Month: January 2017

Celebrating Imbolc

The time of Imbolc is a perfect opportunity to spring clean your home. You could have a go at making your own natural cleaning products,  adding as well some essential oils for a beautiful fresh scent with none of the nasties. I love using lavender and tea tree oil in mine for their germ busting properties. There are so many recipes online for every cleaner you could possibly need. So have some witchy fun in the kitchen concocting your cleaning brews; add your intentions to the mix and you have some cleaning magick.

When your home is spotless, decluttered and fresh, how about thinking of yourself for a change. We can never have enough self love, so just take a moment to think about what you are eating and drinking and how now is the time to go outside and move your body. Healthy doesn’t have to mean deprivation. And before I forget treat yourself to a home spa. I use organic beauty products or I make my own from what I have in the larder. I love my natural foot scrub that I make with sugar and a little olive oil, although any oil you have in your kitchen will do. I swear afterwards it feels like walking on clouds!

If you still have your Christmas/Yule tree in your garden and haven’t gotten around to recycling it then maybe you can hold a ritual burning of the evergreens. Your natural wreaths and garlands can be used as well. Even the Yule log if you didn’t get a chance to burn it all, but make sure you put some aside to light next Yule’s log with. A bonfire or fire pit will do and you can throw in a hand written piece of paper of everything in your life that no longer makes your soul sing. This is a lovely way to say goodbye to one season and say hello to the new one.

Go outside and spend time in your local park or woods. The trees are waking up from their long sleep, so talk to them, meditate with them, hug them (ask their permission first though!) and leave them an offering that is earth friendly.

One thing that I am going to try for the first time this year is make my own salt dough offering stones, which I am planning to leave at several places that I will be visiting over the course of Imbolc. Again there are plenty of recipes on how to make these online.

Imbolc is a traditional time to visit wells and springs, their waters are potent with healing and cleansing energies. If you have been poorly, you can soak a small rag made of natural fibres in the water and hang it on a nearby tree. It is believed that when these “clouties” rot away so does the illness or whatever you wish to unburden yourself of. You could also soak a ribbon in the water that you can hang up while offering up a prayer to the Divine. While you are at the well or spring you could tidy up the surrounding area or plant native bulbs or wildflower seeds. Before you go thank the healing waters and leave an offering made of natural materials or some berries and nuts.

Pick up litter. Even if you didn’t drop it yourself we are responsible for the Earth’s well being and we need to allow her to breath. Though we really need to be looking out for rubbish all year round.

This is the time to start thinking about planting veg and herb seeds indoors  and it is also the perfect time to plant trees.

Brighten up your personal space with fresh plants, flowers and candles. Burn incense and hang up little bags of bamboo charcoal air fresheners in each room. These are fantastic for removing toxins and odours from the air as well as increasing the amount of negative ions in your home.

Continue feeding the birds and leaving out fresh water for them. Now is the time to get those bird boxes up, but check first what the best height and position is for the type of birds you are wanting to attract.

At Imbolc we look to Goddess Brigid for creative inspiration. Try writing some poetry, paint, craft, make a Brigid’s cross (two years ago I made one out of pipe cleaners) or learn a new instrument. I am thinking about learning the Irish whistle. Watch this space!

Lastly, begin planning your year and make it your most exciting yet. Use these Spring  energies to boost your drive and determination and start living the life you deserve.

I hope these ideas inspire you and have a wonderful Imbolc.

Please share any of your Imbolc plans. I would love to hear about them.

Many Blessings,

Hazel

xxx

 

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Imbolc

Imbolc means “the belly of the mother” or Oimelc “the feast of ewe’s milk” and it falls around 1st February. This festival of light also known as Disfest and Candlemas is a time that is balanced between two worlds. We can still see and feel the fingers of Winter resting on the land, but if you look closely enough there are signs of the promise of new life breaking through the fog and ice.

The time for awakening is now. All of our dreams and goals that have been gestating over the past season are ready to break forth and are searching for the nourishment of the sun. The period of contemplation and inner workings has come to an end and determination and drive are needed now to create momentum.

At Imbolc many Pagans honour the Goddess Brigid the patron of midwives, blacksmiths, poets, fertility and healing, as well as corn and cattle. She is known by many names and there are just as many myths and legends about her too. Brigid is a fire Goddess who lights the hearths of the poor and who kindles the flames inside of us, sustaining us through difficult times.

She is a Celtic Goddess who was incorporated into Saint Brigid of Kildare Ireland during the sixth century and Bride in Scotland. She is also linked with the Goddess Brig of the Brigantes, an ancient culture in the North of England. Personally, I believe that there are traces of her much earlier than this. There are glimpses of her during the time of the Picts and even as far back as the Neolithic.

This time of year was very important to the Celtic people and they had many customs and traditions that were handed down from generation to generation.

Doll like figures of Brigid called Brideog were fashioned out of barley. This sheaf traditionally had a shell or small crystal over the heart and represented the guiding star of Brigid. A talisman of protection and prosperity it was believed to bring good fortune for the coming year. The doll was often greeted and blessings were asked of her. During the Winter the doll was returned to the fields or forests once the shell or crystal had been removed.

Goddess Brigid was said to visit people’s homes at Imbolc, so in preparation for this, a small bed was made for her out of a box or basket. By welcoming Brigid to stay overnight our ancestors were symbolically asking that her gifts of fertility and healing be bestowed upon the household. The hearth was also dedicated to Brigid; it was a sacred space for food preparation, family gatherings and a source of warmth and light.

Brigid’s cross and sun wheels were symbols of sympathetic magic and were used to encourage the sun to grow in strength. These were also protective charms for thatchers.

It was customary to leave some bread, cake and milk for Brigid with a candle in the window so that she would know to come in. Another custom was to throw a sheaf of oats or some bread or cake against the front doorstep on the eve of Imbolc to drive away hunger during the coming months and an offering of hay, grass or corn was also made for Brigid’s cow.

In some areas of Britain a procession of young people would accompany Brigit around the village on Imbolc Eve to beg alms. Brigit was normally a girl dressed in costume or a doll. If it was a group of girls they would dress in white and sing and dance as they went from house to house. They were known as the Bride Maiden Band. In some villages, boys dressed up as girls and known as Biddy Boys went begging from door to door. This idea was probably to emulate Brigid’s good work as she was known to collect clothes, food and money for the poor. People would give cheese, eggs, butter, biscuits or money because it was thought that this would encourage a good harvest, prosperity and good luck.

Some stories say that Brigid had a magical cloak that possessed healing and protective powers and could expand for miles on end. The cloak’s colour was originally green, but when she became a saint the colour changed to white. It was said that if you left a piece of cloth outside on Imbolc eve then Brigid would bless it with the same powers of her cloak. This was beneficial for sick animals and would have been kept for the whole year until the following Imbolc when it would be blessed anew.

Brigid’s magickal girdle or belt had the same healing powers as her cloak and the four crosses that were said to be embroided on it symbolized protection at all four cardinal directions. People would craft a long belt from straw and step through it three times, kissing it as they went through right foot first. This was seen as a symbol of rebirth and would ensure good health and protection.

In ancient times pilgrims would travel from afar to bring offerings and ask for blessings at sacred wells and springs dedicated to Brigid. Long before coins were thrown into the waters, brass rings, silver and gold were offered. People would bathe in the healing waters and dress the well or spring with flowers, leaves and pieces of cloth.

Brigid is not the only Goddess that is remembered at Imbolc. The Cailleach was said to gather firewood at Imbolc so she would have enough to see her through to the warmer months. Legend says that if the Cailleach wants the cold to last a bit longer then Imbolc would be bright and sunny, so as to allow her to collect firewood. So you can imagine how relieved our ancestors must have been when Imbolc was overcast and wet. It meant that the Cailleach was fast asleep and Winter was almost over.

There are many more myths and legends surrounding Imbolc, particularly about Brigid and if you know of any I haven’t mentioned or you know of some traditions, then I would love you to share them.

Brightest Blessings,

Hazel

xxx

 

 

How I Start My Day The Spiritual Way

For many years while my children were growing up, my morning routine usually consisted of me falling out of bed on auto pilot, making sure everyone was ready for work, college or home schooling and then trying to survive the day by getting through teaching, chores and random activities my brain decided were a good idea to do at the time. Before I knew it I was collapsing back into bed and bracing myself for another crazy day that would begin again the following morning.

I know that I am not the only one that this has happened to. We are all susceptible to losing ourselves in the doing, in the busyness of life. We somehow disconnect ourselves from what is truly meaningful and important to us and there is an emptiness inside of us that cannot be sated by the physical world alone.

And it was with this realization which slowly began to dawn on me that I knew in my soul that if I didn’t change now, then my life would stay exactly the same. It was time to put myself first. I was undernourished physically, mentally and spiritually and because of this I was not only depriving myself, but I was also depriving all of those that I cared about. I needed a structure that would not only support me, but would motivate me as well.

One of the things that lifestyle experts and successful people all have in common is their morning routine. It sets them up for the day and makes them more productive and happy. The concept of a morning routine or ritual sounded like it was definitely worth a try and after months of tweaking my own I have finally found something that works for me.  I can honestly say that it has definitely made a huge difference to how my day unfolds and it has not only become the foundation of my general well being (or should I say sanity), but also my spirituality.

I have found that by committing myself to having sacred time first thing in the morning has helped me to have a deeper connection with Deity, my family and the world around me. I am more focused, I am getting more done and I am flowing more easily with life’s rhythms instead of trying unsuccessfully to swim up stream.

I must admit that it isn’t always easy and each time I fall off the wagon I just get back on again. With having been very poorly with four different viruses since last August, I try not to beat myself up if I miss a morning. I listen to my own rhythms and allow my body to lead the way. But when I don’t miss my morning practice then it is extremely gratifying.

Now that my children are much older I do admit that it is much easier to set aside time for me in the morning. However, if you yourself have very young children then please do not feel disheartened. Instead of trying to fit in all of your sacred time in the morning why not spread it out throughout your day. Just 5 minutes here and there can make all the difference. You can absolutely find three minutes to meditate. That is how I started and now I am meditating for 10 minutes a day.

This is what my morning routine looks like for the moment. I am not always able to do this exactly because I live with three other people in a small cottage, but I do my best.

The first thing I do when I wake up is stretch, getting all of those kinks and knots out of my body. I start by rolling my head slowly in a circular movement, then I work my way down through my shoulders, arms, waist, legs and down to the feet. It’s basically a gentler version of a warm up you would normally do before an exercise session. Whilst I am stretching I think about what I am grateful for which always helps to put things into perspective.I always do my best to focus on what I have rather than what I don’t have.

And before I forget, first and foremost don’t have any technology, no television, no phone and no internet, for at least the first hour. I only go on my phone to check the exact position of the moon and that is it. Otherwise you get sucked into a black hole of epic time wasting.

Now that the cold season is here I drink a mug of Pukka’s Elderberry and Echinacea tea. While the tea is steeping I open the kitchen door and take several deep breaths, embracing the new day. There are days though when it smells like poop. Not one of the perks of living in the country. My tea mug is red, a colour I use to fire me up and ground me.

Since I have been following the moon’s journey across the sky I have noticed its subtle energy shifts and have been surprised to see how its different phases explain how I feel and how others act as well. I use the free Sky Map app which shows the exact position of the  moon in real time  as I now use Side Real astrology and not Tropical. This morning I see that the moon is in Aries (Real Time), so I grab my journal and quickly read my notes about Aries. It is a day of action, spontaneity and enthusiasm. I can work with that. I also jot down the weather, the temperature, the moon and sun’s rising and setting times and also their astrological positions in my green journal. This helps me to be more in tune with and more aware of the changing world around me.

Every morning I draw either an oracle or tarot card which is my divine message for the day. The message usually says something like, “Get your butt into gear”. Well, I can’t argue with that!

This is the time when I get a little reading in which is either ancient history or spirituality themed (I save fiction for the evening). The last thing I do before having breakfast and getting ready is to do some yoga, then I sit by my altar where I say my devotionals. I spend a moment in prayer with my ancestors too; finishing with a meditation. I know that this does sound a lot, but I make sure I’m up by 6am so I don’t have to rush. This is the only time in the day that I know I will have any degree of control over.

While I am having breakfast, which is usually a bowl of organic oats with almond milk, I look through what I need to do that day. I also keep my goals in view because if not I get distracted by all sorts of shiny things. Not good.

I truly believe that there is a link between how we take care of ourselves and the health of our relationship with our spirituality. A morning ritual can help balance our mental, physical and spiritual self which in turn will strengthen the connection we have with the world around us and with the Divine. Remember, if you don’t use it, you lose it.

I would love to hear whether you have any rituals that you do in the morning.

Brightest Blessings

Hazel

xxx

 

 

 

 

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