Imbolc Ritual 2014

My coven first did this ritual last Imbolc. While the words are mostly mine, I can’t take credit for all of the concepts in the ritual. One of my circle-mates did most of the heavy lifting/thinking that makes up the middle of the rite. Sadly my partner in crime works in a Catholic school so I can’t publicly put her name on this. So if you end up wondering why this ritual is vastly superior to my other online offerings now you know why.

Materials beyond the usual ritual tools needed:
A big bowl full of earth (dirt)
Slips of paper to write on
Pens/Pencils
Pillar candles
pins with which to write/carve on those pillar candles
anointing oils for candles

Purification
Everyone prepares for ritual differently. In my circle we perform a ceremonial hand-washing. Some groups prefer to use incense, smudge, salted water, etc etc. I could share exactly what I do here but then I’d have to swear you to secrecy, and that sounds like too much work.

Opening Meditation/Chant
It’s important to get yourself in the right head space for ritual. Some groups like to use a guided meditation “your feet are the like the roots of a tree . . .” others chant and sing. It probably depends on how good the singing is in your particular group.

Statement of Intent

High Priestess: “We gather this night to celebrate the sacred festival of Imbolc. We welcome the return of the light and the rains. This evening we cleanse ourselves of the past and prepare to receive the blessings of the Lady.”

Casting the Circle

“I conjure thee oh circle of power, that thou may be a meeting place of love and joy and truth and as a shield against all wickedness and evil. Thou art a boundary between the world of mortals and the realms of the mighty ones; and an entry way to the realm of spirit. Wherefore do I bless thee and consecrate thee in the names of the Lord and the Lady. The circle is cast, so mote it be!”

Calling the Watchtowers

East: “Ye Guardians of the Watchtowers of the East, ye Powers of Air; Spirits of Clear Will and Knowledge, I do summon, stir, and call you up, to witness our rites and to guard our Circle.

(invoking pentagram is drawn)

Hail and welcome.”
(Coveners repeat “Hail and welcome.”)

South: “Ye Guardians of the Watchtowers of the South, ye Powers of Fire; Spirits of Illumination and Desire, I do summon, stir, and call you up, to witness our rites and to guard our Circle.

(invoking pentagram is drawn)

Hail and welcome.”
(Coveners repeat “Hail and welcome.”)

West: “Ye Guardians of the Watchtowers of the West, ye Powers of Water; Spirits of Death and Initiation, I do summon, stir, and call you up to witness our rites and to guard our Circle.

(invoking pentagram is drawn)

Hail and welcome.”
(Coveners repeat “Hail and welcome.”)

North: “Ye Guardians of the Watchtower of the North, ye Powers of Earth, Spirits of Mountain and Plains, I do summon, stir, and call you up to witness our rites and to guard our Circle.

(invoking pentagram is drawn)

Hail and welcome.”
(Coveners repeat “Hail and welcome.”)

The Charge of the God
There are many Charges of the God out there on the internet. Not surprisingly, my group uses the one I wrote.

The Call of the God

High Priest: “We call to the Lord of the Earth, god of the wild places . . . god of the soil and the green growing things. We call to the Lord who joins with the Lady when the Spring rains come. Take away our hurts and fears, let them be swallowed up the very Earth that is you! Join us in our circle tonight as we purify ourselves and cast away that which we no longer wish to carry with us. Let us feel your presence in our rites! Hail and Welcome!”

The Purification and Preparation
(High Priest goes to the altar and grabs his athame. Slowly and purposefully he walks over to the bowl of earth prepared for the Lord.)

High Priest: “I exorcise thee, O creature of Earth, and cast out from thee all the impurities and and uncleanliness. May you serve us well this night! So mote it be!”

(Athame is plunged into the soil.)

High Priestess: “Now I ask you to take whatever it is that you wish to cast away and either write it down on a piece of paper, or simply picture it in your head. Once you’ve decided what it is that you would rid yourself of, focus on that thing for a few minutes. Picture The Lord of the Earth rising up from the land; swallowing and taking those negative things away, cleansing you as we prepare for the Spring.”

(Time is allowed for people to write down things.)

High Priestess: “Hold those negative things written down or pictured in your hand, and then, as we come around with the Lord’s soil, cast that thing deep into the Earth to rid yourself of it. Know that He will carry it far away from you and from us. When you give your burdens up to Him, take a moment to verbalize the process. Say ‘Gone!’ or ‘Be rid of this!’ to make the magic stronger.”

(Bowl is carried around and things are plunged into it.)

High Priestess: “Hail the God!” “Hail the Earth!” “Blessed Be!”

(Pause to let these things be repeated by everyone else at the ritual.)

The Charge of the Goddess
There are many versions of the Charge of the Goddess, but only one that’s familiar to most everyone of the Wiccan persuasion. My circle uses Valiente’s version, with some minor changes.

Call to the Goddess

High Priestess: “We call to the Lady of the skies and seas, the Eternal Goddess, Lady of life and renewal. We call to Her, She that pours out her blessings upon the Earth so that life may be renewed and all may be made sacred. It is your rain which purifies all that it touches, preparing all for the Spring and Summer ahead. Lady of the Heavens, join us in our circle tonight! Purify your children for the year to come. Make us as new as the Maiden who walks with us this Imbolc night. Let us feel your presence in our rites! Hail and Welcome.”

The Cleansing and the Renewal
(High Priestess goes to the altar and grabs her athame. Slowly and purposefully she walks over to the bowl of water prepard for the Lady.)

High Priestess: “I exorcise thee, O creature of Water, and cast out from thee all the impurities and and uncleanliness. May you serve us well this night! So mote it be!”

(Athame is plunged into water.)

High Priest: “We stand here with past negativity already taken away. We now renew ourselves with the gifts of the Lady. Visualize yourself newly reborn, clean and whole, made pure by the light and love of our Lady. Let her touch take away any lingering feelings of doubt or pain, and be born anew by her touch and grace.”

(All stand to receive the gifts of the Goddess and are lightly touched with water. As people are touched with the water words such as “Be renewed by Her” should be said to each participant.)

High Priestess: “Earth and Rain, together the two join to create new life.”

High Priest: “Tonight we have joined Rain and Earth together to renew our own lives.”


Both: “Blessed Be.”


Growing of the Light/Candle Blessing

High Priest: “And now cleansed and renewed we our free to focus on the growing of the light and the growth of new things in our own lives.”

High Priestess: “Take a candle, dress it with oil, and write upon it what you wish to see manifest as the days grow longer and the Spring returns.”

(People dress and write on their candle, and then stand once more in circle.)

(High Priestess walks up to the altar and stands before a large unlit candle in the center of it.)

High Priestess: “I now this light candle in the center of our altar. It represents the love and community shared by this coven. Since we walk life’s journey together we should all light our candles for the new year from the same flame at the same time. Join with me now and light your candle from this shared sacred flame.”

(All in the circle light their candle from the center flame.)

High Priest “And as we are one group but separate individuals, extinguish your candle, but remember our shared light and its promise of growth in our own lives. So mote it be!”

The Great Rite

High Priest: “Life is more than a gift, it is a promise. All that dies shall be reborn.”

High Priestess: “We now celebrate the most ancient of magicks, the magick of joining.”

High Priest: “The athame is to the Lord.”

High Priestess: “As the cup is the Lady.”

Both: “United in life and abundance. Blessed Be!”

(Athame is plunged into the chalice.)

Blessing the Cakes & Ale

High Priest: “In the names of the Lord and Lady we bless this bread.”

(Touches athame to either the bread or the plate it is being served upon.)

High Priestess: “In the names of the Lord and Lady we bless this drink.”

(Touches athame to the top of the cup. The drink is then passed around first with the bread following.)

Goodbyes to the Lord and Lady

High Priestess: “We thank the Great Lady, Goddess of the skies and seas for joining us tonight in our rites. Look over us as the light grows and change manifests its self in our lives. With love and devotion we walk this road with you. Blessed Be.”

High Priest: “We thank the Eternal Lord, God of the earth and the wild places, for joining us tonight in our rites. We will feel your touch with our every step upon your world. With love and devotion we walk this road with you. Blessed Be*.”

Dismissing the Watchtowers

North: “Ye Guardians of the Watchtowers of the North, ye Powers of Earth, Spirits of Mountain and Plains, you have joined us in our rites and have guarded our circle well. We thank you for joining us this blessed night.

(banishing pentagram is drawn)

Hail and farewell!”
(Coveners repeat “Hail and farewell.”)

West: “Ye Guardians of the Watchtowers of the West, ye Powers of Water; Spirits of Death and Initiation, you have joined us in our rites and have guarded our circle well. We thank you for joining us this blessed night.

(banishing pentagram is drawn)

Hail and farewell!”
(Coveners repeat “Hail and farewell.”)

South: “Ye Guardians of the Watchtowers of the South, ye Powers of Fire; Spirits of Illumination and Desire, you have joined us in our rites and have guarded our circle well. We thank you for joining us this blessed night.

(banishing pentagram is drawn)

Hail and farewell!”
(Coveners repeat “Hail and farewell.”)

East: Ye Guardians of the Watchtowers of the East, ye Powers of Air; Spirits of Clear Will and Knowledge, you have joined us in our rites and have guarded our circle well. We thank you for joining us this blessed night.

(banishing pentagram is drawn)

Hail and farewell!”
(Coveners repeat “Hail and farewell.”)

Taking Down the Circle

“I conjured thee oh circle of power as a meeting place to shield us against all wickedness and evil. Thou has served us well, and now we undo this boundary between the world of mortal and those of the mighty ones. We seal forth the entry way from the realm of spirit. All will now be as it once was, and what was once here has been dismissed in the names of the Lord and the Lady.
So mote it be!”

Closing Statement

High Priestess: “We now stand before the Spring, purified, cleansed, and renewed. As the light grows, may those things we want to bring into our life grow with it. And now our ritual is at an end, so I say to you: Merry Met, Merry Part, and Merry Meet again!”

~FINS~

*At the end of the goodbyes to the Goddess and God I used to sign off with the words “Hail and Farewell” or perhaps “Go if you must, stay if you will” but as a friend of mine pointed out both of those are actually quite a conundrum. “Farewell?” Do I really believe the gods leave me at the end of ritual? No, of course not. I think they are always around to some degree. “Go if you must stay if you will” has always sounded like the person reciting those lines just couldn’t come up with anything better. My circle has now decided that a quick “Blessed Be” is the way to end those goodbyes. Do as you will though, of course.

Photos
1. When I first moved to Northern California I delighted in posting pictures in late January/early February of green plants and nature in bloom. It was mean to share those images with my friends back in Michigan, but I just couldn’t help myself.

2-5. Last August Ari and I rounded up some friends and fellow bloggers so I could get some “action shots” to use on Raise the Horns. Because “like attracts like” there are three Patheos Pagan writers in some of these photos. Me of course (I’m the one with the mess of blonde curls), but also Jenya Beachy (now writing at Agora here) and of course Angus McMahan, proprietor of Ask Angus. And yes, the Bay Area is planning to take over all of Patheos Pagan, OK, not really.

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.

  • Angus McMahan

    Good ritual – great photos!

  • Jen McConnel

    Beautiful; I love the growing of the light/candle blessing!


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