Imbolc 2009 - Uffington White Horse, Avebury and Glastonbury

This page includes reports and photographs from the various events I attended during the season of Imbolc in 2009. This sabbat - centred on 1 February - celebrates the renewal of life. By this time the bulbs and snowdrops should be showing through. Bridget is also celebrated at this time - triple goddess of healing, metalwork and poetry. My season started with an early event at Uffington White Horse on 25 January. The main events were the following weekend, starting at Avebury with the Free and Open Gorsedd of Caer Abiri on 31 January. The following morning I was on Glastonbury Tor to see the spectacular Imbolc sunrise. Then it was on to the White Spring for the start of the combined event with Chalice Well and Bride's Mound and then back to Avebury for the Gorsedd of Bards of Caer Abiri.

The Gorsedd of Rhiannon and The White Horse - 25 Jan 2009

On Sunday 25 January a small group gathered in the car park of the Uffington White Horse at the Wiltshire, Berkshire, Oxfordshire border for the Imbolc Gorsedd of Rhiannon and The White Horse. Just after midday the group processed through the field at the east of the car park, to be within sight of the monument. Kestrel opened the event and asked for quarter callers. She performed the call for peace and then asked for the four quarters to be opened. The ancestors were invited to join us and the three worlds of land, ocean and sky were accessed through Rainbow’s words. As usual everyone was asked to express what they found inspiring about the three worlds. We were also asked to state what the season of Imbolc meant to each of us in 2009. There was also an opportunity to say prayers for those who have passed over or who were in need of healing. It was noted that the sap is late in rising this year. The group therefore turned to the east and drummed with the intent of encouraging nature to start the growing cycle.

Next came the opportunity for people to step forward for a bardic initiation into the Gorsedd of Rhiannon and The White Horse. About three-quarters of the group stepped forward to be initiated for the first time or for renewal. They moved to the centre, facing outwards with linked hands. Kestrel performed the rite and then asked the outer circle to tone the Awen three times. With the rite complete the two new initiates re-joined the main circle. Everyone then joined hands to recite the Druid’s Vow, led by Willth. He then asked for hands to remain linked so that an additional three Awens could be toned. Following this it was time to bless the bread and mead. While these were being passed around I gave my Imbolc poem what was to be its only reading of the season. Other contributions came from Rainbow, Firevixen and two poems from Chloe the Bard read out by Gil and Willth. With that it was time to thank the ancestors and close the quarters before processing back to the car park.

Montage of the complete event

Chloe the Bard and Jade get practising with drum and staff

You don't need a Citroen to be a druid but it helps!

Gil Lionheart is ready to go

Willth eventually finishes dressing

Matthew's six layers still left him frozen at the end of the afternoon

Justine thinks she can hide behind her staff....

And so does daughter Emily. Husband Neil knows this is futile....

Almost ready to go

The procession begins

The procession begins

Across the fields to the site of the Gorsedd

Across the fields to the site of the Gorsedd

The famous White Horse

The Free and Open Gorsedd of Caer Abiri (31 Jan 2009)

The Imbolc ritual of the Free and Open Gorsedd of Caer Abiri was held at Avebury on Saturday 31 January. The group gathered at the Red Lion to catch up. Prior to the main event there was a procession down the High Street for Terry to perform a baby naming. Back at the Red Lion Willth signalled that the event was about to begin. Due to the cold weather the God and Goddess Walks were considerably shortened - with the Goddess party heading straight for the Goddess Seat at the South Entrance and the God party heading for the remains of the Southern Inner Circle.

With the group back together again Willth welcomed everyone and asked for the four quarters to be opened. This was followed by the Call For Peace. Terry then came in with a short talk about the season, before Willth asked for a song from Bard of Avebury Robyn y Glas. Willth wanted to continue the theme and so asked me to perform next. In ongoing banter he refers to my work as Vogon Poetry - meaning it’s torturing him. That’s because we can be at up to four events together and so he gets to hear it more than most. I’ve been saying for a while now that when he uses the term again I will replace the 30 line poem with an 80 line poem. And that’s what happened this day. I put the Imbolc poem away and launched into a performance of the Superstition poem from memory. And I have to say it was the best reception I’ve ever had. So much so that I’m now planning other work in the same style. Be warned!

It was then time to hear about people and situations that required healing. Arthur got everyone to tone the Druid Mantra three times, although he said the Awen or the Ohm could also be performed. With hands still linked Willth led the Druid Vow and Terry followed with a version of the Druid Prayer. We were than instructed in how to perform a healing chant. It was now time for distribution of the bread and mead and Willth also revealed that Sarah had brought along a chocolate cake! Robyn y Glas performed while these were coming around. Following this Willth asked for the four quarters to be closed and Arthur declared the event to be over.

Montage of the complete event (includes one photo by Em Churchill)

Processing down the High Street for a baby naming

Gathering for the baby naming

Terry conducts the baby naming ritual

Terry conducts the baby naming ritual

Meeting up at the Red Lion

Neil emerges from the Red Lion

Emily steals hats as part of the initiation ritual for her druid group

Meeting up at the Red Lion

Meeting up at the Red Lion

Willth announces the start of the Gorsedd

Temporarily splitting into two parties

Arthur tries out his new drum made by Aline in Brazil

The main circle forms up

The main circle forms up

The main circle forms up, but can you see who is doing their own thing?

Opening the east quarter

Opening the south quarter (he's still doing his own thing)

Opening the north quarter

Bill conducts the call for peace

Terry talks about the season of Imbolc and where to see the best snowdrops

Lee and Matthew look at something very interesting (Photo: Em Churchill)

Robyn y Glass performs a song, using Willth as a music stand

Matthew performs the 80-line Superstition poem (Photos: Em Churchill)

A healing chant following the list of names

Willth opens the bread

Robyn y Glass performs again

Robyn y Glass performs again

Neil tests out the mead

Sarah distributes her chocolate cake

Ray brings around the bread

Neil brings around the mead

Ray re-joins the circle

Closing the east quarter

Closing the south quarter

Closing the north quarter

Imbolc Sunrise on Glastonbury Tor (1 Feb 2009)

As for 2008 there was no event organised for the Tor. But a small group gathered to watch the unusual sunrise that morning. Low thick cloud saw the initial appearance of the sun as a red splash. This expanded and started to pick up some orange as the cloud quickly burnt away. Various shapes could be seen in the sun until it was strong enough to be a complete orange circle. It was unbelievably cold on the Tor that day. So once the sun was on its way up, I began the descent but still capturing the sun at various points until I neared the bottom of the Tor.

First signs of the Imbolc sun viewed from Glastonbury Tor (12x optical zoom)

First signs of the Imbolc sun viewed from Glastonbury Tor (12x optical zoom)

First signs of the Imbolc sun viewed from Glastonbury Tor (12x optical zoom)

First signs of the Imbolc sun viewed from Glastonbury Tor (12x optical zoom)

First signs of the Imbolc sun viewed from Glastonbury Tor (12x optical zoom)

First signs of the Imbolc sun viewed from Glastonbury Tor (12x optical zoom)

First signs of the Imbolc sun viewed from Glastonbury Tor (12x optical zoom)

First signs of the Imbolc sun viewed from Glastonbury Tor (12x optical zoom)

First signs of the Imbolc sun viewed from Glastonbury Tor (12x optical zoom)

First signs of the Imbolc sun viewed from Glastonbury Tor (12x optical zoom)

First signs of the Imbolc sun viewed from Glastonbury Tor

First signs of the Imbolc sun viewed from Glastonbury Tor

The rising sun viewed on the way down from the Tor

The rising sun viewed on the way down from the Tor

The rising sun viewed on the way down from the Tor

The rising sun viewed on the way down from the Tor

Imbolc at The White Spring (1 Feb 2009)

The traditional combined White Spring, Chalice Well and Brides Mound event was on again this year. Attendance appeared to be down on previous years. Despite being a weekend date, people may have been put off by the cold or the media reports of snow being due. At 9:30 everyone walked into the newly invigorated White Spring building, picking up a tea light along the way. Merlin led some early chants before the building went into darkness. After a few minutes contemplation there was a knock on the door and Bethany, daughter of Max and Lisa, appeared representing Bridget with the new light. She walked through the building with a lantern and new candles were lit from it. These were then used to light all the tea lights that people were holding. With the new light now present, several songs and chants were performed. It was then time to cross the road into Chalice Well. The only problem was the side door of Chalice Well would not open and so the group had to process around the corner and access the site through the main entrance. With this incident, plus the car park wall being knocked down twice last year and a brick falling off the White Spring on to a car on the Spring Equinox 2008, what is happening in this area?

Setting up at the White Spring

Inside the White Spring - with the new light being signified by everyone's tea lights

Inside the White Spring - with the new light being signified by everyone's tea lights

Taking the new light into Chalice Well - if only the door would open!

Taking the new light into Chalice Well - if only the door would open!

Taking the new light into Chalice Well - if only the door would open!

Processing to the Chalice Well main entrance

Waiting at the Chalice Well main entrance

The Gorsedd of Bards of Caer Abiri (1 Feb 2009)

The Imbolc ritual of the Gorsedd of Bards of Caer Abiri, led by Morgan Rhys Adams, was held at Avebury on Sunday 1 February. The group formed up at the National Trust Cafe on this bitterly cold day. Roles were nominated, including quarter callers and the Guardian of the Stones. Morgan welcomed everyone and asked for a silent procession to the stones of the South Entrance, led by the day’s Guardian. With the Guardian sat in the Goddess Seat Morgan led around five minutes of drumming to allow everyone to tune into the site. Willth then asked permission of the Guardian for the group to enter the stones and this was soon granted. Offerings were made to the Guardian and her blessings were offered in return. An archway made out of staffs marked the way out of this area, with everyone then heading to form a circle around the Ring Stone.

In the circle Morgan welcomed everyone and we were all asked to say “I Am” and the archetype we represent. Bill and Morgan performed the Call For Peace in English and Welsh respectively. And the four quarters were called, with Morgan appearing behind each caller. I was asked to call the South quarter. Three others came forward to call to the three worlds of Land, Sea and Air. Phil then talked about his role as one of the seven keepers of the perpetual Brighid-Avalon flame. Morgan asked the group what motivated them to come out to Avebury on such a cold day. Answers included celebration, duty and honour.

It was then time to link hands and perform the Druid Vow three times, before launching into three tones of the Awen. Everyone was then visited to be anointed with spring water and with an offer to touch the container of the perpetual Brighid-Avalon flame. This was followed by the blessing and distribution of the ginger cake and mead. Robyn y Glas performed a song at this point and I followed with my Bridget poem, making it three different poems for the three main events I attended at Imbolc. The quarters were then closed and the final activity was for each member of the group to make any sound that came to them - leaving our voice energy in the landscape. The Guardian thanked everyone for attending and also thanked Morgan. Everyone agreed that it was great to see her back at Avebury following her illness last year.

Montage of the complete event

Meeting up at the National Trust Cafe

Meeting up at the National Trust Cafe

Processing to the Goddess Seat

Processing to the Goddess Seat

Processing to the Goddess Seat

Processing to the Goddess Seat

The Guardian of the Stones is in position

The Guardian of the Stones begins to receive offerings

The Guardian of the Stones begins to receive offerings

The Guardian of the Stones gives permission for everyone to enter the site

The group proceeds under the archway

Setting up at the Ring Stone

Setting up at the Ring Stone

The Call For Peace

Opening the north quarter

Phil talks about his role as one of the seven keepers of the perpetual Brighid-Avalon flame

The three worlds of earth, ocean and sky are opened

Amanda drums at various parts of the ritual

Morgan anoints everyone with spring water and she is accompanied by the perpetual Brighid-Avalon flame

The mead and ginger cake are prepared for distribution

The mead and ginger cake are blessed

Robyn y Glass performs a song

Closing the north quarter

At the end of the ritual

At the end of the ritual


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Page last updated: 31 Jan 2010