Imbolc Ritual

Needed:

  • Bell
  • Besom
  • Brown altar cloth
  • Brown candles
  • Circlet of candles

Note: This is the "Feast of Lights". It is another fire festival, so there is again a cauldron containing the makings of a fire standing in the north quarter. Beside it lies a besom (broomstick). This is the mid-point of the dark half of the year; the halfway point in the God's pre-dominance. But although it is in that segment of the year's cycle, yet it is very much a festival of the Goddess (particularly Brigid, Brigantia, Bride and other variations). Beside the altar rests a "crown of light"* — a circlet of candles.

The Erecting the Temple is performed. This may be followed by Full Moon or New Moon Rite, if appropriate. Bell is rung three times by Covener acting as Summoner.

Summoner: "Haste! Haste! No time to wait! We're off to the Sabbat, so don't be late!"

Priest/ess: "To the Sabbat!"

All: "To the Sabbat!"

With Priest and Priestess leading, the Coven moves deosil around the Circle, walking or dancing. Circle as many times as you wish. Priest/ess starts a hymn to the gods and all join in. Finally, all halt and stop singing.

Covener: "Now has our Lord reached the zenith of his journey."

Second Covener: "Now does he turn to face the Lady."

Priest: "Though apart they are one."

Priestess: "They are both the shadow and the light."

Then follows an enactment of a seasonal motif (e.g. the midpoint in the sun's winter journey; sweeping out the old and starting anew; the running of the priests of the Lupercalia, at the ancient Roman festival; the preparation of seed-grain for growing in the spring; the inviting of the Goddess of Fertility to enter into the house and lodge therein). Bell is rung seven times.

Covener: "Our Lord now has reached mid-journey. Ahead he sees the light of our Lady, And the start of Life anew, after this period of rest. This was the first festival of the Celtic year. This is the time when spring lambs are born and ewes come into milk. Spring itself is scented in the distance And thoughts are on the Goddess as much as on the God. Burn, now, the evergreens — the ivy, mistletoe and holly; The rosemary and the bay. Clear out the old, that the new may enter in."

Priest and Priestess lead coven in a dance about the Circle. This maybe followed, or accompanied, by a chant or song.

Priestess stands before the altar, with arms crossed on her breast. Priest kneels before her and kisses her feet. He then takes up the crown, stands, and places the crown on her head. He then dances deosil around the Circle three times. As he passes the cauldron on the second circuit, a covener lights the kindling (candle, or whatever). As Priest comes to the cauldron on his third circuit, he jumps over it. He then comes on around and stops before the Priestess. With a taper, from the altar candle, he lights the candles on the Priestess's crown. Priestess opens her arms and stands with legs apart and arms raised high.

Priest: "All hail, Our Lady of Light!"

All: "All hail, Our Lady of Light!"

Covener: "Welcome, thrice welcome, Triple Goddess of Life."

Covener: "Mother of the Sun, we welcome thee."

Covener: "Goddess of Fire, we invite thee in."

Priest and Priestess move round to the cauldron. Covener hands besom to the Priestess. She hands besom to the Priest, with a kiss. Priest goes deosil around the Circle, "sweeping out" that which is no longer needed. When he returns to the north, he returns the besom to the Priestess, with a kiss. She then gives it to the first Covener, with a kiss. Covener sweeps around the Circle. This is repeated with all Coveners. When all have done, Priest and Priestess return to altar. Bell is rung three times. Then shall follow the ceremony of Cakes and Ale. After that the Clearing the Temple is performed so that there is plenty of room for fun, games and entertainment (which may still take place around the altar if desired). The evening concludes with a feast.

*Care must be taken with this. There is not only the danger of setting fire to the Priestess's hair, but also of burning her with hot wax. Miniature cake candles, or cut-down tapers, are best, with carefully designed, cupped holders. Thirteen candles (the number of moons in the year) is the number to have.