Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Twelfth Century Herbal Invocation

This piece has been identified as a modernization of a 12th century herbalist's charm. The original translation is from "Early English Magic and Medicine" by Dr. Charles Singer in the Proceedings of the British Academy, Vol. IV. It can be found in numerous places on the internet, with minor variations in wording.

Earth, divine Goddess, Mother Nature who generates all things and brings forth anew the sun which you have given to the nations; Guardian of sky and sea and of all gods and powers....through your power all nature falls silent and then sinks in sleep. And again you bring back the light and chase away night and yet again you cover us most securely with your shades. You do contain chaos infinite, yea and winds and showers and storms; you send them out when you will and cause the seas to roar; you chase away the sun and rouse the storm. Again when you will you send forth the joyous day and give the nourishment of life with your eternal surety; and when the soul departs to you we return. You are indeed duly called Great Mother of the Gods; you conquer by your divine name. You are the source of strength of nations and of gods, without you nothing can be brought to perfection or be born; you are Great Queen of the Gods. Goddess! I adore thee as divine; I call upon your name; be pleased the grant that which I ask of you, so shall I give thanks to thee, Goddess, with due faith.
Hear, I beseech you, and be favorable to my prayer. Whatsoever herb your power does produce, give, I pray, with goodwill to all nations to save them and grant me this my medicine. Come to me with your powers, and howsoever I may use them, may they have good success to whosoever I may give them. Whatever you grant, may it prosper. To you all things return. Those who rightly receive these herbs from me, please make them whole. Goddess, I beseech you, I pray as a suppliant that by your majesty you grant this to me.
Now I make intercession to you all your powers and herbs and to your majesty, you whom Earth parent of all has produced and given as a medicine of health to all nations and has put majesty upon you, I pray you, the greatest help to the human race. This I pray and beseech from you, be present here with your virtues, for She who created you has Herself promised that I may gather you into the goodwill of him on whom the art of medicine was bestowed, and grant for health's sake good medicine by grace of your powers. I pray grant me through your virtues that whatsoever is wrought by me through you may in all it's powers have good and speedy effect and good success and that I may always be permitted with the favor of your majesty to gather you into my hands and to glean your fruits. So shall I give thanks to you in the name of the majesty which ordained your birth.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Signs of the Seasons (or, The Witch Goes A'Wandering)

My most recent rambles through the neighborhood have been graced with little hints of things to come, and lately with more blatant examples of things that have already arrived ahead of schedule. At first it was green shoots peeking shyly up from the last remnants of autumn's mulch; but as the temperatures have continued above average, and the length and strength of sunlight has increased, those shoots are now developing into the wide green leaves that will shortly shelter the nodding yellow heads of daffodils. Not content to await a later season, impudent little crocuses in white and yellow and purple are already bursting out exuberantly, splashing color across the awakening landscape. There are already dandelions cropping up where they shouldn't be. The clover is greening. The earth is awakening early.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Dreaming of Imbolc

I awoke this morning in the midst of a dream. In it, we were accosted while out walking by a woman who proceeded to question us as if we were expert witnesses or law enforcement consultants on the occult. She said that a monument at a nearby Catholic college (she called it Trinity something-or-other) had been "defaced," with the remnants of candles and offerings (I have the impression of red candles, though I can't recall if that was specified or not), and wanted to know the possible meaning behind it. I immediately launched into a quite complex lecture on the neo-pagan celebration of Imbolc, explaining the meanings and customs of the holiday and assuring her that there was nothing at all "Satanic" or dangerous about it. I remember being surprised when the woman asked me if the holiday was sometimes also called La Fheile Bride, and my response that it was indeed sometimes called that, in Gaelic, by Druid practitioners. I also assured her that the mysterious offerings might have been left in honor of St. Brigit, who celebrates a feast day at this time. I was awakened before I could finish my lecture.

Appropriately, I had this dream on the day in question, as Imbolc was celebrated on February 2nd in the tradition in which I was trained--despite it's being called "February Eve" in the early writings, which would of course technically require a celebration on January 31st. I celebrated the 31st and the 1st on the road, caravaning my mother-in-law home from Florida, and if I had any deity interactions at all it was with Bast, who sent her small minions to play in the landscaping around the hotel we stayed at in north Georgia. (One of them was the loveliest little thing, snowy white with a large patch of silver and black tabby markings on her back like a draped blanket. Her eyes were a pale luminous green, ringed with black liner that extended slightly out from the corners in a very Egyptian fashion; she gazed at me very seriously, and I gazed right back at her in the same way, having a moment. She would not approach closely, and finally broke the spell to run off chasing under a bush with her solid red tabby sibling. Their mother was prowling the courtyard, which featured what was very nearly a ring of large stones; adjacent to this was a tiny church building, complete with narrow stained glass windows, labeled the "Interfaith Meditation Chapel." Apparently my faith was not included, because I found the building locked.)

In any case, it's Imbolc now--or Oimelc or Candlemas or La Fheile Bride or whatever you'd like to call it. I call it the midpoint of winter, halfway between the Winter Solstice and the Vernal Equinox. It's an odd one, to be sure; the high today should again be in the 60s, which carries on the trend of this being an unusually mild winter. I usually like to celebrate it as a turning point, a time when the days are visibly lengthening, when the first faint hints of growing things can be seen, when we know the worst of winter is generally past us and spring looms on the horizon. This year, there's not much of winter to be seen beyond the still-barren trees, but maybe that's cause for celebration in its own right.