An Imbolc Ritual for a Time of Global Warming

Imbolc Ritual in a Time of Global Warming

Erica Baron

It is my hope that these rituals for the Wheel of the Year in the context of climate change might spark inspiration and ideas for others.  So, feel free to use them in any gathering, circle, coven, or other group with whom you regularly observe the Wheel of the Year.  You can use them exactly as they are, or you are welcome to adapt them to the particular theologies and customs of your own group.  Please share as widely as you would like!

Planning Notes:

The central working in this ritual is an act of sympathetic magick, or a process of creating something in miniature that you want to see enacted in the larger world.  One tradition at this time of year has been to melt snow over a fire in ritual to encourage spring to come quickly and melt the snows of winter.  In this ritual, we are reversing this sympathetic magick, using the snows of this season to extinguish a flame as a way of encouraging the reversal of global warming.  Ideally, this would be done with actual snow collected just before the ritual, but as the climate changes, this is not always possible even in places where it used to be guaranteed, and of course, snow in February is not a regular occurrence everywhere.  So, there are some other options.  If there is snow sometime in the days or weeks leading up to the ritual, but you are afraid it will melt too soon, you can collect some and keep it in the freezer.  Be aware that snow tends to loose some of its volume and become more like ice in a freezer, so collect more than you would need if you were using fresh snow.  If there is no snow anywhere near the time of this ritual in your location, cold water would be close enough to the symbolism.  Find the coldest water you can get naturally. 

The form of this ritual is based on the work of the Temple of Witchcraft, but feel free to change the details to align with your own tradition, if you feel so moved.

This ritual is designed to be a bit flexible.  You can perform it with one officiant, either a High Priest or a High Priestess, or with an officiant team of any gender(s).  If you choose to have an officiant team, here are some options:

- Two officiants: This is how the script below is structured.  Officiant 1 is primarily holding the Goddess energy, while Officiant 2 is primarily holding the God energy.  In this arrangement, these two officiants can take turns calling and releasing the quarters, or ask 4 volunteers to do that part.  Either officiant can cast and open the circle.

- Four officiants: If you have a larger team, this ritual could be easily adapted to four officiants: Officiant 1 calls and releases the Goddess and holds the chalice in the Great Rite; Officiant 2 calls and releases the God and holds the blade in the Great Rite; Officiant 3 leads the meditation; Officiant 4 leads the working, with logistical support from the other officiants; each officiant calls and releases one quarter.  Any of the officiants can cast and open the circle.

You will notice that we are calling fire in the east and air in the south.  Many groups call air in the east and fire in the south.  The directions in this ritual are in the alchemical/underworld pattern, which places opposing elements opposite each other.  This arrangement makes for more confrontational, and therefore potentially more powerfully transformational energy.  Since this ritual is designed to confront a long history of imbalance and a huge threat to our environment, this energy seemed appropriate.  If you are using this ritual, I invite you to try this arrangement, even if it is not your usual practice.

Introductory Remarks

Officiant(s) give any directions they feel are necessary to help attendees participate fully in the ritual, and answer any questions.  Information might include when and how participants should respond verbally, the general structure of the ritual, and importantly, the content of the chalice and any other substances you are using, such as incense.

Entering a Meditative State

It is helpful for everyone in the room to enter a light trance together before the ritual begins.  There are lots of ways to do this.  Here is the version we use in the Temple of Witchcraft.

Officiant: Please rise as you are able.  Close your eyes.  Take a few deep breaths and relax your body.  Relax your head and neck, your shoulders and arms, your back, abdomen, legs and feet.

Take a deep breath and relax your mind.  Release all thoughts and worries from the day. 

Take a deep breath and relax your heart.  Feel the love of the Goddess and the God.  Feel perfect love and perfect trust.

Take a deep breath and relax into your soul.  Find your inner light, which you can follow for guidance and protection.

Now picture a giant screen before you, like a blackboard or movie screen.  This is the screen of your mind.  On this screen, visualize a series of numbers counting down from 12 to 1.  As you count down, you will enter a meditative state.

12.  See the number 12.  12.

11. See the number 11. 11.

10. See the number 10.  10.

9. See the number 9. 9.

8. See the number 8. 8.

7. See the number 7. 7.

6. See the number 6. 6.

5. See the number 5. 5.

4. See the number 4. 4.

3. See the number 3. 3.

2. See the number 2. 2.

1. See the number 1. 1.

Cast the circle

Officiant walks the circle clockwise three times, using the Wand to cast the circle with these words:

(First round) I cast the circle to protect us from all forces that would come to do us harm.

(Second round) I charge this circle to include the most perfect forces for this night's work, and to keep out all other forces.

(Third round) I charge and consecrate this circle to be a space out of space, a time out of time, a temple of perfect love and perfect trust, where the highest will is sovereign.

As I will it, so mote it be!

All: So mote it be!

Call the quarters

One officiant can do all the quarter calls, a pair can alternate, or four people can each call a quarter.  Substitute the spirits or deities you have a relationship with in each quarter, if you wish.

All turn to face North, raising non-dominant hands to draw in the energy of the quarter.

To the north, we call to the element of earth and to the Stag to guide and to guard this circle.  Please add your energy to this night's work.

Hail and welcome!

All: Hail and welcome!

All turn clockwise to face East, raising non-dominant hands to draw in the energy of the quarter.

To the east, we call to the element of fire and to the Horse to guide and to guard this circle.  Please add your energy to this night's work.

Hail and welcome!

All: Hail and welcome!

All turn clockwise to face South, raising non-dominant hands to draw in the energy of the quarter.

To the east, we call to the element of air and to the Crow to guide and to guard this circle.  Please add your energy to this night's work.

Hail and welcome!

All: Hail and welcome!

All turn clockwise to face West, raising non-dominant hands to draw in the energy of the quarter.

To the east, we call to the element of water and to the Snake to guide and to guard this circle.  Please add your energy to this night's work.

Hail and welcome!

All: Hail and welcome!

Evoke the Goddess and God

Officiant 1 lights the Goddess candle on the altar.

On this festival of Imbolc, we call to the Goddess as Bridget, the Lady of poetry, healing, and smithcraft.  Triple Goddess, Hail and Welcome!

All: Hail and Welcome!

Officiant 2 lights the God candle on the altar.

On this festival of Imbolc, we call to the God as Jack of the Frost, the guardian of the world of snow and ice.  God of the winter, Hail and Welcome!

All: Hail and Welcome!

Meditation

Officiant 2:

There are many ways of working with deities that represent the Wheel of the Year.  One version is Jack, a four-fold God who appears in different forms at different times of the year.  In May, at Beltane, he appears as Jack of the Green.  In August, at Lammas, he appears as Jack of the Corn.  In October, at Samhain, he appears as Jack-O-Lantern.  And now, at Imbolc, he appears as Jack of the Frost.  He is the God of the winter, guardian of snow and ice. 

For many centuries, snow and ice have felt threatening to human beings, and we have sought to overcome them.  But now, snow and ice are themselves threatened in a world grown too warm.  It is time now for us to recommit to protecting cold, winter, snow, and ice, as we seek to restore health and balance to our world. 

In that spirit, please join me in a guided meditation.  Get into a comfortable position. 

Get into a comfortable position and relax your body.  Follow the sound of my voice as I count down from 13.  There is no need to visualize numbers this time.

13. 12. 11. 10. 9. 8. 7. 6. 5. 4. 3. 2. 1.

On the screen of your mind, picture a giant tree, larger than any tree you have ever seen.  This is the World Tree.  Its branches reach up to the heavens, and its roots dig deep into the earth.  Imagine that the screen of your mind is a portal, like a doorway or window, something you can easily pass through.  Pass through the screen of your mind and stand before the great tree.  Hear the wind in its branches.  Smell the earth where the roots dig in.  Feel the texture of the bark.  Know the World Tree.

Place your hands on the bark, and hold the intention of visiting Jack Frost.  Search in the roots of the tree for a doorway or opening.  Go thorough it and find yourself in a tunnel.

Follow the tunnel.  Continue following the tunnel until it widens.  A light appears in the distance.  Walking toward the light, you find yourself emerging into a snow-covered forest.  It is beautiful.  You walk on a path through the forest, seeing the white snow covering everything, smelling the clear crisp smell of snow.  Sounds are muffled by the snow, but you can hear the branches rustling. 

Continue to follow the path until you come to a clearing.  In the clearing is the home of Jack Frost.  What do you see? 

As you stand in the clearing, you meet a guide.  This may be Jack Frost himself.  It may be the Goddess Bridget.  It may be another spirit or an animal or a plant.  When your guide has appeared, introduce yourself. 

Ask your guide for help in learning about the gifts of winter.  What do you have to learn about winter?  What gifts does the winter hold for you?  What do you need to appreciate about this season?

Your guide can also help you discover ways that you can help to protect winter and restore balance.  Talk to your guide about what your specific work might be here.

Your guide might give you something to help you in your work, or to remind you of your conversation.  Look within and see if you have a gift to offer in return.  If you do, give it.

Thank your guide, and thank Jack Frost for allowing you to visit.

Follow the path back through the woods.  Follow the path back until you find yourself in the tunnel again.  Follow the tunnel back, back, back to the base of the World Tree.  Place your hands on the bark and thank the Tree for this journey.

Come back through the portal in the screen of your mind.  Come back to this circle.  Come back, come back, come back. 

When you are ready, open your eyes and rise.

Wait until all risen or at least opened their eyes.

Working

For this working, you will need a container of snow or water.  If you have a large gathering, you could have multiple smaller vessels.  If have a large fire, it may be impractical to pass all of the snow or water that you will need.  In this case, pass a smaller amount.  Be sure to use that first when extinguishing.

Officiant 1:

For many years, participants in rituals at this time of the year have used a fire in the circle to melt snow, that the snow might quickly depart and spring come swiftly.  Today, we are reversing the working.  We will light a fire and use snow [or water] to quench it, that the excess heat of our world might be quenched and balance restored.

Light a fire in the center of the circle.  If you are inside, this should be in a vessel such as a cauldron.  If you are outside, you can light a bigger fire in a fire pit, as long as you have enough snow or water to extinguish it.  The fire needs to be big enough to last through this part of the ritual.  If you are worried about it, you can wait and light it later, just before the extinguishing ritual.

Officiant 2:

As we quench this fire with this snow [or water], we commit to working to quench the heat that is threatening the climate of our planet.  We commit to restoring balance. 

In this work, we ask for the help of the God Jack Frost.  Guardian of ice and snow, help us to restore the ices and snows of our world.  Give us your strength and your protection in this work.

Officiant 1:

In this work, we ask for the help of the Goddess Bridget in her aspect as healer.  Bridget, help us to heal our fragile planet.  Give us your love, your wisdom, and your strength in this work. 

As we pass the vessel of snow [or water] around the circle, you are invited to add your energy to this work, by holding the vessel and sending your intentions into it. 

As the snow [or water] is passed, we will sing together:

We are the flow, we are the ebb, we are the weavers, we are the web.

(Using just the beginning of the chant found at http://www.en-chant-ment.ca/FlowA.mp3.  Feel free to use a different tune, if you are so moved.)

Vessel is passed to all participants.  When it returns to the Officiants, Officiant 1 continues leading the chant, while Officiant 2 adds the snow to the fire until the fire is extinguished. [If more than one vessel is used, the Officiants should ask the participants to keep signing while they extinguish the fire together.]  If you have passed only some of the snow or water, be sure to start with the vessel that was passed. 

When the fire is out - Officiant 2:

Let balance be restored!  So mote it be!

All: So mote it be!

Great Rite in Token

Officiant 1:

As we have worked together to restore the balance, let us join now in giving and receiving the gifts of the Goddess and the God in this circle of love and trust.

Officiant 1 holds the chalice while Officiant 2 plunges the blade into the chalice.

Officiant 2:

As the Sword is to the Grail, the Blade is to the Chalice, truth is to Love.  We bring together the energies of the Goddess and the God.  So mote it be.

All: So mote it be.

The Chalice is passed around the circle of participants with the words "May you never thirst."  The response is "Blessed be."

Thanks to the Goddess and God

Officiant 1:

We thank Bridget, Goddess of poetry, healing, and smithcraft.  We give you thanks for presence and blessings this night.  Stay if you will, go if you must.  Hail and Farewell!

All: Hail and farewell!

Officiant 1 extinguishes the Goddess candle. 

Officiant 2: We thank Jack Frost, God and guardian of winter.  We give you thanks for your presence and blessings this night.  Stay if you will, go if you must.  Hail and Farewell!

All: Hail and Farewell!

Officiant 2 extinguishes the God candle 

Release the Quarters

Each quarter should be released by the same person who called it. 

All turn to the North, raising dominant hands to send the energy of the quarter back out of the circle.

To the north, we thank and release the element of earth and the Stag.  We give you thanks for your presence and blessings.  Hail and farewell!

All: Hail and farewell!

All turn counter-clockwise to the West, raising dominant hands to send the energy of the quarter back out of the circle.

To the west, we thank and release the element of water and the Snake.  We give you thanks for your presence and blessings.  Hail and farewell!

All: Hail and farewell!

All turn counter-clockwise to the South, raising dominant hands to send the energy of the quarter back out of the circle.

To the west, we thank and release the element of air and the Crow.  We give you thanks for your presence and blessings.  Hail and farewell!

All: Hail and farewell!

All turn counter-clockwise to the East, raising dominant hands to send the energy of the quarter back out of the circle.

To the west, we thank and release the element of fire and the Horse.  We give you thanks for your presence and blessings.  Hail and farewell!

All: Hail and farewell!

Open the Circle

The same officiant who cast the circle now walks the circle counterclockwise once, opening the circle with the wand.

I cast this circle out into the universe.  May it join with the circles of our siblings, through space and time to the highest good. 

The circle is open but never broken.

All: Merry meet, and merry part, and merry meet again.