Imbolc 2011: Rekindling
(C) Geoffrey Stewart / Pax

“Good Evening,

We are gathered here tonight to celebrate Imbolc, one of the Four High Holy Days of Ancient Celts according to history and folklore, and the especial Holy Day of the Goddess Brighid.

This is a Neo-Pagan ritual inspired in part by the Druidic Revival and Celtic Reconstructionist forms of Paganism.; as well as our beliefs as members and friends of this Unitarian Universalist congregation. In crafting this rite I have tried to balance the influences of historical and magical scholarship, folklore, polytheology, and theurgy.

Our rite this evening focuses on honoring- and engaging in active relationships with- the Gods, Ancestors, and Spirits…whatever we may conceive Their true natures to be. We will be honoring and invoking the 3 elements of the natural world as viewed through the worldview of Celtic spirituality, we will be honoring the Spirits of the World Around us, The Ancestors, and The Gods, and we will be coming to peaceful terms with some potentially hostile Spirits. Then we will be calling upon and honoring the local Earth Mother of Florida and making offering of gratitude and of our hopes for Her health and well being. Then we will be invoking and honoring Brighid. Then we will celebrate our feast.

Before we share breath and come together in community, there are some pieces of paper that have been handed around with parts of the invocation to our local Earth Mother where the portion in regular print is to be enthusiastically read by whoever has it, and the portion in BOLD print is to be spoken by everyone… lets try it once…

“We _____________________________ invite you,
Hear us, and be here with us.”

“We who live on and within your sacred land and love you, invite you,
Hear us, and be here with us.”

“Now, if any of you can think of a way of referencing your personal relationship to our regional Earth Mother with a short and more personal reference, modeled on the examples that have been handed out you are welcome to take a few moments to write it down… a short sentence or two, would be ideal to the flow of invocation…”

(insert flexibility time here)

It is also important to note, that we will be doing a similar call and response in the invocation of Brighid. I will read a portion of the invocation, and then all of us will join together in calling upon Her to…

“Hear us, and be here with us.”

(At the end of each of the invocations, we will chant this phrase for a time, and upon the signal of the opening of the arms in welcome the final phrase will be…

“Hear us, and be here with us, and be welcome here amongst us.”


Flowers are being handed around, take one as you will be carrying it with you and making an offering of it to Brighid later today.

Imbolc and Brighid a basic overview

For us here in Florida as 21st Century Pagans Imbolc is many things. Imbolc is one of the four ancient Celtic Holy Days, one of the Sabbats or Holy Days of Religious Withchraft, and one of the 8 Holy Days of Neo-Paganism. It is a celebration of the returning light of the Sun, and of the stirrings and movement of life as we shift from the time of the Citrus Harvest to the Strawberry Festival. In the Neo-Pagan Wheel of The Year, celebrated my many contemporary Pagans, we turn from Celebrating and Honoring the Honored and Beloved Dead at Samhain, to the Honored and Beloved Living at Yule, and between Yule and Imbolc we turn inward. We take some time to rest and renew after the mad rush of days of the many spiritual and Calendrical new years that start at Samhain and leaves us rushing busilly through our many cultural and religious Autumn and Winter Holidays. Imbolc is a time for rest and renewal, for rekindling ourselves spiritually and for new beginings.

Imbolc is also the especial Feast Day and Celebration or the Goddess Brighid.

Brighid is either One the Goddesses of Ancient Ireland, or three Sister Goddesses, depending on which of the schollarly sources you are reading. Brighid is a patroness of Poetry, Healing, and Smithcraft, who over time has also come to be seen as the Masterstroke of all Women and also as a Goddess of the Hearth and Home. Ideas of Brighid flowed into Saint Bridget at the dawning of the Christian Era, and back into Brighid as Goddess at the dawning of the Pagan Revival in the early to middle part of the 20th Century.

Affirming Community & Entrainment

“Now since Brighid is, among other things, a Goddess of Inspiration, and since Inspire means both to breathe in and to fill with Spirit, and since we are seeking as Pagans and as members and friends of the Congregation here at 1st Unitarian, to come together in beloved community; I would like us to take a few moments to breath meditation, really becoming aware of your breathing, please, close your eyes and to consider the following”

“Take these deep breaths and feel your muscles relax, let yourself relax and turn your attention simply on your breaths for a few moments. Air and Inspiration and Life Energy flowing into you, and as you breath our you are touching your connection to all life around you.”…

“Breathing in, taking in oxygen and life energy, air fuels our fire.”

“Air connects us with one another and with all of life around us, it fuels our bodies and enlivens our minds and stirs our souls; awareness and control of breath can work wonders in ourselves and through us in the world around us.”

“With breath we can raise power, call Spirit, connect with The Gods, and embrace the Numinous All That Is.”

“Our lives, our actions, all of our works of Spirit, all of our acts of Will, and all Magick begins with a breath.”

“When you feel deeply centered and full of vitality and life energy open your eyes and we will begin…”

The Rite

In ancient times nearly every major rite or festival began with a procession.  Perhaps you were starting out from your farmstead and traveling down the road, meeting up with others along the way.  Perhaps in the cities like Rome or Athens you would start from your home and meat at an appointed spot in the city.  They might be dancers and musicians, there might be stops along the way to gather items or individuals key to the rite, there might have been stops to bath in a river or the ocean… don’t worry we won’t be going to that extreme, but we will be walking from the feast-hall to our altar.  As we do so, remember we are journeying from the every day to the sacred and we are on our way to encounter the Gods and Spirits and to take part in the holy tides of the world.

(Procession makes its way from feast hall to altar circling clockwise around it, and once the procession come to a circle around the altar…)

“We find ourselves, despite the lengthening days, in darkness,
And So…

“Three Candles we kindle,
For the Three Rays of Light that shone forth at the dawning of all days,
Bringing with them Spirit and Inspiration and Illumination,
Bringing forth All Knowledge that ever was, is, or ever will be,
Bringing and shining with that which the Druids call Awen.

Gwron (“goo-RON”): The Knowledge of Awen
Plennydd (“PLEN-nyth”): The Power of Awen
Alawn (“AH-lon”): The Peace of Awen”


We find ourselves,
Gathered together on a Holy Day
Wishing to Honor and Celebrate
The Holy Powers and our Highest Ideals,

And so…

“We cast forth three handfuls of grain,
To the Spirits of the Wide World Around Us,
To Guiding and Guardian Spirits of this Holy Place,
To the Earth, and to all that Supports and Nourishes us.”

‘We pour three offerings of water,
To the Honored and Beloved Dead, without whom we and this congregation could not be,
To the Guiding and Guardian Spirits of This Holy Place,
To the Waters, and to All that Surrounds and Sustains us.”

“We light three offerings of incense,
To The Holy Gods and Goddesses of All of Creation,
To the Guiding and Guardian Spirits of this Holy Place,
To The Air, and to All that Embraces and Inspires us.”


“We find ourselves,
Within the Witness of the Earth, the Sky, and the Sea,
Within the Presence of the Spirits, The Gods, and our Ancestors,
Within the Knowledge and Power and Peace of Awen,

And thus we rekindle our sacred flame
In the light of truth,
And in the warmth of love,
We gather to seek, to sustain, and to share.”

“We are now gathered in beloved community, in sacred community, but there is one more host of Spirits we must acknowledge and attend to before the Rites may move forward. The assembled members of our community are asked to hold hands around the altar while I attend to the Spirits of the Others, The Outsiders, Those who would bring us harm”

“Hear me, oh Outsiders!

You of The Fomorians and Fir Bolg,
You of The Angry and Unquiet Dead,
You of The Spirits bearing Malice and Mischief for the Sons and Daughters of Humankind

So Long as you come bearing
Malice and Mischief and Anger and Hateful ways,

We ask you to keep away from our Friends and Members,
We ask you to keep away from our Sacred Rites,
We ask you to keep away from our Holy Grounds,

In service of our asking,
We make an offering of our Respects and Watchfulness,
We make an offering of Bread and Cream,
We make an offering of Peace between us.

Before departing, please know,
Should you ever be able to set aside,
Malice and Mischief and Anger and Hateful ways,
IF you can set such things aside,
Then we would also make you an offering of Welcome.

Hail and Farewell!”


Now Imbolc is the Feast and Celebration of Brighid, and we will honor Her in due time; however there is a Goddess already amongst us… or rather below and all around us, Whom we will honor first, for without Her and Her blessings, we could not be here to celebrate this Holy Day and the Holy Tides of All Creation without our own beloved local Earth Mother, The Goddes we know as Florida….

“We Call to You oh, Holy Florida.
We Call to a Granddaughter of Gaia, Goddess of the Earth,
We Call to a Daughter of Columbia, Goddess of the Americas
We Call to You oh, Holy Florida, Our Lady of the Feast of Flowers

We Call to You, oh Holy Florida,
Who was born amidst the fertile plains of Pangaea, many millions of years ago,
Who has swum through the oceans, and seen them ebb and flow over ages,
Who is the Earth Mother of this land we live in, and on, and love, in the present day.

We Call to You, oh Holy Florida
Glorious and Enduring, Rain-bathed and Windswept Lady
Green-clad and Flower bejeweled Goddess,
Whose cornucopia, over-flows with food and flowers
Hear us, and Be Here With Us.”

(personal invocation call and responses)

Oh, Holy Florida,
By All Your Names, Known and Unknown, oh Feast of Flowers
By All the Ways in which we have come to know You, oh our own beloved Earth Mother
Hear Us, and Be Here With us, and Be Welcome Here Amongst Us!

We Welcome you with Water,
That your thirst may be abated, your aquifers replenished, and
Your bountiful and flowering mantle be renewed!

We Welcome you with Rum,
That you may be warmed, that the killing frosts may flee from You, and,
Your great cornucopia may be ever full!

We Welcome you with open arms and grateful hearts,
¡Hola! , Hail and Well Met, and Blessed Be!

And Now we come to the Guest of Honor, Brighid, whose Holy Tide of Imbolc we are gathered here to celebrate. We have rekindled our beloved communities sacred flame, let us now call out together to She Who Is the Sacred Fires…

Hear Us, and Be Here With Us!

Oh, Beloved Brilliant Brighid,
Holy High Flying Arrow,
You who was Born at Daylights Dawning

Hear Us, and Be Here With Us!

Oh, Delightful Daughter of the Daghda,
Mother of Midwifery
You who Welcomes every child into the World

Hear Us, and Be Here With Us!

Oh, Beautiful Bountiful Brighid,
Green Mantled, Spear Wielding,
You who is the Sacred Flame

Hear Us, and Be Here With Us!

Oh Exalted Fire of Inspiration,
Who kindles eloquence and understanding,
Within the hearts and minds of humankind

Hear Us, and Be Here With Us!

Oh Transformative Fire of the Forge
Who kindles Craft and Creativity
Within the clever hands of humankind

Hear Us, and Be Here With Us!

Oh Invigorating Fire of the Spark of Life,
Who kindles Health and Vitality
Within every indrawn breath of humankind

Hear Us, and Be Here With Us!

Mighty Masterstroke of Women!

Hear Us, and Be Here With Us!

Best Beloved of All The Immortal Host!

Hear Us, and Be Here With Us!

Sweet Sacred Flame of Ireland!

Hear Us, and Be Here With Us!
(repeated, and after a time, at the sign of the open arms)

Hear Us, and Be Here With Us, and Be Welcome Here Amongst Us!

Exalted One, We Welcome You!

We Welcome You with Flowers
We Welcome You with Milk,
We Welcome You with Blackberry Wine,

We Welcome You With Open Arms and Gratitude,
We Welcome Your Blessings,
The Ever-flowing Tides of Life,
The Happiness of Hearth and Home,
The Gifts of New Beginnings,
The Transformative Fires of Change and Creativity and Renewal

Thank You, Thank You, Ten Thousand Thank Yous!

“We find ourselves, and our Beloved Community, Blessed
Within the Witness of the Earth, the Sky, and the Sea,
Within the Presence of the Spirits, The Gods, and our Ancestors,
Within the Knowledge and Power and Peace of Awen,
Blessed by our own Earth Mother Sweet Sacred Florida,
Blessed and Inpired by Brighid.

Let us always carry with us Their Power and Presence and Blessings,
Wherever we may go within the wider world may we carry them in our hearts.
May They be welcome in our Feasting this night,
As They are always welcome in our hearts and hearths,

We extinguish the flame but not the light of truth,
The warmth of community, or the fires of commitment.
These we carry in our hearts until we are together again.

And now let us feast!

Rekindling my Sacred Fires

As the annual Brighid Poetry Slam messages out there have probably already high-lighted for us, Imbolc-tide is upon us once more.  Depending on your individual faith or path as a Pagan, Imbolc or Oimelc can mean many different things.  Those meanings also change depending on matters of where you live and whether you celebrate as a Solitary Pagan or in a Group, and whether your Faith or Path even observes Imbolc or if it’s one of those Holidays that you sometimes go out to a community event for, simply for the Pagan fellowship, or to humor a friend; but for me it has come to be The Festival of Rekindling…

Growing up, and becoming a Witch, in Anchorage,Alaska early February was that time of year where you really started to see and appreciate the returning of the daylight.  In late February/Early March you also had the excitement of the approaching Fur Rendezvous, an annual Winter Carnival held in Anchorage.   So for the longest time Imbolc was a celebration of the returning light and of the first stirrings of the return of light and life and activity after the mad rush of celebrating the Beloved Living at Yule.

The last few years, though, I have had trouble figuring out what Imboc means to me.

Living in Florida the returning of the light is much less a dramatic or sought after turning of the Wheel, and it’s kind of difficult to get into its associations as celebrating the first signs/stirrings of spring when the citrus harvest is finishing up and the Strawberry harvest is on its way… part of my ongoing journey as I seek to truly understand this strange new sub-tropical world of mine.

Imbolc meaning “In the Belly”; Oimelc meaning “ewe’s milk.  Birth, beginnings, creativity, and renewal… those begin to feel closer to the truth of this Sabbat for me.   Though I don’t have much,  except that of a 1/4 Irish lineage, of a relationship with Brigid whose festival Imbolc is widely honored as, She is the Goddess of Sacred Fires and Sacred Springs.  Smithcraft, Arts and Crafts, Poetry, Spirituality, and Healing, Nurturing, Hearthcraft.

These feel, in that deep part of my soul that is touched by the sacred, like the right track…

So before I went to bed this morning (one of the many hazards of an overnight job…) I turned off the computer and the phone, I lit a stick of incense and before I blew out the flame used that stick to light a candle.  I sat holding the candle-glass cupped gently in my hands and meditated a bit.  I sought, not silence really, but clarity.  I let my mind wander over the last few days…

I thought about the New member’s potluck at First Unitarian, how enjoyable it was even though I am clumsy at best at social mixers with large groups of people.  I thought about meeting my sponsor/mentor Mary and talking with here about things around church.  My mind turned to the words of the Chalice lighting  we use at our U.U. Church

“In the Light of Truth,

In the Warmth of Love,

We gather to seek, to sustain, and to share.”

(and for those of you who are thinking “isn’t the Chalice a tool of water?!” Yes, it is, but there’s more than one way to wield a symbol and a tool!   Here is a link about the Unitarian and Unitarian Universalist flaming Chalice)

My mind also thought about how very, very much I enjoyed cooking my variation of Mom’s Classic Greenbeans (a Stewart family Holiday classic!)  for the Potluck; and how eager I was to volunteer to help my mentor Mary by volunteering to put together a Jambalaya for the New Orleans themed coffee hour…

I really do love to cook and it feels good to be able to use the skills and knowledge of years of work and study, and my recent schooling, in a productive way.  I actually see a lot of my future work in Community Building in the Pagan Community as a way to take those experiences and skills and offer them in Service to others… fundraisers and social events of all sorts!

I am really a hearth-Witch at heart I think, not necessarily limited to my own home; more that I am deeply drawn to and my gifts seem to lay in matters of Hearth and Community building.

Thoughts of the Hearth transition my thoughts from my Witchcraft to my Hellenic Polytheism and naturyally bring to mind Hestia.  She who IS the Hearth, and the Hearth Fire, the Sacred light giving, nurturuing, nourishing fire in our homes and lives.  Given this long present, but not entirely acknowledged or understood grounding I have in matters of the Hearth,  I need to find a way to honor Her especially as I seek to Honor the Theoi Ktesioi, the Gods of the Home,  in the coming year on the Noumenia and in my life.

THE THEOI KTESIOI were the gods of house and home. They were led by Zeus protector of the home (Ctesius) and of the family courtyard (Hicesius) along with Hestia, the goddess of the hearth. Hecate and Hermes were also important household gods who protected the gates and entranceways. -from an entry at

Chronologically, my thoughts carried me to the next day and back to thoughts of Witchcraft.   Waking up early at 3pm and performing my first, full and formal Witches Circle in…. well, in ages.  I remember how wonderful it felt to finally and formally welcome them into my live and works and to share with the Guardians of the Watchtowers in the Blessings of the Lady and Lord.  I had not realized how much I missed the immediacy and intimacy of my connection and communion with Them in a full Circle.

Then after Circle there was the mad rush of shopping for and prepping the ingredients for the Jambalaya, then work from 11pm-7am, then rushing home to actually cook the blessed dish, then off to Church to help with the coffee hour and to act as a Greeter.

My thoughts ranged over how much I am enjoying being involved in a community once more, and how eager I am to use my talents, experience, and education in service to that community.  Not only First Unitarian, but also the Mystic Grove, which is the Pagan/Heathen Affinity Group at the Church.  I am in that tricky stage of getting involved, but trying to not over commit myself or over extend myself… very tough to do for me, and from some of the conversations I’ve had with others at the Church I would guess U.U.’s in general.  This congregation, at least, seems to have a lot of that ‘somebody should do something about this’ energy that is so familiar to me…

I had to laugh to myself when someone described a Unitarian Universalist congregation like “herding cats”, how many times had I heard that phrase used to describe Pagan community… many!

I also, oddly enough, thought of the new involvement I have with a table-top role-playing group, getting my geek on and making new friends and reveling in the creativity and imagination of this cherished and long neglected hobby….

So for me the Festival of Rekindling is a time renew and recommit to those things that nurture the self and nurture and reconnect us to the wider world.  To take pleasure in our creativity, to explore and contemplate our new beginnings or what we might begin as the Wheel turns.  To celebrate the return to life and activity after the period of rest after the Winter Holidays.

As I breathed in my meditations by the light of that candle’s flame, focusing ever so slightly on the out-breath, I imagined breathing onto a charcoal or onto kindling, nurturing the fire with my breath to bring it to fullness and life…

Then after some Still and Sillent meditation, I blew out the candle, and welcomed the light of dawn.

“we extinguish the flame,

But not the light of truth,

The warmth of community,

Or the fire of commitment,

These we carry in our hearts until we are together again.”

May your Hearth and Home be blessed,

May you have food and clothing to warm your body,

May you have good friends to share your blessings with to warm your heart and soul,

May you find beauty and inspiration and creativity in your journey,

Blessed be!

And, as always,



Signs from the Goddess… but, which one?

So I was digging through some of my various BoS’s earlier this evening, the ones I still have anyway, looking for some of my Tarot notes as part of my Imbolctide resolution to relearn/regain my skills and knowledge with the Tarot… I was at least at the point where I didn’t need to leap for my copy of Eden Grey’s Complete Guide to Tarot (note to self, add to suggested reading)…

Anyhow, in searching through these artifacts of my Witchcraft I found a booklist for a Pagan reading group that never quite got off the ground.  One of the books listed was R. E. Witt’s Isis in the Ancient World, which is a wonderfully in depth book about Isis as she was worshiped over the entirety of the ancient times she was worshiped… it also shows how She was not only in a three way competition with Christ and Mithras for the hearts and minds of the Roman peoples; this book also shows just how much She and Her worship influenced the Christianity that eventually followed it.
I spent a short Alaskan Summer developing a bit of a serious relationship with the Lady of Beer and Bread, for personal reasons.  This book helped me a lot in that particular quest.

So, of course having found a reminder of this fabulous book, I wanted to add it to the Suggested Reading section here at Chrysalis.  So I go over to to get the bibliographic information… because I like to give folks enough tools to track down the books on their own rather than just a direct link to a bookseller… mainly because I like to encourage folks to support their local Pagan bookseller…

Anyhow (again) I go onto Amazon and what is sitting there on the we suggest this book window but Isis in the Ancient World?!?

Now normally, I try to maintain a certain healthy skepticism.  I haven’t, despite what you may think from some of my ‘bouncing off the gods’ posts, had all that many woo-woo experiences in my time as a Witch.   So while a part of my waking mind wanted to say…

“Well, now this could just be a coincidence, don’t get all X-files about it or something!”

That part of my gut, and heart, and my younger self said…

“Hmm… this is interesting… and we were feeling like we should have said something more about the Goddess in our little evangelical rant the other day… maybe this is a nudge?!  This feels like a nudge!”

I had to agreee with…well essentially myself, that it did indeed feel like more than mere coincidence.  But if it was a nudge, who exactly was nudging?!

Is it the Threefold Lady of the Moon, Goddess of the Witches?

Is it the Throne of Kings, Isis?

Or is Brigid, Lady of Learning and Inspiration nudging me in some needed direction during this her Holy time?

Or perhaps as we are approaching Her upcoming modern festival Aphrodite is pushing me toward poetry, one of my first loves?

For myself I shall contemplate these questions and keep sillent for the moment.  To meditate and cogitate and to post and poetize and theorize on the morrow.

Peace, Love, Mischief and Wisdom unto you and yours this Imbolctide,


Something for the Culinary Pagan

So for Imbolc I am sharing a variety of Culinary, Crafty, and Poetic posts.  This first non-poetry one is to share an outline for Potato Soup, and share a wonderful Pagan culinary list…

Wine and Cakes: Kitchen Witcheries and Heathen Hospitality

Is a delightful culinary and cooking list for Pagans and Heathens of all sorts.   Sometimes dormant and sometimes boiling over with posts and ideas!

Here’s something I recently posted there…

So the Big Guy and I have a ton of Potato’s around the house… His
brothers are Truck driver’s and occasionally they turn us on to a
great deal on veggies and other items they encounter in their hauls…

So we have, seemingly, a metric butt-load of potato’s in the fridge
and pantry. Last week I had a few days off and was feeling fairly
ambitious and the weather here in Central Florida was especailly
cold… overnight temps that week were in the 30’s and daytime temps
were in the 50’s to low 60’s; I know that’s not bad at all compared to
what a lot of folks are dealing with but her in Central Florida it’s a
cold day! So Soup seemed appropriate!

I’d never made potato soup before so I went to the shelf and dug
through The Joy of Cooking and some of my other culinary books for
ideas and inspiration relating to Potato Soup…

I thoroughly washed 5 or 6 potatoes, cut them into small bite-sized
pieces, and boiled them.

While the potatoes were boiling I fried up some Ground Turkey and some
Onions, adding some minced garlic and a few herbs and spices.

I then ran the boiled potato pieces through the blender. While I was
doing that I also reserved a couple of cups of the starchy potato water…

I wasn’t sure how thick the potatoes would be once I’d gotten them
through the blender. I’m glad I had saved the water as the blended potato was still a little thick and besides it’s like Chef Adams used to say.. you can
almost always thicken a soup back down by simmering out some of the water!

From this point, it was a matter of looking for other ingredients and
side fixings.. in this case we had some Cheddar Bratwurst and Broccoli
and Vegetable Mix (cauliflower, carrots, and more broccoli) in the
freezer… some quick thawing and slicing of the Brats… and Ta Da!
It’s Soup!!

I’d love to have had either some chicken broth or some vegetable broth
to use as a base… and maybe instead of the frozen veggies a big pan
of Roasted veggies to add at the last minute? (especially if I were
doing this as a vegetarian recipe…)


So if you are intrigued, or hungry, go to the Wine and Cakes and sign up and start sharing some of your own Hearthy goodness for Imbolc!



Imbolc draws near…so Blog about Craft and Hearth and Poetry!


The first of the new years Sabbats is coming.  Some of you may be familiar with the Imbolc Poetry Blogging phenomenon that has taken the Pagan Internet over the last few years…

For me, Imbolc and it’s patron Goddess Bride relate to Smithcraft, Healing, and Poetry or more appropriately to my modern life … Craft (Arts and Handicrafts), Hearth, And Poetry…

While I realize that not all Pagans celebrate Imbolc… it seems to me that we modern Pagans do celebrate, to differing degree’s and in differing times, Craft and Hearth and Poetry.  So I am not only going to be blogging about these three fires of Bride, I am going to encourage my Pagan friends of all paths to blog about them…