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Imbolc 2015: Facts, Dates, Traditions And Rituals To Know

Years ago this was always the most neglected of pagan holidays-at least it appeared that way to me in the local community. It’s nice to see an article like this in a general interest publication like HuffPo. I’m a bit isolated from actual interaction with humans so I may be missing a lot, but it seems like society is becoming more open and accepting of difference.

I love seeing all the interfaith initiatives, and so many people speaking out in respect of traditions other than their own. Tolerance, like compromise, is one of the fundamental necessities of a functional society.

Even though the evidence of ending and collapse is all around us now, Imbolc’s meaning is more relevant this year than ever before in my lifetime. The seeds of the new world are sprouting everywhere.

From the community coming together effectively to stop the ebola outbreak in Liberia, to the new Women’s mosque opening in California, to the incredible rise of activism and awareness in the children and youth today; the signs are everywhere.

Have a Blessed Imbolc and a beautiful Spring ( Autumn for those on the Southern side-I’ve always wondered, are the cross quarter holidays celebrated differently in the South? As in, since this holiday is in summer there is it celebrated as Lughnasa for the harvest? It has always seemed odd to me trying to celebrate “winter” holidays in the subtropical region. I imagine how much more odd it would be to have Spring celebrations in the end of summer or harvest festivals in Spring!)

Imbolc 2015: Facts, Dates, Traditions And Rituals To Know

HuffPost Religion Editors
The Huffington Post Posted: 02/02/15 09:33 AM ET Updated: 02/02/15 09:59 AM ET

For many in the U.S., the only ‘religious’ event this time of year is the Super Bowl. But for many pagans and Wiccans, February 2 marks the important holiday, Imbolc, and their attention may be focused somewhere other than the television screen.

wiccan1. Imbolc is one of fourmajor pagan sabbats, or holidays, along with Beltane, Lughnasadh and Samhain. In between these sabbats, pagans celebrate the seasonal solstices and equinoxes.

pagan pray2. Imbolc ispronounced “IM-bulk” or “EM-bowlk.”

mist3. Imbolc falls on the midway point between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. Although it isattributed to the ancient Celts, ancient Egyptians, Babylonians and indigenous groups are also believed to have celebrated an equivalent holiday.

groundhog day4. Nowadays Imbolc may be related toCandlemas and Groundhog Day, and indeed there is evidence from early Irish lore surroundingweather divination this time of year.

pagan fertility5. Also called Brigid’s Day, Imbolc honors the Celtic goddess of fire, fertility, midwifery and the young. Many Pagans will pay tribute to Brigid by arranging an altar and ‘invoking’ the goddess through prayer.

ewe nursing6. The term ‘Imbolc’derives from Old Irishand means “in the belly,” or alternately “ewe’s milk.” The interpretation lends significance to the holiday as a celebration of fertility, reproduction and the young — all overseen by the goddess Brigid.

bonfire7. Imbolc observes thewaning of winter and approach of spring. Pagans often use fire and other forms of light to encourage the lengthening of day. Seed and bud imagery may be used, as well, to promote the growth of new life ensured by springtime.

poppyseed cake8. As with many pagan holidays, food and music are essential. Dishes for Imbolc tend to incorporate seeds, dairy and other spring-evoking foods.

brigid cross9. Celebrants oftenprepare talismans to use during Imbolc ceremonies and then keep in their homes. These include a Brideog — a small straw doll dressed in white cloth — and a Brigid’s Cross, also often woven from straw.

open window10. Imbolc is a time forspring cleaning. Some clean their homes, take ritual baths and de-clutter their lives in other ways. This is believed to create space for the goddess to come into people’s live and for new seeds to take root in the coming spring.


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A Global Meditation for World Peace, December 12, 2014 | Christine Segal, M.Ed.

I like this idea. I’m not totally convinced yet that we can *just* sit at home radiating peace and bring it about worldwide. I think that finding peace within ourselves is a necessary but not sufficient condition for creating world peace.

Many religious traditions teach that we must first create peace within ourselves and then we must, through our actions, bring peace to our world.

I believe that this is possible in spite of the various powers determined to maintain a state of constant war. Our compassion for one another and all living beings is more powerful than it might seem.

A Global Meditation for World Peace, December 12, 2014

For generations, people from all walks of life have been asking for “World Peace;” a time when all can live in love and harmony. Many heroic people have dedicated their lives toward its attainment. They have paved the way for this particular point in time; December 2014. Here’s a big “Thank you,” to those who have allowed us to step on their shoulders.

The term “World Peace” is confusing to me. It’s the word “World” that does not seem to apply. The definition of “World” can be defined, on the internet, as “the earth, together with all of its countries, peoples, and natural features.” When we ask for peace, why are we asking the Earth? If you look out your window, you will see other kingdoms; mineral, plant, and animal. Take a look at the rock, the tree, the squirrel. Are they not already peaceful? Why are we asking the Earth to be peaceful when it already is? Let me reiterate…”It just is.” It’s time to take the “Earth” out of the equation. Let’s be clear that the peace we are asking for involves just humanity.

So, the next question becomes…how does humanity find peace? We already know this answer. We’ve been told the answer for centuries by some of the greatest philosophers and metaphysicians. PEACE CAN ONLY BE FOUND WITHIN. What this means is that it’s up to each individual to find their own peace by nurturing the qualities they already possess within them. Peace has nothing to do with externals and everything to do with what’s inside. It is the cultivating of kindness, charity, compassion and love for yourself and others. It is about acting peaceful in each and every situation we are confronted with.

Currently, humanity is experiencing a mass “awakening” and it’s happening all over the globe to the peoples of all nations, cultures, and beliefs. The concept of “awakening” is not new. It’s just occurring on a mass scale to create a “tipping point” in favor of the peace we seek. What this means is that people all over the globe are doing the work to seek that peace from within themselves. This not only raises their own personal vibration but the vibration of all of humanity; as we are all connected. Evolution was brilliantly designed by the Creator to include absolutely everyone. All people get to play a part in creating that loving, harmonious world we seek.

Each and every one of us has a “master shift” to undergo; that is, stepping away from the lower energies such as hate, greed, anger, competition, and jealously. It is stepping up to love, kindness, forgiveness, compassion, and tolerance. Once you feel that peace at the core of your essence, your whole life lifts up in ways you never knew possible. Additionally, you are in a position to help others by transmuting their negative state with your peace.

With this new energy, we no longer have to picket or protest to seek change. We can create peace right from our homes by staying in that vibration as all the tools we need are within. This is how we take action with the realization that peace is already here. It always has been. We just needed to recognize it.

None of what I speak about is new. If you “seek” you will find this information everywhere. What is new is the ability of all of us to come together as never before in our history. On December 12, 2014, we have an opportunity to come together in unison for the peace of humanity. The Master Shift has written and produced a free online guided meditation narrated by Singer, Songwriter, Photographer, Philanthropist Julian Lennon. Based on the idea that quantum meditation can effect change, the purpose of the meditation is to bring the world together as one meditating force for universal uplifting. The meditation is not religious, but does recognize a “higher power.” Details about the upcoming event can be found at http://www.themastershift.com or by visiting The Master Shift on Facebook. The Master Shift is a 501©3 Non-Profit Organization.

We are living in an exciting time. Because technology has connected people from all over the globe, we are witnessing the acceleration in the evolution of humanity. Our consciousness is rapidly expanding which is allowing us to “see” how to create peace in our minds and hearts. Peace is an individual movement. We invite you to “master” your shift.


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Black Lives Matter — Go to an African American Church in Solidarity This Sunday Morning

Black Lives Matter — Go to an African American Church in Solidarity This Sunday Morning

Rabbi Michael Lerner 12/10/14 09:15 AM ET

Tens of millions of Americans are deeply disturbed by the racism that has recently gotten the focus that it should have had for the past many decades. The failure of juries to indict police who kill African American males was not new, but the awareness of this reality which has been just one of the many faces of racism that weigh down the lives of African Americans in this society was quite unusual and momentarily broke through the dominant discourse that “that problem has been solved decades ago after Martin Luther King, Jr. saved his people by ending segregation and winning the voting rights laws.”

Of course, even now there are many in the media who try to deny the ongoing significance of racism in our society. Yet the outpouring of anger that we’ve seen on college campuses and in the streets of the U.S. is a reason for hopefulness that when the media turns its attention away from this issue some of the consciousness about racism will remain alive beyond the peoples of color who can never forget it as long as it is shoved in their face by police, unemployment, hunger, poverty, harassment, and endless opportunities to experience the contempt that many whites feel toward them.

Is it any wonder that some young African Americans find it hard to believe that there is a strong connection between how hard they work and how well they will be treated in this society? Does anyone really think that if a Black cop had killed a middle class white youth or strangled and then let die a white man that the grand jury would not have indicted him? What we have been hearing more clearly than ever in the past few years is the tremendous fear that African Americans carry with them at all times — fear of white majority and their occupying force in communities of color that we call police and some of us call “pigs,” and fear of the way the system keeps on undermining them, manifesting contempt for them, and treating them as though their lives did not matter.

That’s why I am so glad that this Sunday, December 14, the Progressive National Baptist Convention has called for a morning of standing in solidarity with African Americans. I strongly urge you to find a Black church near you and show up in solidarity. The focus is not only on mourning but in publicly proclaiming: “Black Lives Matter.” That afternoon, we at the Network of Spiritual Progressives will be holding a strategy conference to assess what needs to change in the way the liberal and progressive forces have developed in the past few decades that has rendered them less influential and hence less able to defend the mini-steps that were taken in the past to overcome American racism. I’m hoping that our event will spur dozens of others.

This is a discussion which can’t stay at the level of pointing out how spineless and hence disappointing President Obama has been, how absent of a positive message the Democratic Party has been, how splintered and unable to cooperate have been the various organizations and movements of the liberal and progressive Left. We need to look deeper.

The issue of racism, after all, is really the issue of “othering” — taking some group and making them the demeaned other. What pain in people’s lives makes this othering so attractive?

We at the Network of Spiritual Progressives point to the corrosive impact of patriarchy and class society in dividing people and making it in the interests of the powerful to foster hatred among groups of the relatively powerless. This has taken much more sophisticated form in contemporary capitalist society where most people have been indoctrinated into the belief that they live in a “meritocracy” in which people end up economically, but also in terms of the quality of their lives, families and love relationships, in exactly the place they deserve. Those who are most successful deserve that, and the rest of us deserve what ever happens to us. The result: massive self-blaming which feels terrible. No wonder that many are attracted to religious fundamentalist or ultra nationalist movements or institutions which promise them support and caring (and this promise is often really delivered). However, the nationalist holidays pass, the Sunday church experience passes, and then people are right back in the very same capitalist marketplace in which they are seen as valuable only to the extent that they can accumulate lots of money and power. The selfishness, materialism and looking out for number one that so undermines loving relationships returns to the forefront, and the religious or nationalist high doesn’t last. And here the ultra-Right comes forward to provide an explanation: “there is some group that is destroying what would otherwise be a wonderful and nurturing society” and then point to whoever is the designated demeaned other, and blame it on them.

Jews were the identified demeaned other of Europe and it led eventually to genocide against the Jewish people (including many of my relatives). But in the US by the time my grandparents arrived here there already was a “demeaned other” that replaced Native Americans (once they had been genocided nearly out of existence), and so the demeaned other became the Blacks brought here as slaves and then eventually freed from legal slavery but subjected to various forms of domination and humiliation that continues to this moment. And the hatred of Blacks is layered over not only to function as an effective way to channel the anger that people might otherwise be feeling toward the larger economic system onto the backs of African Americans, but also as a way of protecting the American public from ever really having to face up to how debilitating and cruel has been the practice and legacy of slavery, then Jim Crow and segregation, then the more hidden but nevertheless pervasive ways that racism continues to function as a central dynamic in American politics and economics. We can witness how difficult it is for the American public to acknowledge the torture we visited on a wide variety of people in Guantanamo and other secret sites, even when a U.S. Senate committee report provides much of the evidence, and that was only a few thousand people being tortured by a handful of distorted people. Imagine then how hard it is for a society like ours to have a serious look at the way tens of millions of African Americans and other peoples of color have been living and suffering. Far easier to deflect attention by blaming the victim — particularly in capitalist societies where people have already been taught to blame themselves for their economic failures, and where othering is the coin of the realm.

A serious anti-racist movement must address these psychological dynamics. It must affirm the possibility of a world based on love and generosity even in the face of being dismissed as “unrealistic” because all of us have to some extent been immersed in the selfishness-generating worldviews that are taught in the schools and media and massively reinforced by our experiences in the capitalist marketplace, so most of us have come to believe that these behaviors reflect “human nature” rather than the products of a particular form of economic and social organization through which we’ve been living and then recreating in our own personal and economic lives.

Yet most people yearn for something quite different, and that is why we at the Network of Spiritual Progressives are building the Love and Justice movement. More of that in my next column! For the moment, I hope you might yet try to get to the Reclaim America conference this Sunday or at least join the Network of Spiritual Progressives and help convene such a gathering in your part of the world.

And given the now-documented torture that the U.S. Senate revealed yesterday that is being highlighted in the media today, we have a lot more from which to be reclaiming America. But in the long run, that torture is just another manifestation of the “othering” that permeates the consciousness of so many Americans. How else explain the collaboration with the torturers by the American Psychological Association? And that othering is most systematically manifested in the racism toward peoples of color and in particular toward African Americans. So do find an African American church this Sunday and show up and demonstrate that they are not alone and that Black Lives Matter to you no matter what your racial, religious or ethnic identity!

Rabbi Michael Lerner is editor of Tikkun magazine and chair of the Network of Spiritual Progressives. He is the author of the national best seller The Left Hand of God: Taking Back America From the Religious Right and of the national best seller Jewish Renewal: A Path to Healing and Transformation. He welcomes responses from people who wish to build a Love and Justice movement in the U.S. with people who will take the psychological and spiritual dimension of human needs seriously–contact him at RabbiLerner.Tikkun@gmail.com