Simple Imbolc Celebration and Magic

Cover high resHere is an extract from my upcoming book, “The Hedge Druid’s Craft“, which is another introductory Pagan Portals book and is now available for pre-order.

Imbolc

Imbolc is a gentle festival, where we honour the first signs of Spring after a long winter. It has long been dedicated to the goddess Brighid who has associations with fire and water. Allow this time of year to fill your soul, the air still cold but the warmth of the light from the strengthening sun inspiring you to go out into the worlds and do the work that you have to do. You can light a candle to dedicate yourself at this time to your work, having spent the winter months thinking long and deeply about it. Now is the time to state your intention clearly. You can carve words or symbols into the candle that represent your work, and strew herbs around it to lend their energies (see A Basic Candle Spell below). As you light the candle, state your intention clearly, calling upon the ancestors and the Fair Folk, the gods and goddesses to bear witness. This is not an oath to be made lightly.

Meditate upon the candle’s flame for as long as you wish. Then take a bowl of spring water and anoint yourself with it. I like to collect water from Chalice Well and the White Spring in Glastonbury every time I visit, and I use this special, holy water for use in rituals and in spellcraft. You can draw the shape of a crescent moon upon your brow with the water, or place any other symbols which have meaning to you upon your body. It is also a good time for healing work, and anointing yourself with sacred water on areas of your body that need healing can kick-start the process (as well as following good medical and spiritual advice).

A Basic Candle Spell

Take a candle of an appropriate colour to use in your work. As a very basic guide, red is for love and passion, pink for emotions, blue for healing, green for the environment, brown for animals, yellow for inspiration, purple for magical strength, black for release of negativity. White candles are used for purification, as well as can be used to replace any other colour that you may not be able to obtain.

Sit with your candle and meditate upon the work that you wish to achieve. Then, stating your intention clearly, pour your energy into the candle. Allow energy to flow from your hands into the candle. When you have poured enough into the candle, you can then add more strength to it by carving words or symbols into it, still holding your intention. Then, place the candle it a holder and light it with a match. As you strike the match, keep your intention in your mind, and as you bring the match to the candle’s wick, visualise the power of fire igniting your work. Sit before the candle and meditate upon the flame, still holding your visualisation of the end result of your spellwork coming to fruition. You can add herbs around the base of the candle, if you so wish, to allow them to add their magical energy to your work. You can infuse the herbs with your intention and energy in exactly the same way as you did the candle. See with your mind’s eye a cone of power rising from the herbs around the candle, blending with the candle’s flame and sending the power out into the world.

A new journey begins…

sorrel-leavesAt the end of 2014, some things began to wind down, not least of all my office hours at the music company that I work at part-time.  It seems every five to ten years the fates give me a kick up the behind; just when things get very comfortable, very stable something happens that pulls the rug out from under my feet.  At the time, it can feel dreadful – for the most part we humans hate change. But change can be a good thing, keeping us from stagnation, from seeing this from only one perspective.  Nothing ever stays the same. The seasons are always turning, the river is always flowing, we are endlessly spinning through the cosmos. Change is everything.

And so I’ve made a big decision. I’ve decided to train as a professional herbalist (meeting new EU regulations) with Herbcraft, run by Melanie Cardwell in association with the ANM (Association of Natural Medicine).  I’ve created a new blog, The Druid Herbalist, to record my progress through this journey that begins in April.  This new blog focuses solely on herbalism and natural healing.  Down the Forest Path will still remain my primary blog site, but please feel free to join me on The Druid Herbalist as well!

My journey begins, to deepen my service to the land, the people, the ancestors and the gods.  Wish me luck!

J. x

Craft Names

Autumn SongWithin Druidry, and indeed in modern Paganism, it is usual to adopt a craft name within your tradition.  It is not necessary, and if you feel that you don’t need one, or one doesn’t appeal, then by all means forego the craft name. However, choosing a craft name, or having one bestowed upon you can enhance your connection to your tradition, if you allow it.

Craft names can provide an air of mystery and magic.  We can choose something that reflects our work, such as Oak Seeker, Coll (hazel, if working with ogham), or Pathfinder.  We can choose something that reflects a part of the environment that we love – Alder, Willow, Rain.  We can put two words together that express a deep part of our soul, or a deep love that we have, such as Gentle Bear, Running Horse, or my craft name – Autumn Song.  We can adopt names of the gods and goddesses that we love, such as Nehalennia, Freya, Lugh, Branwen, Rhiannon, Bridget.  There are also mythological names like Merlin, Morgan and Nimue that might strike a chord deep within our hearts.  We can even choose names from fantasy books that we love – Gandalf, Radagast, Arwen, Goldberry, Eomer, Eowyn, Faramir (all Lord of the Rings names).  What matters most is that our name expresses a deep part of our soul; that when we utter it, write it, exhale it into the twilight it means something to us, connects us to the awen.

You can inscribe your craft name upon your altar, or your tools. You can sign correspondence with it.  You may even change your name to your craft name if you feel that better reflects who you are.  I like having both names, as I can honour my two grandmothers for whom I am named after, and honour my tradition with my craft name. Besides, it took me long enough to learn how to write my own name, and I’m sticking to it…

We might choose our craft name, or we might be gifted it by another. We could meditate, commune with the local spirits of place, or deity, and ask that they bestow us a name. In some magical traditions, a craft name is given upon initiation into the tradition, or upon completion of various grades.  When working alone, we do not have to wait to have a name bestowed upon us – we can seek it out ourselves from whatever inspires us whenever we feel ready.  We can ask our ancestors, our spirit guides, even friends and family for ideas and inspiration.

Our craft names may also change with time.  As we grow and develop in our spirituality, we might find that we outgrow our name, and thereby be inspired to choose another that better suits our current work.  We can include our naming in ceremonies, whether it is our first time or our fifth time in choosing a craft name.  Taking on a name is not something to be done lightly, however.  It requires much thought and meditation if you wish for it to be important to your work.

Whatever name you choose, or however you decide to be named, honour that name with all that you are.  Find ways of being that reflect your name in deep and compassionate ways, working to create peace and harmony in your life and in all life around you.