Imbolc – February 2nd

Groundhog day approaches, and we will be halfway through the winter as we await Spring’s impending return! This ancient festival, Celtic in origin, is considered one of the greater sabbats. This celebration marks the early signs of spring and the lengthening of days. The lighting of fire and candles represent the return of the sun. We honor the Goddess as the waiting bride of the returning sun God. Other names for this time are: St. Bridget’s Day, Candlemas, Candlelaria, the Snowdrop Festival, the Festival of Lights or the Feast of the Virgin. During this celebration we honor the goddess Brigid.

  • Imbolc herbs: Angelica, Basil, Bay, Benzoin, Blackberry
  • Imbolc colors: White, pale yellow and silver
  • Imbolc offerings: Beer
  • Imbolc is a time to honor Bast, Brighid,Cerridwen.

To celebrate Imbolc you should set your alter with white candles. Decorate with holly, nuts fruit and a small bowl of wheat berries. Place three ears of corn on the door as a symbol of the Triple Goddess and leave until Ostara. Cleanse the area where you do reading with a censor burning rosemary or vervain, and say:

“By the power of this smoke I wash away the negative influences that this
place be cleansed for the Lady and her babe.”

Cleanse the alter and tools. Do a self-purification rite with the elemental tools representing earth (salt) for body, air (incense) for thoughts, fire (candle flame) for will, and water (water) for emotions.

Leave a ribbon outside before going to bed for Brigid to bless. This is an excellent time for divination.

Here is a simple ritual for Imbolc:

After casting your circle, say a blessing such as:

Blessed be the earth, and all who dwell upon it.
We give thanks for the season now departing from us.
For the blessings it has bestowed upon us,
And upon those with whom we share this world.
Blessed be the new season.
We pray that it will be a time filled with peace,
With abundance, with prosperity,
With wisdom,
With love.
Blessed be all who share this feast.
Let us now prepare for the time ahead
By opening our hearts, and our minds, and our spirits.
Blessed be.

Thank your Deities, say goodbye to the darkness of winter and welcome the coming of the sun and new life. Lay your wand or crystal point on the bowl of wheat and acknowledge and welcome the cycle of death and birth and the continuous turning of the wheel. Sing, chant, make music or meditate at this point, whatever method you choose to bring your psychic ability to a higher level. When ready, use your diving tools for your enlightenment. When you feel
your ritual is complete, thank your Deities again for all you have and close with the cakes and wine ceremony.

Now, on to the feast! Traditional winter foods such as ham, root vegetables, fresh crusty breads and winter fruits like apples and pears should be served. Food should be plentiful! Mead, ale, spiced wine would all be appropriate
beverages.

Imbolc Recipes
By Patrick McCleary

Colcannon
Ingredients

3-4 medium potatoes, peeled and quartered
3 tbsp. milk or unsweetened/plain soy milk
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
2 cups chopped cabbage or kale
2 tbsp. butter or margarine
1/4 cup chopped onions
2 tbsp. margarine or butter, for frying
Directions

Cook potatoes in a pot of boiling water until tender (at least 20 minutes); drain, reserving water.
Place potatoes in a large bowl. Add chopped cabbage to the reserved potato water. Cook 6-8 minutes or until tender.
Mash potates with a hand masher. Add milk, salt and pepper and beat until fluffy.

Imbolc Feast Lamb Stew
Ingredients

2- 1/2 lb. lamb neck chops
1 tbs. lamb fat
4 medium onions
1 tbs. butter/margarine
4 medium carrots
2 1/2 cups water
4 medium potatoes
1 tbs. parsley, chopped
1 tsp. each salt & pepper
1 tbs. chives, chopped
Preparation:

Don’t let the butcher trim the fat off of the lamb chops. Shred some of the excess fat and cook it down in a large pot or Dutch-oven. Peel the onions, carrots, and potatoes. Cut the onions and carrots into quarters, and put all the vegetables aside. Cut the meat into eight pieces, and trim away the rest of the excess fat. The bones need not be removed. Place the meat in the hot fat and brown. Repeat with the onions and carrots. Add water, salt, and pepper carefully. Put whole potatoes on top. Cover pot and simmer gently until meat is cooked, approx. 2 hours. Remove from heat. Pour off the cooking liquid into a separate sauce pan, allow to cool for a few minutes, skim off grease, and reheat. Add butter, chives, and parsley to the reheated liquid in the sauce pan. Pour heated liquid back over the stew. Serve hot. Makes 4-6 servings.

Baked Custard

Ingredients

4 eggs
3 C. milk
1/2 C. sugar
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
A pinch of salt
Preparation

Preheat your oven to 350.
Combine all the ingredients into the bowl of a food processor, and blend for about 15 seconds, or until well mixed.
Pour custard mix into ramekins or custard cups.
Place the ramekins into a baking dish, and fill the dish with hot water up to a depth of about 3/4″.
Bake the custards for one hour.

Ten Ways to make your world better in 2016

2015 has come and gone, and it has not been pretty for many people.  The world seems to have gotten scarier, harder and less secure.

There are many reasons for this, and we are not going to list them all here. What is clear, though is that a large portion of the population feels overwhelmed and less in control of their destiny, and does not like the path we are on.

According to Realclearpolitics.com , recent polls suggest that, in the US, 2/3rds of the country now feels we are heading in the wrong direction. Although there is undoubtedly a lot of disagreement about what the right direction should be, it is clear that as a country, there is a sense that we have lost our way.

It isn’t just the US. Similar results can be found in the UK, and could be found in Canada prior to the last election.

I have yet to find a person that thinks we are leaving the world a better place for our children than the world our parents left for us. Inequality, over consumption and disregard for the small blue and green bubble we call Home places the future of all life in doubt.

Finding hope and love when all around you is fear and despair may seem an uphill battle, but it doesn’t have to be. Remember, the governments are made up of individuals, and as individuals we still have the ability to change how we see the world, how we enter the world, and to lead by example.

There are things we can do, as individuals, that don’t involve overthrowing the government, shedding each other’s blood, or trying to force a Utopian ideal on a world that is not listening.

These things are simple. Yet the more people that do them, the more we change the world. Here then, is our list of ten ways you, personally, can make the world a better place, and it’s easier than you think!

1. Fast once a week

I know, perish the thought right? Don’t worry it doesn’t have to be hard, especially if you do it from Sundown to Sundown. Adjust for your medical needs and check with your doctor, but there are significant health and world benefits to do this.

You will feel better

A lot of the reasons that people feel tired all the time is because the calories we put into our body are used for more than just movement. They are also used for healing, and digestion. The more you eat, and the more processed the food you eat, the harder your body has to work to actually digest your food, and consequently, a lot of the calories you are eating to give you energy, end up being used to digest the food you just consumed. Allowing your stomach to rest once a week for 24 hours gives your body time to burn some of the stored energy it has to heal.

You will lose weight.

It takes 3500 calories to add a pound of fat. Assuming you average 2000 calories a day, you have the potential to lose around 30 lbs in 2016 if you avoid binging either side of the fast.

You will help the planet

According to the World Bank, the US consumes 200 billion calories each year more than it needs. We consume as much energy as 6 Mexicans or 370 Ethiopians. If only a third of the country fasted for a day each week, we would eliminate that number, reduce the depletion of Earth’s resources and have more available for everyone else.

2. Turn off the “News”

This may be hard to hear, but there is nothing meaningful in news programming that you cannot learn from other sources, with less spin, less hysteria, and less fear.

badnews

What appears in the news is designed to keep you watching, so you buy the products sold during the commercial breaks. Whatever the original noble purpose it served in the 1950s is long gone.

It encourages fear and consumerism. Both of which are very bad for the planet. If anything truly bad happens that you need to know about, trust me, you’ll know.

3. Eliminate Hate from your Social Media feeds.

Whatever people would have you believe, assholes and sociopaths are not defined by, or limited to, their alleged religious or political beliefs.

If you see hate or finger pointing in your social media feed, aimed at a specific demographic, turn it off.  Turn off the notifications, unfollow, unfriend or block, depending on your preference.

The less hate you see in the world, the less hate there is in the world. Hate can only survive when people respond to it.

4. Go for a walk

walkbride

Every day. Your body will thank you. Your doctor will thank you. Your dog will thank you too. Around the block at least, but 2 miles a day has an amazingly healthy effect on the body, and your outlook on the world. Just being outside in the (reasonably) fresh air can make a difference to your attitude.

5. Help someone, every week

There’s a great site called Volunteer Match if you want to get really serious about it, but even if it is helping a friend move, taking in the neighbor’s newspaper, giving someone $5 to buy gas, anything that you do to help someone else helps your spirit and their life. Ask them to pay it forward. Help one person a week and you help 52 in a year. Imagine if we all did that?

6. Cut down on Meat

Yes, yes I I know. If you’re going to wear the leather jacket you might as well eat the bacon sandwich. But hear me out for a minute. The typical human needs about 46 grams of protein per day. You can get that from meat or from vegetables. Meat is harder for your body to digest, especially red meat, and over consumption can lead to a lot of health problems later in life.  Take one day (not your fast day, smarty-pants) a week to not eat meat, and switch to a vegetable based protein instead. Rice and Beans, for example. It’s cheaper, and better for the planet. Remember, before you can eat the meat, the meat has to eat the plants. So eat the plants yourself and cut out the middle cow.

Maybe in the future, we can move to a meatless society, and that would be beneficial for all Life on the planet. Before we can get there however, we have to move the needle a little. This is one of those Lead by Example things we talked about earlier.

7. Buy Less ‘Stuff’

Economists love us to consume. They believe that is what keeps an economy going – the continual buying of crap that goes obsolete or breaks so quickly that we have to buy more.

You don’t need the newest anything. Take care of what you have, be grateful you have it and make it last longer.

Avoid large chain stores – and stay away from the mall! They are designed in every way to nurture impulse spending and they survive by keeping almost everyone in the supply chain working for near poverty (or in some cases actual poverty) wages.

Instead, save your money,  or give to a reputable charity, or buy second hand.  Consumption is out of control in the developed world. We are strip-mining the planet and mortgaging our children’s future just so that when we die they have to get rid of a houseful of useless crap they don’t want. True Story.

8. Grow Something

Whether you plant a tree or set up an indoor herb farm, you are helping to reconnect yourself with the cycle of life. You also reduce the amount of CO2 and toxins in the atmosphere.

Gardening teaches us about responsibility, care for the environment, nurturing life,  and is a wonderful thing to do together as a family.

olive

Growing your own food also wrests control of our food supply from the corporations and puts it back into the hands of individuals and communities. This of course means that at some point, someone will try and make it illegal.

9. Find the Good in all

This is hard to do, I know. But just as Hate breeds Hate and Fear breeds Fear, so does Love breed Love.

Start by making a list of people that just make your blood boil. It may be those you had to un-follow from Step 3 above! You already know the reasons you dislike them, so instead, next to their names, write down something you have in common with them.

Don’t pretend you have nothing in common – regardless of who it is, you do, at least at the genetic level. Start there.

When you can find what you have in common with people, your perspective changes. You may find that you have to forgive yourself along the way to forgiving them for whatever sins you believe they have committed, but that too is a worthy exercise.

10. Be Grateful

Be grateful for the food you eat. Take a moment, however brief to thank your higher power for placing it before you.

Be thankful for what you have – there are so many who have so much less.

Be grateful for the challenges you face, for from them comes growth.

Remember to take a minute every day to breathe, look around and realize that you are alive, on an incredible planet, and are part of an amazing adventure!

You are responsible for how you feel about the world, and you are responsible for changing your perception if it no longer serves you.

Be grateful you have that power. Most of all, be grateful for the love you have in your life, and love as much as you can. Remember – Love breeds Love.

I wish all of you a happy and hopeful 2016!