Holidays

What is Imbolc? Goddesses, History, and How to Celebrate

Imbolc is an ancient Pagan holiday based on Celtic traditions; it marks the halfway point between winter solstice and the spring equinox in Neolithic Ireland and Scotland. This is the time of year when we start to emerge from the darkness of winter in preparation for the Spring. 

In today’s modern world, we are far removed from the hardships of Winter, compared to our ancestors who lived thousands of years ago. At this point in the year, people have been hunkered down inside for months, living off root vegetables, salted meat, and what little they could fish or hunt. Their sheep, who naturally tend to breed in Autumn, are ready to give birth right around Imbolc. The ewe’s milk flows for the first time all Winter, and fresh milk and cheese were the first signs that Spring is about to arrive. Imbolc was a time to celebrate the coming of brighter days, surviving the harsh Winter, and planning for the year’s sowing season.

Being mindful of the natural energies, the ebbs and flows of the year, can help us stay connected to the elements, the season and the earth. Ancient Pagans followed the Wheel of the Year, eight Sabbats consisting of four solstice festivals, and four fire festivals.

All about Brighid (Brigid)

On Imbolc, ancestors in Ireland and Scotland particularly, honored the Goddess Brighid. Brighid can take on any appearance she wants, young or old, human or snake. She is a Triple Celtic Goddess, the embodiment of the child, the maiden and the crone. She is the Goddess of the Eternal Flame, the trinity also represents three types of fire: hearth fire, forge fire, and the fire to create and transform. She is also known as the Goddess of the Sacred Well, protecting healing waters. Brighid was the patron of poets, healers, and magicians.   

Brighid (Brigid) Imbolc

Imbolc Correspondence for the Modern Witch

Foods associated with Imbolc are milk, butter, yogurt, and cheese (and nondairy alternatives will do just fine). This is the time to savor creamy soups, spring onions, leeks, potatoes, and Irish Soda Bread. Oils associated with Imbolc are spruce and fir, cinnamon, rosemary, patchouli, jasmine, and vanilla. Colors are white, light blue, and light pink. 

Imbolc is sometimes referred to as Candlemas, and a common practice is to make and bless candles. You can make corn dollies or Brighid’s Cross out of any kind of grass or hay you have available. 

Ceromancy, or candlewax divination, is a great way to connect with the magic of the season. Imagine a goal you are working towards, a seed you wish to plant. Really meditate on this goal, and develop a question with a yes or no answer. Use a paper plate and draw a line down the middle. Label on side yes, the other no. Light a small spell candle or tealight. Journal about your vision or meditate more (while supervising the candle). When it has burned all the way down, observe which side of the plate collected the most wax. That is your answer!

Imbolc Spell Kit

4 Ways to learn more about Imbolc

  1. Listen to my Imbolc playlist on Spotify, with seasonal songs and podcasts
  2. Check out my Imbolc board on Pinterest for more ideas
  3. Order an Imbolc Spell Kit from my Etsy Shop (pictured above)
  4. Join me for a magic workshop:

Learn more about Brighid, the Roman Goddess Juno, and the Egyptian Goddess Renenutet. Pull tarot cards, receive reiki, and relax during a guided meditation that will help you plant your own fire seed of intention. 

  • In Person workshop at Saltitude Sunday 1/31 1:00-3:00 pm (learn more)
  • Virtual workshop on Zoom Monday 2/1 5:30-7:00 pm (learn more)

Sources

Neal, Carl F. Imbolc: Rituals, Recipes & Lore for Brigid’s Day. Llewellyn, 2016. 

Moura, Ann. Grimoire for the Green Witch: a Complete Book of Shadows. Llewellyn Worldwide, Ltd, 2018.

Events, Holidays

Online Magic Workshop: Imbolc Fire Festival

Join me in my Zoom Room on Monday, February 1st from 5:30-7:00pm to celebrate Imbolc, a time to emerge from the darkness of winter in preparation for the Spring. If you want to create new plans, sweep away old energies, and plant the seeds of abundance for the season, then don’t miss this event!

Imbolc is an ancient Pagan holiday based on Celtic traditions; it marks the halfway point between winter solstice and the spring equinox in Neolithic Ireland and Scotland. This is the time of year when we start to emerge from the darkness of winter in preparation for the Spring. Learning about ancient traditions can help us connect with the seasons of the Earth in the modern world.

  • During this online workshop, you will learn all about the Goddesses of the season: Celtic Goddess Brigid, Roman Goddess Juno, and Egyptian Goddess Renenutet.
  • You will discover some ways to celebrate Imbolc in the modern world – check out my board on Pinterest.
  • You will get a tarot reading that helps you set an intention for something you want to plant this Spring – a new project, a new job, a new relationship, a new energy, etc.
  • Then you will be guided through a meditation to plant your fire seed of intention so it can grow in the coming months. Manifest something great and connect with some amazing people.

Register before January 25th for a $20 discount! Upon registration, you will automatically receive an email with the zoom link. Email jamie@arrowtarotreadings.com if you have any questions!

Register Here

Astrology and Tarot, Personal Quips

How a pomegranate lead to personal growth

Monday morning’s new moon and solar eclipse in Sagittarius had me wide awake in the early hours, thinking about the past year. The lesson that came to mind was a lightbulb moment sparked a pomegranate that arrived by surprise in my produce subscription box (Misfit Market – here’s a coupon).

Pomegranates are powerful little fruits! They are packed with antioxidants and rich with symbolism. Pomegranates represent fertility, the womb (ovaries), abundance, and new possibilities. In the tarot deck. The High Priestess has pomegranates on her tapestry, and the Empress has them on her dress, to capture their creative, reflective, feminine energies. Some say that the “forbidden fruit” in the Garden of Eden was actually a pomegranate (learn how it became the apple). 

As a kid, my first encounter with a pomegranate was in a holiday fruit basked that arrived at our house. My stepfather cracked it open and we picked out the seeds with our fingers, juice squirting as they burst, our fingers turning pink. It made quite the mess. I got the message from my parents that they were too messy and kind of a pain in the butt to eat! As an adult, I love pomegranate juice (especially in mimosas) and I buy prepackaged pomegranate arils. But never the whole fruit, too much work.

Anyway, here I am with an uninvited pomegranate in my possession, and with the power of the internet now in my hand, I found a great hack video on how to eat pomegranates really easily. You scour the four corners and crack it open into a bowl of water. As you work out the seeds with your fingertips, the water helps prevent them from bursting, and they sink to the bottom. The pulp floats to the top, you drain it off, and done! So easy, so much better than prepackaged, and I will never hesitate to buy fresh pomegranates again!

For so long I stayed away from this amazing fruit or I bought processed versions because I thought they were hard to eat. What other self limiting beliefs have I carried into adulthood that are completely wrong?

Things that “I’m bad at,” or things that, “always happen to me.” What I think I am or I think I’m not. Subconscious limits that I set on the boundless opportunities that life has to offer, based on outdated knowledge, tools and experiences. This year, I have only started to scratch the surface of my ego. It started with a pilgrimage to India and ended in the pandemic. I received the gift of some serious down time, and invested that back into learning and creating new things.

The Winter Solstice comes on Sunday, and Yule season is here. Ancient pagans believe that the sun was reborn on this day, the shortest day of the year. As the sun is reborn, it is also a chance for us to start with a blank slate. The practice we foster in the darkness of these months will move us to the light in sync with the sun. 

If you want to practice manifestation, raise your vibe, and work with the magic of the season, join me for an online Winter Solstice Celebration. Carter from Success in the Stars Astrology is going to tell us all about the great conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn, the “Christmas Star” that you might be hearing about. She will share insights into the energies at play in now and in the future. Check it out.

You can also give some else the gift of tarot – book a group reading or ask about gift certificates! Learn more.

India

What’s all the hype about meditation?

Meditating is probably the number one thing I recommend to my clients. Meditation can be used for grounding, stress relief, for sleep, and for peace. An old zen saying goes, “everyone should meditate for ten minutes a day, unless you are too busy. Then you should meditate for an hour a day.” But lets get real here, sitting cross legged on the floor is not the best method for everyone. I hated the idea of meditating everyday, until I realized that there are hundreds of ways to meditate.

Anytime that you work to clear your mind, you are meditating. Focusing on the breath, relaxing the mind, quieting the voices – its all part of programming your own mindset. You can meditate while walking, while washing dishes, or listening to music. My favorite form of meditation is yoga and dance. Moving meditation can help you get in the zone mentally.

Movement was a big key to unlocking my own meditation practice. I spent a week in Vermont at a reclaiming Witch Camp last summer, and I took a workshop on meditation. We meditated in the forest for about three hours per day, learning different methods of meditation. My favorite is what I call, “mindful meandering.” Dropping into your belly, taking on a doe-eyed stare, and just wondering around the woods. Its amazing how much you can learn from nature. I was quite taken with the mushrooms, fungi and mitochondria at work in the forest; breaking down the old and fertilizing the new.

On a yoga retreat in India, I really ignited my love for movement as a part of meditation and spirituality, through my yoga practice. I’ve invested so much into my yoga practice this year, as my daily meditation break.

Let the beauty we love be what we do. There are a million ways to kneel and kiss the ground. ~Rumi

The Science of Meditation

One of the most interesting studies on meditation in the last few years, carried out at Yale University, found that mindfulness meditation decreases activity in the default mode network (DMN), the brain network responsible for mind-wandering and self-referential thoughts – a.k.a., “monkey mind.” The DMN is “on” or active when we’re not thinking about anything in particular, when our minds are just wandering from thought to thought. Since mind-wandering is typically associated with being less happy, ruminating, and worrying about the past and future, it’s the goal for many people to dial it down.

In 2011, a team at Harvard found that mindfulness meditation can actually change the structure of the brain. A program of yoga and meditation called Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) was found to increase cortical thickness in the hippocampus, which governs learning and memory, and in certain areas of the brain that play roles in emotion regulation and self-referential processing. There were also decreases in brain cell volume in the amygdala, which is responsible for fear, anxiety, and stress – and these changes matched the participants’ self-reports of their stress levels, indicating that meditation not only changes the brain, but it changes our subjective perception and feelings as well. 

Meditation is great for kids as well as adults! Children benefit in all the ways that adults do, if not more. A school in San Francisco introduced meditation to their students, and saw a lift in attendance and over all grade point average (source). Meditation has been proven to improve attention, focus, memory, and resilience to stress and other negative emotions.

Mindfulness Resources

Here are some of my favorite tools, whether you are starting a new meditation practice or diversifying your current routine. You can find free meditations on youtube and wherever you find your podcasts.

Focus Five cards from SERP Institute

A series of meditations that can be done in under five minutes. The cards can be downloaded for free. They are meant for kids to lead meditations in the classroom, but they are classic strateiges that work great for adults, too!

Insight Timer

A free app with guided meditations, music and a timer that will gently wake you from a meditative state with a gong or a bell sound.

Deepak Chopra

Offers a number of free guided meditations on his Youtube channel.

Yoga with Adrienne

She spins together yoga with soulful talks and meditations. You can choose videos based on mood or theme.

Do you want one-on-one coaching?

If you want to start a daily meditation practice, become more mindful and boost your happiness levels, consider signing up for my three month coaching program. We will use science to idenify your happiness areas that need improvement, and cultivate tools and resources around a mindfulness practice. I can incopororate tarot, astrology, reiki and guided meditation as part of your program.

The experince is individualized and focused on you and your unique path to your higher self. If you’re ready to level up in your vibrational awareness – contact me! I’m here to hold space for your growth and transformation.

Holidays

Online Yule Celebration: Winter Solstice

The Winter Solstice is the shortest day of the year (and the longest night); solstice meaning, “sun stands still.” From this point on, the days will get longer. Ancient Pagans believed that the sun was reborn on this day, and they celebrated the light of the world. The same sun that warms the earth and makes it possible for us to survive today.

This time of year is associated with powerful Goddesses and Gods. In Celtic theology, this time of year is ruled by the Crone, Cailleach, who rule’s the Winter’s half of the year between Samhain and Beltane. The Oak King is winning the battle against the Holly King, but the tides will turn again in summer. These ideas focus on the dualistic battle between light and dark, characterizing it as a cycle that must be maintained in order for life to continue.

On December 21st, 2020, a “great conjunction” of Jupiter and Saturn will occur, meaning the two planets will appear just 0.06º apart right after sunset. It’s not happened since the year 2000 and won’t happen again until 2040.

There have been a number of powerful conjunctions in 2020, and the more exalted planets and constellations that are in conjunction at the same time, the more influential the energies will be for us.

For this reason, I invite you to join in an online celebration of celestial energies at play!

During this event, you will:

  • Enjoy seasonal recipes, crafts and folklore
  • Meet the Gods and Goddesses associated with this time of year
  • Learn about ancient ways of celebrating
  • Hear more about astrology
  • Participate in a dancing meditation
  • Receive long distance healing energy
  • Have your tarot cards read

Register early for a discount. Bring a friend!