Amber K & Azrael Arynn K,
Candlemas: A Feast of Flames
(Llewellyn, 2001)

Around about the beginning of February, the winter has started to get very tiring. Time for a celebration to brighten these dreary days! Candlemas, though primarily about the pagan holiday of Imbolc, also includes information on other reasons to celebrate that come around this time. Some of these include the Chinese New Year, Groundhog Day, St. Brigid's Day and, of course, St. Valentine's Day.

In chapter two, the authors describe the attributes of Brigit the Goddess and St. Brigid of the Catholic Church. They discuss the stories that surround these two feminine archetypes and how they may be connected, or not. The different aspects of the goddess -- as healer, smith, poet and more -- are discussed, as well as ways to bring Brigit into your life. Whether you work with the goddess or the saint, this section is filled with interesting information.

Chapter three is headed "Customs, Traditions, and Rituals," giving ideas for anyone who wants to know a little more about the history behind celebrations at this cold time of year. Divination is the focus of chapter four, with description of different kinds of scrying with candles, the hearth fire and other more traditional methods, such as tarot or bibliomancy. The next chapter deals with the cleansing and purification aspects of this time of year, and gives many ideas for spring-cleaning of the self as well as the home.

Celebrations and rituals are described in the next chapter, with fully described rites for one person, a small group or a large group. Readers can adapt these rituals into their own personal Imbolc ceremony. And it wouldn't be called Candlemas without candles, and there is an entire chapter dedicated to how to make candles at home, candle safety and the various scents and colors of candles.

My favorite part of these books is the recipes section. I always love to cook something special for the holidays, yet Imbolc is one where I always had trouble of thinking of what to make. This section describes foods of the ancient and modern times, with hints for vegetarians. There are a variety of main dishes and side dishes, as well as snacks and even suggested drinks for a cold February evening. These dishes are interesting for regular meals as well as for commemorating the holiday.

Candlemas is another book in Llewellyn's line of books dedicated to each of the eight pagan holidays. I'm glad that they are publishing these books, as most books about Wicca and paganism tend to give very little space to the holidays. These in-depth explorations of individual holidays are excellent additions to any pagan or Wiccan's library.

[ by Beth Derochea ]
Rambles: 2 February 2002

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