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It seems like winter juster arrived, but already it’s on its way out. Today is Imbolc, the Celtic festival celebrating the end of winter and the beginning of spring (though most of us don’t regard that to happen until the Equinox). It’s also approximated by St Brighid’s Day, Candlemas, Groundhog Day, Setsubun in Japan, and the Spring Festival in China (better known in the West as the Chinese New Year’s). Basically, a time to celebrate impending the return of warmth and the sun after months of cold and snow.
As usual we’ve gathered all of our related stories as well as those we found across the web that we thought were interesting. We hope you enjoy and have an enjoyable month and a half on the way to the equinox!
Fire is a very powerful element well they all are really in their own special ways. Fire has the ability to cleanse and clear away through the force of destruction. Sometimes we do need to burn away negative influences and energy to be able to restart. Not literally of course, I am not encouraging anyone to burn down houses!
Fire can be used in spell work to burn petitions, to scry, for burning herbs and of course to provide heat for night time rituals. PLEASE… (I know I don’t really have to say this but…) if you are in the woods or forest area check that you are allowed to start a fire (a lot of places don’t give permission for obvious reasons). If you are given the go ahead make sure you take the proper precautions and don’t let it get out of hand, a fire in the woods or grassy fields can cause a huge amount of damage not only to the land and plants but also to the animals that live there....
Do you know we are all on fire? Life is literally a fire burning in our bodies. Our biology magically takes in energy in tiny increments so we don’t ignite. Still, it’s a wonder more of us don’t just spontaneously burst into flames! Beltane is a traditional time to renew, reawaken our fire—inner fire, hearth fire, community fire, sexual and fertility fire of people, animals, plants, the land.
What about when there’s way too much fire everywhere: in wars, in forests, in collapsed nuclear reactors, even freak fires in the arctic? What about depression—not enough creative fire, soul fire, wemoon fire, to bring balance and healing to offset the devastation? No way to get there from here? Today is our holy moment to quantum jump over the impossible and make love to the Possible. (If your head can’t do it, let your heart try.) Newborns of the body or imagination conceived on Beltane are “Merry Begots,” full of enough aliveness, love, joy, humor to confound the toughest logic and direst doomsday predictions.
Continuing my story of my personal journey on my heathen path: On Loki’s Day 2014, for the first time, I held a blot specifically for Loki. April 1st had become my traditional Loki's Day a couple of decades ago when I participated in Ostara festivals that overlapped April 1st. That was back when I was a member of the old Ring of Troth. Ostara was a campout with an indoor sleeping area which was a World War I era bunker, and the grounds also included an outdoor campfire and a trail down to the beach. The women who gathered around the campfire in the morning chill with our coffee started throwing our hair combings into the campfire spontaneously, and because it happened to be April 1st, and people at the festival were already observing April 1st as Loki's Day, a day to tell jokes and play pranks, we came up with the idea that throwing things into the fire on April 1st was a sacrifice to Loki. It was not a really serious ritual, just a spontaneous moment of fun, but I think Loki likes spontaneous fun. Throwing hair combings into the fire for Loki became a tradition at that festival among the early risers.
So, when I decided that I should hold a ritual to thank Loki for inspiring me to write Some Say Fire, and for all the help he gave me through that medium, I went with the tradition of throwing hair combings into the fire on April 1st. It was what I had done year after year when I lived in California in my 20s, so to me it was tradition.
I lit both a bonfire and a barbecue fire, just like I did at Yule when I engaged in that duel. At the time, I still had the burn scar on the side of my right foot. It disappeared about a month later, when I accepted another sort of symbol, but that's another story which I'll tell later. I had been saving my hair-combings, each time I combed out freshly washed, clean, dry hair. I had spun my hair combings into one continuous ball of yarn, and placed that in the bbq fire along with expired spices and various types of woods and charcoal. But I lit the bonfire first, which contained only wood and twigs and brush from my yard which I had saved after the fall chopping and had dried in the side yard. I first made a short, formal statement of thanks to Loki, “I burn this for Loki,” and listed my gratitude for his inspiration for my novel and his literal inspiration of air in my lungs. It did not light. “OK, not good enough,” I said out loud.
The only other heathen there was T. N., who is a Heimdall’s man. I had told him exactly what I planned to do at this blot and given him an opportunity to decide not to participate, but he was there. I met his eyes and we both smiled uncomfortable little smiles.
I next made a slightly longer formal statement of thanks and tried to light the fire. It did not light. “OK, still not good enough.” I realized I was going about it wrong. I had to relate to the fire first and foremost as fire. “OK, I’m going to be smart and stand blocking the wind.” I moved to a new position and realized I was now pointed due north as I should have been from the beginning. “OK, you like this better? Light, you.” I was irritated and I said nothing of gratitude or supplication.
The fire did not just light. It whooshed out in a ten foot horizontal gout of bright orange flame. It continued to burn like a flamethrower even after I put the iron lid on it.
Like when I’m writing, he spoke through me. Unlike when I’m writing, it came out my mouth instead of my fingers. “Don’t talk to me like I’m [expletive] Odin.”
I added, “he says.” I realized my own voice is actually deeper than Loki’s.
If T. N. had any particular reaction to hearing me abruptly turn medium and let a god talk through me, he did not make it obvious. Of course, I had been talking to him about my book a lot because I was in the middle of writing it. I had told him the gods spoke through me into my book, so perhaps he was not really surprised. I certainly was, though.
I went on to light the barbecue fire too, and then hold a normal blot, and then cook the post-ritual feast. There were no more surprises that day. The big surprise came later that month. I plan to blog about that soon.
Image: Loki by Miguel Regodon
It’s Imbolc today, the traditional Celtic celebration associated with the warming of the climate and the onset of lambing season as well as the Celtic fire goddess Brigit. Seen by ancient Celts as the start of spring it occupies the midway point between the Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox and is commonly associated with Groundhog Day, which traditionally takes place the day after.
For our annual megapost in celebration of Imbolc, we’ve gathered all of our content for Imbolc this year at PaganSquare as well as some links of interest from other sites. We wish you a merry Imbolc and hope the remaining days before the Equinox are warm for you and your families!
EDIT: New posts made since yesterday evening have now been added to the list.
Fire does not exist in all worlds.
In order to exist, Fire requires three things: a spark, oxygen, and fuel.
If any of these is lacking, there will be no Fire.
Since fuel is (more or less by definition) organic, this means that Fire exists only on planets that support life. Of all the planets that we know to be, Fire exists only on ours. Fire may live on other planets as well, but this we do not know.
To the ancestors, Fire was a god (or goddess). In the Vedas, Fire is called the Youngest God, because he is constantly reborn.