Imbolc Ritual 2014

IMBOLC RITUAL
By Kurt Hunter

REQUIRED
• 1 small white taper for each participant, with foil wax catchers at the bases
• 1 large white candle, to symbolize Brigid and Springtime
• 1 small paper boat.
• Early bloom flowers; crocus, daffodil, phlox, pussy willow, violet, primrose, cowslip. Scatter these about the edge of the circle. May also use bits of twigs, sticks and evergreen to symbolize the ending Winter.
• Small packages of early blooming flower seeds for each participant.
• (Optional) a large pot of fresh earth in which to plant the seeds together, or participants may take them home to plant themselves.
• Altar tools as needed: Incense, bag of dirt, bowl of scented water, yellow candle, besom, sword, cakes and wine and packets of seeds in a basket beneath the altar.

ROLES
• High Priest
• High Priestess
• The Winter Crone
• Brigid, Maiden of Spring
• The Horned Lord
• Heralds of the Spring (4) who also act as quarter callers

Each of the Heralds of Spring takes up the lit incense (flowery is best), a bag of fresh dirt or loam, a bowl of sweet fragrant water, and a lit yellow candle. They will line up at the East side of the circle. Each participant will, one at a time, file past them. They will be blessed and consecrated each, in turn, with the four elements. For added color, the Heralds can wear yokes, veils or ribbons of the appropriate elemental color; yellow for air, green for earth, blue for water, and red for fire.

HERALD OF AIR: [waves incense] The scent of new flowers guide you into Spring. Hail and Welcome.

HERALD OF EARTH: [crosses forehead with a dusting of earth] The promise of fertile lands beckon you into Spring. Hail and Welcome.

HERALD OF WATER: [brushes lips with water] The taste of sweet waters carry you into Spring. Hail and Welcome.

HERALD OF FIRE: [holds candle before them and gestures with it into circle] The growing light of the Sun warm you into Spring. Hail and Welcome.

When all have filed past, each of the Heralds should, from back to front, bless themselves and then bless each other Herald as they pass into the circle. The intention is that, by the end, each person has been blessed. Set the tools on the altar.

HIGH PRIESTESS: [takes up besom, casts widdershins East to East, to banish the Winter]
Old Man Winter, away, away!
Your time is ending this day!
Gone freeze and banish snow!
It is Spring we now know!

Returns besom to place near altar. High Priest takes up Sword. Note that, at this point, the circle and the quarters can either be cast using whatever standard Tradition the group may have for doing so, or this method, or some combination thereof. Also some Traditions, such as Temple Tradition, put Fire in the East and Air in the South, and cast North to North. It’s all good, just be consistent.

HIGH PRIEST: [casting circle East to East in normal fashion with blue witch fire]
I conjure thee o circle of power
To protect us here in this hour
A boundary to preserve and contain
And turn the wheel within again

Return sword to altar. The Heralds also serve as quarter callers, carrying in turn from East to East, the four elements– Incense, Candle, Water and Earth. Bless each quarter silently with the particular element by spiraling with it four times at each direction. Return the elements to the altar when complete. Each Herald/Quarter Caller faces a direction and rest of participants follow suit. People may hold up their athame’s or a hand to welcome the guardians of the watchtowers, as they will. At the end of each welcome make the appropriate invoking pentagram for that element.

HERALD OF AIR: [East] Lord and Lady of the Lightening Skies!
We summon, stir and call you up, to witness our rites, and guard this circle. Blessed Be!

HERALD OF FIRE: [South] Lord and Lady of the Fertile Lands!
We summon, stir and call you up, to witness our rites, and guard this circle. Blessed Be!

HERALD OF WATER: [West] Lord and Lady of the Flowering Islands!
We summon, stir and call you up, to witness our rites, and guard this circle. Blessed Be!

HERALD OF EARTH: [North] Lord and Lady of the Shining Castle!
We summon, stir and call you up, to witness our rites, and guard this circle. Blessed Be!

HIGH PRIESTESS: [addressing circle]
We have come again, to the sacred time of Imbolc.
We turn the wheel towards the Spring
We sing to welcome the young maiden
We dance to welcome the budding Earth

HIGH PRIEST: [addressing circle]
Heed the words of the Horned Lord
Heed the words of the Winter’s Crone
Their guidance and wisdom have led us
Dreams in the dark giving way to dawn

HORNED LORD: [wearing antlers/horns, he steps before the altar and faces towards the circle]
Truly the Winter has been long and cold
My deer, elk and moose find little forage
The she-bear grows thin in her den, awaiting the birth of her cubs
The White Swan is gone from us and it is time for Her return

HIGH PRIEST: Listen to the high flying geese; do you hear their call approach from the South?

HIGH PRIESTESS: Smell the warming breezes; is that the scent of new flowers on the wind?

HORNED LORD: Gather in, Children of the Goddess. Is that a light I see on the distant shore, coming ever closer?

Everyone should take a step into the circle to gather more closely in around the Horned Lord, save the CRONE and BRIGID. High Priest and High Priestess pass small candles around to each of the participants including the HORNED LORD and themselves. The Crone lights Brigid’s white pillar candle. The Crone takes the small boat and holds it up before her. She and Brigid process around the outside of the circle. If possible, the Crone is dressed in black or dark grays. Brigid, if possible, is dressed in white.

WINTER CRONE:
Beyond the Veil of the Hidden World
Returned from the Shining Land of Apples
The White Swan of Promise returns
To give light, hope and love to those
Who faithfully and truly await Her

ALL: [begin softly, then repeat with growing intensity] Io Ivo He! Brede is Come!

After the Crone and Brigid make a full circle around, everyone but The Horned Lord steps back allowing them to join the circle and step into it.

HORNED LORD: [kneeling before Brigid]
My joy at seeing you, the greatest flower of Spring
Knows no bounds, and I honor thee
Brigid, Lady of Fire and the Poetry
The White Swan is returned. Blessed Be!

ALL: Blessed Be.

WINTER CRONE:
Rise, Hunter, for you have seen through your task
You have led my Children safely in the cold night
Bringing us through Samhain’s dread gates
To the threshold of promise anew
Come with me and I will hear
Of what great stories you have to tell!

The Crone and the Horned One step back into the circle. They place the boat and the horns on the altar and make sure they have small candles themselves.

BRIGID: [speaking to assembled circle, holding her lit candle]
As the new Sun was kindled at Yule
So do I carry this symbol of His Light returned
It grows fuller now, it brightens the World
Let us share it, that this be a most happy place
For Spring to be welcomed again

She walks around the circle, lighting the candles of all present.

BRIGID: I am the fire that bakes the grain to bread!
I am the fire on the altar that consumes the offering!
I am the fire of the forge that tempers the soul!

HERALD OF AIR: Brede is the breath of life! Blessed Be! [ALL] Blessed Be!

HERALD OF FIRE: Brede is the flame of love! Blessed Be! [ALL] Blessed Be!

HERALD OF WATER: Brede is the promise from beyond the sea! Blessed Be! [ALL] Blessed Be!

HERALD OF EARTH: Brede is the new flowering Earth! Blessed Be! [ALL] Blessed Be!

Brigid places her white pillar candle lit into the cauldron and rejoins the circle. Participants may either place their candles in the cauldron too or pinch them to use later in their own private observation of the Season. HPS places basket of seeds in middle of circle to be charged for the coming Spring.

HIGH PRIEST:
Charge charge o’ little seeds
Grow high and meet our needs
Grace us with your lovely blooms
That our dreams may come true soon

HPS explains that energy will be raised for the turning of the wheel, the charging of the seeds to bring about our hopes and dreams for the coming year (so tend to your dreams well and with due diligence!) and for any additional energy that may be specifically requested for healing. Everyone raises power with the chant:

She changes everything She touches, and everything She touches changes.

After the cone of power is raised, cakes and wine are offered in the usual manner by the HP and HPS.

HP/HPS hold chalice with wine or juice and athame, respectively.

HIGH PRIEST: As the athame is to the male
HIGH PRIESTESS: So the cup is to the female
BOTH: And conjoined they bring blessedness.

Chalice is passed around the circle. Afterwords the cakes are blessed. HPS holds the plate and HP places his hands over them.

HIGH PRIEST: We bless this offering of the grain
HIGH PRIESTESS: And the grain blesses us

This is also passed around. Be sure to leave a little bit of both for libation to the Gods. Personally I like to give the first offerings before circle is cast to the Gods, and the last offerings after circle is opened to them as well.

Sacred BS ensues for a time, news is exchanged, then everyone prepares to dismiss the circle. Cast appropriate pentagrams of devocation.

HIGH PRIESTESS:
We do thank the Gods for coming from afar
We do thank the Elements for their aid
We do thank you all for joining us here
Blessed Be

HERALD OF EARTH: [North] Spirits of Earth, we do thank thee for being near
And ere ye depart to your lovely realms we bid thee hail and farewell!

HERALD OF WATER: [West] Spirits of Water, we do thank thee for being near
And ere ye depart to your lovely realms we bid thee hail and farewell!

HERALD OF FIRE: [South] Spirits of Fire, we do thank thee for being near
And ere ye depart to your lovely realms we bid thee hail and farewell!

HERALD OF AIR: [East] Spirits of Air, we do thank thee for being near
And ere ye depart to your lovely realms we bid thee hail and farewell!

HIGH PRIEST [takes sword around the outside of participants, cutting away the circle, freeing the energy back to the cosmos]
Witches all, our rite is ended
The powers about the circle are being drawn back
Even as we watch, to remain there until next we meet
So be it!

Pinch or snuff out all remaining candles, offer libation with remaining cakes and wine, and celebrate!

Kurt Hunter is Georgian elder and NROOGD red cord who has been working in the Craft for over 25 years. He is High Priest of ElvenOak Coven in the beautiful Pacific Northwest and is currently a student in the ministerial seminary of the Temple of Witchcraft. Kurt works as a professional counselor and clinical supervisor and enjoys stone collecting, gardening, photography and gaming. He lives in Portland, OR and can be reached at kurthuntertow@gmail.com

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