Normally as we approach Imbolc I am thinking ahead to growth and rebirth: setting goals, planning gardens, asking how I can change and improve aspects of myself or my life. Not this year. With two people in my house fighting strep throat, one recovering from a stomach virus, and another knocked flat by an upper respiratory infection, the last thing on my mind is growth. I'm thinking cleansing. Physical and spiritual. I want to disinfect my kitchen and dispose of emotional clutter. This Imbolc my focus is cleansing intentions and processes, cleansing space, spirit, and body. It is needed.
I think for many of us cleansing is an unacknowledged part of the Imbolc season. How many of us do a big 'spring cleaning' every March or so? I generally do mine around Imbolc. I'm on my couch today trying to figure out how to facilitate this. (I'm one of the strep throat people.) The first step is not to worry about it. I will get to it when I get to it. Mental stress (especially about something so mundane) leads to bodily stress, which leads to sickness. In order for one to be physically well, one must be mentally well also. This can be a tall order. You have work. You have families. You have stress. Like myself, you may have mental illness. Studies have shown again and again the correlation between depression and illness. What are we to do?
The breeze blew down from the top of the mountain pushing its way through the heat and humidity. It rushed through her kitchen window filling the small room with the smell of crisp cool air. Blowing her hair back off the tackiness of her face and neck as she stood there washing dishes. The room had a slight relief from the heaviness of the air.
She looked out the window and up thought the trees. There she saw the storm taking shape.
I am fascinated by ritual. Rituals of all sorts. In every culture, in every age there are rituals to commemorate births and comings of age and marriages and deaths. There are high holy days set aside to celebrate the gods, goddesses, fallen (s)heroes, venerated Ancestors and important moments in a culture's mythos. Rituals can be elaborate festivals lasting many days or simple, daily actions such as changing the milk in an offering bowl or setting a piece of food aside for the Fae folk or just taking a moment to pray.
Rituals are made up of many components. There's the liturgy, the actual words that are spoken. There may be songs and offerings and costumes and incense and props of all sorts. For me, whether it's a grand affair or the most humble of rituals, stepping into ritual space is a beautiful and necessary act, because rituals ask us to leave the mundane "outside" of the temple and allow us to connect with life and our past and our future, right now, in the present.
Stones that are used for healing and magic need to be cleansed and charged regularly. I think it's best to cleanse and charge a stone after any healing work; stones I use as part of my own ritual circles or for meditation can go a little longer, provided my environment is reasonably harmonious and clear.
There are many ways to cleanse and charge your stones. Purification is often done with incense or smudge stick smoke, or with water and salt. The cleansed stones are then often charged with moonlight, sunlight, reiki, or a witch's intentions. I frequently use some combination of these methods myself.
I mentioned in my past two posts that you can cleanse yourself before and after spirit work, and banish spirits as need be. Some of you may already have your own cleansing and banishing practices, but here are a few basic ideas to start with.