C A N D L E M A S -by Gwydion Cinhil Kirontin

C A N D L E M A S  -by Gwydion Cinhil Kirontin


     I˘ seemˇ quitň impossiblň tha˘ thň holida¨ oŠ Candlemaˇ 
shoulń bň considereń thň beginninš oŠ Spring« Herň iţ thň 
heartlandČ Februar¨ 2nń ma¨ seň ß blanke˘ oŠ sno¸ mantlinš thň 
Mother«  OrČ iŠ thň snowˇ havň goneČ yo§ ma¨ bň surň thň dayˇ arň 
filleń witŔ drizzleČ slushČ anń steel-gre¨ skieˇ -- thň drearies˘ 
weathe˛ oŠ thň year«  Iţ shortČ thň perfec˘ timň fo˛ ß Pagaţ 
Festivaý oŠ Lights« Anń aˇ fo˛ SpringČ althougŔ thiˇ ma¨ seeÝ ß 
tenuouˇ beginningČ alý thň littlň budsČ flowerˇ anń leaveˇ wilý 
havň arriveń oţ schedulň beforň Sprinš runˇ itˇ coursň t´ Beltane.

    "Candlemasó iˇ thň Christianizeń namň fo˛ thň holidayČ oŠ 
course«  Thň olde˛ Pagaţ nameˇ werň ImbolŃ anń Oimelc«  "Imbolcó 
meansČ litterallyČ "iţ thň bellyó (oŠ thň Mother)«  Fo˛ iţ thň 
womÔ oŠ Mothe˛ EarthČ hiddeţ froÝ ou˛ mundanň sigh˘ bu˘ senseń b¨ 
ß keene˛ visionČ therň arň stirrings« Thň seeń tha˘ waˇ planteń 
iţ he˛ womÔ a˘ thň solsticň iˇ quickeninš anń thň ne¸ yea˛ grows.
 "Oimelc" means "milk of ewes", for it is also lambing season.

    Thň holida¨ iˇ als´ calleń "Brigit'ˇ Day"Č iţ hono˛ oŠ thň 
grea˘ IrisŔ Goddesˇ Brigit«  A˘ he˛ shrineČ thň ancien˘ IrisŔ 
capitaý oŠ KildareČ ß grou­ oŠ 1╣ priestesseˇ (n´ meţ allowedę 
kep˘ ß perpetuaý flamň burninš iţ he˛ honor«  Shň waˇ considereń 
ß goddesˇ oŠ fireČ patronesˇ oŠ smithcraftČ poetr¨ anń healinš 
(especiall¨ thň healinš toucŔ oŠ midwifery)«  Thiˇ tripartitň 
symbolisÝ waˇ occasionall¨ expresseń b¨ sayinš tha˘ Brigi˘ hań 
tw´ sistersČ als´ nameń Brigit«  (IncidentallyČ anothe˛ forÝ oŠ 
thň namň Brigi˘ iˇ BrideČ anń i˘ iˇ thuˇ Shň bestowˇ he˛ speciaý 
patronagň oţ an¨ womaţ abou˘ t´ bň marrień o˛ handfastedČ thň 
womaţ beinš calleń "brideó iţ he˛ honor.)

    Thň Romaţ CatholiŃ ChurcŔ coulń no˘ ver¨ easil¨ calý thň 
Grea˘ Goddesˇ oŠ Irelanń ß demonČ s´ the¨ canonizeń he˛ instead«  
HenceforthČ shň woulń bň "Saintó BrigitČ patroţ sain˘ oŠ 
smithcraftČ poetryČ anń healing«  The¨ "explainedó thiˇ b¨ 
tellinš thň IrisŔ peasantˇ tha˘ Brigi˘ waˇ "reallyó aţ earl¨ 
Christiaţ missionar¨ sen˘ t´ thň Emeralń IsleČ anń tha˘ thň 
miracleˇ shň performeń therň "misledó thň commoţ peoplň int´ 
believinš tha˘ shň waˇ ß goddess«  Fo˛ somň reasonČ thň IrisŔ 
swalloweń this«  (Therň iˇ n´ limi˘ t´ wha˘ thň IrisŔ imaginatioţ 
caţ convincň itselŠ of«  Fo˛ exampleČ the¨ als´ camň t´ believň 
tha˘ Brigi˘ waˇ thň "foster-motheró oŠ JesusČ givinš n´ though˘ 
to the implausibility of Jesus having spent his boyhood in Ireland!)

    Brigit'ˇ holida¨ waˇ chiefl¨ markeń b¨ thň kindlinš oŠ sacreń 
firesČ sincň shň symbolizeń thň firň oŠ birtŔ anń healingČ thň 
firň oŠ thň forgeČ anń thň firň oŠ poetiŃ inspiration«  Bonfireˇ 
werň lighteń oţ thň beacoţ torsČ anń chandlerˇ celebrateń thei˛ 
Őspeciaý holiday«  Thň Romaţ ChurcŔ waˇ quicŰ t´ confiscatň thiˇ 
symbolisÝ aˇ wellČ usinš "Candlemasó aˇ thň da¨ t´ blesˇ alý thň 
churcŔ candleˇ tha˘ woulń bň useń fo˛ thň cominš liturgicaý year.
(Catholicˇ wilý bň remindeń tha˘ thň followinš dayČ St« Blaise'ˇ 
DayČ iˇ remembereń fo˛ usinš thň newly-blesseń candleˇ t´ blesˇ 
thň throatˇ oŠ parishonersČ keepinš theÝ froÝ coldsČ fluČ sorň 
throatsČ etc.)

    Thň CatholiŃ ChurchČ neve˛ onň t´ refraiţ froÝ pilinš holida¨ 
upoţ holidayČ als´ calleń i˘ thň Feas˘ oŠ thň Purificatioţ oŠ thň 
Blesseń Virgiţ Mary«  (I˘ iˇ surprisinš ho¸ man¨ oŠ thň olń Pagaţ 
holidayˇ werň converteń t´ Maryaţ Feasts.ę  Thň symboý oŠ thň 
Purificatioţ ma¨ seeÝ ß littlň obscurň t´ moderţ readersČ bu˘ i˘ 
haˇ t´ d´ witŔ thň olń custoÝ oŠ "churchinš women"«  I˘ waˇ 
believeń tha˘ womeţ werň impurň fo˛ si° weekˇ afte˛ givinš birth«  
Anń sincň Mar¨ gavň birtŔ a˘ thň winte˛ solsticeČ shň wouldn'˘ bň 
purifień untiý Februar¨ 2nd«  Iţ Pagaţ symbolismČ thiˇ migh˘ bň 
re-translateń aˇ wheţ thň Grea˘ Mothe˛ oncň agaiţ becomeˇ thň 
Younš Maideţ Goddess.

    TodayČ thiˇ holida¨ iˇ chiefl¨ connecteń t´ weathe˛ lore«  
Eveţ ou˛ Americaţ folk-calenda˛ keepˇ thň traditioţ oŠ 
"Groundhog'ˇ Day"Č ß da¨ t´ predic˘ thň cominš weatherČ tellinš 
uˇ tha˘ iŠ thň Groundhoš seeˇ hiˇ shadowČ therň wilý bň "si° morň 
weeksó oŠ bań weathe˛ (i.e.Č untiý thň nex˘ olń holidayČ Lad¨ 
Day)«  Thiˇ custoÝ iˇ ancient«  Aţ olń BritisŔ rhymň tellˇ uˇ 
tha˘ "IŠ Candlemaˇ Da¨ bň brigh˘ anń clearČ there'lý bň tw´ 
winterˇ iţ thň year.ó  ActuallyČ alý oŠ thň cross-quarte˛ dayˇ 
caţ bň useń aˇ "inverseó weathe˛ predictorsČ whereaˇ thň quarter-
dayˇ arň useń aˇ "directó weather predictors.

    Likň thň othe˛ HigŔ Holidayˇ o˛ Grea˘ Sabbatˇ oŠ thň Witchesž 
yearČ Candlemaˇ iˇ sometimeˇ celebrateń oţ it'ˇ alternatň dateČ 
astrologicall¨ determineń b¨ thň sun'ˇ reachinš 15-degreeˇ 
AquariusČ o˛ Candlemaˇ Olń Stylň (thiˇ yearČ Februar¨ 6th)« 
Anothe˛ holida¨ tha˘ getˇ mixeń u­ iţ thiˇ iˇ Valentine'ˇ Day«  
OzarŰ folkloris˘ Vancň RandolŠ makeˇ thiˇ quitň clea˛ b¨ notinš 
tha˘ thň old-timerˇ useń t´ celebratň Groundhog'ˇ Da¨ oţ Februar¨ 
14th«  Oncň againČ thiˇ showˇ thň resultan˘ confusioţ oŠ calenda˛ 
changeˇ anń "los˘ daysó tha˘ havň accumulateń dowţ thň centuries«  
Fo˛ moderţ WitchesČ Candlemaˇ O.S« ma¨ bň seeţ aˇ thň Pagaţ 
versioţ oŠ Valentine'ˇ DayČ witŔ ß de-emphasiˇ oŠ "heartˇ anń 
flowersó anń aţ appropriatň re-emphasiˇ oŠ Pagaţ carnaý 
frivolity«  Thiˇ als´ re-alignˇ thň holida¨ witŔ thň ancien˘ 
Romaţ LupercaliaČ ß fertilit¨ festivaý helń a˘ thiˇ timeČ iţ 
whicŔ thň priestˇ oŠ Paţ raţ througŔ thň streetˇ oŠ Romň whackinš 
younš womeţ witŔ goatskiţ thongˇ t´ makň theÝ fertile«  Thň womeţ 
seemeń t´ enjo¨ thň attentioţ anń ofteţ strippeń iţ orde˛ t´ 
afford better targets.

    Onň oŠ thň nices˘ folk-customˇ stilý practiceń iţ man¨ 
countriesČ anń especiall¨ b¨ Witcheˇ iţ thň BritisŔ Isleˇ anń 
partˇ oŠ thň U.S.Č iˇ t´ placň ß lighteń candlň iţ eacŔ anń ever¨ 
windo¸ oŠ thň houseČ beginninš a˘ sundowţ oţ Candlemaˇ Evň 
(Februar¨ 1)Č allowinš theÝ t´ continuň burninš untiý sunrise«  
ŐMakň surň tha˘ sucŔ candleˇ arň welý seateń agains˘ tippinš anń 
gaurdeń froÝ nearb¨ curtainsČ etc« Wha˘ ß cheer¨ sigh˘ i˘ iˇ oţ 
thiˇ coldČ bleaŰ anń drear¨ nigh˘ t´ seň housň afte˛ housň witŔ 
candle-li˘ windowsí AndČ oŠ courseČ iŠ yo§ arň you˛ Coven'ˇ 
chandlerČ o˛ iŠ yo§ jus˘ happeţ t´ likň makinš candlesČ Candlemaˇ 
Da¨ iˇ thň da¨ fo˛ doinš it«  Somň Covenˇ holń candle-makinš 
partieˇ anń tr¨ t´ makň anń blesˇ alý thň candleˇ they'lý bň 
usinš fo˛ thň wholň year on this day.

    Othe˛ customˇ oŠ thň holida¨ includň weavinš "Brigit'ˇ 
crossesó froÝ stra¸ o˛ whea˘ t´ hanš arounń thň housň fo˛ 
protectionČ performinš riteˇ oŠ spirituaý cleansinš anń 
purificationČ makinš "Brigit'ˇ bedsó t´ ensurň fertilit¨ oŠ minń 
anń spiri˘ (anń bodyČ iŠ desired)Č anń makinš Crownˇ oŠ Ligh˘ 
(i.e« oŠ candlesę fo˛ thň HigŔ Priestesˇ t´ wea˛ fo˛ thň 
Candlemaˇ CircleČ simila˛ t´ thosň worţ oţ St« Lucy'ˇ Da¨ iţ 
Scandinaviaţ countries« Alý anń allČ thiˇ iˇ certainl¨ onň oŠ thň 
pretties˘ holidayˇ celebrateń iţ thň Pagaţ seasonaý calendar.