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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in candlemas

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Bridey's Spring

Well, here it is, right on cue: Bridey's Spring. What cowans call the “January thaw.”

Winter started off gently—the lakes didn't ice over until well after Yule—but we did endure a foul run of sub-zero highs in mid-January, just to remind us who's boss.

Then, just as we prepare to light the untamed torches of Imbolc (or what novelist Richard Grant calls “the mannerly votives of Candlemas”), it might as well be spring. The air is moist and fragrant, and oh that delicious music of dripping water.

Like Indian Summer, Bridey's Spring has its own painful beauty, that fleeting Yukio Mishima poignancy of the necessarily ephemeral.

Winter will be back soon enough. There's plenty more ice and snow in store.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Bear Dance

Well, Yule is well and truly gone.

Gone the tree, with all its treasures.

Gone the green: the mistletoe, the holly, the ivy.

All is stripped away now, burned away to ash.

What remains, essential, is the seed, the core, the center.

Fire: the pure, pure flame.

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs

b2ap3_thumbnail_Screen-Shot-2015-01-15-at-11.11.42-AM.pngShe giggles!
     “Knock Knock.”
          “Who’s there?
                    “Change Who?
“Well, that’s always the question, isn’t it?”

    The NEW ONES are stirring. Feel the vibration of Nature in February. Every-thing in potential, teeming underground, sap rising, hibernation ending. It can be hard to believe, sometimes, that change will come. Imbolc is Her promise.
     As Above (the Equator):Imbolc/Candlemas is the day to honor the Goddess Brigit of Ireland, powerful in the success of Her worshippers’ adaptation. Her sacred flame was kept burning by priestesses, then by nuns, into the 16th century, and relit at Kildare in 1993. It is burning there tonight. Celebrants light every lamp in the home, build fires high, keep one candle burning, mindfully, all night long.
     So Below (the Equator): In Brazil, on February 2nd, a day now consecrated to “Our Lady of Seafaring,” thousands of Candomble practitioners gather on the beaches at dawn, sending flower offerings out to sea for “The Queen of the Ocean,” the Goddess Yemanja, deity of fisher-people and shipwreck survivors, the female principle of creation, and the spirit of moonlight.
     Greetings Imbolc! Blessings Candlemas! Offerings to the Sea!
Carolyn Myers © Mother Tongue Ink 2014

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
From the Ashes

February is probably my favorite month.  It has little to do with the season and a lot to do with it being the month I was born.  For such a short month, I always feel like there is so much going on in it. 

Imbolc, Candlemas, Brigid

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Crown of Lights: or, How the Witches' Goddess Got Her Candles

The variously-named February cross-quarter festival draws near, and in covensteads all over Witchdom they're polishing up the candle-crowns.

Often called a Lucia Crown, from its association with the Swedish pre-Yule feast of St. Lucy, the candle-crown would seem to have its origins in the late Medieval period. At least one Byzantine emperor is said to have worn one during audiences. One guesses that the crown's haloing effect was not lost on envoys.

We next find the crown of lights in early modern (16th-17th century) Germany, where it is worn by the Christkindl. Protestant Reformers eager to dethrone the gift-giving St. Nicholas from his December 6 feast and the hearts of children, replaced him with a Christ Child figure who brought gifts on Christmas Eve. (The custom of Yule gifts goes back no further than this.) In folklore, the Christkindl became a fairy-like character, generally personified in real life by a young girl. Early illustrations often show her dressed in white, wearing a crown of candles, distributing gifts to children.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Dreaming Spring

They say that at Winter's midpoint, Spring walks the earth for a single night. (Or maybe it is her Dreaming that walks.) Look for her footprints in new snow. At her passing, they say, sleeping animals stir in their burrows and dens. At her passing, they say, seeds stir in the frozen soil, and dream of germination.

This playful Appalachian (originally English) folk carol, with its charmingly medieval-sounding minor tune, tells the story of the growing season to come, from plow to winnow. Originally sung at an already oversubscribed “Christemas,” we've reassigned it—for reasons that seem good to us—to Candlemas instead.

Generally we sing this song while standing in a circle, with lots of stomping, clapping, and percussion to help wake the animals and seeds. Each in turn jumps into the center, mimes a verse, and then jumps out again.

After all, there's no reason why making magic shouldn't be a raucous, joyful experience.

No reason at all.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

The sacred dances of Winter's magical midpoint—now a mere fortnight away—have long been the stomp-dances that rouse the seeds and animals that sleep within the frozen Earth.

We generally begin our February Eve doings with just such a dance, turning to the farthings and calling in turn upon their respective animal powers, the hibernating and migrating beings whose stirring marks the turning towards Spring. In the traditional Appalachian song which accompanies this dance we call to Groundhog, Redbird, Rattlesnake, and Muskrat. Those who associate Four Elements with the quarters will not have far to seek.

Groundhog, the holiday's eponymous patron, is also known in American English as Woodchuck, a variant (by folk etymology) of Cree ochek, a name which inspired the playful tongue-twisting folk query:

How much wood would a woodchuck chuck [= toss]

if a woodchuck could chuck wood?


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