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Imbolc: The Story

Photo of altar from Imbolc ritual

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Imbolc 2016, using Silver Spiral’s standard ritual format 2.2. Performed on January 29th, 2016, for a group of 7 people.

 

Materials and Tools:

Ritual broom, a white altar cloth with a spiral of bricks set on it and a central candle (pre-lit), representations of the elements, a singing bowl, a basket of tea lights (3 per person), ritual food (bread) on a plate, a pitcher of water, an offering bowl or plate and an offering goblet, an athame, one goblet per participant.

 

Preparation:

While everyone else gathers off to the side, one person sweeps the space with the ritual broom while saying (repeatedly if necessarily:

With purpose and intent, I cleanse this space.

The person who cleansed the space welcomes each person into it one at a time with a hug and the greeting:

Welcome to our sacred space.

To which the person entering responds: Blessed be.

Everyone holds hands and closes their eyes while the ritual leader leads the breathing meditation:

Breathe… [Pause for full breath in and full breath out.] Breathe… [Pause for full breath in and full breath out.] Breathe… [Pause for full breath in and full breath out.] Feel the ground beneath you. [Pause for full breath in and full breath out.] Feel the air around you. [Pause for full breath in and full breath out.] Come home to your body. [Pause for full breath in and full breath out.] Prepare to enter sacred space. Blessed be.

All repeat: Blessed be.

 

Building Sacred Space:

The space cleanser picks up the bell or singing bowl.

Starting with North/Earth, the circle caster picks up the element’s representation from the altar and carries it around the circle clockwise while saying:

We cast this circle in honour of Earth.

All repeat:

We cast this circle in honour of Earth to create and open sacred space.

The space cleanser rings the bell.

The circle caster repeats with each of the other elements in clockwise order, ending with Centre/Spirit. After the last circuit, the circle caster says:

The space is set. The circle is cast. Blessed Be.

All repeat: Blessed be.

All turn to face the North and the direction quarter caller says:

To the North, I send this call: Earth, bless us with your gift of bread shared as we celebrate Imbolc and every day. Blessed be.

All repeat: Blessed be.

All turn to face the East and the direction quarter caller says:

To the East, I send this call: Air, bless us with your gift of songs shared as we celebrate Imbolc and every day. Blessed be.

All repeat: Blessed be.

All turn to face the South and the direction quarter caller says:

To the South, I send this call: Fire, bless us with your gift of warmth shared as we celebrate Imbolc and every day. Blessed be.

All repeat: Blessed be.

All turn to face the West and the direction quarter caller says:

To the West, I send this call: Water, bless us with your gift of drink shared as we celebrate Imbolc and every day. Blessed be.

All repeat: Blessed be.

All turn to face the Centre and the direction quarter caller says:

To the Centre, I send this call: Spirit, bless us with your gift of stories shared as we celebrate Imbolc and every day. Blessed be.

All repeat: Blessed be.

 

Invocations:

One person invokes the Goddess:

Lady of the hearth, Goddesses of our tribes, we invite you to our rite. Blessed Be.

All repeat: Blessed be.

Another person invokes the God:

Lord of the rhythm, Gods of our tribes, we invite you to our rite. Blessed Be.

All repeat: Blessed be.

 

Centre:

All sit.

The Priestess:

Now is a time of darkness. Though days have started getting slightly longer, the holiday lights have been taken down and the cold and wet weather stretches before us. Spring still seems far in the future.

Now is the time to gather at the hearth. We join with our community, warm and dry ourselves by a fire, and tell stories.

Let us create our hearth:

Go around the circle three times, each time each person lights one tealight from the previous one (starting from the central candle) and adds it to the top of the spiral of bricks.

On round one, each person says: I am [name].

On round two, each person says: I am here with all of you.

On round three, each person says: We are connected to the world.

Priestess:

We are the animals who tell stories, going back to when we first gathered around open fires and tapped our heartbeats out on our thighs.

Stories are how we first learn about ourselves, each other, the world.

Stories are how we come to understand ourselves, each other, the world.

Stories are how we can shape ourselves, each other, the world.

In honour of the dark time of the year, this is the story of the first dark. In honour of the light that’s coming, this is the story of the first light. In honour of those gathered here today, this is the story of life beginning.

Close your eyes.

First, there was nothing. A complete dark, a deep silence, an empty void, and no one was there to witness it.

Then, the dark, silent, void got so heavy that it pulled into itself. The void inhaled, and when it exhaled, air spiraled out.

Start a soft hum. Once the group is humming, continue:

The air danced and flowed. Where it pooled, it heated up and gave birth to the first fires, the first stars. They burned and crackled and brought the first light and heat, but there was no one to see.

Start snapping fingers. Once the group has followed suit, continue:

The first stars grew large and dense, and, in the way of all things, began to die. They went out with roars of power, and collapsed upon themselves, and from air and fire, they became denser things, the building blocks of water and earth, but there was no one to know.

Start gently drumming on thighs. Once everyone is doing so as well, continue:

From the heart of stars, planets were born. One was earth, with its own air, water, and fire. And where the elements met, first life was created. The first plants felt the richness of the soil and breathed the air, but there was no one to understand.

Pick up the singing bowl and start it singing, then continue:

The first plants transformed the air and made the first animals possible. The animals moved over the surface of the earth and saw the sun rise and understood when to hunt and when to sleep, but there was no one to tell the story.

Start a soft toning, and when everyone else has joined in, continue:

Some animals started to wonder and started to create and started to speak. We are the pieces of the universe that can see, and know, and understand, and tell the story back to itself.

Chant:

We are a story, within a story

With no beginning, and never ending*

* Original: “We are a circle, within a circle; With no beginning, and never ending” by Rich Hamouris.

Priestess:

Each of us is a piece of the universe who can see, move, sing, and share. If you have a sight to share, speak it to the centre of this sacred space and make it part of our sacred story.

I see the daily crow commute; the tribe of corvid flying across the city together at day’s end, gossiping on the wing.

Give time for people to speak as they want.

 

Food and Drink:

One person holds the plate of food while another blesses it:

By the Divine, this offering is blessed, and we share this food in the spirit of community. Blessed be.

All repeat: Blessed be.

The person who blessed the food puts a portion of the food in the offering plate or bowl and says:

To the gods and goddesses of our tribes.

The food is passed clockwise with each saying to the next: Blessed be.

When the food has been returned to the altar, one person holds the pitcher while the other lowers the athame into it and says:

As the athame is to the lover, so the chalice is to the loved, and joined they are one in truth.

The person holding the pitcher pours a portion into the offer goblet and says:

To the gods and goddesses of our tribes.

As the pitcher is passed clockwise, each fills their neighbour’s goblet while saying Thou art God or Thou art Goddess. The recipient responds: Blessed be.

Once all the goblets have been filled and the pitcher is returned to the altar, the leader toasts: May you never thirst. All respond with Blessed be and drink.

 

Devocations:

Everything will be devoked in reverse order.

The same person who invoked the God thanks Him:

Lord of the rhythm, Gods of our tribes, thank you for your blessings. Go in peace. Blessed be.

All repeat: Blessed be.

The person who invoked the Goddess thanks Her:

Lady of the hearth, Goddesses of our tribes, thank you for your blessings. Go in peace. Blessed be.

All repeat: Blessed be.

 

Closing Sacred Space:

All turn to face Centre and the direction quarter caller says:

To the Centre: Spirit, thank you for your gifts. Go in peace. Blessed be.

All repeat: Blessed be.

Repeat for West/Water, South/Fire, East/Air, and North/Earth.

The space cleanser picks up the bell again.

The circle caster walks the circle counter-clockwise to take down the circle. At each quarter point, they pause and the bell is rung. When they step back into the circle of people, the bell is rung one more time and then the circle caster says:

The circle is open, but never broken. Merry meet, merry part, and merry meet again!

 

Creative Commons License
Imbolc: The Story by Melissa Hope is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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