Imbolc Ritual 2013

This was the first public ritual (outside of festival) that I wrote and presented for public consumption out here in Northern California. Be warned, this is not an Imbolc Ritual for the Midwest, but it might work in the Southeast. It references the rain we get out here in February/March, and the green grass and budding trees. I think February just outside of San Francisco is pretty grand, there’s a little chill in the air, but it’s also warm enough to still wear sandals. This ritual has a strong “community” vibe because it marked my wife and I’s entrance into a new Pagan Community and we wanted to express that. For my thoughts on Imbolc and a bit about the history of the holiday click here.

Pre-Ritual Prep and Items Needed:
-Altars are set up, one for the Goddess and one for the God at the north and south points of the room. In the middle of the circle is a smaller altar with quarter candles, sword, and other assorted decorations.
-Participants are encouraged to engage in a self-blessing or purifying before the ritual.
-Ritual area is cleansed before the ritual (really, who needs to see that?)
-A Tea Candle for every ritual goer, handed out before the ritual starts.
-Fruit juices, whiskey, wine
-shot glasses/tiny cups for above drinks
-Glue-sticks
-Fabric Leaves, poster-board, picture of a bare tree
-Boom box with Irish/Celtic jig type music
-Cider (Remember, I’m a hard cider junkie, use what you will.)
-Cakes

On the Center Altar:
-Sword
-Candles for the Four Elements
-Cup
-Athame

On the Goddess Altar:
-Statue of a Maiden Goddess
-Candle
-Statue of Brighid (even though not really celebrated in this ritual, it seems bad form to leave her out)
-Flowers, shells, anything else you might associate with the Goddess as Maiden

On the God Altar:
-Statue of a younger horned figure, or perhaps the Green Man
-Candle
-Green things, perhaps leaves if you are so lucky.

People Involved:
-High Priestess
-High Priest (When we did this ritual we used two High Priests)
-Maiden
-Quarter Callers (We just used our two High Priests, High Priestess, and Maiden)
-Circle Caster (if desired)

Cold Open
Ritual begins in near darkness, with only a few candles lit to provide illumination. The opening chant of “Listen to the Lord and Lady” is begun by the High Priestess and Priest.

Statement of Intent
High Priest: “Now the turning of the Wheel has come to the time of Imbolc, the first sabbat of Spring. Tonight we celebrate the return of the light, the rain, the green, and the Maiden.” (Lights a candle and places it on the altar.)

Return of the Light
High Priest: “The days grow longer, the sky burns brighter, tonight we rejoice in the return of the light. The light shines the way for the rains, which bring forth the green, which awakens the Maiden of the Earth, and the child in all of us.”

High Priestess: “The Spring is a time for new beginnings and new journeys. It’s a time to find the things inside of us we want to share with the world. It’s a time for letting new lights shine.” (Priestess lights another candle and places it on her altar.)

High Priest: “At this Imbolc we honor the Lady as the Maiden of the Spring, and her soon to be consort, the Green Man, the young Horned One, the spirit of the wild.”

High Priestess: “The days grow longer, the sun shines brighter, and we look inwards to find what we wish to burn brighter in the growing Spring. Take your candle and approach the altar of the Lord or Lady, as you light your candle whisper a prayer to them for what you wish to see grow in your own life and in this community. Come approach the altar, share your dreams with the gods and let them help you make those feelings become reality. “

(Everyone approaches the altar and lights their candle, Priest and Priestess assisting anyone who needs it. When all the candles are lit, the quarter callers step forward.)

Calling the Quarters

East: “I call to the spirits of the East, Spirits of Air and the winds that turn the seasons. Spirits who rule the realms of intuition and inspiration, yours is the creative soul of nature. Join us tonight as we celebrate new beginnings and the coming of Spring! Blessed Be!” (Lights candle on center altar.)

South: I call to the Spirits of the South, Spirits of Fire and the light that guides our way. Spirits who rule the ecstasy of the spirit, yours is the cup of the wine of life. Join us in our circle tonight as we celebrate the return of the Light and the coming of Spring. Blessed Be! (Lights candle on center altar.)

West: I call to the Spirits of the West, Spirits of Water and the gifts that give us life. Spirits who give the blessings of rain to the parched and hungry land, yours is the promise of life renewed. Join us tonight as we celebrate the rain and the coming of Spring! Blessed Be! (Lights candle on center altar.)

North: I call to the Spirits of the North, Spirits of Earth, you from which all things proceed and to which all things return. Spirits who are the beauty of the green earth, yours is the peace and serenity for which we long. Join us tonight as we celebrate the growing green and the coming of Spring! Blessed Be! (Lights candle on center altar.)

(Why do these sound a bit weird? They all have bits and pieces from the Charge of the Goddess/God, yes I’m going for grand theological statements. I’m pretty full of my self that way)

Casting the Circle: “I cast this circle to create a place that is not a place, in a time that is not a time. I create this circle with perfect love and perfect trust. The circle is cast. So mote it be! (Circle-caster uses a sword, and casts the circle slowly, moving from East to South to West to North. You can have the High Priest or High Priestess do this part, or a person dedicated to the task.)

Call to the Maiden: “She whose feet bring forth life from the cold ground, we call to you. She who brings renewal and green growing things, we call to you. She whose love is poured out upon the Earth, we call to you. Gracious Maiden, join us tonight in our circle. Join us as you begin your journey upon the Wheel of the Year, and as you reawaken the Earth. Bless us at this sacred Imbolc celebration, and let us feel your joy and wonder within us tonight. Blessed Be!” (Candle is lit upon the Goddess altar.)

Call to the Green Man: “He who shines in the sky, and grows stronger each day, we call to you. He that commands the rains and guides the rivers, we call to you. He who is the defender of the sacredness of nature, we call to you. Lord of the Wood, Green Man, Horned Youth, join us as you touch the natural world. Bless us at this sacred Imbolc celebration, and let us experience your exuberance and lust for life this night. Blessed Be!” (Candle is lit upon the God altar.)

(High Priestess and Priest walk towards the center of the circle. Without saying a word the Priest picks up the chalice on the center altar and says to his Priestess “Wine shared is life shared,” she drinks and says “Blessed Be.” She then holds the chalice before him and says “Drink from the waters of life.” He drinks and then says unto her “Blessed Be.” He then puts down the chalice and reads the opening words of The Charge of the Goddess.)

Charge of the Goddess
Charge of the God

(The Charges here are not completely necessary, but I enjoy including them in ritual.)

The Rain/The Waters of Life
High Priest: “While the light makes the days grow longer, new life does not come from the Sun alone. Without the rains, life is not renewed, and without the rains there is no new green grass to know the tread of the Maiden’s feet. At Imbolc the skies open us and bring us the waters of life so that the trees will bud and blossom and seeds will take root. The rains are a cause for joy and celebration; truly they are the waters of life.”

“The waters nourish not just the land, they nourish and renew our souls. In the juice of the orange or apple they symbolize the union of earth, light, and sky. As the blood of the grape they are the perfect union of time, warmth, wet, and fire. As the waters of life they restore the fire inside us all and bring the heart courage.”

(At this time, small glasses of wine, OJ, apple juice, and whiskey are distributed to all within the circle, with a higher emphasis on fruit juices, some wine, and a smattering of whiskies.)

“Take your glass, and hold it high up the heavens. Look into it, look beyond what you normally see. See the Goddess and God in that sacred drink you hold in your hands. Within that drink is the power of transformation. Everything She touches changes, and within that drink in front of you is the power to change your stars.”

“Close your eyes and visualize what it is you wish to have change for you this Springtime. Picture that image in your head and feel it spread inside of you, touching your heart, moving through your shoulder, your arms, your fingertips and then into the cup you are holding. Pour forth the things you wish to transform in your world into that drink. Concentrate, feel the power within the circle and inside of your self. Feel the touch of the Goddess and God, hear their whispers as you concentrate. “

“Now as the energy builds prepare to ingest the power of the rains and the waters to change your own life. On the count of three I want you to take a shot of that drink and then give out a big Blessed Be when you are done. Are you with me? Can you feel the Lord and Lady moving through you? One . . . Two . . . .Three, Drink! Blessed Be!!!”

(The phrase “change your stars” comes from the movie “A Knight’s Tale.” When we did this my wife and I split the High Priest/Priestess duties with another couple and my friend almost snorted water out of his nose the first time he read those words. I love “A Knight’s Tale” and make no apologies for slipping it into ritual. As for this part of the ritual, the point is to raise a good amount of energy before throwing back the whiskey/wine/juice. You kind of want to sound like a revival preacher while doing this bit.)

The Green/The Growing
High Priestess: “The light and the rains unite with the earth bringing forth new life. Flowers bloom, trees bud and stem, and an explosion of vibrant green begins to cover the hills and fields. We welcome the return of The Green, and celebrate the New Growth it signifies.”

“We are just like the leaves on a tree, or the blades of grass in the field, separate, individual, unique, . . . and yet still a part of something greater then ourselves. Tonight we rejoice in the new life preparing to break through the soil, but what can we ourselves give to our community and those around us? Like the leaves on a tree, we should function together to create something bigger and better than what we can create alone.”

(Green paper/cloth leaves are passed out to everyone in the circle quietly while the HP is speaking. The HP unveils the picture of a bare tree; its branches empty of leaves.)

“This tree is us, all of us. Without its leaves it is bare, without the green of growth it appears lonely and sad. We are all a part of the tree that has brought us here tonight. Together we make that tree stronger, we make our community greater when we all come together, and we all have unique skills and talents to share. In the coming year what do you want to share with your community? What do you want to do to grow in our community and coven/circle?”

“Write your true name upon your leaf, and whatever you have to give to the green, to the tree, to all of us. It may be your time, your wisdom, your enthusiasm, your passion, and your heart, whatever it is, write it upon your leaf. When you’ve thought of what you want to put on your bit of green, come forward to one of the altars and write that thing down on your leaf and then attach it to the tree. Together we will watch the world, and our community flower.”

(I don’t see any need to tell you anymore about this part, it’s pretty self explanatory, though I will tell you that glue sticks work best.)

The Maiden
The Maiden: “Like attracts like, and things build upon one another. The days grow longer, the rains come, and then the world begins its annual rebirth. Where the Maiden walks there is life. But the Spring is not just about life returning, the Spring is about a feeling, a feeling of endless possibilities and renewal. To the gods, your joy is their joy, and the world is brighter when we rejoice in it.”

“In the Springtime the Maiden smiles at her soon to be lover. In the Springtime the Horned Youth leers at his soon to be lover, impatiently awaiting Beltane night. Within all of us the young gods stir, letting us see the world again with virgin eyes. Rise and join me as we clap, stomp, and dance in the Springtime, reveling in the feeling of life, and feeling the freedom to be without care.”

(Music is started, two Irish jigs, with high energy dancing from those who dance, and clapping from the dancers and everyone else. If you feel the need to chant, something like “Welcome the Spring” over and over works well. As the second song winds down, keep up the clapping and get everyone back to their original seats. The clapping should continue without the music, the energy building for about a minute or so, with a hearty yell of “Welcome Spring!” at the end.)

Cakes and Ale/The Great Rite
High Priestess: “I hold the power of creation in my hands.” (holds chalice)

High Priest: “I hold the power of creation in my hands.” (holds athame)

High Priestess: “We perform the Great Rite to remind ourselves of the Ultimate Mystery and the Universal Power.”

High Priest: “When two powers unite . . . .”

High Priestess: “ . . . . something new is created.”

Both: “Joining is sacred . . .”

(As the Man lifts the athame and prepares to plunge it into the chalice the Maiden walks up and sets her athame over the cup, smiling and saying).

Maiden: “Not quite yet, that’s a fire to be raised upon a different sabbat.”

High Priest: “True enough ladies, hail the early Spring.”

All: “Blessed Be.”

(You might find this blasphemous and want to do just a traditional Great Rite, fair enough I wouldn’t blame you. In my house’s mythology about The Year of the Wheel the “Goatboy” or “Young Green Man” begins his pursuit of the Maiden at Imbolc and doesn’t get to consumate it until Beltane, so this works for us, and I find it extremely hilarious. Those watching the ritual might gasp in surprise though!)

High Priest: “Lord and Lady bless this cider we are about to drink. May it warm our hearts and bodies preparing us for the Spring. Blessed Be!”

High Priestess: “Lady and Lord bless these cakes we are about to eat. May they nourish us as we prepare for another turn of the Wheel. Blessed Be!”

(Cakes and Ale are served to everyone at the ritual.)

Goodbyes to the Lord
High Priest: “Green Man, Lord of Light, he who comes to us as the Horned Youth in the Springtime, we thank you for your presence this night. We will watch you in the sky as you continue to grow more powerful, and while doing so, know that you are watching us as well. Thank your for continued blessings. Blessed Be!”

Goodbyes to the Lady
High Priestess: “Great Lady, Gracious Goddess, Maiden of the Spring, we thank you for your presence this night. When we feel the rains upon our cheeks we will think of you. When we see new life rise up through the earth we will think of you. When we see the flowers bloom, we will know that you are watching over us. Thank you for your continued blessings. Blessed Be!”

Taking Down the Circle: “Tonight we have walked between the worlds in this sacred circle. The circle is open, but never broken. So mote it be!”

(The circle is taken down moving deosil-north to west to south to east, using the sword.)

Dismissing the Quarters

North: Spirits of the North, Spirits of Earth, thank you for being with us this sacred night. Thank you for all of your gifts, the green grass, the fertile soil, and new life. We say to you, hail and farewell, Blessed Be!
(North candle is blown out.)

West: Spirits of the West, Spirits of Water, we thank you for being with us this sacred night. Thank you for all of your gifts, the rains which make all possible, the ocean that calls to us. We say to you, hail and farewell, Blessed Be!
(West candle is blown out.)

South: Spirits of the South, Spirits of Fire, we thank you for being with us this sacred night. Thank you for all of your gifts, for the longer days, the return of the light, and the passions that burn within us. We say to you, hail and farewell, Blessed Be!
(South candle is blown out.)

East: Spirits of the East, Spirits of Air, we thank you for being with us this sacred night. We thank you for all of your gifts, for the winds that turn the seasons, and the ability to feel joy and happiness. We say to you, hail and farewell, Blessed Be!
(East candle is blown out.)

Closing
High Priestess: “Tonight we have welcomed in the Spring and celebrated the return of the light, the rain, the green, and the Maiden. Until we meet again.”

Closing Chant
“May the circle be open, but unbroken. May the love of the Goddess be forever in your heart, Merry Meet, and Merry Part, and Merry Meet Again!”

About Jason Mankey

Jason Mankey has been involved with Paganism for the last twenty years, and has spent the last ten of those years as a speaker, writer, and High Priest. Jason can often be found lecturing on the Pagan Festival circuit, so you might just bump into him. When not reading and researching Pagan history he likes to crank up the Led Zeppelin, do rituals in honor of Jim Morrison (of The Doors), and sing numerous praises to Pan, Dionysus, and Aphrodite. He lives in Sunnyvale CA with his wife Ari and two hyper-kinetic cats.

  • Kate Gladstone

    Re “green things” — would sprouting beans be okay? Perhaps raised in a clear jar under lights for a week or so, to get leaves which will be green?

    • JasonMankey

      That sounds good to me, of course I’m color blind so when I write “green things” I’m trusting that my wife is right about what things are green.

  • http://www.facebook.com/tracy.tiwebemal Tracy Tiwebemal

    I really enjoyed reading this. It sounds like it was a great experience for all:)

  • http://www.facebook.com/deanna.torres.79 DeAnna Torres

    I really like the statues of the faun and nymph on the altar. Would you mind sharing who the artist is and where you got them?


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