Practical Magick
Imbolc blessings everyone!

I don’t know why it didn’t dawn on me yesterday. I’ve been learning to knit this past week. Yarn is made from wool. Wool is from sheep. Ewes are female sheep and lambs are baby sheep. Knitting should be traditional for today. I have a sneaky suspicion that a certain creativity goddess tied to Imbolc had her hand in this. 

Also learned that the colors for Imbolc are also the colors for Lent, which starts next week. Hello Irony. 

So tomorrow I decorate for Mardis Gras/Lent. Mostly Mardis Gras. 

I made two Brighid crosses. I originally intended to make them both purple and white, but found out I only had two purple wires left. So I made one out of a mix of greens, whites, silver, and gold. It reminds me of Ireland and St. Patrick’s day. So I’m going to make that part of my St. Patrick’s/Alban Eiler/Easter decor. Then after mass today I made it to the store and picked up more chenille wires and make one from white, lavender, sparkling whie and violet. That one’s sitting on my altar right now. Also happened upon some wall plaques of the Virgin Mary. The one I put on is of her in Renaissance-ish garb bowed in prayer. I’m hoping it will inspire me to pray more often and to stick to my Lent sacrifice/fast if I can ever figure out what I’m giving up. 

I’m a little sad Easter and Lent are coming so early this year. Last year Ash Wednesday and Pentagram night were on the same week. Pentagram Night is a bit like the Wicca Ash Wednesday so it was very fitting. Instead I’ll have to right something up to celebrate on Ash Wednesday itself. 

And if you didn’t hear: while my area of Michigan got a few more inches of snow this morning, it was announced that Puxatawny Phil did NOT see his shadow so spring should be showing up any day now. Part of me feels this is correct. There’s been a certain something in the air lately that reminds me of spring and rainbows, green grass and daffodils. Just something. But on the other hand, I can look out my window and still see piles of snow and it took so long this year for Winter to fully get here… I think Spring will START arriving early, but I don’t think it will be full spring until the vernal equinox. Of course I’m old school Irish when it comes to the seasons so as far as I’m concerned Spring started today. 

Do any of my lovely followers fast for Lent? Do you fast for other reason?

PBP- C is for Spring Cleaning!

(Note: I wrote this on the 5th of February)

"One custom held on February 1 in honor of Bridget is a spring cleaning. The house is cleaned from top to bottom, and the women call out to the Goddess to welcome her," (Wishart). 

This is especially true for myself and my family this year as we have to completely clean out our house in order for my father to redo our bathroom, laundry room, two of the bedrooms, and do a bunch of other renovations all before my sister’s baby arrives in July! I’m actually looking at a stack of boxes sitting in my room as I write this. 

Traditionally I start my personal spring cleaning every year on February 3rd, though this year I woke up a tad ill so the cleaning started yesterday. 

Cleaning in and of itself is a very important task for the witch, even if we don’t often thing about it. My favorite saying is “negativity brews in dusty corners,” and boy is that true! There are usually far more arguments in my home when its messy, but this also spills into magick. Try working a spell in a dirty room and see how well it turns out! And very few gods or entities will appreciate being summoned into a room with a pile or laundry sitting in the corner. Speaking of I should go take care of that!

Now that that’s taken care of, one way to think of cleaning is like this: You wouldn’t be able to work magick on a dirty cluttered altar would you? Things would be burned by candles and incense and soaked by water and wine. But how, you may be asking, can you incorporate your pagan ways into this oh so sacred task?

In ancient Egypt, temples employed several wab priest and priestesses to take care of the temple. They cleaned statues and ritual tools. Organized altars and kept them tidy. They picked up after large rituals and even saw to it that the other priests and priestesses were keeping good hygiene! I even once read that everyone had to serve as a wab priest at least once in their life. Why? Because the Ancient Egyptians understood how important it is to have a clean temple. And for most of us, our home is our temple. 

Deborah Blake has four important steps to keep in mind during spring cleaning: Intention, smudging, salt and water, and blessing. Before you begin she suggests taking a few moments to think about your intent. Visualize clearing away all the negativity and bringing in positive, fresh, cleansing energy to replace it. She also suggests opening a window in each room if the weather will allow it. After the physical cleaning is done, walk room to room with a burning smudge stick, then do the same by sprinkling salt water. She also suggests adding a few drops of rosemary essential oil to the water or soaking rosemary in the water, to add a protective element. When you are completely finished she suggests blessing your home. 

She also suggests adding purification and protections oils to your mop water (i.e. geranium, lemon, rosemary), or to sprinkle a few drops on the floor before sweeping.

It’s probably pretty obvious, but natural cleaners are the preferred cleaners for magickal home maintenance. even if it’s homemade! I actually keep recipes for homemade cleaners in my book of shadows!

Silver RavenWolf included a full chapter on magickal housecleaning, which she calls “spiritual cleaning”, in her book To Light a Sacred Flame. She suggests not only empowering al your cleaning supplies before you begin, but also planning out your cleaning intentions room by room. She suggests getting index cards (one for each room) and labeling them. Each card should include the energies you want to evoke there, as well as the colors, deities, magickal symbol, and element that goes with that energy. And optionally, the week day or moon phase best for that energy. The card in my hand (written last year) is for my bedroom and this is how it reads:

Bedroom- sun/mon/wed/fri. new/waxing moon.

  1. Energies- peace and creativity
  2. Colors- purple and blue
  3. Deity- Brighid
  4. Magickal Symbol- Ken
  5. Animal- Dragonfly
  6. Element- Water

Ideally you’d fill out a card for each room. RavenWolf states that there are  five main parts to spiritual house cleaning.

  1. "removing all negative energy fields".
  2. Filling the home with positive energy
  3. Invoking the intended “divine” energies
  4. aligning elemental energies to your intended energies
  5. securing the positive energies in the home

Negative energy pockets (often in corners) are areas in your home that always seem to evoke negative emotions. They may also be areas that feel unnaturally “sticky”, “heavy”, “soft/hard”, but definitely different than its surroundings. Go room to room and break these up by using bells, rattles, drums, and the like. I prefer bells. This can either follow or prepare for the physical cleaning, although I’ve found it easier to locate these energy pockets when the room is clean. I then tend to go through the house with either a smudge stick or purification incense, followed by a lit candle (just walk through the home), and I end with the salt water. If we need an added protection boost at my house I sprinkle sea salt in the crack between the doors (there’s generally a teeny between the floor and the door frame, or the track for a sliding door) and in the metal of your window frames. I then invoke deities room by room as well as individual elementals and release them before moving on to the next room. 

When doing overall house cleaning and blessing, I prefer the follwoing two charms by Wishart and Blake respectively:

"Goddess Bridget, I ask your blessing on my life. May it be filled to overflowing with goodness and love. May you bring prosperity and happiness to me. May your warmth light my home and my heart. Thank you, dear Goddess."

"Bless this home where I reside,

Keep it safe from woe and harm,

Watch over those who here abide,

I make it so by will and charm.”

You can also bless the utilities (i.e. furnace, water heater, plumbing, and electricity) and major appliances. My coffee pot is blessed and I had to resist the urge to bless it in the name of the mighty goddess Caffeina!

Other was to incorporate magick into home maintenance is through banishing ghosts (only do this if they are “evil” [ie, causing physical harm] or if they’ve made it openly known that they want this. My great-great grandparents still reside in our home and we’d never think of banishing them!)., and pagan decorating. There are whole books dedicated to these so I”ll save those topics for another day. 

Ella’s Spring Cleaning Tips

  • Go through your clothes and shoes. Put what needs mending in one pile, what doesn’t fit in antoher, and throw out wat isn’t repairagl or is too stained. What doesn’t fit (or you simply don’t want) can be donated to GoodWill, homeless shelters, women’s shelters or several other local charities. This can also be applied to books and children’s toys. Most local Churches will also take these items and donate them, but you’ll want to call ahead to find out.
  • If you grow your own herbs, hang hooks or a small coat rack on the wall and you can use it to hang herbs to dry later in the spring and summer.
  • Those pesky ant infestations will be arriving in a month or tow. Peppermint oil sprinkled around the home and entrances will prevent their invasion.
  • Plant a lilac bush on your property for protection. (My great-great grandparents planted one when they built our house and nothing bad ever happens here. We’ve had lightening and tornados hit the yards on all four sides of our home, but our entire property has never been damaged in the 50 some odd years that bush has been here).
  • Avoid all chemical house cleaners. Homemade cleaners are safer for children and pets, smell better, and are often cheaper.
  • Pine oil is good for general cleaning.
  • Baking powder is your friend and has multiple cleaning purposes.
  • sweep/mop/vacuum from east to west.
  • Following spring cleaning is a good time to begin new projects create or break habits, and start new traditions.
  • Take a few minutes to flip through your book of shadows. Mend torn pages. Go over faded writing, etc. This is especially true if you have a 3 ring “Binder of Shadows”. I have a journal bos, a large “leather” bound we use for m coven, bu I also keep a binder used for random planning and notes, deity information, to-do lists, the list of those who’ve died since samhain (this list is used in my Samhain ritual), all my herbal and healing notes, the bulk of my spells and rituals, and essentially anything I need to be able to find on a regular basis. So for me spring cleaning includes organizing this monster (it’s over 3 inches thick!), replacing pages that are ripping out and rewriting pages that are no longer readable. I also take the time to add things that are needed, and remove things that aren’t (I have a stack of things that need to be added!).
  • Take inventory of your magickal cabinet as well as you kitchen cabinets! If you’re like me and my family we stock up on most things in november. Herbs, canned goods, things we’ve canned ourselves, candles, fabrics, thread, and by spring we’re running low and several things and out of others. It’s always a good idea to clean out the cupboards and take inventory. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve swore we were out of something only to find it in the very back corner! It’s also a good time to look through the kids’ school supplies. 
  • If you start your spring cleaning around Imbolc it’s also a great time to make hand-dipped candles! I suggest using beeswax for this. If you prefer to make jar candles you can use soy. I’ve never seen soy candles in anything other than jars, so I don’t know if it can be used for votives or tapers. 
  • Soap making is also a good spring craft idea because it can be done on rainy days and the kids can get involved. 

Sources:

Blake, Deborah. The Goddess is in the Details. Llewellyn Publications. St. Paul, MN. 

RavenWolf, Silver. To Light a Sacred Flame. (1993). Llewellyn Publications. St. Paul, MN. 

Wishart, Catherine. Teen Goddess. (2003). Llewellyn Publications. St. Paul, MN. 

PBP- Imbolc

Well, lets just say I had a nice long post all typed up and ready to send. It not only explained the Pagan Imbolc side of my holiday which I celebrate on Feb. 1st, but also the Catholic Candlemas side of the holiday I’m celebrating today. And since I’m having a stroke of horrible luck today my computer not only froze, but then crashed. and I lost the whole thing. So here we are with me trying to remember what I wrote originally. 

Imbolc is a Celtic holiday adopted by most neo-pagan and Wiccan traditions. The holiday celebrates the beginning of Brighid’s reign over the light half of the year and also the first day of spring. Hekate, who reigns over the dark half of the year, handed her torch over to Brighid sometime in the last few hours of January, and she will carry the torch for the next six months. Brighid is an Irish goddess of Fire, smiths, creativity, the arts, healing, children, and midwifery. Imbolc is the perfect day to plant the first seeds of spring (for most of us that means indoors or green house), paint, draw, write poetry, practice candle magick, etc. It’s also a good time to incorporate dairy into your work and I highly suggest an offering of milk and honey for the faerie folk. 

Candlemas on the other hand takes place on the 2nd, and is dedicated to the Most Holy Virgin Mary, as it celebrates both the day she was sent to the temple and also the day on which she would have been considered pure again by Jewish law after giving birth to her son Jesus. Its also St. Brigid’s feast day, which was moved to the second from the pagan feast day on the 1st, to more easily convert the people who refused to give up their beloved goddess. Traditionally on Candlemas all the candles in the home would be lit and the females of the home would be honored. It’s a powerful day for all rites of female empowerment and recognitions of the feminine divine in each of us. 

In the USA it’s also Groundhog’s day. Basically if the groundhog comes out of his hole and sees his shadow there’s six more months of winter, if he doesn’t, it’s officially spring. In pennsylvania it’s still in for 6 more months of winter, but in at least 6 other states it’s spring! This ritual reflects an old celtic rite in which the same observation was made of hedgehogs on this day as they were sacred to Brighid. 

Personally I’ve spent the past few days painting and drawing and tonight I will perform a few candle magicks as well as plant Cat Grass for my kittens. I’ll also spend a good chunk of the night in prayer and meditation, including the pagan rosary I wrote some time ago. 

And tomorrow will officially kick off my spring cleaning and I will be writing my weekly post for the Pagan Blog Project on Cleaning— focusing mostly on spring cleaning and spiritual cleaning.