Just an FYI this site will be going down for maintenance in the next couple of hours. Should be up by tomorrow. I apologize for any incovenience.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Imbolc and the Maze

Sunday, January 30, 2011
I have had an idea buzzing around in my head since the start of the New Year. This idea being to build a maze for Imbolc and to use again at Mabon. Now of course Imbolc is already upon us and there really is no time for that. But I wanted to share my thoughts, anyways.

commons.wikimedia.org
First on why this idea came to me; Last week I talked about how Imbolc is about plowing the earth to allow for new things to be planted. But I also mentioned how in my children's story that the Sun King goes on a quest to find the answer to the question of how to awaken the sleeping maiden. So of course the idea of a labyrinth has been in my head.

Now as for why I decided to write this article. I actually saw, in the newspaper, a local shop that has a labyrinth behind her store. It isn't a Pagan based store but still people come to walk it and some even decorate stones to lay in the outline of the labyrinth.

They walk to think or meditate. Some even sing and dance their way through the maze. So I wanted to share this idea and the diagram above and get your thoughts.

Blessed Be!


Thursday, January 20, 2011

Deity of the Week - Brigit

Thursday, January 20, 2011

One of the many other names for Imbolc is Bride's day or Brigit's day. Since this day was sacred to the Goddess Brigit. So with this in mind I figured I would share some info on Her.

Brigit was one of the great Triple Goddesses of the Celtic people. She appeared as Brigit to the Irish, Brigantia in Northern England, Bridein Scotland, and Brigandu in Brittany. Many legends are told about Brigit. Some say that there are three Brigits: one sister in charge of poetry and inspiration who invented the Ogham alphabet, one in charge of healing and midwifery, and the third in charge of the hearth fire, smithies and other crafts. This actually indicates the separate aspects of Her three-fold nature and is a neat division of labor for a hard-working Goddess.
Actually, the Goddess Brigit had always kept a shrine at Kildare, Ireland, with a Perpetual Flame tended by nineteen Virgin Priestesses called Daughters of the Flame. No male was ever allowed to come near it; nor did those women ever consort with men. Even their food and other supplies were brought to them by women of the nearby village. When Catholicism took over in Ireland, the Shrine became a Convent and the virgin Priestesses became Nuns but the same traditions were held and the Eternal Flame was kept burning. Their tradition was that each day a different Priestess/Nun was in charge of the Sacred Fire and on the 20th day of each cycle, the fire was miraculously tended by Brigit Herself. For over a thousand years, the Sacred Flame was tended by Nuns, and no one knows how long before that it had been tended by the Priestesses.
In 1220 CE, a Bishop became angered by the no-males policy of the Abbey of St. Brigit of Kildare. He insisted that nuns were subordinate to priests and therefore must open their Abbey and submit themselves to inspection by a Priest. When they refused and asked for another Abbess or other female official to perform any inspections, the Bishop was incensed. He admonished them to obedience and then decreed that the keeping of the Eternal Flame was a Pagan custom and ordered the Sacred Flame to be extinguished.
In 1220 CE, a Bishop became angered by the no-males policy of the Abbey of St. Brigit of Kildare. He insisted that nuns were subordinate to priests and therefore must open their Abbey and submit themselves to inspection by a Priest. When they refused and asked for another Abbess or other female official to perform any inspections, the Bishop was incensed. He admonished them to obedience and then decreed that the keeping of the Eternal Flame was a Pagan custom and ordered the Sacred Flame to be extinguished.


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Vegetarian Recipes for Imbolc

Wednesday, January 19, 2011
There aren't many vegetarian recipes available for Imbolc because usually the Earth is draped in snow at this time of the year. But here is a recipe for you to enjoy.

Ingredients
  • 3-4 medium potatoes, peeled and quartered
  • 3 tbsp. milk or unsweetened/plain soy milk
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. pepper
  • 2 cups chopped cabbage or kale
  • 2 tbsp. butter or margarine
  • 1/4 cup chopped onions
  • 2 tbsp. margarine or butter, for frying
Directions
  1. Cook potatoes in a pot of boiling water until tender (at least 20 minutes); drain, reserving water.
  2. Place potatoes in a large bowl.
  3. Add chopped cabbage to the reserved potato water. Cook 6-8 minutes or until tender.
  4. Mash potates with a hand masher.
  5. Add milk, salt and pepper and beat until fluffly.



Monday, January 17, 2011

Corn Dollies

Monday, January 17, 2011
This weekend me and the family sat down and made Corn Husk Bride Dollies. We will leave this on the altar, decorating it in different ways over the seasons, until Mabon. Which in my family coven's tradition is the time that the Goddess goes into the Underworld in search of the missing Sun.

The instructions at the link below call for ten of the corn husks, we wound up using only five for each of the dolls. Yes we made one for the altar and some for the kids to play with it. Speaking of the corn husks, they only need to be soaked around five minutes.

I also took the time to redecorate our wreath and the altar in preparation for Imbolc. Here is a small list of different kind of silk flowers that you can use to decorate with.
  • Forsythia
  • Crocus
  • Daffodils
  • Snowdrops
  • Daisies
  • Almost anything that invokes a Spring feeling in you
Here is the link to the instructions. Hope you enjoy!

Blessed Be!



Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Spring Cleaning for Imbolc

Wednesday, January 12, 2011
Imbolc is a great time to give both your life and your house a good deep cleaning. While not technically Spring, it tends to get warmer towards Ostara and as such we want to be outside enjoying ourselves; and not inside cleaning. So as we are renewing the light and moving towards warmer weather, might as well be productive if you are inside hiding from the cold.

As a Pagan parent I don't want to use all the harsh chemicals that are found in the cleaning aisle. So instead I have found that there are several great alternatives to these commercial cleaning products that we all use. Vinegar is one of these great multipurpose things and one that I use the most often.

The Vinegar Institute has compiled a list of instructions for various applications.


Streakless windows:
Simply wash with a mixture of equal parts of white distilled vinegar and warm water. Dry with a soft cloth. This solution will make your windows gleam and will not leave the usual film or streaks on the glass.

Clean the microwave:
Boil a solution of 1/4 cup of white distilled vinegar and 1 cup of water in the microwave. Will loosen splattered on food and deodorize.

Image: Suat Eman / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Deodorize the kitchen drain:
Pour a cup of white distilled vinegar down the drain once a week. Let stand 30 minutes and then flush with cold water.

Unclog the showerhead:
Corrosion may be removed from showerheads or faucets by soaking them in diluted white distilled vinegar overnight. This may be easily accomplished by saturating a terry cloth towel in vinegar and wrapping it around the showerhead or faucet.

For more tips take a trip over there and visit them at their website.

Another great must have is baking soda can be used to scrub surfaces in much the same way as commercial abrasive cleansers. Baking soda is great as a deodorizer. Place a box in the refrigerator and freezer to absorb odors. Put it anywhere you need deodorizing action. Try these three kitchen ingredients as natural cleaning products in your home.
So as you can see we can be green and still clean our house. Good Luck and Happy Cleaning!


Monday, January 10, 2011

Imbolc Crafts -- Sand Candles

Monday, January 10, 2011
Sand Candles are an easy and fun way to include children in the Sabbats. But be sure to exercise extreme caution, since you have to heat the wax to a very high temperature. I would personally do this with only children who are 8 years or older.
Image by Simon Howden
Something I have learned over the past year is that there is color and scents for candles. You can use essential oils but they tend to lose their scent quickly, usually before the first pour. So I would recommend hitting up the local craft store and checking out their selection of scents made specifically for candles.

Materials & Equipment:

  • Any sand free of dirt and debris
  • An object for making the impression in the sand, such as bowl, square block of wood, old sand candle, etc
  • A dishpan to hold the sand
  • Drill with 1/4-inch drill bit
  • Soft Paint Brush
  • Watering Can
  • Jar Lid
Instructions:

Place the sand in a dishpan or similar container. Dampen the sand with the watering can, careful not to get the sand any wetter than you have to. If you are using an old sand candle then you will not have to make depressions in the sand for legs, if you aren't then make sure that the depressions for the legs are even so the candles won't wobble. Make the depression in the sand with the mold you have chosen, and make sure to firm up the sand on all sides of the object you use to make the depression, leaving no loose sand or air pockets. Remove the object you have used for the depression carefully.

Place the jar lid in the depression, it should be centered directly where the wick will be placed. If you are using multiple wicks it may be necessary to have more than one lid.

Heat the wax to the desired temperature, the sand candle should be poured white because high temperature will distort the color of the colored wax, add the dye to the last layer. Pour the wax slowly into the jar lid in the depression, this keeps the wax from making a hole in the bottom of your sand mold. The more moisture the sand holds the more noise you will hear when it is poured, you should expect a lot of bubbling and cracking as you pour.

Allow your candles to cool and skim over, your candle will have shrunk about 1/2 inch into the depression, reheat the remaining wax add the desired color to your wax. Pour the remaining dyed wax to fill the remaining depression in the sand. when the candle has hardened remove from the sand, bush off any excess sand with your soft brush.

To position the wick or wicks in your candle you will need your drill and a drill bit that is slightly larger than your wick (use a heavy wire core wick). Mark on the candle the position you want the wick to be, warm the drill bit in hot water and position the drill bit on the area you have marked. Drill through the candle till you have met the jar lid, but do not pierce it. Now insert the wick all the way in until you have hit the jar lid. Trim the wick to 1/2 inch. Let set for 24 hours, then light, sit back and enjoy.




Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Children and Mandalas

Wednesday, January 5, 2011
For me the Sabbat of Mabon can be represented by the symbol of the spiral. I say this because of the journey of the Goddess down into the Underworld. So in that vein I wanted to talk about this symbol and other symbols, or mandalas.
Mandala is the Sanskrit word for circle, polygon, community, or connection. Usually circular in nature they are used in Hinduism and Buddhism to represent the world and the universe. While many mandalas are often very elaborate and complex there are several mandalas (while not traditional) that you may know that are relatively simple.
For example there is the pentacle, the symbol for yin-yang. There is also the ankh and the celtic cross. Children are also able to draw their own mandalas. I recommend cutting out circular pieces of paper and giving them the necessary supplies (crayons, paint, markers) and the freedom to paint what they want. Have them think for a moment about a topic and then to draw about that topic. Some of those topics can be;

  • Love
  • Goddess
  • God
  • Friends
  • Mommy
  • Daddy
  • Sister or Brother

Now while this is far from a complete list it should be a good start. Another option to introduce children to mandalas is to provide ones that they can color. Below is a list of links that provide several mandalas for children to color.

Blessed Be!


Tuesday, January 4, 2011

PaganDad's Children Story for Imbolc

Tuesday, January 4, 2011
"Grandfather? Grandfather, is it time for another story," asked the littlest child, barely refraining from jumping up and down in excitement.
The old man leaned back in his chair and smiled, as he lit his pipe. After taking several puffs, he said, "Yes. I think is about a time. So where was I? Ah, yeah the Sun King born and the Maiden sleeping.
"Well the Sun King returned to the side of his Mother and meditated for a long time seeking an answer but none came. So he went to the land of the Sidhe and sought for answers from the Wise Ones there.
"The Sidhe came and sealed the Maiden within a crystal casket to protect her from the world until they could come up with a solution. After a short while they recommended to the Sun King must travel the world and to the Faery Oracle and seek for answers.
"How you must remember that during this time the Sun King has not been warming the Earth like he should. And the long journey to the Oracle will do little to help the Earth. But still the newborn Sun must arm himself and travel through the worlds to the World Tree and climb it to find the magick needed to waked the snow white maiden.
"A Long, long time he spent climbing that tree, after he found it, and as his hope waned he came across a grove, lit from within of its own light. Knowing that this was the Blessed Vale he entered into it and weaved through its labyrinth, into the center. There he found a standing stone surrounded by grass.
"Above was the stars and in front of the standing stone, sat the Oracle. The Sun King crossed to Her and sat before her and began to tell his story and then asked for answers to his quest.
"Then the Oracle spoke, 'Many people come seeking fame and fortune, yet you come in love. Realizing that love, the greatest gift, is all you need in life. You seek help to fulfill the will of Nature herself so I tell you that love's true kiss will waked Her that sleeps.'
"Now as you can expect at this simple answer, the Sun King was angry and frustrated. Remember though he was only a few months old at this point. So he yelled, in anger, at the Oracle, 'Is that it? If that is the answer why did I have to take this long journey?'
"The Oracle not offended, just smiled and raised her hand for patience and said, 'Oftentimes the journey is more than the answers we seek at the end. So go now and waken the Maiden and in turn waken the Earth before it is too late.'
"And with that the Sun King found himself, surprised of course, again at the top room in that tallest tower where, in her crystal casket, the Maiden slept. The Sidhe, after they got over their shock of course, gathered around the Sun King in breathless awe, as the God lifted the lid of the casket and set it to the side.
"Then with great happiness they watched Him kiss the sleeping Maiden and let out a cry of joy when her eyes fluttered open and she took a deep breath.
"As the Maiden rose from her bower she began to speak about her journeys and of her conversations with the Holly King. She told of the new cycle that had began and been laid out. She told him of the upcoming and past events in the Wheel of the Year.
"In celebration the Faeries spun a beautiful dress of spidersilk and the morning's first dew. Because the Faeries knew that this momentous kiss was akin to a betrothal and that the Goddess and God would be married soon. Plus the Goddess said as much herself.
"This is why children we make the corn dolly at this time of the year. To represent the Maiden and the future bride. And when we dress her in white it is a representation of the dress that the Faeries made for her.
"And our holiday of Imbolc is the day that the God returned from his long quest and the day the Maiden awoke. So this is why we give praise on this day and why we have our feast. Like at Samhain, when we say farewell to the Goddess, so do we at this holiday say greetings to Her.
"So that is the story of the Season of Imbolc. Go now children and let your grandfather rest."
Then almost as one the children ran off to play as, either the sleeping Maiden, or the Sun King on his long quest, letting their grandfather drift off into sleep.