IMBOLC LORE

IMBOLC  LORE

It is traditional upon Imbolc, at sunset or just after ritual, to light every
lamp in the house – if only for a few moments. Or, light candles in each room in
honor of the Sun’s rebirth.   Alternately, light a kerosene lamp with a red
chimney and place this in a prominent part of the home or in a window.

If snow lies on the ground outside, walk in it for a moment, recalling the
warmth of summer.  With your projective hand, trace an image of the Sun on the
snow.

Foods appropriate to eat on this day include those from the dairy, since Imbolc
marks the festival of calving.  Sour cream dishes are fine.  Spicy and full-
bodied foods in honor of the Sun are equally attuned.  Curries and all dishes
made with peppers, onions, leeks, shallots, garlic or chives are appropriate.
Spiced wines and dishes containing raisins – all  foods symbolic of the Sun –
are also traditional.

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THE FEAST OF LIGHT

THE FEAST OF LIGHT
(By: Titania Morgay)

If Candlemas day be fair and bright,
Winter will have another flight.
If Candlemas day clouds and rain,
Winter is gone, and will not come again.
– E. Holden

The time has come to call and welcome the forces of light!

Candlemas or Imbolc is the mid point of the dark half of the year. We
welcome the rebirth and awakening of the Earth, the earliest beginnings of
Spring.

Through Pagan lore, we learn that the Sun God, who is now a young boy, is
beginning to feel his growing powers through the renewing energies of the
Sun, represented in the lengthening in the daylight hours. The Goddess is
awakening from her slumber and rest after giving birth to the
God/Child at Yule. She is represented in the Maiden aspect of the triple
Goddess. The awakening of the Goddess/Earth, causes germination of seeds and
development of buds on the trees, as the powers of the Sun begin to warm and
renew the earth. A celebration of fertility.

Traditionally, Imbolc is a time to prepare for the goals one wishes to
accomplish in the coming months, and to clarify and redefine our personal
projects which were begun at Yule. the fires of Imbolc represent our
personal illumination and inspiration, a celebration of ideas yet to be
born. Imbolc has also become a time for new initiations into covens,
self-dedication, and renewal of our bows. It is also a time for purification
of oneself.

The colors for Imbolc are lavender, white and pink. Herbs include
Heliotrope, Carnation, Poppy, Basil and Violet. Stones used for this
celebration may include Amethyst for peace of mind or jet for
heightened intuition and inner sight.

Offerings of cakes and wine may be presented to the Lord and Lady, to seek
their assistance in helping to ignite your creative fires and energy.

May the fires of Imbolc burn brightly within all of you throughout the
coming year!

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Candlemas: The Light Returns

Candlemas: The Light Returns
by Mike Nichols

It seems quite impossible that the holiday of Candlemas should be considered the  beginning of Spring.  Here in the Heartland, February 2nd may see a blanket of snow  mantling the Mother.  Or, if the snows have gone, you may be sure the days are filled with  drizzle, slush, and steel-grey skies — the dreariest weather of the year.  In short, the  perfect time for a Pagan Festival of Lights.  And as for Spring, although this may seem a  tenuous beginning, all the little buds, flowers and leaves will have arrived on schedule  before Spring runs its course to Beltane.

‘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 capitol 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 parishioners,  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.

Today, this holiday is chiefly connected to weather lore.  Even our American  folk-calendar keeps the tradition of ‘Groundhog’s Day’, a day to predict the coming  weather, telling us that if the Groundhog sees his shadow, there will be ‘six more weeks’  of bad weather (i.e., until the next old holiday, Lady Day).  This custom is ancient.  An  old British rhyme tells us that ‘If Candlemas Day be bright and clear, there’ll be two  winters in the year.’  Actually, all of the cross-quarter days can be used as ‘inverse’  weather predictors, whereas the quarter-days are used as ‘direct’ weather predictors.

Like the other High Holidays or Great Sabbats of the Witches’ year, Candlemas is  sometimes celebrated on it’s alternate date, astrologically determined by the sun’s  reaching 15-degrees Aquarius, or Candlemas Old Style (in 1988, February 3rd, at 9:03 am  CST). Another holiday that gets mixed up in this is Valentine’s Day.  Ozark folklorist  Vance Randolf makes this quite clear by noting that the old-timers used to celebrate  Groundhog’s Day on February 14th.  This same displacement is evident in Eastern Orthodox  Christianity as well. Their habit of celebrating the birth of Jesus on January 6th, with a  similar post-dated shift in the six-week period that follows it, puts the Feast of the  Purification of Mary on February 14th.  It is amazing to think that the same confusion and  lateral displacement of one of the old folk holidays can be seen from the Russian steppes  to the Ozark hills, but such seems to be the case!

Incidentally, there is speculation among linguistic scholars that the vary name of  ‘Valentine’ has Pagan origins.  It seems that it was customary for French peasants of the  Middle Ages to pronounce a ‘g’ as a ‘v’.  Consequently, the original term may have been the  French ‘galantine’, which yields the English word ‘gallant’.  The word originally refers to  a dashing young man known for his ‘affaires d’amour’, a true galaunt.  The usual  associations of V(G)alantine’s Day make much more sense in this light than their vague  connection to a legendary ‘St. Valentine’ can produce.  Indeed, the Church has always found  it rather difficult to explain this nebulous saint’s connection to the secular pleasures of  flirtation and courtly love.

For modern Witches, Candlemas O.S. may then be seen as the Pagan version of Valentine’s  Day, with a de-emphasis of ‘hearts and flowers’ and an appropriate re-emphasis of Pagan  carnal frivolity.  This also re-aligns the holiday with the ancient Roman Lupercalia, a  fertility festival held at this time, in which the priests of Pan ran through the streets  of Rome whacking young women with goatskin thongs to make them fertile.  The women seemed  to enjoy the attention and often stripped in order to afford better targets.

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 1st),  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.

Other customs of the holiday include weaving ‘Brigit’s crosses’ from straw or wheat to  hang around the house for protection, performing rites of spiritual cleansing and  purification, making ‘Brigit’s beds’ to ensure fertility of mind and spirit (and body, if  desired), and making Crowns of Light (i.e. of candles) for the High Priestess to wear for  the Candlemas Circle, similar to those worn on St. Lucy’s Day in Scandinavian countries.   All in all, this Pagan Festival of Lights, sacred to the young Maiden Goddess, is one of  the most beautiful and poetic of the year.

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Weather Lore for the Month of February

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February Weather Lore

A wet February, a wet Spring.

Winter either bites with its teeth or lashes with its tail.

If Candlemas be fair and clear, there’ll be two winters in the year.

If a hedgehog casts a shadow at noon, Winter will return.

“Février l’pu court éd chés moés, ch’est l’pire chint foés”.
February is the shortest month and by far the worst.

Witch Works: Spells and Rituals for Every Season

Witch Works:  Spells and Rituals for Every Season
A Column by Kelly
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Candlemas Edition
Candlemas, or Imbolc, is the Feast of Flames. Usually celebrated on February 2, Candlemas was a celebration of the coming spring with all of its promise and bounty.  Even though the winters were long and the food supply was dwindling by this point of the year, the ancient Celtic people who first celebrated Candlemas still found reason to do just that: celebrate!  Traditionally, Candlemas involved an extinguishing of the all of the lamps, candles and the central home hearth, followed by a relighting celebration which became the Feast of Flames. Below are a few of my favorite ways to celebrate Candlemas. Try them out for yourself or combine them with your existing Candlemas traditions!
Candlemas Altar Decoration
Candlemas is most closely associated with the Celtic Goddess Brigit. If you are not already familiar with Brigit, Candlemas is the perfect time of year to introduce yourself!  Try incorporating Brigit and her sacred symbols into the magick you perform this Candlemas.  Brigit had several animals that were considered sacred to her: the boar, the cow, the fish, the sheep, the snake or serpent, the wolf, the bear and the badger.  If you plan to decorate your altar for Candlemas, try utilizing her sacred animals as well as the colors of Candlemas (red and white) into your decoration theme!
Candlemas Magick
Being that Candlemas is the Feast of Flames, any magick that calls for fire will be especially sacred at this time of year.  If you are not already familiar with pyromancy, divination by fire, there are several formats you can try.
First, there is flame scrying.  Take a white candle and place it in front of a black scrying mirror. Focus on the candle’s flame in the mirror and wait for the images to reveal themselves.  This is a highly effective form of pyromancy. Second, if you plan an outdoor celebration that will include an open pit fire, try sitting beside the fire and meditating on the flames as they dance.  Relax and wait for the dancing flames to reveal their message to you.
Libanomancy, or divination from smoke, is another excellent form of magick to engage in during Candlemas.  You can either use the smoke from stick incense that you have burning or you can burn some herbs on a charcoal brick. Try to divine the images the smoke produces.
A lesser known form of divination is called ceromancy, which is melting max in a traditional manner and pouring the melted wax into a large bowl of water and then looking for symbols and images that the wax produces.
Candlemas Ritual
There are several rituals that go hand in hand with the spirit of Candlemas. The first is a self-blessing ceremony. With the beginning of a new year, some people like to clear themselves and get s fresh start, so to speak. A self-blessing ritual is a perfect extension of that ideology.    A self-blessing ritual you can follow is below, or write your own if you are inspired!
Step 1 – Take a ritual bath and dress yourself in white clothing or go skyclad.
Step 2 – Cleanse the area you are going to work in
Step 3 – Ground and Center
Step 4 – Cast a circle
Step 5 – Call the elements or deities you like to work with. Don’t forget that Brigit would be an excellent choice for this!
Step 6 – With anointing oil or holy water, dip your fingers into the substance and anoint your feet, groin area (not internally!), stomach, heart, throat or lips depending on the substance, eyes and forehead or third eye, repeating a blessing on each part that you anoint. The blessings need not be complicated. You could say “bless my feet that aid my physical earthly journey, bless my loins that bring pleasure and life” etc.
Step 7 – Meditate on clearing yourself and seeing yourself as blessed.
Step 8 – Thank your deities and elements and release them from the circle.
Step 9 – Break down your circle and then rest.
Repeat this ritual as often as needed.
Candlemas is a wonderful time to perform a house/room cleansing or blessing as well.  Clean the house/room thoroughly before you begin. Then you can simply smudge the locale with a smudging stick or incense, repeating a simple house blessing as you smudge, such as “bless this space in the name of The Goddess. Let it be free from negativity and filled with love.”
Also, if you have a personal sanctuary or room for your spiritual practices, now would be an opportune time to clean it out, physically and spiritually. Or, you maybe find your altar is in need of revamping. Spend a little time cleaning it and maybe reorganizing the layout of the altar.  Cleanse and reconsecrate your altar tools as well.
Candlemas Projects
Given its name, Candlemas is my favorite time of year to make candles!  On Candlemas, I like to replenish my candle stock.  I check and see what colors or shapes I am running low on and spend some time making candles for the upcoming Ostara and daily meditation and ritual use.  Candle-making is really simple and an excellent creative outlet! If you have not tried making your own candles before, stop by your local craft store and pick up a few candle molds and experiment!
Have a blessed Candlemas!
About the Author:  Kelly is a solitary practitioner from the Midwest.  She is currently a student at The White Moon School, studying to become a High Priestess. Kelly has been a practicing witch for 4 years and performs tarot readings and long distance energy work via the Internet.

Waking Up & Clearing Space

Waking Up & Clearing Space
By Lotus Moonwise
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When the cold weather begins and the season shifts from autumn to winter, I go into hibernation. I go into that quiet space within and it feels like time stands still. Projects that I’ve been working on get put on the shelf. I know that things unfinished will have to wait for Spring. I let go of the past year and move into the dark months. During this time, I often find myself wanting to just curl up in a warm bed, like a child in the womb of the Mother. I feel a quiet calmness. If one looks only on the surface, it seems there is not much going on. Though deep within there is much activity. Energies of the past year mingling with energies of what is to come. Swirling together in the void. Within that void, all possibilities exist and from that space, creation springs forth. In this dark space, we wait to be reborn and for new light and inspiration to find us. We wait for the first signs of Spring. I feel the stirrings within me and the excitement of starting over again. Another turn of the wheel and we’ve arrived at one of my favorite times of year: Imbolc. We start to awaken from Winter’s long sleep. We pay attention to our thoughts and notice how inspiration begins flooding in, giving us little clues to follow, opening us up to all the potentials of the New Year. We feel an inner urging to clear our space. We begin to look around and notice all the ways we could simplify, clear out, and unclutter our lives. We make peace with the process of letting go of the past to make room for the new.  “Spring Cleaning” is a tradition for many people at this time of year. It’s part of our natural cycles as humans connected to the Earth. We feel it in our bodies. We don’t need to look at a calendar to tell us it’s time to clear our space. We feel it in every cell. We know it by the way we feel. We know it when we feel the flower inside our hearts begin to open up, ready to blossom towards the sun as it grows in strength. We want to open our arms and embrace this new light by sharing it with those we love. In my family, Imbolc is a celebration that lasts over several weeks. It begins when we pack up the Yule decorations and take down the tree. The clearing process starts with our physical space. Starting at one end of the house, usually the kitchen, we turn on some music, open all the windows, empty each room completely, and clean everything from top to bottom, infusing the space with new energies. Then we take our time filling the space again, putting back only what is essential. We usually have a few boxes to categorize the items we remove from the rooms. A box of things we know we want to keep, a box for things that we know we can let go of, and one for things we are not sure of yet. First we put back what we know we want, then we spend time in the room as it is. Going within, we ask, what else is truly needed here? The inspiration comes. Maybe a new altar for the kitchen? Maybe some new pictures to hang on the wall? A new plant? Every year, it’s a different answer. The room tells us what it needs. Room by room, we continue like this, until the entire house has been re-born.  When we get to the kid’s rooms, we talk about what it means to let things go. We talk about how other children may enjoy the toys the kids no longer play with. The kids get their own box to put used toys in that are later taken to a donation center, along with everything else that we are letting go of as a family. It’s a process they have become used to. Letting go of things from the past is a natural part of their life. Learning to let go now, as children, sets a foundation for their lives and makes transitions easier to move through.
Once the physical space is clear, it’s time for a clearing of another kind. A clearing of the emotional, mental, and spiritual space within. A time to take stock of everything in our lives and what it means to us. Family, friends, career, spiritual practice, hopes, dreams, goals. It’s the time to get quiet and listen to your inner voice tell you what it needs. A time to set your intention to be open to allow all avenues of blessing and abundance into your life. Sometimes the inner voice will tell us if we have gotten off track and how to get back to the basics of what we truly need. Maybe we need to spend more time with family or friends. Maybe it’s time to change our job if it’s not bringing us joy. Maybe it’s time to move to a new place? The possibilities are endless. I use this time to re-dedicate myself to my chosen spiritual path and to re-write my personal statement of intent. I call upon Brigid at this time for inspiration for new projects that I’m starting, and to revive old projects that I put on the shelf when the winter months began. I visualize the waters of her sacred well washing me clean of the past and nurturing me in the wholeness of the now moment. I allow myself to be actively fulfilled by the present moment and open to the truth of the perfection that is within me. It’s time to fertilize the soil of our souls with the seeds of our dreams, knowing that these seeds will grow and blossom as the year progresses through it’s cycles once again.
Have a Blessed Imbolc!
About The
Author:
Lotus Moonwise is studying to become a Priestess of the Order
of the White Moon.

The Celtic Calendar for February 2nd – Imbolc and Candlemas

Imbolc/Candlemas Comments

February 2nd – Imbolc and Candlemas

The festival of Candlemas has ancient roots, for in Pagan Europe, fires were kindled at this time of year to reflect and encourage the growing strength of the Sun. It’s name is Christian, however, being derived from the tradition of the future year’s supply of candles being blessed before the first mass of February 2, and then being carried around the church in a pious procession. This is also the feast of the purification of the Virgin Mary and the presentation of the infant Jesus in the Temple; the parallels between the Virgin Mary and the Goddess in Her maiden aspect, and Baby Jesus and the solar child of promise, are unmistakable.

 

Candlemas Creativity

White represents purity, pale gree denote a fresh start and growth, and a flame signifies the kindling of creativity. Light candles of these colors to commemorate the concepts symbolized by Candlemas. As you gaze at the flaming taper, ask the Goddess for inspiration.

Imbolc to Ostara

Imbolc/Candlemas Comments

Imbolc to Ostara

Imbolc (Oimelc or Candlemas) celebrates youthful potential, with the Goddess being venerated in her Maiden guise, while the Horned God is still in his infancy and childhood. That the Goddess has returned to Earth from the Otherworld, and that nature is reawakening under her magickal touch, may be evident in the tender green shoots of such spring-flowering pioneer as snowdrops, whose white blooms represent the Maiden purity.

Calendar of the Sun for January 31st

Calendar of the Sun

31 Wolfmonath

Imbolc Eve: Day of the Bean Sidhe

Color: Black
Element: Air
Altar: Upon cloth of black place a cup of blood, kept from the last slaughtering. Before it lay bloodstained rags and a flute, and many small unlit . Block the windows and shut out all sunlight.
Offering: Give aid to a child who has lost their mother.
Daily Meal: Red meat and milk.

Imbolc Eve Invocation

Go, my children, to the riverbank,
In the dark of the night when the wind is howling,
And you shall hear the wails of one who mourns,
And you shall see her kneeling by the water,
Washing the bloody clothes of those
Who did not survive the giving forth of life.
She weeps for the mothers lost,
She weeps for the children lost,
She weeps for the life cut short,
What should have been a joyous day
Become a night of mourning.
She weeps above all for those
Who have no one else to weep for them.
So we shall light a candle, on this night
Before the morn of Candlemas,
For all those who have no one to weep for them,
And we shall shed the tears
And we shall be the voice,
And we shall do the work
Of the lonely Bean Sidhe.

(The cup of blood is poured as a libation. Each comes forward and lights a small , and then all wail in a great torrent of sound together, with one wildly over the cacophony. Those who can shed tears should do so. This should go on until all are exhausted from wailing, and then all should go quietly to their other tasks in silence until Hesperis.

 

[Pagan Book of Hours]

Candlemas: The Light Returns

Candlemas: The Light Returns

by Mike Nichols

It seems quite impossible that the holiday of Candlemas should be considered the beginning of Spring. Here in the Heartland, February 2nd may see a blanket of snow mantling the Mother. Or, if the snows have gone, you may be sure the days are filled with drizzle, slush and steel-grey skies — the dreariest weather of the year. In short, the perfect time for a Pagan Festival of Lights. And as for Spring, although this may seem a tenuous beginning, all the little buds, flowers and leaves will have arrived on schedule before Spring runs its course to Beltane.

‘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 capitol 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 parishioners, 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.

Today, this holiday is chiefly connected to weather lore. Even our American folk-calendar keeps the tradition of ‘Groundhog’s Day’, a day to predict the coming weather, telling us that if the Groundhog sees his shadow, there will be ‘six more weeks’ of bad weather (i.e., until the next old holiday, Lady Day). This custom is ancient. An old British rhyme tells us that ‘If Candlemas Day be bright and clear, there’ll be two winters in the year.’ Actually, all of the cross-quarter days can be used as ‘inverse’ weather predictors, whereas the quarter-days are used as ‘direct’ weather predictors.

Like the other High Holidays or Great Sabbats of the Witches’ year, Candlemas is sometimes celebrated on its alternate date, astrologically determined by the sun’s reaching 15-degrees Aquarius, or Candlemas Old Style (in 1988, February 3rd, at 9:03 am CST). Another holiday that gets mixed up in this is Valentine’s Day. Ozark folklorist Vance Randolf makes this quite clear by noting that the old-timers used to celebrate Groundhog’s Day on February 14th. This same displacement is evident in Eastern Orthodox Christianity as well. Their habit of celebrating the birth of Jesus on January 6th, with a similar post-dated shift in the six-week period that follows it, puts the Feast of the Purification of Mary on February 14th. It is amazing to think that the same confusion and lateral displacement of one of the old folk holidays can be seen from the Russian steppes to the Ozark hills, but such seems to be the case!

Incidentally, there is speculation among linguistic scholars that the very name of ‘Valentine’ has Pagan origins. It seems that it was customary for French peasants of the Middle Ages to pronounce a ‘g’ as a ‘v’. Consequently, the original term may have been the French ‘galantine’, which yields the English word ‘gallant’. The word originally refers to a dashing young man known for his ‘affaires d’amour’, a true galaunt. The usual associations of V(G)alantine’s Day make much more sense in this light than their vague connection to a legendary ‘St. Valentine’ can produce. Indeed, the Church has always found it rather difficult to explain this nebulous saint’s connection to the secular pleasures of flirtation and courtly love.

For modern Witches, Candlemas O.S. may then be seen as the Pagan version of Valentine’s Day, with a de-emphasis of ‘hearts and flowers’ and an appropriate re-emphasis of Pagan carnal frivolity. This also re-aligns the holiday with the ancient Roman Lupercalia, a fertility festival held at this time, in which the priests of Pan ran through the streets of Rome whacking young women with goatskin thongs to make them fertile. The women seemed to enjoy the attention and often stripped in order to afford better targets.

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 1st), 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.

Other customs of the holiday include weaving ‘Brigit’s crosses’ from straw or wheat to hang around the house for protection, performing rites of spiritual cleansing and purification, making ‘Brigit’s beds’ to ensure fertility of mind and spirit (and body, if desired), and making Crowns of Light (i.e. of candles) for the High Priestess to wear for the Candlemas Circle, similar to those worn on St. Lucy’s Day in Scandinavian countries. All in all, this Pagan Festival of Lights, sacred to the young Maiden Goddess, is one of the most beautiful and poetic of the year.