Imbolc: “Candlemas” is the Christianized name for the holiday, of course. The older Pagan names were Imbolc and Oimelc. “Imbolc” means, literally, “in the belly” (of the Mother). For in the womb of Mother Earth, hidden from our mundane sight but sensed by a keener vision, there are stirrings. The seed that was planted in her womb at the solstice is quickening and the new year grows. “Oimelc” means “milk of ewes”, for it is also lambing season. The holiday is also called “Brigit’s Day”, in honor of the great Irish Goddess Brigit. At her shrine, the ancient Irish capital of Kildare, a group of 19 priestesses (no men allowed) kept a perpetual flame burning in her honor. She was considered a goddess of fire, patroness of smithcraft, poetry and healing (especially the healing touch of midwifery). This tripartite symbolism was occasionally expressed by saying that Brigit had two sisters,also named Brigit. (Incidentally, another form of the name Brigit is Bride, and it is thus She bestows her special patronage on any woman about to be married or handfasted, the woman being called “bride” in her honor.)
The Roman Catholic Church could not very easily call the Great Goddess of Ireland a demon, so they canonized her instead. Henceforth, she would be “Saint” Brigit, patron saint of smithcraft, poetry, and healing. They “explained” this by telling the Irish peasants that Brigit was “really” an early Christian missionary sent to the Emerald Isle, and that the miracles she performed there “misled” the common people into believing that she was a goddess. For some reason, the Irish swallowed this. There is no limit to what the Irish imagination can convince itself of. For example, they also came to believe that Brigit was the “foster-mother” of Jesus, giving no thought to the implausibility of Jesus having spent his boyhood in Ireland!
Brigit’s holiday was chiefly marked by the kindling of sacred fires, since she symbolized the fire of birth and healing, the fire of the forge, and the fire of poetic inspiration. Bonfires were lighted on the beacon tors, and chandlers celebrated their special holiday. The Roman Church was quick to confiscate this symbolism as well, using “Candlemas” as the day to bless all the church candles that would be used for the coming liturgical year. (Catholics will be reminded that the following day, St. Blaise’s Day, is remembered for using the newly-blessed candles to bless the throats of parishoners, keeping them from colds, flu, sore throats, etc.)
The Catholic Church, never one to refrain from piling holiday upon holiday, also called it the Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary. (It is surprising how many of the old Pagan holidays were converted to Maryan Feasts.) The symbol of the Purification may seem a little obscure to modern readers, but it has to do with the old custom of “churching women”. It was believed that women were impure for six weeks after giving birth. And since Mary gave birth at the winter solstice, she wouldn’t be purified until February 2nd. In Pagan symbolism, this might be re-translated as when the Great Mother once again becomes the Young Maiden Goddess.
One of the nicest folk-customs still practiced in many countries, and especially by Witches in the British Isles and parts of the U.S., is to place a lighted candle in each and every window of the house, beginning at sundown on Candlemas Eve (February 1), allowing them to continue burning until sunrise.
Make sure that such candles are well seated against tipping and guarded from nearby curtains, etc. What a cheery sight it is on this cold, bleak and dreary night to see house after house with candle-lit
windows! And, of course, if you are your Coven’s chandler, or if you just happen to like making candles, Candlemas Day is the day for doing it. Some Covens hold candle-making parties and try to make and bless all the candles they’ll be using for the whole year on this day.
All and all, this is certainly one of the prettiest holidays celebrated in the Pagan seasonal calendar. And since it is so tied to candles, here is various information on candles and candle magic.
One of the simplest of magical arts which comes under the heading of natural magic is candle burning. It is simple because it employs little ritual and few ceremonial artifacts. The theatrical props of candle magic can be purchased at any department store and its rituals can be practiced in any sitting room or bedroom.
Most of us have performed our first act of candle magic by the time we are two years old. Blowing out the tiny candles on our first birthday cake andmaking a wish is pure magic. This childhood custom is based on the three magical principals of concentration, will power and visualization. In simple terms, the child who wants his wish to come true has to concentrate (blow out the candles), visualize the end result (make a wish) and hope that it will come true (will power).
The size and shape of the candles you use is unimportant, although highly decorative, extra large, or unusually shaped candles will not be suitable as these may create distractions when the magician wants to concentrate on the important work in hand. Most magicians prefer to use candles of standard or uniform size if possible. Those which are sold in different colors for domestic use are ideal.
The candles you use got any type of magical use should be virgin, that is unused. Under no cir*****stances use a candle which has already adorned a dinner table or been used as a bedroom candle or night-light. There is a very good occult reason for not using anything but virgin materials in
magic. Vibrations picked up by secondhand materials or equipment may disturb your workings and negate their effectiveness.
Some magicians who are artistically inclined prefer to make their own candles for ritual and magical use. This is a very practical exercise because not only does it impregnate the candle with your own personal vibrations, but the mere act of making your own candle is magically potent. Specialist shops sell candle wax and moulds together with wicks, perfumes, and other equipment.
The hot wax is heated until liquid and then poured into the mould through which a suitably sized wick has already been threaded. The wax is then left to cool and once is this has occurred the mould is removed, leaving a perfectly formed candle. Special oil-soluble dyes and perfumes can be added to the wax before the cooling process is complete to provide suitable colors and scents for a particular magical ritual. Craft shops which sell candle making supplies can also provide do-it-yourself books explaining the technicalities of the art to the beginner.
Once you have purchased or made your ritual candle it has to be oiled or ‘dressed’ before burning. The purpose of dressing the candle is to establish a psychic link between it and the magician through a primal sensory experience. By physically touching the candle during the dressing procedure, you are charging it with our own personal vibrations and also concentrating the desire of your magical act into the wax. The candle is becoming an extension of the magician’s mental power and life energy.
When you dress a candle for magical use, imagine that it is a psychic magnet with a North and a South pole. Rub the oil into the candle beginning at the top or North end and work downwards to the half-way point. Always brush in the same direction downwards. This process is then repeated by beginning at the bottom or south end and working up to the middle.
The best type of oils to use for dressing candles are natural ones which can be obtained quite easily. Some occult suppliers will provide candle magicoils with exotic names. If the magician does not want to use these, he can select suitable oils or perfumes from his own sources. The oils soluble perfumes sold by craft shops for inclusion in candles can be recommended.
The candles you use can be colored in accordance with the following magical uses:
white – spirituality and peace.
red – health, energy, strength, courage, sexual potency.
pink – love, affection and romance.
yellow – intellectualism, imagination, memory and creativity
green – fertility, abundance, good luck and harmony
blue -inspiration, occult wisdom, protection and devotion
purple – Material wealth, higher psychic ability, spiritual power and idealism
silver – clairvoyance, inspiration, astral energy and intuition
orange – ambition, career matters and the law
If you wanted to use candle magic for healing, you would select a red candle to burn. To pass an exam, burn a yellow candle, to gain esoteric knowledge burn a blue candle or for material gain, burn a purple one. It is obvious these colors relate to the signs of the zodiac and the planetary forces.
The simples form of candle magic is to write down the objective of your ritual on a virgin piece of paper. You can use color paper which matches the candle. Write your petition on the paper using a magical alphabet, such as The ban, enochian, malachain, etc. As you write down what you want to
accomplish through candle magic — a new job, healing for a friend, a change of residence, a new love affair, etc. — visualize your ream coming true.Visualize the cir*****stances under which you might be offered a new job, imagine your employer telling you that your salary has been increased or conjure up a vision of your perfect love partner.
When you have completed writing down your petition, carefully fold up the paper in a deliberately slow fashion. Place the end of the folded paper in the candle flame and set light to it. As you do this concentrate once more on what you want from life.
When you have completed your ritual, allow the candle to have completely burned away. You do not need to stay with the candle after the ritual, but make sure that is is safe and that red-hot wax will not cause damage or fire. Never re-use a candle which has been lit in any magical ritual. It should only be used in that ritual and then allowed to burn away or be disposed of afterwards.
If you are conducting a magical ritual which involves two people (e.g. an absent healing for a person some distance away) then the second person can be symbolically represented during the ritual by another candle. All you need to do is find out the subject’s birth date and burn the appropriate candle for that zodiacal sign. These are as follows:
ARIES – red
TAURUS – green
GEMINI – yellow
CANCER – silver
LEO – orange
VIRGO – yellow
LIBRA – pink
SCORPIO – red
SAGITTARIUS – purple
CAPRICORN – black
AQUARIUS – all colors
PISCES – mauve