Happy Imbolc

‘Imbolc, (pronounced “IM-bulk” or “EM-bowlk”), also called Oimealg, (“IM-mol’g), by the Druids, is the festival of the lactating sheep. It is derived from the Gaelic word “oimelc” which means “ewes milk”. Herd animals have either given birth to the first offspring of the year or their wombs are swollen and the milk of life is flowing into their teats and udders. It is the time of Blessing of the seeds and consecration of agricultural tools. It marks the center point of the dark half of the year. It is the festival of the Maiden, for from this day to March 21st, it is her season to prepare for growth and renewal. Brighid’s snake emerges from the womb of the Earth Mother to test the weather, (the origin of Ground Hog Day), and in many places the first Crocus flowers began to spring forth from the frozen earth.

The Maiden is honored, as the Bride, on this Sabbat. Straw Brideo’gas (corn dollies) are created from oat or wheat straw and placed in baskets with white flower bedding. Young girls then carry the Brideo’gas door to door, and gifts are bestowed upon the image from each household. Afterwards at the traditional feast, the older women make special acorn wands for the dollies to hold, and in the morning the ashes in the hearth are examined to see if the magic wands left marks as a good omen. Brighid’s Crosses are fashioned from wheat stalks and exchanged as symbols of protection and prosperity in the coming year. Home hearth fires are put out and re-lit, and a besom is place by the front door to symbolize sweeping out the old and welcoming the new. Candles are lit and placed in each room of the house to honor the re-birth of the Sun.

Another traditional symbol of Imbolc is the plough. In some areas, this is the first day of ploughing in preparation of the first planting of crops. A decorated plough is dragged from door to door, with costumed children following asking for food, drinks, or money. Should they be refused, the household is paid back by having its front garden ploughed up. In other areas, the plough is decorated and then Whiskey, the “water of life” is poured over it. Pieces of cheese and bread are left by the plough and in the newly turned furrows as offerings to the nature spirits. It is considered taboo to cut or pick plants during this time.

Various other names for this Greater Sabbat are Imbolgc Brigantia (Caledonni), Imbolic (Celtic), Disting (Teutonic, Feb 14th), Lupercus (Strega), St. Bridget’s Day (Christian), Candlemas, Candlelaria (Mexican), the Snowdrop Festival. The Festival of Lights, or the Feast of the Virgin. All Virgin and Maiden Goddesses are honored at this time.’

Source: Wiccan, Pagan and Witchcraft Holidays., Imbolc Lore

I Was Trained for the Culture Wars in Home School, Awaiting a Messiah Like Mike Pence

A former homeschooled far-right evangelical “Christofascist” described the grassroots movement hidden under our noses with a plan in the works for decades to take over American society and government. Something similar could have been written by a right winger talking about the hidden Jewish-banking conspiracy but somehow this has more of a ring of authenticity and, if it has any basis in reality, it is as scary as it gets. My strongest reaction is to feel a certain urgency about relocating outside the US.

The writer says that this plan for a Christofascist takeover had been in preparation since the emergence of evangelical conservatism in the 1970s. Early manifestations included the founding of organizations like Operation Rescue, the Family Research Council and Focus on the Family, but perhaps most significantly (and insidiously) the Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), whose purpose was to ensure that homeschooling was legal and prevent its regulation “so the children [they] trained would abe able to fly under the radar.” Children homeschooled by extremists of the religious right have been trained to fight what they refer to as the

“Culture Wars. It’s a loose and ambiguous term that basically means anything or anyone that doesn’t align with this very specific view of Christianity must not be allowed to continue…”

Specific agendas include reversal of legislation protecting reproductive rights and preventing discrimination based on race, gender identity and sexual preference. More generally, the aim is to facilitate laws legislating morality;   the  only way to control the legislative process is to prepare to infiltrate the government through the indoctrination of youth. Thus the emphasis on training in effective argument;  they were

‘taught critical thinking skills but given only a narrow view of what was acceptable to argue for. We were, after all, being trained to take over the country for Christ, literally. We knew how to perform logical gymnastics about abortion, Christianity and any evangelical talking point you could throw at us. When we showed up to city council, local political party meetings and tours of the Capitol we asked intelligent questions, were respectful and had a vested interest in how our local political machine ran. We impressed every government official and staff member with our questions, earnesty and demeanor. In short, we were sneaky and polite Trojan horses; we had an agenda. Yes, even as 15-year-olds. It was forcefully handed to us by the adults in our lives who had been preparing for this since before we were born.’

The Tea Party takeover of the Republican Party was the first significant public manifestation of this movement. Now, ‘Trump being elected is also part of the plan, although not Trump specifically; the true goal is Pence.’ Trump’s easy manipulability and ignorance, apathy, and ineptitude about policy allow Pence’s Trojan-horse covert Christofascist piggyback power grab. Trump will do ‘whatever the Right want him to do in order to keep power, allowing Pence to advance his agenda under the radar ‘while filling Congress with ever more evangelical conservative Republicans.’

Pence seems much less threatening than someone abrasive, terrifying and erratic like Trump but he has an insidious, consistent, proven record of working to legalize discrimination and acting against women and marginalized people. His presence in office emboldens the up-and-coming far Right children to further the Christofascist agenda for which they have been trained — “to take back the country for Christ” by outbreeding, outvoting and outactivating.

‘Every class, every event, every pastor or guest speaker reiterated this, choosing to risk the 501c3 status of their church to push their agenda. ‘

And Democrats never even notice the rightwing grassroots organizing where this arises, e.g. the vast network of homeschoolers ‘that HSLDA and others have given [the Republicans] to tap into as a source of free labor,’ for efforts including the Republican Get Out the Vote efforts. Republicans who want to remain in office cannot afford to hamper this effort and thus must maintain marked laxity in overseeing homeschooling. Homeschoolers “are loud, have time and can be activated with one email blast” from Christofascist organizers such as the HSLDA.

‘We are the secret no one knew about and it’s time to come to light. Homeschoolers are a huge reason for the evangelical conservative takeover we’ve seen over the last decade or so…’

Such religious extremists ‘believe it is their Christian duty to save the country from its secular ways in the name of religious freedom’ and believe that their agenda will save the country from destruction ordained by God for our ungodly ways.

‘While it looks like a bunch of backwoods hillbillies playing with guns to anyone outside, they are resilient and in it for the long haul. They want America to succeed, but in their America there isn’t room for anyone unlike them. There’s a reason Trump’s mantra stuck despite his deplorable behaviour. They think America was founded on conservative Protestant ideals because that’s what they’ve been fed, because that’s what aligns with their interpretation of the Bible and they will not go down without a fight…

They will not be won over with sit-downs and respectability politics. This kind of dogma cannot be reasoned with; it must be fought against. Trying to convince them to come to the other side is a waste of time unless they’ve already started on that journey themselves. The ones in power, actively harming our lives, are past this point. We can only fight back.’

Source: Autostraddle (via Barbara)