Posts Tagged ‘imbolc’
Traditionally (for us) Imbolc has been a time that is filled with promising freshness of the year and quite frankly one of the best sacred pilgrimage times. Over the last few years Imbolc has proven a beautiful entrance into the coming year and this year we were not disappointed by the days events.
We began our journey looking for (one of) a church that Chris said was worth visiting. After a few attempts to find it, we decided to leave it and go for our main first objective which was a Sacred Well dedicated to St Helen which was an interesting correlation to a well that we had visited a few years ago (at Imbolc) and I was blessed with the quest of Becoming a Knight.
As is my modus operandi, I asked whether there was anything that I could do for this sacred place, No. Is there anything I can learn here? Yes. Great! I found a place to prepare and sat listening to the wind. Moments later I felt that enough preparation had been had and was ready to continue.
Again I followed the rods a short distance and was led to the eaves of a tree, which isn’t really saying a lot since pretty much all of the place was either under or near the eaves of trees, but hey! I settled in against a convenient trunk and open my mind to communing with the Time, Space and Place.
As usual within minutes that feeling of connection arose within me and I left this place for the in-between places. In my mind were three things. The Wand Quest, the Knights tour and the Fourth element, Air. Of all of these I knew a fair bit already and certainly enough to continue. However since the rods indicated that something was in the offing. I searched the place for knowledge, meaning and understanding.
My thoughts went to the Knights tour. My understanding was this was some remnant of the Knights Quest that I had undertaken a few years ago. That assumption was incorrect I was told. The Tour is the conclusion of your cavalier quest. Ah… that makes more sense. So this was some kind of upgrade? My words are a bit clumsy but you get the gist. Yes, came the voice and with it will come more responsibility.
If you’re wondering whose voice it was then you haven’t been visiting here for long. It was of course my mentor (or should I say tormentor) Caileach. At least this Imbolc was not going to be a reflection of last years Dragon and Ice episode.
With this simple addition to my understanding and knowledge the wench vanished, leaving an odd feeling that she would appear again at another place.
I thought that I was done and readied to get up when I felt the presence of another being there. Perhaps it was thinking of the Knights Quest but with a mysterious and gentle note of sound a being rose from the ground. I recognised her as St Sarah (or at least that was what I had called her).
Note: Important or not. The well was dedicated to St Helen, but I saw/communed with St Sarah.
What ho, I said (I know, not the way to address a Saint really).
She pointed at the ground next to me. I looked down and saw a chrysalis there.
Frozen, ready to be reborn anew, to be awakened, to leave behind, to let go.
All these descriptors flooded my thoughts in those few seconds. I looked up at the Saintly figure before me. She nodded.
“This year will be my year”
I was puzzled by this for a few moments and then my memory returned. Sarah was the Saint of Laughter. Was she saying that this would be the Year of Laughter? What a thing! As usual with these encounters. Beings seem to have the ability to read minds or at least see our thoughts in our faces.
Recently I had done a Tarot reading and had explained (for that subject) that the Ace card was one of beginnings. My thoughts shifted to that card only to have it replaced in my thoughts with the Page. Which in this instance meant for me that this was not a new beginning but rather a new floor built on the understandings and lessons of the previous one.
Again, I thought that I was done, only for Sarah to give me another direction. As above so below is the directive of magic and she intimated that I needed to do something in accordance with this ancient law. What? Leave something behind.
I had two items of note on my person. A Heart shaped Rose Quartz crystal and the coin that had been blessed by the Fairies of Brittany. With a lot of trepidation I dowsed as to which of these was to be left behind. Frankly, I didn’t want to leave either. The rods pointed at the crystal and so with a good deal of reluctance I left it behind.
Now, the place and I were in agreement. It was done. I looked up and through the trees. Chris was done too. As we prepared to leave two signs caught our joint attention. The sun came out to greet us and a Robin redbreast flew in and spent some time with us. Beautiful!
Kal Malik – informed
Having spent a lovely half hour at the church dedicated to Michael at the foot of the ridge known as Bwrdd Arthur (or “Arthur’s Table”) it was now time to find a way up onto the ridge. One of my objectives for this Imbolc was to connect more of the sites that I had identified as having a reference to Arthur, and which were part of a landscape zodiac that I was forming across Northern Wales and England.
At a junction in the road near to a signpost we found the entrance to the ridge and followed the steepest path up on to the crest of the ridge. Kal soon found a comfortable spot in a shaft of sunlight, and I used my dowsing rods to locate one too. The sun at its peak now, and as warm as it was going to get!
Adorning the Table
It was close to lunch time but not time for us to eat yet. I had work to do. Bathed in sunshine I began a process of protection (new site – good practise), meditation, then connection with the spirit of the place. I felt that the spirit was keen to work with me, and so I began to mentally cross the country linking this site by an energy bridge to all the other Arthur-related sites I had visited so far on this quest.
Only the fool-hardy and those friends with frost would venture forth into the darkness of Delamere Forest at midnight. Illuminated only by a filling Milk Moon and a fogging headlamp I met with John Kirby – experienced meditator and esoteric inspiration. This was his idea, and I had seen no reason not to accompany him on his wild adventure into the blackness. I was nearly put off by other people’s reservations: it would be cold, I didn’t know where I was going exactly, it was very windy, the world might end any moment. None of this seemed to matter. Curiosity and the opportunity to meditate outdoors this close to Imbolc was sufficient motivation to drive me onwards.
It was almost a full moon and there was sufficient light to make our way from the station car park, past the visitor centre, and out into the forest proper. John had identified a place where there were some specific trees that he wanted to encounter again. Luckily, he knew how to get there even in the dark, and within ten minutes we had found the place.
There was one clearly visible and identifiable “male” tree. it stood along, a ‘lonesome pine’, immensely proud and conical. It looked like the kind of Christmas Tree that ought to adorn a special square in London. I chatted with John about the concept of the “King Stone” at a stone circle, and how the outlier would often be the male standing stone whose energy would be fed into the female stone circle. I likened the imagery to the sperm and ovum concept.
For me, Imbolc sees the return of the male earth energy so tonight it seemed appropriate to attempt to “fertilise” the female ring of trees nearby with the male energy of this lone tree. We set up camp in a clutch of fir trees whose central space was both soft and welcoming, sheltered yet not smothering. A fire pit was dug by hand, wet logs used as a container, and then a small immediate flame established to ward off the worst of the Winter’s warmth-sapping strength.
Nature has a way of rebounding things on you in a kind of cosmic joke. I had just run out of posts and was wondering what I could write about next. Spring Equinox is still a way off (this post written on the 14th Feb), and outings will be rare due to the extreme weather of late.
I turned, instead, to the tarot cards I had drawn at the start of the year. Ivy had been and gone now that Imbolc had passed. The next Tree Angel Oracle tarot card I had to contemplate is Rowan.
The information in the accompanying manual says that Rowan is the font of creativity. While this card is ‘active’ I should expect to receive inspiration for any creative endeavour. How handy is that, considering I ran out of posts?
Here is some more information talking about the influence of the Rowan tree on druidry. It’s from the ever-useful Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids.
“Rowan is one of the trees associated with Saint Brighid, the Celtic patroness of the arts, healing, smithing, spinning and weaving.”
” …the sacred tree of February”
“Rowan is one of the nine sacred woods burnt in the Druids’ Beltaine fire. ”
“Rowan is also associated with dragons and serpents – sacred Rowans were once guarded by dragons.” (link)
So, the fact that the card was drawn to cover the period from Spring to Beltane seems remarkably appropriate. The way that this tarot system works continues to blow my mind and expand my consciousness! The link to Brighid – goddess of light – is something that I need to bear in mind in this period. It will help define which sacred sites to visit.
The idea that the rowan wood was burned at Beltane suggests that this would signify the end of the influence of the creative period.
Of course, anything which mentioned dragons or serpents is something which this blog instantly translates into “earth energies”. I will look into this association a bit more in future posts as I begin to dowse the link between earth energies and rowan trees at this time of year.
A whole new area of investigation has opened up!
You may remember that I did a tarot layout using the Camelot Oracle to help provide a framework for my work last year. I expected to do the same this year, so when i got prepared to do a layout I went seeking the cards. I felt a strong aversion to using the Camelot cards! Oh! So, I went to my next set of cards – nope! What about the next set? No! I was down to my last set of cards – a set which had been gifted to me, and which I very rarely use for anything. Yes, these felt right. How strange!
The deck is the Tree Angel Oracle tarot – a deck which explores the spirit of trees and their associated qualities. I began to see that trees would be playing a large part of my activities in 2014.
I asked what type of card I should draw, and came up with two – either a “sign” or a “challenge“. A sign card shows me something that I will either be shown, or that I will receive, some information or sign that I can use to further my progress. A challenge card shows me something that I need to change or overcome in order to make progress.
I dowsed for how many points in the year I should draw, and the answer came back as eight. Each point of the eight-fold Celtic year. I drew a card for each station, and some stations ‘insisted’ on more than one card! I allowed that feeling to prevail, after all, it was that feeling which had guided me to the cards in the first place. I wasn’t going to insist on being right here – I was being guided.
The layout shows the eight points of the year starting from Winter Solstice at the top (North, if you will) and going round the year clockwise. Sign cards are shown vertically, and the challenge cards horizontally.
Here are the cards listed against their positions in the Celtic Wheel of the Year:-
- IMBOLC – Ivy (sign)
- SPRING EQUINOX – Rowan (sign)
- BELTANE – Blackthorn (sign)
- SUMMER SOLSTICE – Almond (sign) + Elder (challenge)
- LAMMAS – Hawthorn (sign)
- AUTUMN EQUINOX – Elm (sign) + Lime (sign)
- SAMHAIN – Juniper (challenge)
- WINTER SOLSTICE – Birch (sign)
I have a feeling this year that I should interpret the cards as I get close to the date that I need the information. In the past when i have done tarot draws I have put the interpretations out as a kind of divination, a reading of the future. In this draw I feel that the threads of fate will come together close to the time of the event, rather than them being pre-formed and pre-destined. I think this is why I was shown a different tarot deck, because the information has to be treated differently.
Anyway – the only one that I want to make an interpretation from at the moment is the impending arrival of Imbolc. Here’s the card, and its meaning at the moment.
IMBOLC – Ivy – sign
Ivy is the giver of gifts without thought of reward.
As a sign card this is indicating some information to me, like a signpost on the path. As I have already found out that I will be giving up my current elementals, this seems to be a link in to that activity. I have decided, after seeing this card, that I should find an appropriate gift for each of the elementals. At Imbolc I should symbolically offer the gift to the elementals as a leaving present to them for all their help.
I’m arranging four ‘elemental’ site visits tomorrow. Let’s see what happens!
In the second of my year-end summary posts I am listing the most important things I have learned this year. I’ve arranged them in chronological order by month as this seems to show the development of the learning in the best way. There’s too much to read in one go, so I’ve split this into two posts. Part 1 is January to June/July. Part 2 will be the back half of the year.
One of my favourite phrases is “Every day is a school day.” It certainly feels like that walking this path of druidry and divination!
- Learned that some pet energies can be grounded through respectful burial involving knowledge of their energetic links to humans (e.g. an owner)
- Also found a spirit that is classically called an Incubus preying upon the vibrant energies of the three teenage girls in the house. Discovered that they can be ‘ensnared’ using a spiral-carved stone to confuse their pathway, and by changing the energy flows around the house to disrupt its patterns and portals.
- Created a four-stage cross tarot layout coinciding with the Celtic festival dates, and drew from the Camelot Oracle to define the path, the champion and the challenges at those special dates. The result was a fantastic way to keep me on track with my progress!
In the final part of our Imbolc excursion to Cumbria I will be showing you another new site for us – Maiden Castle – near the village of Wreay above the north end of Ullswater Lake. The story of how we found it is the real tale here, and the communion we had while there adds the final flourish to the whole episode.
Having already taken a wrong turn trying to find the narrow lane that led to the field in which the castle was supposed to be, according to the maps, we were somewhat exasperated already as we cruised along the hillside at slow speed trying to get a visual fix on any form of earthwork or stone cluster that might indicate a ‘castle’. Kal had been fully expecting a proper castle with turrets, flags and portcullis, but I assured him that we were looking form something far more mundane and far less spectacular!
The light was beginning to dim. The sun was descending behind the huge distant hills around Ullswater Lake. I had joked at the beginning of the day that we would probably arrive at the castle for sunset, and the joke was becoming a reality. Would we find the castle site before it got dark and too treacherous to locate?
We were about to give up. I stopped the car and insisted that Kal dowse whether we should continue looking or go to somewhere nearby like Castlerigg. I ditched the OS map and instead used the Viewranger pinpoint that I had preset the day before.
NOTE: Viewranger is superb for outdoor work of this kind such as finding sacred sites. I can’t recommend it highly enough. It’s a complete lifesaver sometimes.
Go check them out if you like walking, running or discovering new places.
This was a precise fix on the castle and should allow us to home in on it. Kal returned – we had to find Maiden Castle, there were no alternatives! What now?
At that exact moment, sat in the car wondering whether to drive home or head out into the dim light in search of something we were both startled from our thoughts. A hawk burst out of a bush next to the car and flew across the bonnet. It swooped down into the vale below and disappeared again. Well – did we need any better sign? One glance was enough – we were decided – that was the sign we needed to venture forth. Then we noticed the footpath sign next to the car. Well, obviously, that would take us to the castle, right? Let’s hope so.