The Spirit’s Edge Shamonial Temple had its in-person Imbolc Ritual and Salon on Sat., Jan. 28, 2017. While this online version is a greatly pared down version of our in-person ritual, it is powerful in its own right and will connect you with the greater workings of our Temple. This online ritual was shared the day after our ritual on our Spirit’s Edge: A Seeker’s Salon group page as a file. (All are welcome to join!)
The day of our Imbolc ritual was special for two reasons. First, prior to the ritual we held our first Pre-Ritual Sabbat Workshop where participants created their own St. Brighid’s crosses. It was such fun! And second, although we were there once to before to try it out, Imbolc was our first official event in our new ritual space at the Hearth Room in Webster Groves. The quiet and relaxing setting was perfect for our afternoon workshop and the gorgeous and large space was perfect for our rituals and community fellowship afterwards.
About our Imbolc Ritual
In the Celtic seasonal calendar, Imbolc marks the beginning of the lambing season and the very first itsy bitsy stirrings of spring. The light begins its return at Winter Solstice, and now is a flame which will continue to grow. Imbolc is one of the four major fire festivals—which at first seem strange falling in what seems like the dead of winter. But one of the translations of the word Imbolc means “in the belly,” which for witches can also mean “in the belly of the mother.”
When we say Imbolc marks the first stirrings of spring, we’re not talking about easily visible changes. The changes are smaller and more subtle and happen largely within. Think of the first months of pregnancy—the woman’s belly is barely visible, if visible at all. It is a mysterious time of growth where the changes taking place are largely hidden. Likewise with people, many of us take quiet time and go within and make subtle changes. In agrarian societies the life and death struggle of winter was very daunting and very real. Not everyone made it.
The subtle changes at Imbolc gave the people a little lift and hope that better times were coming. In Ireland, peak calving season begins at the end of January and the to the people, it wasn’t just about the babies, it was about the milk and cheese curds which meant the difference between life and death when food stocks were low. At the heart of the message of Imbolc is, “hold on, there is hope.”
To partner with the energies of Imbolc and the season, we worked with Quan Yin and Hotel (also known as Happy Buddha). Quan Yin, Goddess of mercy, healing and compassion helped us to look within ourselves to uncover our own inner beauty, self worth and strength, while gently healing that within us which needed to be healed. Hotei, known for the joy, laughter and prosperity he brings, helped us to examine our own lives and consider the new blessings we wished to seek and also how we could be content with the blessings already present in our lives. Especially fitting and significant was how our Imbolc ritual just happened to fall on the first Day of the Chinese New Year!
Online Imbolc Ritual
You are welcome to perform your ritual at any time, and it will tie into the main working of our Temple’s Ritual. With Brigid’s Feast Day falling on February 1st and the traditional timing for Imbolc falling on February 1st or 2nd, performing your ritual anytime during the first few days of February would be fitting.
What you will need:
Images or representations of Quan Yin and Hotei *and* a candle for each (you may print images online if you do not already have representations; you may even use tea lights for their candles), *and*
Separate offerings for Quan Yin and Hotei that you may place outside in nature after the ritual, such as incense, rice, flowers, sweets, fruit, etc., *and*
A glass of water and several water-safe crystals for the purposes of healing, love, compassion, blessings, prosperity, luck, etc. (We used rose quartz, golden healer’s quartz and amethyst as chosen by Quan Yin during the writing of the ritual.) *and*
A mala (optional) *and*
Your journal or something to write on and a pen.
What to do:
Prepare your altar space with your images of Quan Yin and Hotei and your two candles. Place the crystals in the glass of water. *Do your research and be certain the crystals you have chosen are safe for consumable crystal water.* Then prepare yourself and your space according to your preference. You may cast a circle and call the quarters if you would like, but it is not necessary.
Speak from the heart to call Quan Yin into your space, or you may say:
Call to Quan Yin
Hail Quan Yin! Mother of one thousand faces, one thousand eyes and one thousand arms!
Merciful Goddess of Compassion & Self-Love! Mother of all Buddhas!
Your heart, the true center of mercy, compassion and well-being, you are Love in Goddess form,
Goddess of Women and Protectress of Children,
Guardian of the suffering and the souls of the Underworld!
Dear Quan Yin, barefoot in your flowing white robes, image of infinite grace and loveliness,
Encouraging me to unfold our own hearts to reveal the infinite beauty inside,
Shining your light over me revealing my own inner strength,
Empowering me and guiding my mind and heart to a place of deep inner peace,
Awakening my ability to feel true compassion,
Deepening my sense of unconditional love, both for myself and for others.
Compassionate, loving and merciful, Quan Yin,
I honor you and welcome you and your loving presence into my circle tonight!
Hail & Welcome!
Light Her candle.
Speak from the heart to call Hotei into your space, or you may say:
Call to Hotei
Hail Hotei, Budai, Pu-Tai, Maitreya (my-tray-uh), ultimate awakened and enlightened one!
One of the Shichi Fukujin (she-chee foo-coo-gin)—the Seven Spirit’s of Good Luck!
The loving, friendly and generous Laughing Buddha,
Patron of fortune tellers and diviners, generous granter of wishes,
Bestower of contentment, prosperity, happiness and all we need to thrive.
Dear loving and joyful Budai,
Teaching me to focus on the journey before me rather than the past or the destination.
Teaching me to recognize the beauty all around me and seek joy from within,
Teaching me that with laughter, I will triumph over all hardships which come my way,
Teaching me that with effort, I can attain joy, peace, love, happiness, hope and prosperity, within the boundaries of my life,
Teaching me to smile more broadly, laugh more loudly, appreciate more fully and love more deeply.
Joyous, loving and wise Hotei,
I honor you and welcome you and your auspicious presence into my circle tonight!
Hail & Welcome!
Light His candle.
To be read aloud…Now is the time of Imbolc. The light is gradually growing and Earth gradually warming. Small and subtle, yet powerful changes are occurring within the cauldron of the Mother. And so too now, as I turn the wheel of the year, I go within, to create small and subtle, yet powerful changes within myself.
Meditation & the Working:
You may wish to meditate with Quan Yin and Hotei or to perform your own meditation. You may use one of the candles, watching it grow bigger in your mind’s eye. And as the light grows in this New Year; enter the light and journey where it takes you. You may wish to meditate first with Quan Yin using her candle and then with Hotei using his candle. Go deep within and find the places which need the love, compassion and healing of Quan Yin. Consider carefully what you’d like to ask of Hotei. Consider what you have to give in order to receive, how a change in perspective could change your life and how laughter can heal your soul. Will you ask him for tangible blessings or to help you be more content with what you have? If you are working with a statue of Hotei, you may rub his belly to seal your wish, or simply send him your love and gratitude.
Ponder and journal on…
- With the growing Sun, what do you wish to heal within yourself and what blessings do you wish to grow?
- What do you have to give in order to receive?
- What does this time of Imbolc mean to you?
Then, sit in meditation and work the mantra, “Om Mani Padme Hum.” You may use a mala to count your repetitions or simply work with it until you feel the work is done and it feels right to end. This mantra is a popular Buddhist mantra, often associated with healing and Quan Yin, used to see the beauty within, to end suffering and ease the cause of the suffering. As you work, open your heart to Quan Yin and invite her to imbue the healing crystal water with her blessings.
When you are finished, mindfully take in a few sips of the healing crystal water (be mindful of the crystals) and feel the blessings and healing of Quan Yin wash over you and through you. You may choose to consume the entire glass during the ritual or you may choose to remove the crystals and preserve a portion of the water for future use. (I preserved mine with my favorite vodka—1/3 vodka to 2/3 healing water, bottled in a glass jar.) Later, when you wish to feel the healing support and compassion of Quan Yin, you may place a few drops under your tongue, add a few drops to a drink or even add a few drops to your chalice during ritual work.
Closing the Ritual:
At this time you may choose to speak words of love and gratitude to Quan Yin and Hotei. When you feel you are finished, thank the spirits for their presence in your space and wish them farewell. Then close your circle according to your own tradition. Take your offering and make it outside somewhere in nature if you have not already done so.
Be sure to journal your experience and to pay close attention to your dreams, synchronicities and omens that you may receive over the next few weeks in answer to your working of this rite.
May blessings come to you and yours this Imbolc! Blessed be!
copyright 2017; all rights reserved
This ritual was written by Lindsey Piech, unless noted otherwise, and all rights are reserved. It may be used for your personal/private use only. If you wish to use this or a variation for a group in the future, please contact Shea Morgan for the Spirit’s Edge Shamonial Temple at firstname.lastname@example.org for permission; this ritual may not be published or used publicly elsewhere without prior written permission and attribution.