The Feast Day of Candlemass and Imbolg

Ceremony and Ritual

B

rigid, Maman Brigitte, Bride…by whatever name you know Her, she is the one who calls us back home to ourselves; the one that endures, the one that reminds us that no matter how difficult things become and no matter how broken our paths and promise might be there is a constancy running through our lives and testifying to our essential ability to be whole and intact. Imbolg and Candlesmass are the names given to her specific Feast Days.

Bride reflects us back to ourselves in the waters of her sacred well, and in the telling of her tale. Click to Tweet

Her beginnings are in ancient Ireland where she did not easily fit into any single category:

Is she a mother? Yes.
Is she a maiden? Yes.
Is she an ancient and wizened one? Yes, that too, and everything in between including the occasional white cow, sheep, or goat.
Is she a Goddess of fire? Indeed.
But also a Goddess of water? For certain.
Is she a witch? Most certainly.
Is she a holy woman and Saint? Of course.
Is she a healer, a poet, a fertility bringer? Yes, all of that.
But then is she also a warrior, a blacksmith, one that might show up in the tavern with the best stories to tell? Yes, she is all of those things as well.

Some would say that she only became associated with the Dead and with the Ancestors when her veneration was brought into Haiti by indentured servants from Scotland and Ireland, who shared their love of Bride with the African slaves as both groups were forced to work the sugar plantations.

It was in Haiti that she became Le Grande Brigitte and/or Maman Brigitte, a powerful lwa in the Voudou pantheon recognized in the Caribbean as well as New Orleans and the Deep South.

But Bride’s strong and timeless association with the fey people, the Little Ones, in old Ireland tells me that she, like most Goddesses who know something of baby making and birth blessing also has known for aeons how to walk the tracks of the Underworld and be in congress with those who have passed beyond the veil – for the Ancestors and the faerie folk know each other quite well.

Her skin color, hair color, eye color, and accent changes from place to place, just as we change. Her refusal to fit neatly into any one box mirrors our own inability to do the same – we are after all miracles, containing an entire cosmos without our beating, sacred hearts and our inability to only be or do one thing does not mean that we are without unity.

The core of Bride holds strong and she endures as we do too and it is here we find her deepest teaching and the deepest way of honoring her.

For there are many ways to love her and many offerings to make; so whether you know her as the sheep milk and cheese loving great Goddess of Eire; the butter loving Saint who blesses all of the candles that will be used throughout the year, or the raucous woman who knows the cemetery like the back of her hand and likes hot peppers in her rum, Bride’s request is the same:

Bring all of who you are to my table. Leave no part behind, hold no part back. Remember the touchstones you call upon day in and day out, remember the deep unity you carry within you at all times, wherever it is, there you will find me waiting.

Bring all of who you are, including all that you need aid with, all that you wish to bless and honor, all that is heavy on your heart to her table. She is there. She has always been there. And she will continue to be there, always.

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Star Stories: December Edition

Divination and Dreams

M

iracles,

Blessings of the Season! December is a tricky month astrologically speaking as we have a deepening that occurs when three planets move into Sea-goat Capricorn (and Millenials begin to experience their Saturn Returns) and Mercury goes Retro. Read on for the full picture!

The Sun
At the beginning of the month the sun is in positive, cheerful, and bright Sagittarius. This placement has given us a sense of possibility and optimism over the past several weeks. Mystical interests are at an all time high when the Sun is in Sagittarius as is our feeling of generosity and joy – perfect for the holiday season.
Ask: How can I make it brighter?

On December 12th the Sun conjuncts Mercury RX which means that you have a special opportunity to see into the choices of the past year and get information relating to them. You might also have people from your past approaching you on this day so look out for that.
Ask: What has 2017 taught me?

On December 21st we celebrate Winter Solstice and Yule as the Sun moves into Capricorn. There will be a Feast Day for the Radically Reverent celebrating this time but I don’t have it up quite yet – first we have to honor Guadalupe! This is the shortest day of the year and the official beginning of Winter. Solstice keeps us firmly grounded in the liminal and reminds us that on the darkest and coldest nights, we can be the lights that shine out and show others the way home.
Ask: What light am I ready to shine?

The Moon
December’s Full Moon at 11 degrees Gemini occurs on December 3rd at 9:47 AM
Ask: What do my friendships show me?

On December 10th we celebrate a Waning Quarter Moon at 18 degrees Virgo at 1:51 AM
Ask: What does the need for perfection prevent in my life?

December 18th sees a lovely, bright, New Moon at 26 degrees Sagittarius at 12:30 AM
Ask: What am I ready to set free?

On December 26th we celebrate a First Quarter Moon at 4 degrees Aries at 3:30 AM
Ask: What does right relationship to new beginnings look and feel like?

December 31st comes to a close with a moon in Gemini celebrating all that is liminal, betwixt, and between before we kick off the New Year with a luminous Full Moon in Cancer.
Ask: What am I ready to leave behind? What am I ready to carry forward?

Mercury
On December 3rd Mercury goes retrograde in Sagittarius and remains that way until December 22nd. Here are my tips on surviving a holiday retrograde period.
Ask: How do I engage with places, people, and ideas that are not immediately familiar to me? Do I wear exotic experiences or unlikely friendships like badges of honor? Do I hide from anything or anyone that is new and different or do I go seeking out after adventure?

Make a note that on Friday, December 22nd, Mercury RX is OVER!
Ask: What did the RX period teach me?

Venus:
On Friday December 1st Venus makes a sign change from the deep waters of Scorpio into the bright and cheerful optimism that is Sagittarius.
Ask: Who in my life is in need of a cheerleader? (And then show up to cheer them on!)

Mercury and Venus hook up with a sweet trine on December 15th. Here we all have the ability to sweet talk anyone into anything. At the best this trine gives you eloquence and the ability to articulate and express your ideas in a compelling, even seductive, manner. At worst, this trine encourages gullibility – so easy to believe the words when they are all so nice, and superficiality as well. Go for the former, not the latter.
Ask: What love do I want to express?

On Christmas Eve Venus follow the trail blazed by Saturn and the Sun and also moves into Capricorn. This sign change for the planet of love and beauty can bring depth, seriousness, and ambition to artistic endeavors and romantic relationships alike. Marriage proposals that occur on or around this time will have a sincerity and seriousness to them that bodes well for long term togetherness!
Ask: What love am I ready to get serious about?

Mars:
A potentially nasty Mars-Uranus opposition occurs on Friday December 1st after Venus moves into Sagittarius. This opposition has an explosive and often martial component. On a global level we should expect to hear about flare ups happening abroad and perhaps at home too. These signs together rule guns so gun violence might be something that we see as well. Those of you who hunt and everyone who is driving on this day should be extra careful.
Ask: What battles would I like to stop participating in?

On December 9th Mars heads into its native sign of Scorpio – a place it very much likes to be! Deep energy especially when it comes to engaging with the hidden, creating strong protection around yourself and your loved ones, and engaging passionately in all things are hallmarks of this combination. Mars in Scorpio can also bring out our more blunt, aggressive, unforgiving and stern aspects – so be aware of that given the holiday season and judge most mercifully as much as you can.
Ask: What mystery am I willing to fight for?

Jupiter:
Jupiter and Neptune trine it up on December 2nd. This is the day before Mercury goes RX and so many of you might be out and about trying to finish up your shopping tasks. If that’s you my advice is: be extra careful with your wallet because Jupiter + Neptune love to splurge! That said, this is a brilliant time to make, find, sell or buy art and/or spiritual supplies. Looking for some spiritual supplies for holiday gift giving? Here are my favorites to buy from.
Ask: What dream is ready to be enlarged?

Saturn:
Saturn and Mercury have a conjunction on December 6th right after Mercury has gone retrograde. This meet up is all about discipline and applying Saturn inspired determination to ticking items off of your TO DO list.
Ask: What task needs to be wrapped up or re-done?

On Tuesday, December 19th Saturn makes a sign change moving from Sagittarius into Capricorn where it will remain for the next three years. This is significant in many ways. Saturn loves to be in its native sign of Capricorn. Its brings a level of seriousness and responsibility into the mix. Regions and terrain that have been unregulated should expect to begin to get tamed (this includes virtual regions like the web and digital currency markets). Millennials will begin to experience their first Saturn Returns during this time. Law enforcement, military order, and protection will all be emphasized during this time but so will mastery, dedication to one’s craft, and fiscal responsibility.
Ask: What do I need to master most now?

On Christmas day Saturn saddles up along side Venus in a nice conjunction. It can make Christmas seem more serious and you might have some Grinches that you have to be on the look out for. BUT it can also inspire love and compassion in the places and for the people that you usually have an especially hard time with during the holidays. This aspect can also encourage doing good for those who have less.
Ask: Who really needs care right now?

Uranus:
On Sunday, December 10th, Uranus and Mercury trine up to each other. Keep your eyes on the public square as people who come to notice on during this trine tend be talented visionaries. For everyone this gives you an opportune to time to review what you have learned over the past year about your legacy.
Ask: What do I find when I review my choices about legacy?

A Uranus-Sun trine on Sunday, December 16th encourages excitement, vision, legacy building, and is also perfect astro weather for banishing what is no longer needed.
Ask: What am I ready to release?

Neptune
Neptune squares up with Venus on December 10th – this can create a hazy sense of where you are and what you are doing that you definitely want to be aware of. It’s a good day to relax and chill, not a good day to have a deep conversation about where you and your partner are romantically or a day for shopping. Make art as much as possible.
Ask: What creative vision or idea have I been ignoring?

Neptune and Mars get into a tangle of a trine on Thursday, December 28th. This is a great time to let your intuitive side flow (and perfect timing as it occurs during Omen Days). It will also energize your dream life and any healing work you have been dedicated to will feel as if it just received a power boost of energy and enthusiasm.
Ask: What am I ready (and willing) to see?

Pluto:
Pluto is nice and quiet in Capricorn, doing its deep seated work of utter and complete transformation.

From my familia to yours, may you have a bright, beautiful, blessed, safe, and fun holiday season!

Love and Stars,
Bri

PS: There are a few time-sensitive offerings available right now which you may want to know about:

Lunar Lights are open and registration closes on December 17th. This is my much beloved monthly candle service. Once a month on the Full Moon I dress, bless, and set a candle for you and your heartfelt prayer, wish, desire, and/or intention.

Your candles are allowed to burn without being disturbed and around the New Moon you receive a candle report detailing how the candle burned, what signs were seen, and what next steps you might want to consider.
Learn more + register here. After December 17th this service is gone for another year. The first lunar light setting of 2018 occurs ON January 1st for the Full Moon in Cancer!

The Banish and Burn end of year ceremony is out and available. Join us in releasing what needs to be released and walking forward fresh and clean into 2018! $13 gets you in with half of all proceeds going to the family of Aidan’s son. Learn more + register here.

The Book of Hours is the planner for Soulful Seekers who want a different relationship to time. Snag it, download it, keep it on your device or print it out – contains all the essential astro info for 2018 and so much more! At $24 this is also an EXCELLENT last minute gift! Get it here.

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

The Feast Day of Epiphany

Ceremony and Ritual

D

ear Miracles,

Today let me tell you a bit about one of the Feast Days for the Radically Reverent that we are preparing to celebrate, the Feast Day of Epiphany.

Epiphany ~ The Basics

Epiphany, celebrated on January 6th, rounds out the 12 days of Christmas (which begin on December 26th), conclude the Omen Days, and celebrate the arrival of the Magi more commonly known as the Three Wise Men and the gifts they brought for the newly born Christ child.

It is a feast widely celebrated in Europe, Mexico, and parts of South and Central America but for many Americans unless you are Catholic or of Hispanic descent you may not be that familiar with the feast day, which is known by many names but the one I heard growing up is simply: Dia de los Reyes, the Feast of Kings. The Feast Day is celebrated in America in parts of South Texas (including San Antonio) and New Orleans.

This is a day beloved by children in the countries where it is celebrated because the Magi function much as Santa Claus does at Christmas — children write letters to the Wise Men asking for certain gifts and on the night of Epiphany those gifts magically arrive!

The biggest tradition around this day is the buying or baking of a “King’s cake”. Where I live these cakes begin showing up at my local grocery store in time for Epiphany and continue to be available right through Mardi Gras. They are a flat, round, cake, usually spiced with cinnamon, and inside of the cake is a baby Jesus figurine (sometimes there is a baby Jesus and a bean). Traditions vary but the gist is that whoever gets the piece of cake with the baby Jesus inside has extra good luck and fortune throughout the year.

The Radical Reverence of Epiphany

What strikes me most about this Feast Day is that it celebrates the immigrant, the migrant, the stranger, the one who is foreign, odd in appearance, voice or manner, different.

According to the Biblical tale, Mary and Joseph and their new child were themselves immigrants and refugees, fleeing the death sentence that had been passed down onto their child and every first born child in their homeland. So in a very real way this was a joyful coming together of strangers in strange lands.

So it is for us. Honestly, the story of immigrants and refugees escaping horror so that their children might live is one that I hear on the news every single night. We know that such people are all too often turned away at the door just as Holy Mother and Blessed Father and Precious child were. We see it happen all the time.

And it cuts even closer to the bone because within each of us there are parts of self, parts of soul that too often feel cut off and cut away, left to wander a vast wilderness as a refugee, an immigrant — often unwanted, unseen, unheard, unwelcome.

A wall can be anywhere. It can stretch across land sure enough separating families and lovers, cutting off migratory paths not only of people but of creatures too. The truly insidious walls are those we build up, brick by brick across the terrain of our own red and bleeding hearts.

In our common use of the word an epiphany is a light-bulb moment of realization; exciting, exhilarating, and often in retrospect, something that was staring us in the face the whole time. As I understand it, that is the real gift that the Magi can bring – a new, deeper, clearer way of understanding and bringing everyone to the table.

So for those of you who know and love, fear and stand for the refugees and los immigrantes, for the unwanted and misunderstood, overlooked and unsung; for those of you who fall into some of or all of the above categories, I say that this Feast Day is for you.

For those engaged in the deep work of calling self back to self, of remembering the pieces back together as best you can, recovering from breaks and wounds of all kinds, and wishing with whole body to no longer be a stranger to yourself, I say this Feast Day is for you.

For those with family members and loved ones who are homeless, caught in the hellish limbo of waiting and uncertainty, those for whom a safe place to rest one’s head is the highest of luxuries, I say this Feast Day is for you and for yours.

The Magi bring gifts. In the original tale the gifts are not ones that were asked for, but they were exactly what was needed. What will they bring you?

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Archangel Michael-Who is Like God-Angel of Healing, Protection, and Victory

Prayer and Blessing

D

ear Miracles,

Archangel Miguel as I have always thought of Him is a potent spiritual ally. One of the four guardian angels of tradition, he is most often petitioned for protecting those who protect others, but his story and his vastness contain so much more than that. Of special interest to me and in my work is Michael’s relationship to women and children — he is sometimes called the Advocate and he certainly has a history of advocating for those two groups. I celebrate his feast day, also known as Michaelmas, on September 29th as all of my Catholic family members have done for oh so long. Please allow me to tell you a bit of the history and story of this most venerated figure.

Archangel Michael prayer card
Archangel Michael prayer card

History

Archangel Michael is a holy figure in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. His name means “Like Unto God” or “Who is Like God” In Catholic and Christian Orthodox traditions, he is sometimes known as Saint Michael or Saint Archangel Michael.  Catholic and Orthodox traditions venerate him as the patron saint for policemen and soldiers. In Muslim tradition, some believe him to be one of three angels that visited Abraham and he is mentioned once in the Qu’ran. In the Coptic Orthodox Church, he is the one who presents God with the prayers of the people. Other traditions hold that Archangel Michael is actually Adam from the Book of Genesis or that he is the pre-incarnate figure for Christ. Tradition names him as the angel who foretold Mary, Mother of God, of her approaching death.

In Jewish tradition, Archangel Michael is the closest angel to God. He is Captain of God’s army as well as the ruler of all natural elements such as rain, wind, and storms. His nemesis is the Angel Samael. When Samael was cast down from heaven, he grabbed Michael’s wings, hoping to bring him down as well. Some traditions also say that Michael and Samael are in a constant battle over the state of Moses’ soul. In Rabbinic liturgy, Archangel Michael is seen as the staunch defender of Israel. His depiction in the Book of Daniel as “a great prince who stands up for the children of your people” led to a place for him in Jewish liturgy despite Rabbinical prohibitions against seeking the intercession of angels between men and God.  Due to Michael’s role as a defender of Jews and Israel, two Jewish prayers are specifically recited in his honor.

In the early Christian tradition, shrines and sanctuaries were dedicated to Michael. Though he is mentioned as leading God’s army against Satan in the Book of Revelation, these early Christian shrines and sanctuaries dedicated to Archangel Michael were actually for the purpose of healing. Saints like George were considered martial whereas Michael was believed to be a healing force. When a devastating plague hit Rome in the 4th century, Michael was invoked for healing and aid and during this time he came to be known as “Archangel” and/or the “Prince Among Angels.”  By the 6th century, feasts were held in his honor. Various feasts and feast days have been associated with him ever since.

In Roman Catholic tradition, Michael is assigned four specific roles:

  • He is the Captain of God’s army fighting against Satan and Hell
  • He is the Angel of Death who carries the soul away from the body when death occurs
  • He weighs the Soul-According to this tradition, Archangel Michael weighs the soul with perfectly balanced scales. For this reason, he is often depicted holding these scales
  • He is Patron of the Chosen People (Jews) of the Old Testament (Hebrew Bible) and Guardian of the Church.

These Catholic teachings are not strictly required beliefs (church orthodoxy) but “strongly encouraged” by the Church.

Michael is known for giving his protection, especially to mothers and children. A Romanian story from 1900, involving an infant-eating demoness named Avezuha and her attempt to harm both the Blessed Virgin and the infant Jesus, as retold by Diane Purkis in her marvelous book At the Bottom of the Garden relates :

“…when she [Avezuha] meets Archangel Michael she declares ‘I am going to Bethlehem in Judea, for I have heard that Jesus Christ is going to be born of His Virgin Mother Maria, and I am going to hurt her.‘  Whereupon the Archangel Michael took hold of her head, fastened an iron chain around her, stuck his sword into her side, and began to beat her terribly in order to make her tell her secret arts. She began and said ‘I change myself into a dog, a cat, a fly, a spider, a raven, an evil looking girl, and thus enter into the houses of the people and hurt the women and bring trouble to the children, and I bring changelings, and I have nineteen names.‘ And the Archangel Michael said to her, ‘I tell thee, I conjure thee, that thou shalt have neither the power to approach the house of X the servant of the Lord, nor hurt his property, his flocks, nor anything else that belongs to him. Thou shalt go to the desolate mountains where no one lives, and there shalt thou abide.‘”

the-archangel-michael-defeating-satan-1635.jpg!Blog
The Archangel Michael Defeating Satan, Guido Reni; 1635

Working with Archangel Michael

In the American folk magic tradition of Conjure, Archangel Michael is seen as a powerful defender of those who unable to defend themselves, including women, children, slaves, and other minorities or marginalized groups. His association with healing can be seen in his connection to Angelica Root (Angelica Archangelica) — a root used in many peace and tranquility formulas and rituals. His association with martial endeavors and victory can be seen in the writings that invoke him along with the use of Bay Laurel leaf-an ancient symbol of conquest and victory. In Currendera tradition, Michael/Miguel is called upon when opening up the Southern quadrant and also for healing and protection — in these latter roles his image is often painted directly onto or over the front door of a home. In Western esoteric traditions involving ritual and ceremonial magic, Archangel Michael is often aligned with the element of Fire and the direction South. For those grounded in a specific Christian religious tradition, Archangel Michael’s role as healer and psychopomp are at least as emphasized as his role in military and police pursuits — if not more so.

I petition and invoke Archangel Michael’s aid for a number of situations-for protection, healing, mercy in the face of sin or error, and, of course, victory. I find him to be a strong protector not only of women and children but of entire families. Despite his widespread veneration across many traditions, Archangel Michael does not have any specific offerings associated with him. When I invoke his aid and intercession, I repay his gifts with flowers, Jordan almonds, honey, and donations to battered women’s shelters and/or Jewish charities.

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.