Monday, January 14, 2019

How We Celebrate Imbolc: Emily Murphy

This is a fictional account of Imbolc as I'd love to see it celebrated.

One of my favorite memories from my childhood is that we used to visit our grandparents and Brighid would come to visit. She was a big woman dressed in white with big, red, curly hair and big laugh. We sang to her songs we had practiced and then we would talk with her about all the things we want to be and do when we grow old. I told her about wanting to become a fashion designer, and she told me to learn to sew and draw, and gave me small gifts I can use to do that, like one year I got a drawing pad and set of pens, and another year I got a very nice sewing kit and fabric and pattern to make myself a dress. My brother wanted to be a carpenter and he got carpenter tools and wood.
I was about 20 when our "Brighid" died, and I finally realized she was just an ordinary person, and that the gifts were from our parents. We haven't found anyone to play Brighid to our children, I play her to some friends' children. Not our family friends, because they know me and that I'm not Brighid, but I have some friends whose children don't know me.
At our house the kids write to Brighid about their future plans and she sends them a package that magically appears at the foot end of the beds on Imbolc morning. These gifts are always something they can use in their future professions, or something that helps them reach their professional goals, or something about their creative pursuits and ambitions.

Our Imbolc begins on the eve. We don't decorate before the eve. The dinner is being prepared and one of the parents (or grandparent, family friend, aunt or so) takes the kids out to play - hopefully in the snow, or ice skating, if there's ice - and the other parent stays at home and decorates the whole house. If we get a relative to take the kids, even better, because then we can do it together. It is amazing to leave the house as it usually is and come back to winter wonderland

Then we have a dinner and a small dedication ritual. It is usually just lighting candles and blessing food, but for Imbolc we have a bowl of snow or ice on the table, to melt by our heat, to symbolize how Mother Earth is awakening and the snow and ice is melting outside.

We read a picture book together before bedtime, the kids get a new pajamas for the feast, and in the morning the kids find Brighid's gift on their bed.

Then we'll eat Imbolc brunch. There is a lot of dairy and citrus fruits that are in season right now, and pancakes. We'll have it served on a side table and we eat it in the living room, watching family movies with season appropriate message. The Pebble and the Penguin is a family favorite. It has love, escape from capture, winning against all odds, surviving difficult situations, winter and pebbles :-D

Later the day we have a mystery play. We do it every Sabbath. It is the same every year, to create tradition and habit. I wrote it myself, because there aren't any mystery plays for Pagans.My husband and I chose our favorite folk songs and carols and we wrote new words for them. These little plays aren't long, and in the beginning my husband and I used to play most parts. We also used teddybears and dolls to act as stand-ins and extras :-D Now we are leaving more and more of the fun to the kids. The two eldest are quite capable of doing most of the work and they think it's great fun.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Imbolc photo list

Make a list of symbols, colors, myths and other such things for this season. Use existing lists and your own associations.
There's plenty of good lists about this online.
Some of my symbols are hearts, sheep, snowdrops, Brigid's cross and candles. I also associate wolves and angels to Imbolc.
My colors for Imbolc are white, red and pink, with purple and midnight blue.

Take a photo of all the symbols and colors you find in your home and make a collage; all the hearts, all the angels, all the red things...

What myths and mythological creatures do you associate with Imbolc?
For example, many people associate the tomtes (gnomes) and Santa and Santa's elves to Christmas. For Imbolc, many people think of Brigid. There's a LOT of Christmas things built around Santa and his elves (gnomes). Come up with your own family tradition for Imbolc.

My family tradition is the Mistress of the Copper Mountain or Malachite Goddess.

Do you plan on doing any spellwork for Imbolc? 
Take photos of things and events that remind you of Imbolc themes, like rebirth and birth, inspiration, fire, crafts and skills and knowledge etc.

Have a bonfire night or lantern walk - or both

"Santa" or "Easter Bunny" photo with the Deity or a Saint or the mythological spirit of the feast.

Another Christmas tradition I love is the creche. It is in reality just a vignette, 3D illustration of the Christmas myth. Create your own around the myths of your own tradition. 

A European Christmas tradition is the Advent. Four weeks before the Christmas, children are counting down the time different ways. There is the tradition of burning a candle on each Advent Sunday, there's Advent calendars, there are stories told in 24 parts, one every day of December leading to the Christmas day. 

Adopt this for each Sabbath, and take some photos of your traditions. 

Also, Mardi Gras, Fat Tuesday, was the last day before Easter lent. Choose a period of time (I think 3-4 weeks is a good amount of time) and celebrate "the first Advent" with something special. Here in Sweden we usually have a Glögg party, people come together to drink mulled wine and something else, like "secret Santa" gift exchange, or to watch a movie together, or play games or do some Christmas related crafts, like ornaments or cards. Or just to be together. 

First Advent celebration

Now, find out about the different saints being celebrated at this time, and make something special of that day. In Sweden, Saint Lucia is being celebrated on 13.12. with very early breakfast in bed with special pastry, served by a fair maiden wearing a white gown and candle crown, with a red sash on her waist symbolizing her blood from her martyr death... that part isn't that nice, now, is it... :-D
But the tradition fits perfectly Imbolc. It also sits nicely about in the middle of the waiting period for the feast, about two weeks after first Advent, two weeks before Christmas.

Find out other feasts from different traditions you could appropriate and adjust to your needs. 

Invent your own.

Small parties during the waiting period

Then you should take a photo of your decorations, throughout the house

The Ornament or new decoration of the year

Wreath on the door

Your windows - take a photo from inside out, to frame the weather with your decorations, then take a photo from outside, to see how pretty your window is to everyone else. 
You could start a tradition of decorating your windows as if they were the display windows of a grand department store :-D

Nature walk, look for signs of spring

Neighborhood. How do they decorate for the season? Do they? How does your neighborhood look at this time of the year?

"Bucket list" activities and family traditions
- do you have traditions of things you do every year just because it's Imbolc? Like winter picnic? Ice skating and hot chocolate bar in the snow? 
You should. 
Take Katherine Marie and her 12 boxes of Christmas fun. You definitely should do something like that with your family. Don't have children? Never mind. Have special date boxes for you and your SO. Don't have a SO? Never mind, have special self pampering boxes. Or have "girls' night in" boxes.

Movie night
Write a movie list with some 10-20 season appropriate movies with Sabbath appropriate themes, and have a movie night. Take photos.
How to make the movie special? Take a cue from Polar Express Watch Party or a Grinch Movie Night.

Now, I find it hard to find suitable movies for Imbolc (of course, because Imbolc isn't "a thing", like Christmas), but some suggestions are:
All Snegurochka movies
All movies about the polar areas, like The Pebble and the Penguin and White Seal. (Yes, and Happy Feet, even though I personally dislike it)
Jack Frost (I mean the 1998 movie, but also Rise of the Guardians could do.)
Brendan and the Secret of Kells
Basically any movies about bears and wolves and hibernating animals, or cows, especially those placed in winter.
Ice Age movies could do.

Imbolc carols

Again, there aren't really any. But, do your best. Remember, most Christmas carols were folk songs with new lyrics, or one just took a melody anywhere, like hymns, and put in appropriate words. A lot of "Christmas music" is something we associate with Christmas for some reason, like it was used in a movie we use to watch every Christmas. Every song is made up. Most songs are rather new. Just start making songs, and create your own traditions.

Imbolc cards

Make your own (it's not as if there was a lot to be bought, now, is there), take pictures of when you do, take pictures of the ready cards, cards in envelopes ready to be posted and cards you have received and displayed.

Have a craft night - you can gather to make presents or cards or ornaments and decorations, or just something. Take photos.

Take photos of presents being wrapped, your wrapping station, presents all wrapped up and gathered on the present table (or where you plan on gathering them) and people reacting to their presents.
We don't have a tradition of gift-giving at Imbolc, but let's start it! It's always nice to receive presents and love tokens! 
Give something to eat, something to smell, something to touch, something to listen to and something to watch. Give a book. Give something to create with, like tools or paint. Give something to help learn a new skill or to improve what one already can.

Take a photo of someone sneaking around trying to act all mysterious and hiding things

Go on a shopping spree and take photos. It's not likely there will be an Imbolc market, but - do your best :-D You could do it in a style of a stag party and dress up appropriately and make it a fun thing that way.

Now, one of the favorite photo-ops for Christmas is fetching the Christmas tree. There is no tree for Imbolc, but perhaps you could create something similar. Going to a flower shop to buy some white bulbs, like snowdrops and hyacinths? Gathering willow pussies (here it's something done for Ostara, I don't know how it is where you live.) Fetching the holiday dinner from a local farmer? 

Plant snowdrops and take photos of them growing. 
(Just remember that the time to plant the bulbs for forcing is 2 months before the feast! If you want snowdrops blooming for Imbolc, you need to plant them in November.)
If you live in an area where it is possible to find wild flowers in bloom, take photos of them.

Take photos of all the preparations for the feast, like baking for the feast and roasting the turkey (or what ever it is you plan on eating.)

Take photos of the goodies served, the table set, people eating the dinner, and the food coma after :-D

Take photo of all dressed up to their finest for the party, but also take a photo of some "outfits of the day" before the day. 
Make it a thing to wear something Imbolc related during the weeks before.

Take photos of your pets and children and lover and yourself reacting to all this

Take photos of everything that happens on the feast day
Take a "day after" photo

Create a "12 days of..." traditions. Have a big party on the 13th day to "dance" Imbolc off. 

2.2 Imbolc - 1st day
3.2 2nd day - St Berlinda, a hermitess, protectress of trees and cattle
4.2 3rd day - St. Joan of Valois, the saint of women left because they were ugly, sick, crippled, deformed and bluestockings. Saint of women being educated as well as men.
5.2 4th day - St. Agatha - the rape victims, prostitutes and breast cancer victims
6.2 5th day - St Dorothy, who send back apples and roses from the Garden after her death.
7.2 6th day - St. Juliana of Bologna - the patron of single mothers
8.2 7th day - St. Josephine Bakhita, the patron of slaves and torture victims
9.2 8th day - NYD
10.2 9th day - St. Scholastica - patron of books, school, tests, reading and St. Austreberta - refused to be part of an arranged marriage, used a wolf as a donkey, because the wolf ate the donkey and promised to work for it. Brought up a healing spring.
11.2 10th day - feast day of Our Lady of Lourdes, the healer
12.2 11th day - St Febronia, Juno Februata, Goddess of purification, purging, fever - staying steadfast with what one believes to be true even when tortured and St Humbeline, sisterly love and intelligent, charismatic women
13.2 12th day - St Catherine of Ricci - patroness of the sick, an expert on religion, management and administration, counceler and correspondant. Among others with three future popes. 
14.2. 13th day - St.Valentine's day


Celebrate Pancake day

Imbolc past
Imbolc present
Imbolc future