Candlemas falls on February 2nd and is traditionally the dawn of the year, the time of new beginnings. As we approach Candlemas, in the last weeks of January, we find the evening light lingers longer and we begin to feel a sense that spring is not far off. We are entering into a new cycle of growth.
Outside we see the first green shoots are just beginning to peep above the ground. The earth is beginning to stir inwardly, preparing for the full flowering of spring. For us too, it is a time for inner reflection, an opportunity to clarify our intentions. Where IS our new growth? New Year resolutions are beginning to grow, delicate and pure as snowdrops. Some resolutions may have already fallen on stony ground!
Time devoted now to envisioning the year ahead on an inner level will help the promise and potential that lies within to come into flower. This is the time to celebrate new beginnings and breathe new life into old ventures.
How we start makes a difference. Rituals of dedication are often overlooked today. Yet the traditional rituals of purification and dedication that are enacted at this time are a good way to celebrate the promise of the return of the light. As the old yields to the new, the festival of light is a time to light a candle of dedication to the year, lighting a fire in our hearts, in the heart of our community and our world.
Candlemas coincides with the Druid festival of Imbolc on February 1st and with the Chinese New Year. These festivals welcome the dawning of spring. The Chinese festival is a moon festival so varies each year as it falls on the second new moon after the Winter Solstice. This year it’s on January 25th.
As February approaches, it is a good time to do a thorough house cleaning, sweeping the floors with salt water, banishing the gloom of winter and creating a sparkling, shiny new setting for spring. This can be also energetic cleansing with sage and ceremonial cleansing as purification to make way for the new.
At Candlemas, light up your home! Place candles and lamps in each window to welcome Bridget, the light bringer and spark of inspiration. Candlemas or Imbolc is the feast of Brigit. Bridie, Brigid or St Bride. Bridget is the maiden of grace who presides over this time. She inspires poets, writers and musicians, of all who set their visions to words or music, all who create beauty by skill of their hands. She is the midwife to healing, to the emerging new light of life – the healer of all ills of body or spirit or heart or mind
It is said that as she walks the land turns green where her footsteps fall. Her breath upon the hills warms the earth and melts the ice. As she dips her hands in the spring the ice melts. Where she pauses snowdrops appear. Her flower is the snowdrop. Her symbol is a White Swan.
She is the goddess of the forge, the flame and the well, and of work, healing, and poetry. We can bring our sparks of inspiration that we seeded in mid-winter, to be blessed at the holy well or in front of the sacred flame. She comes to awaken Gaia, and we can light her path as we celebrate the gentle signs of early spring, and of light returning after the darkness of winter.
2020 has a good clear ring to it. Becoming crystal clear about our own personal vision feels especially significant . Those who study astrology will know that 2020 is not for bystanders. This world is not just for watching like some spectator sport. If we just sit and watch the game it may satisfy at some level, but it is ultimately unrewarding and leaves us empty. The real game is the one where we play too, we have a place in the team and we are out in the field – we all take part. That can make us feel vulnerable – am I enough, do I matter, can I sustain my life if I give time to what matters most to me … and on and on … All the more reason to call in the support and guidance of the unseen realms, higher powers, your higher heart – however you experience it, call in the light and call in support.
It is the start of a new decade, one that demands change as we can see all too clearly now that change we must. Find those places where you can and want to take action, however small or large. Don’t rush this process. Reflect on how gifted you are and look to see how you can bring your gifts and talents into the world in a new way. If you can’t yet see your way forward, you can work with this at Candlemas and ask for guidance. Commit to be open to discover your unique offering. We all have gifts that will make a difference.
At this turning point in the year, the sunlight beckons us outdoors, from our winter cave. Celebrating Candlemas is our own response to the call of the light, finding our own inner radiance and calling that forth to meet the sun.
Making a mandala is one way to do this, either alone or with others. Mark the centre and the eight directions, using crystals of your choice or shells, painted pebbles, flowers – however you choose. I like to use clear quartz, rose quartz and peridot for their colours but crystal experts may have more refined choices! I like to place eight candles to mark the solar and lunar festivals of the year and a larger candle in the centre. Once you have made the mandala, your ceremony can be as simple as lighting the candles and welcoming in the new. Or you can add blessings, prayers, poetry and song.
You can also take your ceremony outside to a well or spring, the place where the unseen and seen realms meet. Honouring the water of life at that place where water wells up from the depths is to honour also your own innate wisdom, as we are made of water and water is wisdom’s element. To sit in meditation by the water and listen to the silence behind the silence is another beautiful way to start your year.
I invite you to send into Ruby’s Holistic Journal your thoughts and experiences and any pictures of your own ceremony . 2020 is all about collaboration so it would be lovely to inspire each other to be the change and choose to be ever more radiant in your being!
© this material is copyrighted to Louise and is part of a much awaited book about the cycle of the year that she hopes to complete this year!