Diverse Traditions and Thoughts
Imbolc (German: Lichtmess)
In Germany, Lichtmess is a celebration of Light. Light that is associated with purity innocence, and initiation. The Goddess awakens and Her wonders in nature come back to life as the Magick of Spring begins to return. To aid the Lady's safe return ,the Elemental Kings Paralda ( East ), Djinn ( South), Niksa ( West) and Ghob ( North) are invoked to maintain the protective circle.
According to Norse traditions, the Witch's altar is decorated in white - for purity and initiation, and green- for the return of Spring. "The Star" tarot card is also placed on the altar as a symbol and affirmation of spiritual rebirth, hope and purity.
Sharing food after the Lichtmess ritual is very important in Norse traditions. And the feast usually includes foods such as spicy Chili and Salmon for the main dish, as well as plenty of grains and breads. The traditional drink is Honey Ale.
It is a custom to have candles lit all through the month of February as a symbol of welcoming the Goddess back from Her winter journey.
Also 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!
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.
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 a 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.
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!