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HomeReviews Candlemas; Feast of Flames


Candlemas; Feast of Flames

Erin

Amber K & Azrael Arynn K
Llewellyn Publications, 2001
ISBN 0-7387-0079-7 $14.95

Review by Daven

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Like “Lammas”, this book is only about Candlemas, or Imbolic, or Oimelc, or any number of other names you could give to this holiday. The thing that all of these holidays have in common is that all of them fall near the beginning of February, all of them involve fire, and most of them involve a young Goddess or lady named Brigid.

This book looks at those different celebrations, finding the cultural roots inside each celebration, it looks in depth at the customs surrounding the traditional celebrations, from the tradition of Groundhog’s day to Brigid’s bed.

Most of the facts explored in this text are “duh” facts, like Spring Cleaning and Candlemas being about candles as well as Brigid. It makes sense that during this time of celebration of a goddess of Fire and Smithcraft that one would clean out the house, make her bed on the hearth, and reconsecrate all the tools, right? That’s something that hit me up against the head when I read it.

This book focuses on Brigid as the central figure in this celebration. It discusses her as a pagan Goddess, a Catholic Saint with biographical details of her life, and again as a pagan Goddess of the current age. The only problem I have with this is that they call her primary Celtic Goddess. While she was important, I can’t see her being the primary deity. However, this is a minor problem. A good mythological study of the Celts would soon correct this.

However, there are multiple rites dealing with this time of the year, celebrations and ideas for your own set of celebrations as well. Rites like a play on the theme of Brigid and her work at the Forge is a beautiful retelling of this ancient sacred ceremony.

But Candlemas is about candles too. I mean, if the Catholic Church gets their candles at Candlemas, blesses them and gets them ready for the coming year, why can’t we make candles as part of our rites? I had forgotten how much fun making candles is, especially with an audience. (Oh, did I mention that I used to make candles for the SCA?) The instructions on how to make different types of candles are accurate, but there is one factual error that I want to correct. Bayberry in the North Eastern section of the United States is a protected species due to over harvesting for wax almost making it extinct.

The magickal spells that can be cast on this set of holidays is interesting as well. The divinations, the ceremonies and rites for this time, along with the suggested ceremonies would make this a favorite celebration. There are combinations of rites that can also be seen as magickal acts that makes this truly unique. The sacred plays becoming a magickal rite as well was an inspired combination.

The recipes available in this book made my wife’s mouth water as I read them to her. Things like Welsh Rarebit, Fire and Snow Trifle, and Fried Leeks and Bacon made her ready to go out and start cooking.

All in all, like the others in this series, I have to give this 4 stars out of 5. It’s a good research book on this holiday, and useful for those of us who are looking at building our own traditions, but you have to have all the books in the series in order to have an in depth look at the whole holiday cycle, and that can get expensive. However, for the information contained within, this book more than pays for itself.

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