An Imbolc Ritual (for a Solitary Druid)

Imbolc is a festival to mark the ends of the harsh winter, marking the first glimpse of the warmth of the spring and all that it promises for our year to come with the turning of the wheel. I am trying to capture this in my brief video here of my fireplace; may its heat and warmth share that with anybody who reads this.

I recall visiting the UK near the time of Imbolc, and really started to understand what lambing season means. We don’t have many lambs (or even sheep) where I live, so it was a treat to see the hillsides populated with sheep and lambs. While associated with Brigid or Groundhog Day and even with the blessing of the throats on the Feast of St. Blaise or the time of Candlemas, I really like the notion that it shows the turn in the season, from the harshness and darkness of the winter to the health and hopes for spring.

With the energy that comes at this time, I am doing two things. The first is to share this video of my fireplace and the second is to share my personal , solitary ritual I am using today as I celebrate Imbolc. I found a space outside where the snow has finally melted and I can celebrate this. While the location is not one that will allow me to have open fire, I will use my little video above to stand in its place. As so much of my own life is booked solid with work and teaching and research consulting and such, I am focusing on a more meditative ritual with internal poetry more fitting for the energy of the season.

To live as a Druid in New York City!

Awen

An Imbolc Ritual (for a Solitary Druid)

Initiation / Opening

Voice intention of the ritual

This ritual is for the celebration of Imbolc.

Light candles and incense

We shall use the image of the fireplace above due to limitations of space for this ritual today.

Rite of Purpose

Invoke the Spirits of the Place (those ahead, above, and below)

Invoke the spirits of the Air (east), South (fire), West (water), and North (earth)

Breathe deeply

Voice the purpose for this ritual

The purpose of this ritual is to be inspired by the coming warmth of the spring and feel its energy, health, and hope.

Prayer and Centering <peacefully>

Become one with the purpose and place

This space is sacred. All space where good energy flows and where we engage in ritual is sacred space. It was sacred before we came and will remain that way once we leave. This is the belief of druids.

This may include walking the labyrinth

As I am not present to my labyrinth, and will be high in the air, I will look into the distance in the four directions for glimpses of spring and the energy that comes with it, knowing that with the snow predicted for tomorrow, this view will be one for today’s memory alone.

Offering

Consider what I offer <peacefully>

I will offer my druid studies to the shared network of those whose energy seeks to make our world a better place.

Offer it

I seek to give of myself to those who are in need, starting first with those in nature who struggle to live lives of peace and harmony.

Blessing and Sending of Awen

Send the energy of awen into the world <peacefully>

May awen strengthen and work through me. May it guide my intentions and directions. May its flow cleanse me and allow me to share its energy with others. May it continue to work through the naturally world that surrounds me.

Take some with me as I leave <peacefully>

So endeth the Ritual. Awen.

Awen

Also on:

The Celebration of Awen (BMDO DP M1W2)

wheeloftheyearContinuing my Black Mountain Druid Order (BMDO) Dedicant Path (DP), I am still looking at Awen, specifically the Celebration of Awen here in my second week.

While I am not going to do an intense study of the Wheel of the Year right now, I have been thinking more about the change in seasons and how the  circularity of it repeats  each year while we in turn get older and benefit from more experiences. The regular 12-month calendar that we follow does not seem to account for the change in seasons and as such somehow separates us from our natural world. Those of us living in an urban environment are already somewhat distanced, so following the druid (pagan) wheel of the year provides an opportunity to be present to the changes that happen in the natural world, along with traditional human and agrarian activities that follow it.

The part of the year that most resonates with me is Yule, due in part no doubt to how much Christmas is hyped and celebrated in our culture. The light in the darkness and turning point in the seasonal weather follows a tradition familiar since  child, and perhaps that is a useful way to adopt and adapt to what may appear new to many of us.

That the darkness is met with trees that are still green and fragrant, along with a fire that has a feel of safety and new life, makes the period of Yule even more significant. As I recounted how I celebrated Yule a few weeks ago, it is still alive within me, something that helps me to get through what otherwise could be a dark and difficult time of the year.

Also on:

Reflecting on a Solitary Yule Ritual

yulelogWhile I talked about what I did the evening of Yule, I have not yet mentioned what I did specifically for Yule itself.

As it was a rainy and stormy morning, I could not go outside to commune with nature as I wanted lest I become too distracted with the weather, so instead I celebrated in my apartment, standing in front of an antique French wooden table with a 3-wicked candle burning on top of it. I was home alone and engaged in a combination of 2 rituals — the first one arranged by Teo Bishop at the Solitary Druid Fellowship and the second one an internally created ritual shared among a small group of OBOD folk who are experimenting with creating a new grove in Manhattan. Doing more with druidry from a distance on discussion boards than in ritual, I decided to do them both.

I will start with the OBOD one first, as I have had several years interaction with OBOD. While I never seem to be able to make it to the East Coast Gathering, I am familiar with OBOD rituals and sensibilities. I breathed deeply, saluted the four quarters, and with words of stag and hawk and fire and water, I performed the rather simple ritual, made even more that way as it was not initially intended for individual use, but with a small community. I did minor adaptations, and it still felt strangely familiar though I spoke all the parts. As I celebrate all of the druid festivals as a solitary druid, this is what I expected–do it as written insofar as it feels comfortable, and leave the rest. I like that sensibility. However, their rituals and such are rather flexible, so I adapted as I went along to feel comfortable with the words and focus on why I was saying them.

I then performed the Solitary Druid Fellowship one, a newly written ritual written by Teo (who I fondly admire for his energy and intentions) with its stated purpose of using this individually, all while knowing others, elsewhere, are doing the same thing. As the website declares, The Solitary Druid Fellowship is an experiment in Pagan liturgy, and an exercise of congregation in solitude. The notion of a shared liturgy is developed a bit, though this is rather based on the Outline of Worship of ADF, Our Own Druidry. That was probably my biggest challenge, in that ADF is a druid group that has formalized rituals and beliefs, very much like a druid church, and while adaptation is encouraged a bit, it had a feeling of Catholic Druidry to me. While this is certainly related to my baggage with Catholicism, I found the stylized ritual similar enough to mass (which is mainly how I defined the term liturgy for many years) that by the time I got to the Opening the Gates and Seeking the Omen, it stopped feeling of peaceful ritual and started feeling of an odd assembly of . . . formalized oddness. Granted, this was probably due to my baggage coming up, but it had too much of a sense of calling a deity (choose whichever one you want) and then casting some divination to try to determine how the offering was received and what to do next. Again, with my personal baggage, this seemed the same as a Catholic mass, though with switching out the names of deities and bringing in some divination (again, not much different). While I read the ritual a few times before I did it, it still felt . . . odd to me. TO switch one god for several and then to do what in many ways was the same thing just did not feel well for me. Again, my baggage, but that is what I am trying to process by sharing it here.

As all of this was a bit much for a non-ADF member, I just felt . . . odd. It did not speak to me, and while I was fortunate that the end of the ritual happened at the time when I had to move on to leaving for the office, it left me a bit introspective as to what it all means for me and what I should do with it moving forward. I am eagerly reading what others thought about the Solitary Druid Yule Ritual, as when I am uncomfortable, sometimes that means there is the most room for growth.

While I am not interested in joining or otherwise following ADF druidry, and after this reflection on it I may not be welcomed to engage in it anyway, it was a useful experience that, in the process of making me uncomfortable, demonstrates how much growth I need to let go of my baggage. The OBOD one felt a bit more like me, though again it was tailored for a group and I am an individual working alone, something that the Solitary Druid Fellowship focuses on exclusively.

On to Imbolc!

Also on:

Imbolc 2012

Ireland - GlendaloughThe Wheel of the Year has turned, as here we are already at Imbolc. While a time of the year where the light begins to increase and is also known as  Candlemas or Groundhog’s Day, it is a time for purification and the first stirring of new life, both when snowdrops begin to flower and the season of lambs begins, it is a happy celebration. For us here in New York City, this is most readily seen this year in the temperature — today was 62° F in the afternoon.

I plan to do a cleansing ritual tomorrow morning (February 2) on the roof of my building, someplace that is strangely peaceful and quiet at sunrise, far above the waking busyness of Manhattan. I may even borrow from one of the first books I read on druidry, The Solitary Druid by Ellison.

May this turn of the wheel find you cleansed and happy.