We’ve had more snow here than has fallen in over 100 years,
and through it, as through all weather and Nature, the Goddess is
speaking. The Goddess has been teaching me a powerful and peaceful
lesson with snow.
As opposed to hurricaines and lightening storms, where Her voice is a
powerful roar that forces you to listen in awe, Her snow over the past
few days has brought me understanding of the phrase “… the still,
soft voice.”. From a different (Christian) context, the idea is the
same. Sometimes the Goddess speaks in a whisper, sometimes Her voice
can be heard in the silence of the muffled, white-blanketed peace of
snow. Everything is quieter – few or no cars driving by, no
lawnmowers making their racket, and even the sounds of people
shoveling, walking their dogs or the wind are softer and hushed. When
we stop for a moment and listen, the world is a still, soft place.
And because she’s draped the world in silence, you don’t have to
strain so much to hear her voice and feel her presence. It’s like
she’s the only one out there who isn’t bundled up and shivering –
she’s beautiful, wind and snowflakes swirling around her. Here’s what
I’ve heard her say: “Slow down. Stop even for a moment. Breathe.
Close your eyes. Listen. Feel. Empty your mind. Your time on
Earth, in this body, is short. Spend time in the presence, being
truly present, of those you love and care about. Make time for what’s
important in your life, and prioritize the rest. Rest. Relax. This
is the time of year for those things. Find peace within, as I offer
you temporary peace without. I will always love you, and I am always
with you (even if you are not always with me).”
I hope you feel and find the same peace in the still, soft breath of
the Goddess outside. This snow is a blessing and part of Her infinite
grace and magick.
Snowy blessings and stay warm,
By Aurora Star Light Bringer
As the wheel of the year turns another eighth, Imbolc has a bolstering effect that is a necessary at this time of the year and after the lessons learned at the last quarter.
Imbolc always finds me when I am about ready to throw in the towel. Like the season which is gray and sloppy, cold and barren, I find myself frazzled, belaboring my every mistake and bemoaning each slight annoyance that comes my way.
Scarcely six weeks ago, Winter Solstice taught us faith, but in the cold, messy gray that surrounds us, it’s hard to hold to the promise of the returning of the light. Now, surrounded by leafless trees, just about out of patience with faith, Imbolc finds us asking “Yes, but when?”.
Where Winter Solstice finds us in the dark night of the soul, Imbolc is the first light of dawn. This cross-quarter marks the first salmon-colored light of the rising sun. Where Winter Solstice urged us to keep the faith that light would return, Imbolc offers us proof. Mornings and afternoons are lighter, snow melts, revealing blades of grass and rogue bulbs begin to send tender green shoots up from barren garden beds. Imbolc shows us evidence of the coming of the light. Imbolc renews our faith. Through signs of Spring, it offers us a new sacrament: hope.
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bring back the light, bring back the light
* casting circle – we cast circle to:
* quarters – another layer of the circle. We honor the directions, as in native American & Chinese cultures, and Wicca circles.
* Charge of the goddess
* Intent – intent of this evening is to join in community. To reflect on last year, and begin to focus on goals for this new year. It’s hard to believe that new year. Ground hogs day is around the corner, heralds spring (in 6 wks or longer).
* Different cultures celebrate this full moon.
The Chinese New Year date is 2 weeks from now, and falls on the second new moon after the winter solstice. Native American traditions
* Checkin – 10 words or less, what is the single most thing on your mind right now?
* balancing exercise with origami cranes, yarn and wooden dowels
* FIRE – because we like to burn stuff. Write down obstacles and burn them away
* farewell quarters
* farewell goddess
* open circle
merry meet merry part…
and feasting *nom nom nom*
by Aurora Star Light Bringer
Of the eight sabbats in the Wheel of the Year, Winter Solstice is nearest to my heart. This is because its messages are so enduring and have meaning to last the whole year through—similarly to the way the messages of Christmastime “Peace on Earth, Goodwill to all” are valid all year long.
At Winter Solstice we find ourselves on the darkest day of the year—we find ourselves in our darkest hour. In the same way our ancestors sat in the dark night wondering if the sun would ever return, we find ourselves in the dark night of our soul wondering if the obstacles and challenges before us are insurmountable, whether the dark times in life will ever resolve, when we can’t imagine lightheartedness returning to our routine.
I wonder how many Winter Solstices we have a year. How many times do we ask “Is this challenge too great? Is this the mistake that will end my relationship? Will my health ever improve? Will my loved one recover? Will I find a job? Is the small difference I make in this world too significant?” When we find ourselves facing questions like these, in times of hopelessness and doubt, no matter the time of year, we are having a Winter Solstice moment.
Winter Solstice teaches us that there is no darkness without light. That just as we must anticipate the sun’s return, we must expect that light will return to our lives. Marking this holiday formally helps us to renew our understanding of this message and to help us carry it throughout the year. I think the reason why Winter Solstice strikes home for me is that when you pare down my spiritual practice of Earth-Based ritual, when you take away all of the things that make ritual ritual—the quarter calls, the candle lighting, the chanting—what I have left is FAITH.
When I find myself in a Winter Solstice moment, I have a phrase that helps to sustain me and urges me to persevere. “Tomorrow the Sun will surely rise”. That no matter what is happening tonight, right now, no matter what personal turmoil I find myself in, that sun will rise above the Earth and fill it with light once more. Somehow this fills be with hope, it teaches me to hold on, to recognize that tomorrow is a new day, a solution is on its way. It fills me with Faith. Faith that since the sun surely will return, that dark situations will too resolve into new horizons and opportunities.
As Unitarian Universalists, since our religion is free of dogma and creed, we sometimes wonder if it is also devoid of faith. We wonder if it can sustain us through the hard times. But our drawing from our multiple sources provides us with a wealth of lessons that allow us find our faith and understand our on personal faiths in a way that drawing from one source may not fully provide.
This is what drawing from the teachings of Earth-Centered religions has done for me. Eight times a year I am reminded of the cycles of life, and once a year I wait up all night anticipating the arrival of the sun.
If this is your first Winter Solstice celebration, I hope you take with you the message of faith that this sabbat brings. If Winter Solstice is part of your tradition, I hope that this marking of this sabbat renews your sense of faith.
Faith that no problem is without solution, that now obstacle is insurmountable, that you are loved, you are part of a supportive and loving community and that yes, tomorrow the sun will surely rise.
Image From: WiccanTogether.com
This is the dark cottage of the crone, the woman who lives on the edge of the village and forages for herbs in the dawn.
Circle casting – grounding first as young girls, our bodies smooth and unselfconscious; becoming maidens; becoming mothers; becoming crones, our hair graying, our hands becoming dry and wrinkled, our wombs cycling with the moon; each of us becomes the archetypal maiden, mother, crone; as we embody each phase of womanhood, an energy body of each archetype forms in the center of the circle, a pulsing energy center into which we each send our personal energy which flows up from the earth, through our bodies, and into the center energy; that energy body becomes so strong that she holds us all in a safe and energetic web, a powerful strand connecting each woman to the center and to every other woman; this energy center creates a resonating and pulsing container that surrounds us wherever we go that night, even as we go out to the gazebo, it moves with us—not a sphere, but a strong, silvery web, visible to those who have eyes to see energy. We are the Goddess. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. Blessed Be!
* Guided meditation.
* Songs Return Again; Old Crone of Mystery, The Dark, Sacred Mother, Earth My Body
* We’ll have a special, short check-in: I’ll prepare a card to pass around. Possibly:
o Name I’d like to be called tonight (could be a new crone phase name, even for those who are young)
o Name of my mother and her mother (3 phases of womanhood—me, mother, grandmother)
o One word I associate with cronedom
* craft/art project.
1. a traditional Japanese water purification ritual
2. traditional tea ceremony to cast the circle
3. introduction to onmyoudou (Japanese magick)
4. Crafts including Shimenawa (new years talisman) and Ofuda (prayer or
5. Personal Meditation
Every year near Oct. 31st, Full Circle, a spiritual practice group at the UU church of Annapolis, marks the turning of the year and honor those who have passed away. A canvas labyrinth is set up and used in a walking meditation to remember those who have passed away, and to be mindful of things that need to be released from ones life. At the center candles are lit to to honor those who have passed. As participants walk out following the labyrinth, they meditated on letting in new things into their lives for the new year. Below are photos of the altars that participants set up prior to the ritual. The individual altars have photos and objects of friends and family that have passed away.
* Cast Circle: new type of circle casting. Two women face and say:from heart to heart (hand on heart like in pledge, from hand to hand (clasp left hand),The circle is cast in love (kiss on each others cheek).
* Quarters, goddess greeting
* Check in :“How do you nurture others, or how would you like to be nurtured.?” Checkin piece:watermelon. Mother poems
* Meditation by EK (Current self, astral travels in time, talk 2 younger self, & give comfort, words of wisdom)
* Post Meditation: choose card, write letter to past self
* Craft: make a nurturing Goddess or symbol
* Quarters, goddess farewell
* Open Circle: from hand to hand the circle is open with love (“the circle is now open but unbroken”)
1)Prep Circle – white candles for each woman to take, seeds, bags
2)Smudge – earth, Vanilla incense (seed pods)
a.Sing “We All Come From The Goddess”
3)Cast Circle – (Raven) deer visualization
4)Call Quarters – (start E)
6)Check in – each woman lights candle from woman before her, first candle lit from center candle
a.Check in question: New beginnings/Seeds of change and creativity – what new beginnings would you like to start, or have you started recently?
7)Reading (The goddess within)
a.Scott Cunningham goddess reading
b.DJ Conway Maiden reading
c.Charge of the goddess
8)Seed symbolism craft
a.Seeds of new beginnings feel your seeds and infuse them with the power to manifest your new beginning, go home and plant them (or throw them outside here) and as they root and grow, imagine the creative seeds of your new beginning taking root in your life and growing to be a part of your being.
9)Singing with seed rattles
a.I am the Goddess
b.Maiden. Mother, Crone
c.Other Goddess songs?
13)Feast! Seeds, nuts, fruit, berries, grapes, juice
* Celebrating one full year of blogging full moons! w00t!
* Prep: Bring your own pictures or sculptures of animals, pets, Guardian Spirits to decorate our altar.
* Circle casting: water imagery to surround and guide us (because of the heat)
* Smudge: As animals are the focus I want to have real and fake fur and feathers so that allergic or not everyone can join in.
* Meditation: Getting comfortable with our furry,winged,squirmy friends.
* Meditation/Fun: Weaver-version of Harry Potter’s Patronus charm. We will be the envy of all the kids who wish they could be witches (and wizards).
* Craft: Jelly jars for a possible Weaver-adapted version of the “witch ball” which will instead be more like a firefly jar
(image from by: iikrisii.devianart.com)