Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Chalice's Imbolc Ritual

I have been neglecting to update this blog with my experiences going to the UU Imbolc Ritual lead by Chalice. She went through a lot of hard work and preparation. I had such a delightful time!
First things first: Chalice wasn't going to be doing a NeoWiccan Imbolc, but the true Gaelic festival. Or, at least, inspired by the Gaelic traditions. In the UU newsletter, she wrote:

Not the NeoWicca “Imbolc” …but the actual Gaelic Festival!

As I posted on my tumblr: SO EXCITED JUST CAN'T HIDE IT.

I invited my boyfriend to come along, because this would be my religious celebration and not something from the NeoWiccan calendar. I got all dressed up too:

Hard to see in the picture are my two religious necklaces: the Triskele and Lugh's Spear Talisman. I also put a flower clip in my hair. My boyfriend dressed nicely too, though he doesn't like me to post pictures of him online so you'll have to take me for my word ;)

We got to the UU church early. I brought milk and cookies, as milk would be a tradition food item and...well, who doesn't like cookies?! We set them down with the rest of the potluck and then took a seat at the craft table. I was going to make Brigid's Crosses with kids. Though...that didn't happen. No one really seemed interested in holiday. Chalice was nervously preparing things. After some wait, I decided to show my boyfriend the Sanctuary of the church, or where they hold Sunday Services. We had a pleasant theological discussion about Catholicism, Protestant, and Judaism services. This also solidified his need to take me to Temple sometime.

At about 6, we went back down. We mused about by ourselves before joining the bigger group. Not much religious discussion, which was thankful in a way. Prior to going upstairs to look at the other parts of the church, two people were discussing the "gods who were in their life" and how one was an Irish Goddess but "we couldn't figure out how to pronounce her name." Really...? 'cause it took me just a simple Google Search to figure out how to pronounce Nuada and other names. Ugh.

Anyway. Ritual! We stood around the display of candles and the GIANT brideóg (which I've now lost the picture for...) We then did a grounding meditation based in the Celtic cosmology of Earth, Sky, and Ocean. It was really peaceful and it was probably one of the few exercises that had me feel "grounded." I plan to use it in the future.

Then poured anxieties into a well of water that Chalice brought, passing the basket of water around. Afterwards, Chalice gave us small candles to light from her Kildare Flame (she's part of an International Flametending Group. That was actually what sparked the ritual in the first place: she wanted to do something for Brigid on the 2nd since she was going to be flametending that night, so I suggested her festival Imbolc.) After lighting our candles, we were to then light the numerous candles on the table with wishes for the upcoming year. I immediately went to the Yellow Candle to make a wish that my relationship with Lugh will strengthen. I also lit a new mother's candle since she was feeding her child and wished for that child's good health. Then we blew out our individual candles and used flash paper to make goals for ourselves. I didn't speak mine, but mine was to complete a semester of school. After we lit the flash paper, we sealed it with Chalice's anvil. Also, one of the little ones went to the anvil to make a promise to share her toys better with her lil sister. We then blew out the candles on the table.

Before we dug into the potluck, the leader of this years UU pagan group had announcements. They started off good: for one, he announced a Poseidon exhibit in a local art museum. Then he mentioned about how this year would probably be exploring different religious traditions. Okay, good. Then he went through the list...and included Shamanism. I cringed. I hoped he wouldn't actually do that, but I wasn't in a place where I could talk to him about it. Then on a technical level, he said "Animism." ... Which, isn't a religion? So I asked what they meant, since Gaelic Polytheism is animistic. "Oh, but we included the Goddess tonight, so one without it." -twitch- Ugh... 

During the announcements, I made pipe cleaner flowers for the two children attending since they kept wanting to take the flowers that were offerings to Brigid. They then came over and started playing with the pipe cleaners, which--while not cros Brídes--still made me happy to see. 

After the announcements, my boyfriend squeezed my hand to signal he was feeling anxious. Not caring for the discourse afterwards (or rather, fearing it wouldn't be about Gaelic Polytheism or the beautiful ritual we just had), I was more than happy to leave. I said goodbye to everyone and then drove home with my boyfriend, complaining about theology matters along the way. Which had him come to the conclusion that I'm a theology nerd. 


Anyway, I'm going to go into what became of that "shamanism" comment in another post. Hold onto your seats...

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