Bright sunshine strikes the ground. The air remains cold but, in defiance of the low temperatures, impetuous bulbs thrust their shoots skyward. The year stirs and, as the light is turned up, the first insects wake. As I clean our country temple (last used some three years ago) sleepy ladybirds shuffle around the window frames. An usher moth, disturbed from the wood pile, flutters into the brilliant air.
It is our Imbolc ceremony, time of purification, of Green magick and of love.
There are snowdrops on the altar and bright bronze vessels, polished and gleaming.
We begin our work with a ritual led by our Wiccan Sister. The men are asked the leave the temple (we stand outside, hopping around in the chilly afternoon to keep warm). Inside the women invoke:
“THIS IS THE FEAST OF THE DAWN OF THE YEAR WHERE WE SEEK TO RENEW OURSELVES. TO REINVENT OURSELVES. TO PURIFY OUR OUTER AND INNER LIVES IN THE NAME OF THE WHITE GODDESS, MISTRESS OF THE SACRED FLAME FOR THIS IS THE MYSTERY: THE GODDESS RENEWS HERSELF AFTER THE BIRTH OF THE SOLSTICE SUN, EVEN AS HER BLOOD RENEWS HER MAGIC EACH MONTH SO THE EVER FLOWING CYCLES OF LIFE, DEATH AND RESURRECTION ARE MAINTAINED BY HER TRANSFORMATIONS!”
The Guardian Priestess holds a sword to the breast of each man at the temple door:
THOSE WHO ARE PREPARED TO BE PURIFIED MAY ENTER THE TEMPLE Each participant is asked individually WHAT DO YOU SEEK? They may answer “I SEEK PURIFICATION/REDEDICATION/CONSECRATION”.
Directed to enter the temple and kneel at the altar one of the She Wolf Priestesses will scourge 21 times while another reads in their ear:
WE ARE DAUGHTERS OF THE SEASON AND WE KNOW THAT THE COLD OF WINTER PURIFIES ALL, AS THE ICE PURIFIES THE WATERS AND THE FROSTS PURIFY THE EARTH, SO THE HEAT OF THE FIRE PURIFIES OUR BODIES AND THE SCOURGE PURIFIES OUR SOULS WE ARE REMADE IN THE FORGES OF THE TRIPLE GODDESS OF INSPIRATION AND MAGIC, SHE WHO BRINGS RENEWAL AND INSPIRATION.
Participant repeats after the Priestess:
WITH THE RENEWAL OF THE YEAR I WILL RE-DEDICATE MYSELF TO MAGIC BY THE PURITY OF MY WILL.
The women then make their own purifications. They in turn kneel and are scourged by the men.
The temple, thus opened, it’s time for the ‘Oxytocin Breast Love-In’. The aim of this ritual is to address the issue of breast cancer in women (and is offered as a healing rite for one individual in particular). No-one is certain of the endogenous mechanism which means that the more children a woman has the less her chance of developing breast cancer. However one suggestion is that the protective effect derives from the oxytocin generated by the embraces of mother and child. Our statement of intent is “We would love to hear of many more breast cancers made well’. In this ritual we first dip into the oxytocin deliciousness, laying down in the warm temple and sucking our thumbs, cuddled together. From here we go out into the cold evening air. Down into the garden where snowdrops peep above the leaf litter. Walking around a tree we summon the other side of oxytocin, the defensive aspect of this hormone which strengthens boundaries of the group against outsiders (and defends the healthy self from illness). We follow a green path I have arranged that snakes past the garden pond and runs through a gateway (made of decorative ironwork wrought into the shape of many hearts). Once each person has passed the gate, releasing the power they have summoned into the noosphere, we stand together and watch the waxing moon.
Back into the temple the next ritual is a Spring Cleaning This practice involves meditating on the sound of ocean waves, letting the waters wash over us, cleaning and scouring us pure. Then the soundscape changes to that of songbirds in a verdant woodland. We meditate on the building up of the spring. The growing of the light, the land and ourselves. A simple but powerful practice.
A ritual in praise of the Goddess Green Tara is next. We worship her to inspire in us every sort of perfection. We chant her mantra as we inflame ourselves with alcohol and hot chilli peppers. This is a devotional rite until the moment when we occupy the perspective of the Goddess herself. Looking back through her eyes at our own bodies, willing us towards perfection. Then, as one, we snap back from this non-dual awareness and into our bodies. Inflamed and inspired. We banish this puja with Coprolalia.
Our next practice is the alethiometer, a divination system presented by our Brother featuring Rory’s Story Cubes. This oracle provides a fresh method of divination composed of simple images which, unlike the tarot or runes, doesn’t come creaking under the weight of generations of symbolic associations.
A medicine ritual is next, with songs and acoustic music, while we open our hearts (see the article HERE) using a snuff of sacred tobacco as our ally.
Then it’s time to perform the Mass of Green Baphomet. This rite is to charge a jar of incense which is part of a longer working by a Sister who is involved in psychogeographic magick. The barbarous invocation of Baphomet has been ‘greened’ by adding the bīja ‘Om’ to the text and by being sung in the style of a Sanskrit mantra. My Sister and I feel the force grow, rising like new sap through us. The energy of Green Baphomet seeps into the scented resins we hold between us. Gradually it fades to a still steady glow; the jar pulses with power.
In preparation for the end of the workings our Sister who opened the temple now calls upon the triple Bride. Each participant lights a green candle and these are placed in a large mixing bowl full of earth in the centre of the circle.
BRIGANTIA, BRIGHIDE, BRIDGET, BRIDE! O LADY OF THE TRIPLE MAGICS PURIFY US WITH THE ICE FIRE OF THE SEASON AS THE FROST PURIFIES THE EARTH, AND THE SCOURGE PURIFIES THE SOUL AND IN SO DOING REKINDLE THE FIRE WITHIN US FOR YOUR MAGIC IS THE MYSTERY OF RENEWAL!
I CALL TO BRIDE, TO THE FLAME OF CREATIVITY, FOR THE BARD TRANSFORMS WORDS TO SONG AND IN INSPIRATION REVITALISES OUR SOULS
I CALL TO BRIDE, TO THE FIRE OF HEALING WHICH TRANSFORMS OUR BODIES FROM IMBALANCE TO EASE, AND IN BRINGING US WELL BEING REINVIGORATES OUR SOULS
I CALL TO BRIDE, TO THE POWER OF THE SMITH WHO REFINES ORE TO PURE METAL AND IN TEACHING US CREATION REJUVENATES OUR SOULS.
O PERFECT PEACE PROFOUND OF UTMOST UNEXISTENCE INFINITE, ETERNAL, NIL, UNBORN, UNBEING, UNBOUNDED UNILLUMINATE, UNMANIFEST, THOU ART. FROM THOU WE ORIGINATE OURSELVES: UTTER FORTH THE WILL WORD: LIGHT!
The bowl of candles is still burning for our final ceremony, part of our on-going political magickal process. Of this matter I must keep silent except to say that an icon of the rite is the flower reproduced below and the music used in the ritual is HERE.
Sitting outside that night, though the air is cold, I feel strangely warm. Care is here amongst my Brothers & Sisters, and love, and a sense of clear direction. There is movement, intention and brave renewal, spring has sprung and magick is abroad.