. There are all kinds of women in the world and it would be really stupid of anyone to think that all of us can fit into any premade box. Gender roles are not cut and dry.
They are messy and need to be reconfigured almost daily on a personal basis. its almost like a lump of wet clay, out on display but constantly being fiddled with by the artists hands. Its always a work in progress, evolving and beautiful.
I found an article recently that points to a tentative alternative for that neat little bit of Swiss cheese theology. It brought up some good points and was a good read. The book mentioned is available on amazon, I’m going to pickup a copy. take a look and let me know what you think, cheers!