Tags: imbolc

goddess and god

Atheists challenge Prayer, Imbolc Festival, Witch Hunts in Africa

Legal line of prayer unclear
Atheists challenge Fresno council custom
By Russell Clemings, The Fresno Bee, Feb. 12, 2010
" Whether an atheist group succeeds in challenging invocations at Fresno City Council meetings may come down to a legal distinction between "sectarian" and "nonsectarian" prayer.

Nonsectarian prayer -- promoting or endorsing no specific religion -- is allowed under a 1983 U.S. Supreme Court decision. But more recent court decisions have barred prayer that invokes the name of Jesus or otherwise crosses the sectarian line.

Where exactly is that line? That's not entirely clear.

The Madison, Wis.-based Freedom From Religion Foundation, which sent Mayor Ashley Swearengin a letter Monday complaining about the City Council's invocations, says it has written similar letters to six other California cities and is looking for a test case.

"We are contemplating the possibility of litigation in California," said the foundation's co-president, Annie Laurie Gaylor.
Gaylor said her organization hopes that, in the end, the Fresno council will opt to do without invocations, rather than trying to navigate the channel between sectarian and nonsectarian versions. But she said she's not confident that will happen.

"We're atheists," she said. "We don't believe in miracles.""
Huge crowds turn out for Marsden’s Imbolc Festival
by Steve Catchpool, The Huddersfield Daily Examiner, UK, Feb 13 2010
"MASSIVE crowds descended on Marsden last weekend for the acclaimed annual Imbolc Festival.

Jack Frost and Arctic winter chills were sent packing at the stunning festival, attended by excited people from near and far.

In fact more than 3,500 people – one of the biggest crowds for years – flocked to the Colne Valley village to see the fiery celebrations, organised by local enthusiasts and the Standedge Tunnel and Visitor Centre.

The 2,000-year-old event featured performances by fire jugglers, fire-swingers and “human fireworks” and many revellers took part in the festival procession from Marsden railway station down to Tunnel End.

Thousands more gathered at the visitor centre to enjoy the fire circus, fire sculptures and the festival finale – a stunning fiery battle between Jack Frost, representing winter, and the Green Man, representing spring."
Witchcraft-killings tension brews
By Mpume Madlala, Independent Online, February 15 2010
"A heavy police presence is still in place at Umlazi's E Section, where three homes were set alight by community members more than two weeks ago on suspicion that their inhabitants were practising witchcraft.

Mbongeni Zungu, 68, died of smoke inhalation when his home, which he shared with his wife Mildred, 58, grandchildren and children, was set alight in a mob rampage on January 29.

His funeral took place on Friday.

The chairman of the Umlazi community policing forum, Sihle Chiliza, said another family had to leave the area last week after they were accused of witchcraft after a neighbour had collapsed and died.

"We tried to calm the community members, who were very angry, but it did not work. We then decided to place the family in hiding because we feared that their home would be set alight," he said.

Chiliza said that at a community meeting on February 7, people refused to give up their suspicions that the victims were practising witchcraft.

"They also made it clear that they did not want the families back in the community. We then pleaded with them to allow Zungu to be buried at his home, as it was African tradition to do so. They agreed, but said the family should leave," Chiliza explained.

He said 11 people had handed themselves over to the police.

Police spokesman, Senior Superintendent Vincent Mdunge, said the 11 suspects, who had been charged with murder, attempted murder, malicious damage to property and arson, had been released on bail. Police would remain in the area until the situation returned to normal, he said."
Five women lynched over witchcraft
By Richard Adrama, New Vision Sunday, Uganda, 14th February, 2010
"A 90-YEAR-OLD woman and her daughter were last week lynched by a mob in Kucuala village in Zombo district on allegations of practicing witchcraft.

The north-eastern regional Police spokesman, Henry Alyang, identified the women as Veronica Diacwinya and her 40-year-old daughter, Celina Jokocibo.

Alyang said the mob picked five women at about 8:30pm and clobbered them with sticks and hoe handles.

The mob also reportedly burnt 18 huts in the homesteads of the accused.

“The attackers accused the women of bewitching their daughter, who recently became mentally impaired,” Alyanga said.

The other three, who were not identified, were rescued by the Police after a tip-off from the residents. They sustained serious injuries.

Six residents of the same village, suspected to have headed the mob justice, were rounded up by the Police during a cordon-and-search operation.

Alyang identified the six as John Nyalula, Awola Ajoge, Lenya Ayella, Vincent Nachiku, To Bin and Charles Alengo.

They were detained at Zeu Police station.

In a related incident, a man was lynched by a mob in Marro central village in Nebbi town on Friday morning.

According to Alyang, the man, who is commonly known as Dodo in Paidha where he worked as a butcher, was found in possession of a stolen goat which he was carryingn an un-registered motorcycle."
lunar clock

Blessed Imbolc!

Blessed Imbolc!
(dry wheat, paper, and ribbon photographed at the Ithaca Farmer's Market)

"Every gardener knows
that under the cloak of winter
lies a miracle ...
a seed waiting to sprout,
a bulb opening to the light,
a bud straining to unfurl.
And the anticipation
nurtures our dream."

- Barbara Winkler

(Imbolg 'in the belly', or Oimelc 'milk of ewes')
This is a "Cross Quarter" a festival half way between a solstice and an equinox. The Cross Quarters were part of the traditional Celtic Solar year count. 364 days in the solar year (plus one intercalendary day), 182 days from Samhain to Beltain, 91 between Samhain and Imbolc. The switch to the Julian (and then the Gregorian) calendars messed everything up. So the traditional dates of the cross quarters have stuck at the second day of the month they occur in (they actually start at sunset the previous night in the Celtic tradition, on the 'eve').

Falling in the depth of winter, Imbolc is the celebration of fire, warmth, inspiration and a somewhat desperate plea for the return of spring.

Traditionally rituals are held in honor of the Bride (or Brigid) (the Celtic Goddess of smithcraft, poetry, mead, healing, and fire) with a young girl wearing a crown a candles, and the symbolic marriage of a sheaf of grain to a wooden wand. Modern rituals tend to focus on the warmth and light of inspiration.

goddess and god

Imbolc, True Path?, Haitian Racisim, History of Sri Lanka

Musing on Imbolc and Brigid
by Gus diZerega, Beliefnet.com (blog), January 26, 2010
"Imbolc is one of the less intensely celebrated Sabbats, I think because it has fewer real world connections in our lives. In most places the coming Spring Equinox, Ostara, is well suited to its symbolism of the triumph of the sun and powers of growth and regeneration. Yule, our previous cross-quarter Sabbat, celebrated the Winter Solstice, and the wealth of meaning it carries symbolically and experientially. Both are Solar, and the sun 's cycles are the same everywhere in this hemisphere. Beltane to follow is, well, it's Beltane."
Only one true path to God?
by Dino Wenino, letter to the editor Casper Star-Tribune Online, January 27, 2010
"Gary Wells writes that he will serve "The Lord!" and that Bible critics and nonbelievers "will have to answer for their actions." Answer to whom, Gary? And what Lord will he serve? Jewish, Christian or Muslim? Is there only one true religion? Is there only one true path to God? What about Hinduism or Buddhism? The Bahai Faith? Wicca, Paganism, the Rosicrucian Fellowship or any of the other religions of the world?"
Haitian preachers speak of fire and brimstone after disastrous quake
By Alexander Panetta, The Canadian Press, ‎Jan 26, 2010‎
"The vast majority of the people are Catholic, with a small minority of Protestants. But voodoo - a traditional religion involving dynamic interactions among the living, the dead and the world of spirits - is widely practised.

Even within the same family, some members can be avid church-goers who shun the island's home-grown religion while others practise voodoo - and some dabble in both.

These days, preachers are wandering through public squares, carrying Bibles and delivering sermons to the homeless residents of makeshift tents pieced together after the earthquake.
But what is he hearing from religious leaders? Why would such a terrible string of tragedies befall Haiti?

"These are our sins," he replies. "They are the sins of each Haitian on this Earth, which God has given us as our heritage."

The argument echoes the one made by Robertson, who cited a 19th-century pagan pact for having caused the country's misfortune.

But the more mainstream explanation goes something like this:

Haiti fell behind right from its independence when, after slaves revolted to gain their freedom, foreign countries isolated it. Its problems worsened under brutal and corrupt governments; and its geographic location on a fault line and hurricane zone ravaged what little infrastructure it had"

Misunderstanding of Haitian culture tied to decades of racism
By Hama Bbela, The BG News, January 27, 2010
"On Feb. 20, 1991, Bill O'Reilly's "Inside Edition" ran a show talking about Voodoo. He painted the picture of this island nation as held hostage by Voodoo priests, capable of turning people into zombies. O'Reilly even claimed Voodoo is used to keep people in economic slavery. A Haitian intellectual once complained, "Voodoo is certainly the most publicized, the most misunderstood, and most misrepresented aspect of Caribbean cultures. Too many people equate Voodoo with superstitions and all degrees of witchcraft and sorcery."

These sentiments show an attitude of indifference and ignorance toward old age African culture. When missionaries came to Africa, one of their missions was to save the Africans from what they considered pagan ways. They branded African ancestral worship as Satanic. African religions and religions of African slaves were viewed as systems of thought inextricably linked to evil. Voodoo evokes thoughts of the living dead, secret rituals, cannibalism, wild and drunken orgies and odious doings by incomprehensible black people.

Voodoo beliefs and rites come from Africa and contain hints of Catholicism. Like any other, the religion has things it considers malicious; yet to associate the religion itself with evil is disheartening. It's dehumanizing and insensitive to think a people can evolve a culture and form of religious thought which is fundamentally evil. The Judeo-Christian world has often used such claims to gain converts and marginalize followers of eastern and African religions. The early French colonizers of Haiti often described the religion as dangerous and began the history of bad press associated with Haiti. Early anthropologists used their studies of Voodoo to reinforce racist notions of black inferiority."
This is a brief history of Sri Lanka, part 1.
Struggle for independence and freedom in education
by Gunapala Wickremaratne, Ceylon Daily News, Sri Lanka, 27 January 2010
"The most powerful factor that united the people or integrated them was the principle of the free but disciplined mind of the humans exposed to the Dhamma. According to Buddhism the mind is supreme. Man is his own master.

There is no benevolent god or power that sits on judgment over his destiny. Social cohesion of individuals is based on the freedom of thought. To force oneself to believe and to accept a thing without understanding is political and not spiritual or intellectual.

Buddha Dhamma is not a religion as commonly understood. It is a way of life based on ethical conduct, mental discipline and mindfulness or diligence; to be developed simultaneously in degrees, in accordance with the intellectual understanding of the individual. "

The fact that Buddhism does not fit the common definition of religion (as the worship of a deity) is one reason why I reject that definition. Understanding that religion is cosmology regardless of whether it involves gods, is simply more accurate. The deity centered definition of religion is a result of Christian bias in Western thought.
goddess and god

Imbolc: Celtic Music, Wind Turbines, Willow Sculpture, and Fire Juggling

New York Interceltic Fest Noz
by Charles Kergaravat, Agence Bretagne Presse, Celtic News, ‎Jan 21, 2010‎
"On January 30th, BZH New York will present the Interceltic Fest Noz, a celebration of music, dance, and culture of Brittany, Galicia, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. There will be live music representing all five of those traditions, as well as set dances from the different Celtic cultures.

This evening of Celtic music and culture will also celebrate the Celtic festival of Imbolc. Imbolc is one of the four principal festivals celebrated among Celtic peoples, either at the beginning of February or at the first local signs of Spring. Most commonly it is celebrated on February 1 or 2, which falls halfway between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox in the northern hemisphere. It is traditionally the festival of fire and light dedicated to the goddess Brigid. In the Christian period it was adopted as St Brigid's Day. In Scotland the festival is also known as Là Fhèill Brìghde, in Ireland as Lá Fhéile Bríde, in Wales as Gŵyl Fair, and in Brittany as la Chandeleur."

Singing for spring
by Val Javin, Huddersfield Daily Examiner, UK, Jan 22 2010
"IT MIGHT not seem like it but spring is just around the corner.

Not convinced? Then let singing teacher Jenny Goodman convince you with a workshop that chases away the chill just in time for one of the area’s most spectacular community festivals.

Marsden celebrates the return of spring each year with the Imbolc Festival which this year is on February 6.

Once again Jenny, who lives in the village, will be helping to add music to the fire and ice.

“It’s great to have this community festival on our doorsteps to remind us of the return of spring – especially when we’ve just been surrounded by snow and ice,” said Jenny."

Chyan Community Field's windy future
Falmouth Penryn Packet, UK, 25th January 2010
" Members of the Chyan Community Field at Halvasso are combining the ancient Celtic tradition of preparing for the start of spring, with celebrations for the launch of a renewable energy project.

From 2pm to 4pm on Saturday, January 30, anyone with an interest in sustainable living can visit the two-acre site near Penryn to see the first stage of their wind garden. Two 6kW turbines were installed just before Christmas to meet all of the site’s current and future power needs.

Over the coming months designs for seven wind art installation will be finalised and then placed alongside the turbines o create a unique and interactive educational resource.
The event is not all technology, children will be able to make windmills and wind instruments and there will be a hands-on willow sculpture session.

The celebrations for Imbolc – the start of spring, will have fire juggling performance and poetry recital."
goddess and god

Imbolc, Wassailing, and Ati-Atihan Festival

Looking for ray of light, Groundhog Day is coming
by Deane Morrison, University of Minnesota Starwatch, Coon Rapids ECM Publishers, January 20, 2010
"The minor February holiday started with the ancient Celts, who called the day Imbolc, or lamb's milk, because it coincided with the start of lambing season. It was one of four "cross-quarter days" falling midway between a solstice and an equinox.

The Celts considered heavy clouds auspicious, because they foretold warmth and rains to soften the fields for planting. But bright, sunny weather presaged cold, hence our tradition of six more weeks of winter if the groundhog sees its shadow."
Six-day festival set to celebrate Brigid of Faughart
Dundalk Democrat, 20 January 2010
"A major celebration of Brigid of Faughart will take place at the end of this month.
The Brat Bhríde festival celebrates Brigid and the ancient festival of Imbolc with myth, landscape, folklore, spiritual customs, music, poetry and dance.

The emphasis of the festival, according to its organisers, is to revisit and reclaim some of the richness of the traditions associated with Brigid of Faughart, in ways which are relevant to our lives in the 21st century.

Lectures and workshops during the six-day event, which culminates on Saint Brigid's feast day on February 1st, will offer opportunities to deepen knowledge of Brigid, to taste her wisdom and to integrate feminine consciosness more surely to contemporary culture.

Brat Bhríde - meaning 'Brigid's Cloak' - is a voluntary group who have come together to organise this event."
Hanging toast in apple trees – it has to be wassailing
Bristol Evening Post, January 19, 2010
"Wassail traditions date back to early Pagan times, when rural communities would perform ceremonies in January to encourage a healthy apple harvest later that year.

These traditions, which were re-enacted by the children of Sandford Primary School, included the crowning of a wassail King and Queen, a procession led by the Mendip Morris Men, dancing and singing, hanging toast in the apple trees to attract the good spirits, and banging pots and pans to ward off the evil spirits."
A longer, bigger Ati-Atihan
by Nestor P. Burgos Jr, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Inquirer.net, ‎Jan 15, 2010‎
"The 798th Ati-Atihan festival has more tribes participating and more days of the famed “sad-sad” street dancing than in the past, said Benny Tirazona, secretary of the Kalibo Ati-Atihan Management Board.

Thirty-five tribes will join the street-dancing contest this year, up from last year’s 33. They will compete in the four categories—aboriginal, original tribe-small, original tribe-big and modern.

Tribes under the aboriginal category will wear costumes made of indigenous materials, such as abaca fiber, shell, feathers and leaves.

Those with at most 60 warriors will compete different categories.
The Ati-Atihan traces its roots in the 13th century as a pagan ritual of Aeta people and later transformed into a Christian tradition in the 18th century after a Spanish priest baptized 1,000 inhabitants of Kalibo. (The name of the town is said to have been derived from “Isa ka Libo,” referring to those first baptized.)

In the final three days of the festival ending Sunday, the streets will be filled with soot-smeared Aklanons and tourists dancing to the drum beatings, cymbals and lyres. This has earned the event’s distinction as the merriest and most fascinating of festivals held every January in honor of the Child Jesus."