Imbolc 2017

I woke this morning to a valley full of fog, listening to the eerie echo of the ravens croak through the thick, moist air. Even though the days are getting longer, there is a chill to the air that hints at distant snow-capped mountains & the vast expanse of the southern oceans. And it is almost lunch time & still no rays from Father Sun have penetrated the thick grey-white clouds that are hanging so low overhead.

In this way I contemplate the coming turn of the Wheel, Imbolc. This festival is called the Festival of Awakening by the lovely Glennie Kindred & is the gateway to Spring. It falls at the exact midpoint between the Winter Solstice & the Spring Equinox, August 7 at 5:40pm according to the Spheres of Light website.

For me, this festival is a time of hope, a time when the deep dreamings of Winter’s dark catch the light of the lengthening days & spark into action my body & my heart & my soul. This transition reminds me of the journey of the Cailleach to the Well of Youth, where she imbibes of the magickal waters there & returns to her maiden form, waving her white wand to bring the Earth back to her green state.

This time heralds my great annual Spring clean, which I hope to have done by the time the Wheel turns again at Ostara. The greens of Yule will be burned, items will be boxed up to send to the local charity opportunity shops, curtains will get a wash & the besom will come out of the closet for a big sweeping cleanse of the entire house. This year I will be making a potion with basil, bay & myrrh that I will use to mop the floors & wipe the surfaces of my house, adding purification, consecration, joy, peace, healing & blessings to the space. The sills will get the usual wipe down with methylated spirits & there will be a pot of lavender, apple, yarrow & rose boiling on the stove top to fill the house with love. A large white candle will burn brightly to its end on the kitchen table & salt will be sprinkled into the corners to capture anything that I may have missed.

The Hedgewitchery festivities usually involve a mass candle blessing, a huge feast & the reading of poems. This year I want us to make Inner Child Dollies to gift our youngest aspects with something special. I want to fill mine with herbs & dried corn & oats. I also want to try divining using ceromancy- the pouring of melted wax into a bowl of water. Wish me luck!

Whatever it is you do to tap into this very special time of year, may it be blessed with much peace & love & happiness.

Alison xxx

Embracing the Shadow to Release the Light

For the last 3 years I have had the privilege of spending Yule with my Hedgeriding sistars on a beautiful property on Gadubanud country at Apollo Bay. This time is in honour of the deep, dark wisdom of Winter Solstice & perfect for sitting in circles to process life as we craft & cook & tell stories. With fires burning & incense filling the air, we work our insights into crowns & magickal pouches & mommets & baked goods, & in doing so we are able to ground & centre ourselves around the growth that is available at such moments.

The reality of multiple perspectives & how they can influence our sense of self was a conversation that taught me a lot this Yule. It is easy to get lost in the way that others see the world they share with us & the distraction created with this can often elicit feelings of frustration or fear or futility… potentially a very disempowering experience.

One magickal craft that helped me to regain & reinforce my own perspective was the Yule Pouch. We began by crafting a pouch to hold the working, something that is created with what is available & woven to appeal to our personal aesthetics. Then we fill the pouch with symbolic representations of the dreams that we have for our year to come, such as a clove of garlic for protection against sickness or a small fruit to ensure that our efforts bring us an abundant return or words written on a bay leaf to hold wishes. During the Yule bonfire we take a moment to energise the pouches in a quiet, meditative state, & then they are sealed. These pouches are placed in a significant place in the home to radiate the contained magick throughout the year.

The pouch that I made last year was emptied to be refilled this year. In doing this I realised just how successful my last Yule Pouch was as it hung above my bed since the time it was sealed… all that I had asked for had come to be! It is subtle & gentle magick that I highly recommend.

As I write this, today is the shortest day & longest night & I am preparing to celebrate this auspicious time with my partner & my children. We shall feast & make a small altar in the lounge room that we can assemble our mattresses around for a slumber party. The night will be filled with movies & stories & a few simple spells…

Dreaming Stone Spell

Take a stone that feels right & hop into your bed with it. Hold it in your left hand (right if you are left-handed) & listen to what it has to say to you. Then hold it in your right hand (left if you are left-handed) & dream about the life that you wish to be living. Let this dream flow from your mind, down through your arm & hand & into the stone. Give the stone a kiss & place it on a dish of salt beside your head while you sleep on the longest night. In the morning, place the stone in your pillow case so that it is under your head every night as you dream. Journal your dreams in the days/weeks/months to come or discuss them with your friends & family. In this way you are able to access the insights that you need to manifest the life that you dream of. Toss the salt outside your bedroom window. When you feel the time is right, cleanse the stone for reuse or return it to the place that it came from (eg. earth or sea etc.).

Wishing with Bay

Make a fire or light a candle & sit beside it thinking about what you wish for more than anything in the world. This wish must be something are willing to work towards & make sacrifices for it to come to be. Write the wish onto a bay leaf, read it out 3 times & then burn it in the flame of the fire or candle. Let the ash drift where it may.

Whatever your adventures are for this Winter Solstice, may they be blessed.

HAPPY YULE!!

Alison xxx

Ostara Rite

Ostara Altar

Ostara Rite
A rite to mark the turning of the Wheel that will bring balance to our inner reality & nourishment to our goals.
This rite is best done outdoors around the base of a tree at dusk or dawn.
Components-
• seeds that you can plant to grow
• a handful of dirt from where you wish them to grow
• a candle
• a feather
• a jar of water with a lid (natural water is best)
The Rite-
Call an aspect of self to each direction, focus thoughts:
  • at East on Ostara, on our ability to harness what is coming & plant seeds of change & growth
  • at North on Litha, on our ability to express our passions & drive our actions,
  • at West on Mabon, on our ability to gather what we need to sustain ourselves & let go of what no longer is useful
  • at South on Yule, on our ability to be deep within our mystery & our inner knowing
Centre is for Earth Sun Moon & Stars in balance of cycles
Honour the Land spirits & our Ancestors
Ground & centre
Seeds in left hand, dirt in right hand
Breath into left body by blocking the right nostril, focus on yin & draw yin energy in from the outer world & breath out yin energy from inner world
Breath into right body by blocking the left nostril, focus on yang & draw yang energy in from outer world & breath out yang energy from inner world
Send awareness to feet & ask them to show you a way to balance, feel it rise from the feet into your body
Place seeds in mouth
Let your feet walk you to find a place to offer the dirt
Come back to centre
Take the water & offer some to the Earth at the base of the tree in centre then add the seeds to the jar with some spit
Take the feather in right hand & candle in left
Breath in balance between left & right, inner & outer, yin & yang
Ask your spirit to to show you how to hold the balance, feel it trickle down from the top of your head
Let your spirit take you for a walk & offer the feather where you land
Come back to centre & symbolise the holding of balance onto the candle with a nail
Give thanks to Earth Sun Moon & Stars
Give thanks to Land spirits & Ancestors
Close circle by drawing in the aspects of self that have watched from each direction.
Follow-up
Plant the seeds by pouring the contents of the jar into the place you wish for them to grow
Set the candle in the dirt by the seeds & light it, letting it burn out naturally.

Winter Solstice rite

Spirit Animal: The Hawk by FuShan via deviantart

This rite is to be done in two parts… Part 1 at Sunset of the longest night, Part 2 at Sunrise after the longest night. Where I live that will be Sunday the 21st June.

You will need:

A bowl of Holy Water (I will be using Florida Water that I made last Balsamic Moon)

A bowl of Bay leaves

A candle that will burn the whole night through but not much longer than that

Sandalwood incense (with myrrh if you have it)

Mandrake oil or Frankincense oil

A pen, paper, matches, a skewer or blade, & a spade

Part 1

Begin at Sunset. Take your candle &, using the skewer, inscribe it with symbols or words that make you feel connected to the mysteries, that bring you protection & potency. Then light it with the matches & light your incense from its flame.

Stand tall & with grace, facing West. Dig deep & ponder who you have been & then write your story down on paper. Read it back to yourself. Then, rip it into tiny pieces & place them into the bowl of Holy Water. Hold the bowl in your hands & pray for your past to rest in peace.

Take the bowl to an outdoor space in the West. Pour the water out with the paper that was you & bid yourself farewell.

Return indoors & take the bowl of Bay, inhale its scent & place it next to the candle. Rub a drop of Mandrake or Frankincense oil onto your Third Eye then sit facing East, close your eyes & dream of your perfect place. From this spot, allow yourself to fly as Hawk & venture into unknown spaces & times. Look long at the details of any visons that are exciting or desirable or enticing to you, pondering how these visions can be turned into wishes for your coming times.

When you return, write these wishes onto the Bay leaves, 1 wish per leaf. Hold the bowl of wishes in your hands & pray for your future to bring dreams coming true. Sit the bowl next to the candle.

If you can, stay awake all night busying yourself with productive work such as baking or sewing or crafting. If you need to sleep, it would be nice to do so with your candle & bowl placed safely nearby.

Part 2

As the Sun rises, light some more incense & read back over your Bay wishes. Watch the Sun rising & give thanks for the return of light after the longest night. This is done nicely with a warm cup of tea or bowl of porridge.

When you are ready & your praises have been sung, take the Bay wishes & your spade to an outdoor space in the East. Bury your Bay leaves, pat the soil down & whisper your blessings over it. Return to this spot often to place fortune over your wishes. Allow your candle to burn until it goes out naturally.

Notes:

  • create sacred space for these processes in whatever way suits your sensibilities
  • be sure to dispose of the candle wax & incense dust responsibly & intentionally, eg buried under your tree friend
  • make a list of the steps you can be taking to ensure the manifestation of your wishes & stick it somewhere that you can see it, crossing off each step as you complete it

)O(

Winter Solstice

The Winter Solstice festival is known as Yule in many circles, the root of this word in Old Norse means wheel & it represents the lowest point of the wheel of the year… when waning becomes waxing. This is the time when Mother Night encircles the Sun in her loving arms for the longest time during his cycle, & she returns him to us renewed & full of hope. As the Sun cycle waxes new, I will be spending 12 days in celebration of the returning light with candles lit, fires burning, feasting, story telling, baking & camping out in the living room with my children working dream incubation spells. Here are some ideas for your Winter Solstice celebrations…

Incense Blend…

I will be filling my home with this wonderful blend for the whole festival time to keep my spirit adrift & to open my heart & blood to the potential of this time.

Juniper berries

Frankincense resin

Damiana leaves

Dragon’s Blood resin

Cinnamon bark

 

Dream Incubation…

This is great to do with children to honour this time of year. We place mattresses in the living area so that all of our heads are angled to a central point & set up this spell in the middle.

As the Sun sets on the longest night, write or draw your wishes on a piece of paper. Fold it once, set it at the head of your bed & place a stone on top of it (we use smokey quartz or moonstone). In the center of these wishes place a bowl of sacred water (or water from a natural source, or filtered tap water at the very least) with lavender flowers in it.

Before you go to sleep, take turns whispering your wishes into the bowl of water & as you rise in the morning, discuss your dreams from the night before & how they may be clues for making your wishes come true.

After your Winter Solstice celebrations, return the water & lavender to nature, bury your wishes under a tree & carry your stones with you or keep them under your pillow.

 

And from the inspiring Michelle Duke-

Yule Log…

The longest night is a wonderful time to go deep within, to reflect, to enter the womb of creation. Seek out those parts of yourself that have been long forgotten, lost, unloved, & prepare to reawaken them from their slumber.

Gather together- Corn Husk, Cinnamon, Clove, Ginger, Nutmeg, Sandalwood, Frankincense, Orange rind

Fill the corn husk with the herbs & any other symbolic things that you would like to burn, for example written words or hair. Wrap twine around it to create a log shape. Toss the Yule Log into your Winter Solstice fire or burn as a smudge for your home.

)O(

Cross Quarter Dreaming

I woke on the floor in a small log cabin. There was a rough-spun blanket wrapped around me. The only sounds were distant bird calls & the gentle rush of leaves blowing in the wind. When I stood the blanket fell from me & I was met by the chill of the air & a wonderful sensation of being alone.

Going through the only door found me outside, surrounded by a long neglected garden full of brambling herb bushes & nibbled on fruits & vegetables still attached to their mother plants.

I sat on a wooden armchair with the blanket in the wild garden to watch & learn, to understand where & when I had woken. A thick scrub of trees wrapped around the cabin. The sun was low & to my left, slowly heading for the horizon… Sunset.

A clear & darkening sky revealed to me the heads of the Gemini Twins, close behind the Sun… Late Autumn.

As the darkness deepened I sat under dampening air that froze the tip of my nose & made my ears ache with cold. No Moon… All night I waited but I could not find her… Dark Moon.

I slept then, under the gentle heat of the Autumn Sun & dreamed of a campfire council of my ancestors. I sat mute & watched them tell stories & dance & throw bunches of herbs into the fire. When it was down to embers, some coal was removed & ground in a bowl made of wood, along with some small black berries. They slit the throat of a boar & added his blood to the ground coal to make a paste, which was used to anoint the palms & ears & eyelids of all who were present… Including me. That’s when they came, shadowy figures moving through the small gathering, embracing some people, whispering to others. I felt the cold grasp of a bony hand from one shadow & heard the quiet voice reveal to me what I am required to do for this next turn of the Sun Wheel. Then I woke again, in the wild garden, with the sun & moon setting…

Samhain.

Mabon Incense

This lovely blend was developed last Full Moon during a session with one of my students. She was put on the spot & asked to come up with an incense blend for Mabon without any warning & within a reasonable amount of time. Later, as it was burning, I was called so quickly to journey that I lay down & had a most amazing experience! Burn this blend when you wish to make haste through the veil & journey with whatever you are seeking clarity for…. Mabon blessings to you all.

Jianne’s Mabon Incense Blend – Cinnamon, Clove, Eyebright, Blue Cornflower, Damiana, Frankincense, Dalia, Geranium, Comfrey Root, Orris Root & Dragon’s Blood.

)O(

The Festival of Light

There is a brightness to the rays of Father Sun at this time, a warmth when He can break through the icy winds, a yearning from life towards His mighty pull. Today I saw the first Jasmine flower & the smell was a delicious promise of heady warm nights to come. Imbolc, Brigit, Oimealg, Candalmas… This festival of light is upon us.

As I prepare my rite for this turn of the Wheel, I am feeling the ominous sensation that comes before a life changing event… like I am stepping through into something new & exciting. Perhaps it is the intense build up that has been on offer since the mating of the Earth & Water trines, or it could just be the general theme for this Year of the Snake. Whatever the case, I am aware of how important this time is for me & so my recognition of this festival is to be deep & personal & transformative.

The Rite

Set your sacred space within you, become the circle from which you have called your guides & guards & ancestors to stand watch, your deity/s to hold, the elements to keep, & ask this bountiful land to permit you. Draw a picture of yourself & describe who you are in words on that same piece of paper. Find a large rock & place it on top of this paper, preferably on the ground. Turn your back & walk away from it with the awareness that for a short while you are not you but a potent Spirit new to this world.

Find a place that you can be close to nature, for example your garden or the local park. Take a very slow walk to & around this place, looking with these fresh eyes, indulging in the smells & colours & textures & tastes that surround you. Ask this awesome new land to show you who you are now & patiently wait for a response. When you have it, give thanks & leave an offering (or be sure to take one back at another time).

Make a slow journey back to where you began feeling the new you taking form around the Spirit you. When you return take another piece of paper & draw & describe yourself with words upon it. Look at the paper from before your journey & note the differences. Burn the old you & place the new you in a significant place in your home.

Release you circle & focus on the embodiment of your newness as your instincts change & your body adjusts.

)O(

YULE – The Winter Solstice

The longest night will be on Friday the 21st of June… tomorrow. I will be sharing a lovely story-telling, dream-pillow-making, soup-eating, mulled-wine-drinking evening with some wonderfully magickal folks to celebrate this festival. I will also be stepping through 3 gateways during the course of the longest night to honour this time & encourage my own energy to grow & flow with the natural currents available to me.

SUNSET (17:08 AEST) – Moving Through The Western Gate

At sunset I plan on lighting a candle in the West & watching as Father Sun takes his descent into His longest journey through the darkness of Mother Night. I will grieve for Him as He goes & in that grief I will bring all that I need to release to the surface & out through my right palm to anchor it into a rock. I will place a tear onto the rock & sit it next to the candle.

THE WITCHING HOUR (midnight) – Moving Through The Southern Gate

I will take the rock & glass of wine to the bridge over my local river at the Witching Hour. Holding the rock in my left hand & the wine in my right hand I will send my awareness to the water below, down through the water & through the earth beneath it, through the molten center of this planet & up & up through the soil & out of the soil on the other side & through space to finally stop in front of Father Sun. I will tell Him why I wish for His return, tell Him of the importance of His presence in my life. Then my awareness will slowly come back until I am once more on the bridge & I will whisper into the cup of wine “Thank you Mother Night for His safe return.’ & I will pour the wine into the river. Then I will whisper to the rock “Thank you for the lessons that the grief you hold has given to me, I can let them go now.” & then I will throw the rock into the water.

SUNRISE (07:36 AEST) – Moving Through The Eastern Gate

In the East I will light some incense & sit in meditation reflecting on all of the parts of my world that are building & growing. I will give thanks for the return of Father Sun & the gifts that He is bringing into my life & I will give thanks for the abundance that has been provided to me.Then I will sing…

‘Every morning I wake up to see your shining face

You give me the energy to face the human race

You’re watching over me all throughout the day

Then in the evening time you slowly fade away.

It sends chills down my spine to see the Sun’s shine

It sends chills down my spine to see the Sun’s shine…’

(words by me)

HAPPY YULE!

)O(