Imbolc

Imbolc 2011: Rekindling
(C) Geoffrey Stewart / Pax

“Good Evening,

We are gathered here tonight to celebrate Imbolc, one of the Four High Holy Days of Ancient Celts according to history and folklore, and the especial Holy Day of the Goddess Brighid.

This is a Neo-Pagan ritual inspired in part by the Druidic Revival and Celtic Reconstructionist forms of Paganism.; as well as our beliefs as members and friends of this Unitarian Universalist congregation. In crafting this rite I have tried to balance the influences of historical and magical scholarship, folklore, polytheology, and theurgy.

Our rite this evening focuses on honoring- and engaging in active relationships with- the Gods, Ancestors, and Spirits…whatever we may conceive Their true natures to be. We will be honoring and invoking the 3 elements of the natural world as viewed through the worldview of Celtic spirituality, we will be honoring the Spirits of the World Around us, The Ancestors, and The Gods, and we will be coming to peaceful terms with some potentially hostile Spirits. Then we will be calling upon and honoring the local Earth Mother of Florida and making offering of gratitude and of our hopes for Her health and well being. Then we will be invoking and honoring Brighid. Then we will celebrate our feast.

Before we share breath and come together in community, there are some pieces of paper that have been handed around with parts of the invocation to our local Earth Mother where the portion in regular print is to be enthusiastically read by whoever has it, and the portion in BOLD print is to be spoken by everyone… lets try it once…

“We _____________________________ invite you,
Hear us, and be here with us.”

“We who live on and within your sacred land and love you, invite you,
Hear us, and be here with us.”

“Now, if any of you can think of a way of referencing your personal relationship to our regional Earth Mother with a short and more personal reference, modeled on the examples that have been handed out you are welcome to take a few moments to write it down… a short sentence or two, would be ideal to the flow of invocation…”

(insert flexibility time here)

It is also important to note, that we will be doing a similar call and response in the invocation of Brighid. I will read a portion of the invocation, and then all of us will join together in calling upon Her to…

“Hear us, and be here with us.”

(At the end of each of the invocations, we will chant this phrase for a time, and upon the signal of the opening of the arms in welcome the final phrase will be…

“Hear us, and be here with us, and be welcome here amongst us.”

~~

Flowers are being handed around, take one as you will be carrying it with you and making an offering of it to Brighid later today.

Imbolc and Brighid a basic overview

For us here in Florida as 21st Century Pagans Imbolc is many things. Imbolc is one of the four ancient Celtic Holy Days, one of the Sabbats or Holy Days of Religious Withchraft, and one of the 8 Holy Days of Neo-Paganism. It is a celebration of the returning light of the Sun, and of the stirrings and movement of life as we shift from the time of the Citrus Harvest to the Strawberry Festival. In the Neo-Pagan Wheel of The Year, celebrated my many contemporary Pagans, we turn from Celebrating and Honoring the Honored and Beloved Dead at Samhain, to the Honored and Beloved Living at Yule, and between Yule and Imbolc we turn inward. We take some time to rest and renew after the mad rush of days of the many spiritual and Calendrical new years that start at Samhain and leaves us rushing busilly through our many cultural and religious Autumn and Winter Holidays. Imbolc is a time for rest and renewal, for rekindling ourselves spiritually and for new beginings.

Imbolc is also the especial Feast Day and Celebration or the Goddess Brighid.

Brighid is either One the Goddesses of Ancient Ireland, or three Sister Goddesses, depending on which of the schollarly sources you are reading. Brighid is a patroness of Poetry, Healing, and Smithcraft, who over time has also come to be seen as the Masterstroke of all Women and also as a Goddess of the Hearth and Home. Ideas of Brighid flowed into Saint Bridget at the dawning of the Christian Era, and back into Brighid as Goddess at the dawning of the Pagan Revival in the early to middle part of the 20th Century.

Affirming Community & Entrainment

“Now since Brighid is, among other things, a Goddess of Inspiration, and since Inspire means both to breathe in and to fill with Spirit, and since we are seeking as Pagans and as members and friends of the Congregation here at 1st Unitarian, to come together in beloved community; I would like us to take a few moments to breath together.in meditation, really becoming aware of your breathing, please, close your eyes and to consider the following”

“Take these deep breaths and feel your muscles relax, let yourself relax and turn your attention simply on your breaths for a few moments. Air and Inspiration and Life Energy flowing into you, and as you breath our you are touching your connection to all life around you.”…

“Breathing in, taking in oxygen and life energy, air fuels our fire.”

“Air connects us with one another and with all of life around us, it fuels our bodies and enlivens our minds and stirs our souls; awareness and control of breath can work wonders in ourselves and through us in the world around us.”

“With breath we can raise power, call Spirit, connect with The Gods, and embrace the Numinous All That Is.”

“Our lives, our actions, all of our works of Spirit, all of our acts of Will, and all Magick begins with a breath.”

“When you feel deeply centered and full of vitality and life energy open your eyes and we will begin…”

The Rite

In ancient times nearly every major rite or festival began with a procession.  Perhaps you were starting out from your farmstead and traveling down the road, meeting up with others along the way.  Perhaps in the cities like Rome or Athens you would start from your home and meat at an appointed spot in the city.  They might be dancers and musicians, there might be stops along the way to gather items or individuals key to the rite, there might have been stops to bath in a river or the ocean… don’t worry we won’t be going to that extreme, but we will be walking from the feast-hall to our altar.  As we do so, remember we are journeying from the every day to the sacred and we are on our way to encounter the Gods and Spirits and to take part in the holy tides of the world.

(Procession makes its way from feast hall to altar circling clockwise around it, and once the procession come to a circle around the altar…)

“We find ourselves, despite the lengthening days, in darkness,
And So…

“Three Candles we kindle,
For the Three Rays of Light that shone forth at the dawning of all days,
Bringing with them Spirit and Inspiration and Illumination,
Bringing forth All Knowledge that ever was, is, or ever will be,
Bringing and shining with that which the Druids call Awen.

Gwron (“goo-RON”): The Knowledge of Awen
Plennydd (“PLEN-nyth”): The Power of Awen
Alawn (“AH-lon”): The Peace of Awen”

~~

We find ourselves,
Gathered together on a Holy Day
Wishing to Honor and Celebrate
The Holy Powers and our Highest Ideals,

And so…

“We cast forth three handfuls of grain,
To the Spirits of the Wide World Around Us,
To Guiding and Guardian Spirits of this Holy Place,
To the Earth, and to all that Supports and Nourishes us.”

‘We pour three offerings of water,
To the Honored and Beloved Dead, without whom we and this congregation could not be,
To the Guiding and Guardian Spirits of This Holy Place,
To the Waters, and to All that Surrounds and Sustains us.”

“We light three offerings of incense,
To The Holy Gods and Goddesses of All of Creation,
To the Guiding and Guardian Spirits of this Holy Place,
To The Air, and to All that Embraces and Inspires us.”

~~

“We find ourselves,
Within the Witness of the Earth, the Sky, and the Sea,
Within the Presence of the Spirits, The Gods, and our Ancestors,
Within the Knowledge and Power and Peace of Awen,

And thus we rekindle our sacred flame
In the light of truth,
And in the warmth of love,
We gather to seek, to sustain, and to share.”

~~
“We are now gathered in beloved community, in sacred community, but there is one more host of Spirits we must acknowledge and attend to before the Rites may move forward. The assembled members of our community are asked to hold hands around the altar while I attend to the Spirits of the Others, The Outsiders, Those who would bring us harm”

“Hear me, oh Outsiders!

You of The Fomorians and Fir Bolg,
You of The Angry and Unquiet Dead,
You of The Spirits bearing Malice and Mischief for the Sons and Daughters of Humankind

So Long as you come bearing
Malice and Mischief and Anger and Hateful ways,

We ask you to keep away from our Friends and Members,
We ask you to keep away from our Sacred Rites,
We ask you to keep away from our Holy Grounds,

In service of our asking,
We make an offering of our Respects and Watchfulness,
We make an offering of Bread and Cream,
We make an offering of Peace between us.

Before departing, please know,
Should you ever be able to set aside,
Malice and Mischief and Anger and Hateful ways,
IF you can set such things aside,
Then we would also make you an offering of Welcome.

Hail and Farewell!”

~~

Now Imbolc is the Feast and Celebration of Brighid, and we will honor Her in due time; however there is a Goddess already amongst us… or rather below and all around us, Whom we will honor first, for without Her and Her blessings, we could not be here to celebrate this Holy Day and the Holy Tides of All Creation without our own beloved local Earth Mother, The Goddes we know as Florida….

“We Call to You oh, Holy Florida.
We Call to a Granddaughter of Gaia, Goddess of the Earth,
We Call to a Daughter of Columbia, Goddess of the Americas
We Call to You oh, Holy Florida, Our Lady of the Feast of Flowers

We Call to You, oh Holy Florida,
Who was born amidst the fertile plains of Pangaea, many millions of years ago,
Who has swum through the oceans, and seen them ebb and flow over ages,
Who is the Earth Mother of this land we live in, and on, and love, in the present day.

We Call to You, oh Holy Florida
Glorious and Enduring, Rain-bathed and Windswept Lady
Green-clad and Flower bejeweled Goddess,
Whose cornucopia, over-flows with food and flowers
Hear us, and Be Here With Us.”

(personal invocation call and responses)

Oh, Holy Florida,
By All Your Names, Known and Unknown, oh Feast of Flowers
By All the Ways in which we have come to know You, oh our own beloved Earth Mother
Hear Us, and Be Here With us, and Be Welcome Here Amongst Us!

We Welcome you with Water,
That your thirst may be abated, your aquifers replenished, and
Your bountiful and flowering mantle be renewed!

We Welcome you with Rum,
That you may be warmed, that the killing frosts may flee from You, and,
Your great cornucopia may be ever full!

We Welcome you with open arms and grateful hearts,
¡Hola! , Hail and Well Met, and Blessed Be!

And Now we come to the Guest of Honor, Brighid, whose Holy Tide of Imbolc we are gathered here to celebrate. We have rekindled our beloved communities sacred flame, let us now call out together to She Who Is the Sacred Fires…

Hear Us, and Be Here With Us!

Oh, Beloved Brilliant Brighid,
Holy High Flying Arrow,
You who was Born at Daylights Dawning

Hear Us, and Be Here With Us!

Oh, Delightful Daughter of the Daghda,
Mother of Midwifery
You who Welcomes every child into the World

Hear Us, and Be Here With Us!

Oh, Beautiful Bountiful Brighid,
Green Mantled, Spear Wielding,
You who is the Sacred Flame

Hear Us, and Be Here With Us!

Oh Exalted Fire of Inspiration,
Who kindles eloquence and understanding,
Within the hearts and minds of humankind

Hear Us, and Be Here With Us!

Oh Transformative Fire of the Forge
Who kindles Craft and Creativity
Within the clever hands of humankind

Hear Us, and Be Here With Us!

Oh Invigorating Fire of the Spark of Life,
Who kindles Health and Vitality
Within every indrawn breath of humankind

Hear Us, and Be Here With Us!

Mighty Masterstroke of Women!

Hear Us, and Be Here With Us!

Best Beloved of All The Immortal Host!

Hear Us, and Be Here With Us!

Sweet Sacred Flame of Ireland!

Hear Us, and Be Here With Us!
(repeated, and after a time, at the sign of the open arms)

Hear Us, and Be Here With Us, and Be Welcome Here Amongst Us!

Exalted One, We Welcome You!

We Welcome You with Flowers
We Welcome You with Milk,
We Welcome You with Blackberry Wine,

We Welcome You With Open Arms and Gratitude,
We Welcome Your Blessings,
The Ever-flowing Tides of Life,
The Happiness of Hearth and Home,
The Gifts of New Beginnings,
The Transformative Fires of Change and Creativity and Renewal

Thank You, Thank You, Ten Thousand Thank Yous!

“We find ourselves, and our Beloved Community, Blessed
Within the Witness of the Earth, the Sky, and the Sea,
Within the Presence of the Spirits, The Gods, and our Ancestors,
Within the Knowledge and Power and Peace of Awen,
Blessed by our own Earth Mother Sweet Sacred Florida,
Blessed and Inpired by Brighid.

Let us always carry with us Their Power and Presence and Blessings,
Wherever we may go within the wider world may we carry them in our hearts.
May They be welcome in our Feasting this night,
As They are always welcome in our hearts and hearths,

We extinguish the flame but not the light of truth,
The warmth of community, or the fires of commitment.
These we carry in our hearts until we are together again.

And now let us feast!

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