Thursday, February 3, 2011

Candlemas

Candlemas has always been a special celebration in our family.
Marking the time on the calender halfway between Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox, and also the time when the days start to feel appreciably longer.

We celebrate the day as a time to start bringing all the thoughts and ideas that have come forward during the quiet, contemplative time of winter, into a period of germination. Just as the plants are starting to wake up underground; as the sap is starting to flow again through the trees;  the young animals are growing within their mothers, preparing to be born, so are our hopes and visions. Becoming aware of Candlemas, many years ago, also led us to take a greater pause through the winter; to be sure and slow down and use that time for meditation and clear thinking, so that we are ready to grasp the strength of spring renewal and shoot forward towards our goals.

Each year we plant a Wish Garden, sometimes with close group of friends, some years as a community party, and some years, just as a family.  We usually dip candles in our own beeswax from our hives and prepare a planter filled with earth, through the day. That evening, before we start our evening meal, we write out our wish for the year. When the boys were younger, they would draw a picture to represent their wishes.  We each dig a little hole in the pot, fold up our wishes and plant them deep within the hole, then cover the wish with a spring bulb or some seeds, and some more earth. Then we plant our candle on top and light it, representing the returning sun warming the earth so the seeds can came forth and flourish. The wish garden sits in the middle of the table, alight, and we leave the candles burning in the planter, until they burn down completely. 
 Then the planter stays in the kitchen where we can watch and wait and as our little plants start to sprout, coming into full growth 4-6 weeks later- for Spring Equinox.  A warm welcome to spring and it's renewal.

  This has been a wonderful tradition to share with others....one of my favourite occasions was one Candlemas that we invited everyone we knew from our different social circles to come and join us. The house was full of children and conversation and laughter. We dipped candles, had a potluck meal,  and each family created their own wish garden to bring home with them. Just before the end of the evening, all the gardens, alight,  were together in one room- a shared community wish, full of light and warmth. It was a sacred moment.
This year, Candlemas also marks the day we take over our new property. We don' t have our bees yet, so bought candles and walked up through heavily overgrown paths to a special spot under an an Arbutus tree. As dusk fell,  we planted our wishes and our candles right in the earth, our earth,and appreciated being together in our own place, and all that the coming seasons will bring.






Several books we found to be great resources while establishing our family seasonal rhythms and traditions are Circle Round , Celebrating the Great Mother, Festivals, Family and Food, and The Children's Year.


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