January 31 – February 6, 2019: Four of Swords

Sundown this Friday, February 1st, marks the start of Imbolc, a Sabbat knowns as Brigid’s Day that lasts through February 2nd. This is precisely the halfway point between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. The harsh, cold winter is starting to give way. The sun sets just a bit later every day.

This is the time to welcome the Celtic Fire Goddess Brigid with a festival to honor the maiden. Imbolc festivals always involve fire ceremonies, and lots of candles.

The maiden is key in Pagan tradition. The triple goddess symbol shows the phases of the moon and also represents phases of life: the child, the maiden and the crone. Imbolc means “ewe’s milk” and also “in the belly of the mother.” At this time of year, the seeds for Spring are sitting in the womb of mother earth, waiting to pop up through the icy ground. This is a time for rebirth, renewal and preparation for the future.

I’m new to learning about Paganism, I was raised Roman Catholic. I am always fascinated by the ways that Christianity uses Pagan traditions. In the church, February 1st is St. Brigit’s Day and February 2nd is Candlemas, when the candles are blessed for ceremonies throughout the year. The Feast of the Virgin Mary is also this time of year; Mary was a maiden, a mother. Pagan tradition involves making Brigid’s Cross out of wheat stalks, which are similar to the crosses made from palms on Palm Sunday, coming up a little bit later in the Spring for Christians.

Today, there are lots of ways you can honor Brigid. You can have a bonfire or light a candle in each room of the house. Sweeping and clearing the dust from the home is customary. Out with the old and in with the new. Cleaning of anysort is a good way to celebrate, even cleansing the body by taking a nice herbal bath.

Decorate your altar or your mantel with signs of early spring like tulips, daffodils, feathers, or anything green and fresh. Of course food is very important, as with any holiday. You can make a nice meal with seasonal items like root vegetables, seeds, hearty starches. Dairy products are also associated with Imboc (I mentioned the “ewe’s milk” earlier). Yogurt, custard, creamy soups or sauces. I personally like dairy, so I plan to make a vegan “cheesy” cauliflower potato soup (here’s the recipe) and maybe some fresh baked bread or warm cinnamon rolls.

I pulled a tarot card, looking for some advice on the week ahead, and up came the Four of Swords. Here, we have a knight resting on an altar, over a sword. When I see this card, I always think of the idiom, “just sleep on it.” Reflect, rejuvenate yourself, rest as much as possible this week. You have a lot to do, and the sword below the knight suggests there is one particular point or situation, where turning off your brain will be beneficial. The three swords above the knight, pointing down means that other things can wait. Hang up your weapons, put down your shield, and take care of yourself. The knight’s hands are in prayer, which means meditate, pray, whatever you want to call it – just clear your mind. This is great for Imbolc weekend!

As you start the work week on Monday, there is a new moon in Aquarius. New moons are a good time to manifest what you want. I just started a new job, so I’ll be performing my own manifestation ritual to focus on letting go of the old version of myself and expanding into my highest potential during this moon phase. You can make moon water for spells and rituals by placing a bowl of salt water outside or by a window where moonlight will reach the bowl. Then, you might have to defrost the water depending on where you live, but it can be used in sprays, baths, gardens, etc. Anywhere you want to spread some magic.

The new moon in Aquarius might have you feeling a little bit lonely. I think that some alone time to recharge your batteries will be needed over the weekend, but don’t carry that reclusivity with you through the week. Brainstorm with people, ask for input, collaborate on problems, reach out to people in your social circle. Open yourself to new experiences. It will be good to think outside of the box this week. Stir the pot, so to speak.

Here are some excellent articles that I read for this blog:

 

December 20 – 26, 2018: Death

Life has been so crazy, that I missed my blog last week! With trying to wrap up the semester and the work year, preparing for the holidays, something had to give. Well, besides my sanity. And so this week brings the Death card.

This is actually one of my favorite cards in the deck because it’s all about, “out with the old; make room for the new.” A skeleton knight rides in on his white horse to take the life of the king. This is a reminder that death comes for all walks of life: rich or poor, bad or good, young or old. The skeleton represents the strongest part of the human body, the only part that remains after death. The armor makes death invincible, nothing can stop him. In the distance is a beautiful sun scape and you can see the towers from the moon card, as though from the other side.

The Death card means that a chapter or a situation in your life is coming to and end and there is much potential to start anew. Remember that death is just as much a part of life as birth, as we usher in the full moon in Cancer on Saturday, December 22nd.

The full moon is a time to slow down and fill your cup. Give gratitude for your blessings. The energy of Cancer in this context will help you balance your heart and mind. You will be in the mood for spending time with family and friends, which is perfect because this week we also celebrate the holidays.

Many people will celebrate Christmas, which actually carries a lot of the same traditions as Yule. Yule is the winter solstice, also called Christmastide. This year it falls on Friday, December 21st. This tradition is traced back thousands of years to Germany and Scandinavia, as late as the 4th century.

Although most of the Yule traditions were absorbed into Christmas, many Neo Pagans and Wiccans still celebrate. Some of these traditions include bringing various winter-hearty plants into the home, like evergreen, holly, birch, mistletoe and pine. This was a type of sympathetic magic, meant to guard the essence and spirit of the plant. A wild boar was sacrificed for the feast, although today a ham is more commonplace. The Viking God Odin was called the first Father of Christmas; he was known to disguide himself as a wanderer with a long white beard.

Yule is celebrated on the night of the Winter solstice, the shortest day of the year. And the celebration is all about light in any form: candles, bonfires, burning the yule log, etc. Many holiday traditions are centered around light: the star of Christmas, there’s Hanukkah with its brightly lit menorahs, Kwanzaa candles, and more.

I think that Death was actually a fantastic card to represent this week. The year is winding down; I’m taking the time to slow down and I have some pretty big plans to reveal in my life in 2019. Sometimes the hardest part of growing, is saying goodbye to the old you. It’s also a reminder not to take life too seriously! To keep your loved ones close, because your time with them is limited. I feel a stirring of change, growth and new beginnings for the new year. Death to the same boring old comfort zone!

 

Here are some excellent sources that I consulted for this blog!

https://www.biddytarot.com/tarot-card-meanings/major-arcana/death/

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/winter-solstice-pagan-yule_us_585970abe4b03904470af4c5

https://www.thoughtco.com/history-of-yule-2562997