The Grey Matters
Table of Contents
Imbolc: A Short History
The Great Tree Meditation
Wizardry: Just Do It!
Herbarium Now Open
Photo by Miltiadis Fragkidis on Unsplash
Imbolc: A Short History
Grey Matters Staff
The holiday celebrated today as Imbolc can be traced back to ancient traditions in the pre-Christian British Isles. Celebrated on February 1st and 2nd, it marks the midpoint between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. Correspondingly, its meanings are associated with winter, light, and the changing of the seasons. The earliest known references to Imbolc date to the 10th century CE in Ireland.
In ancient times, the holiday celebrated Brigid, a goddess of the Celtic pantheon associated with fertility, crafts, and prophecy. Effigies were constructed in her honor and lights of all kind were kindled: torches, lamps, and even blazing bonfires. Participants hoped that the goddess would visit them overnight and grant them her blessings.
Over time, Brigid was supplanted by the Christian Saint Brigid. The saint and goddess shared several similarities, such as births associated with flame and milk, and the saint was said to have lived in a monastery located on the site of a traditional shrine to the goddess Brigid.
Modern neopagans have reclaimed the holiday as a celebration of nature and the forthcoming spring.
"Imbolc." August 21, 2018. The History Channel. https://www.history.com/topics/holidays/imbolc
The Great Tree Meditation
The great tree started out as a little sapling.
Just a seed that probably blew around in the wind from the mother tree and landed right in my garden near the beautiful pond filled with lilies, fish, and frogs. It had found the perfect spot to grow.
Moist soil and sun and protection from the elements and a fenced-in yard to protect it from wild animals just looking to nibble a tender little sapling just starting out to grow.
Pretty soon the little sapling got a little taller and grew a few new branches and leaves. It was always on the lookout for a bug or rabbit that could nibble it right out of existence. It grew and soon the first year passed.
Now it was a foot tall and could look around and see over the flowers that grew nearby. Being so much taller it was less likely to be eaten by a rabbit, but of course, bugs could always present a problem.
The great tree watched the wizard who owned the land and the pond that she had dug herself. The wizard loved her yard and plants and even loved this brand new sapling that she found among her flowers and herbs. When she first saw the cute little tree it did not seem to be a bother at all, and she hated the thought of pulling it up with the weeds. Trees, she knew, give us so much, they take in our carbon and produce oxygen for us to breathe. Trees are so good. So she gave it a little pat on its pretty little leaves and said, so be it. Only if she had known that someday it would be a mighty tree so tall and giving so much shade to her gardens she might have pulled it up! Only she did not think of that. Too much shade and the flowers and herbs do not grow as well unless, of course, you plant shade-loving plants.
Soon the little tree grew taller and taller and had many more branches and big leaves. Every fall the leaves would change its colors to red, orange and gold. It was a sight to behold and the wizard would smile at its beauty, growing more fond of the tree as the years passed by.
The great tree got so big by it would not even be worth cutting down, even if the wizard had wanted to. As the tree grew it started to branch out and it split about ten feet up and now it had two main branches so it looked like two trees. So the wizard, loving the tree, moved all her flowers and herbs to a sunny part of the yard and planted shade-loving plants like violets under the great tree. Everyone was happy!
The tree watched the summers come and go, enjoying the birds and squirrels running through its branches. Then filling the fall with colors and surviving the coldest winters. The squirrels would build their nests in the highest branches, swinging in the strong breezes, but never falling out. Soon spring would come again and the cycle would repeat itself many times over.
As the great tree grew taller and taller it watched the lives of the people and creatures that lived there. It saw the pets grow from little babies to old age. It watched them play and hunt and sleep in the warm sun. The cats that lived there loved to lay in the hot sun for hours and hours.
The frogs in the nearby pond crocking and catching bugs. Dragonflies flitting around catching mosquitoes. The tree could look right down and see the beautiful gold fish swimming happily around. It was a great life for this great tree.
Some pets grew old or got sick and died and they would be buried in the soil of the yard. It was a very sad time for the family. They would cry and bury their treasured pet with flowers and tears.
The roots of the great tree could reach out and feel the energy and share the love of their experience. The energy of love has no bounds and could be felt by the great tree.
As we know all trees are spirits and are all connected to one another. So love or fear or any emotions felt by the spirits of the tree is passed along their root systems to each other. This connection can be passed around the world by the trees' root systems to each other. It is the way of communication for all of the forest plants and trees.
Even though the tree was still young in tree years, it was wise in its energy. It has learned from its ancestors. It has also watched the lives of the family who lived in its yard.
It watched the babies grow and saw them playing hide and seek and heard everything that went on in that yard. So this great tree also knew all the children and the one who loved her kitten and played under its shade. The great tree knew all the people connected to his area. The great tree knew them all by name and loved them all. The great tree keeps all this knowledge and energy of information within itself and at the same time sharing it.
When the wizard was happy it would give the tree a pat as she passed by. She would tell it how beautiful it had grown. When the wizard was sad she would give it a big hug and tell it her sorrows. She always felt some sort of relief telling the great tree, somehow it took her problems away. It was a good way for her to ground herself.
Some people ground themselves by taking off their shoes and placing their bare feet on the ground, with their arms down by their sides, their fingers stretching out to the earth. Letting the energy of the earth come up through your feet and out to your outstretched arms and fingertips back to the earth. This will make you feel refreshed and relaxed. It’s a good way to get rid of bad energy or bad feelings and to take in good feelings.
Did you know that you can find your own great tree?
And that you can connect to your own great tree and all the trees?
If you see a tree you like, touch the tree and shut your eyes and feel its energy and strength and greatness. Feel its bark and how strong it is. Shut your eyes and take in its energy and share your story with the tree.
You might have to do this to a few different trees, but keep trying until you find your own tree. All trees are connected and the energy from them spreads over the whole forest.
Remember if you find your tree it will be a source of comfort for you in stressful times.
So whenever you feel down, or happy, go to your tree or any tree and place your hands on it and give it a big hug. Tell it your thoughts and troubles. It will give you strength and comfort.
Trees are sources of heat and energy and can help you connect to the energy of the earth.
If you grew up with a certain tree it knows your whole life. It has witnessed it all. I love my great tree. It knows my love and it knows my children and beloved pets. It shares my life good and bad and knows how we love and miss the ones we have lost. If you hug your tree you will feel so much better, you two have so much to share.
Remember you both share the memories of your life in your yard. Most likely your great tree will outlive you. It's your life and it will contain your memories long after you are gone…sharing them with other trees.
So you yourself, and your memories and love will never be forgotten in the great forest of trees.
Wizardry: Just Do It!
Frater Adservio - Dean of Curriculum
It may not be grammatically correct, but I think of "wizard" as a verb. It's an action, a process, an event, something that one does rather than a static concept. By calling ourselves wizards, we are identifying ourselves with ACTION. Wizards are natural-born meddlers, after all. We just can't leave well enough alone. We change the world and are ourselves changed. We change ourselves and the world follows suit.
To be a wizard is to do wizardry. It's the pursuit of a living mystery, a calling to the higher, and more besides. More than philosophy or mysticism, wizardry demands our engagement and our participation. It needs us to do things.
Sometimes the things we do are boring and repetitive. Daily meditation, practicing a ritual till we're blue in the face, and studying tomes of arcane lore until our eyes water are all things that wizards may find themselves doing. Likewise, sometimes the things we do are awe-inspiring. We speak a few words and the course of lives change. We command spirits and they answer. We call on deities and they listen. Amazing things can and do happen.
But the kicker is that all of these things needed us - the human beings living on this earth - to be wizards. To take action. To do things. So, I implore you all, Apprentices of the Grey School of Wizardry: go out there and be wizards. Go out there and take action, applying the lessons of your GSW classes and studies, and make some change in our lives for the better.
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