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FACTS AND MISINFORMATION
The Candlemas season of February 2 each year is unique.
A Pagan Sabbat: Candlemas, usually celebrated on or near
the evening of February 2. Mainly celebrated by Neo-Pagans
A Christian holy day: .
A Welsh festival: NOS GWYL FAIR, begins sundown, February
2; Fire Festival of Cerridwen, We prepare light so that our goddess may find her way out
of the darkness and return to us; Cerridwen, the triple goddess of poetry, smithcraft, and
medicine, presides. We bid farewell to the horned god.
There is a great deal of misinformation being circulated
about this festival. Read the following information and then go to the links to arm
yourself with true information researched by Witches and Christians.
Nos Gwyl Fair, also called Imbolc, or
Candlemas (pronounced Im-bol-ic, also known as Candlemass or Bighid's Day, Bride Day
etc.), February 1-2; is a Welsh Sabbat that celebrates midwinter and the beginning return
of the sun. This is the time where Brighid (Bre-ed) acts as midwife to Spring. The
sun is closest to earth at this time, although in the northern hemisphere we do not feel
it. It is at this time that we bring light into our lives. We begin to make plans for our
harvest. Colours for this sabbat: White and Blue.
Nos Gwyl Fair denotes the beginning of
the Spring season. The period of death and silence has now ended. It is the time of the
Celtic Fire Goddess Brighid, a time of rebirth, purification and the performing of
cleansing rituals. Letter (L) Luis the Rowan: January 22nd to February 18th.
"..I am a wide flood on a plain..."
The wood of the rowan is used in the initiation rituals, and therefore is known as the
witch tree. A piece of rowan can be placed over the barn door where it will protect the
livestock from evil. Light a candle in a branch of rowan to call the Moon Goddess. Magic
wands for special purposes are made of rowan wood. A forked wood in the right hands
has divination properties. Traditionally known as the wood of good luck and protection. A
horse thought to have the "devil in it" could only be ridden with the aid of a
We prepare light so that our godess Brighid, may find her
way out of the darkness and return to us; Brighid, the triple goddess of poetry,
smithcraft, and medicine. The Roman Catholic Church made a saint of the Irish goddess
Brigit. She became the patron saint of smithcraft, poetry, and healing. They explained
this odd coincidence by creating the myth that Brigit was 'actually' an early Christian
missionary sent to the Emerald Isle, and that the miracles she performed there 'misled'
the common people into believing that she was a goddess.
We bid farewell to the horned god. The
Goddess Brighid presides. Nos Gwyl Fair has a rich and diverse history. Known as the
Festival of Lights, Nos Gwyl Fair has been celebrated for hundreds of years. Nos Gwyl Fair
is also considered the beginning of Spring.
Following a path of beauty brings great
responsibilities. The way of understanding and knowledge creates beauty. The way of
ignorance can hide or deny beauty.
Here in Georgia, February 2nd could be
our coldest day of the year as well as producing a snowfall of several inches. But, with
Spring still weeks away, some small bulbs called snowdrops may have already sent their
flowers to poke out through the snow or fallen pine needles. This tenuous beginning to
spring will arrive on schedule long before Spring runs its course to Beltane. This day is
perfect for our "Festival of Lights".
Candlemas is the Christianized name for
Nos Gwyl Fair and is called the Festival of the Waxing Light. The daughter of Spring is
born of the White Goddess after her sexual union with the Horned God last Beltane.
Branwen, the virgin fertility goddess is invoked at this time. It is also customary to
weave "Brigid's Cross" from straw and hang it upon the hearth. This is made in
the shape of a wheel and during a sabbat, it is rolled down a hill while burning. At this
time, a Witch attempts to understand the direction his or her life is taking. The Oak King
Brighid's holiday was celebrated by
kindling the Sacred Flame. She symbolized the fire of healing, the forge, and
poetic inspiration. Bonfires were lighted on the tops of mountains or tors.
Altar decorations include bright colored
flowers, preferably yellow, and greenery. The Altar cloth should be yellow or red. Prepare
Goddess incense. Initiations are usually performed at this time.
The older Pagan names were Nos Gwyl Fair
(Welsh) Imbolc and Oimelc (Celtic). 'Imbolc' means, literally, 'in the belly' (of the
Mother). For in the womb of Mother Earth, hidden from our mundane sight but sensed by a
keener vision, there are stirrings. The seed that was planted in her womb at the solstice
is quickening and the new year grows. 'Oimelc' means 'milk of ewes', for it is also
In Ireland, the Candlemas holiday is
called Là Fhèill Brìghde nan coinnlean (The feast day of Brìghde of the candles).
Bìghde is Bridget of Kildare, the Celtic goddess of fire, the hearth, smithy, fields,
poetry, and childbirth. She also gives blessings to women who are about to marry. Women
still bear her name on their wedding day to honor her. They are called [a] Bride for the
day, in honor of the Goddess Brigit. At her shrine, which was the ancient Irish capitol of
Kildare, a group of 9 priestesses kept a perpetual flame burning in her honor. She was
considered a goddess of fire, patroness of smithcraft, poetry and healing (especially the
healing touch of midwifery). This triad symbolism was occasionally expressed by saying
that Brigit had two sisters, also named Brigit.
Valentines' Day gets mixed up in this
holiday. This is due to the a 10 day displacement when Europe switched from a Julian
calendar to a Gregorian calendar. The average length of a year in the Julian Calendar was
365.25 days (one additional day being added every four years). This is significantly
different from the "real" length of the solar year. However, there is
uncertainty among astronomers as to what the length of the solar year really is. The main
competing values seem to be the "mean tropical year" of 365.2422 days
("mean solar days") and the "vernal equinox year" of 365.2424 days.
The difference of the length of the Julian calendar year from the length of the real solar
year is thus 0.0078 days (11.23 minutes) in the former case and 0.0076 days (10.94
minutes) in the latter case.
This error accumulated so that after
about 131 years the calendar is out of sync with the equinoxes and solstices by one day.
Thus as the centuries passed the Julian Calendar became increasingly inaccurate with
respect to the seasons. This was especially troubling to the Roman Catholic Church because
it affected the determination of the date of Easter, which, by the 16th Century, was well
on the way to slipping into Summer.
Pope Paul III recruited several
astronomers, principally the Jesuit Christopher Clavius (1537-1612), to come up with a
solution. They built upon calendar reform proposals by the astronomer and physician Luigi
Lilio (d. 1576). When Pope Gregory XIII was elected he found various proposals for
calendar reform before him, and decided in favor of that of Clavius. On 1582-02-24 he
issued a papal bull, Inter Gravissimas, establishing what is now called the Gregorian
Calendar reform. And Valentines day slid from Feb 2 to Feb 14. So Valentines day (February
14) is really the old style candlemas and Nos Gwyl Fair (February 2) is the new style
Candlemas. Like the other High Holidays or Great Sabbats of the Witches' year, Candlemas
is sometimes celebrated on it's alternate date, astrologically determined by the sun at
15-degrees Aquarius, or Candlemas Old Style.
For modern Witches, the old style
Candlemas is the Pagan version of Valentine's Day, de-emphasising romantic love and
re-emphasising of Pagan carnal frivolity. This also re-aligns the holiday with the ancient
Roman Lupercalia, a fertility festival held at this time, in which the priests of Pan ran
through the streets of Rome whacking young women with goatskin thongs to make them
fertile. The women seemed to enjoy the attention and often stripped in order to afford
better targets. (2)
Our American folk-calendar keeps the
tradition of Groundhog's Day, a day to predict the coming weather, telling us that if the
Groundhog sees his shadow, there will be six more weeks of winter. This custom is ancient.
An old British rhyme tells us that 'If Candlemas Day be bright and clear, there'll be two
winters in the year.' Actually, all of the cross-quarter days can be used as inverse
weather predictors, whereas the quarter-days are used as direct weather predictors. Vance
Randolf, an Ozark folklorist, stated that the "old-timers" used to celebrate
Groundhogs Day on February 14th. (3)
In Wales, during Nos Gwyl Fair candles
are traditionally lit at sundown and placed in every window of the house where they burn
until dawn. The candles are well seated against tipping and guarded from nearby curtains,
etc. This must have been a warm and cheery sight for those out and about. All those houses
with candle-lit windows! And, of course, if your job is to make candles for the Coven,
Candlemas Day is the day for doing it.
Some Covens make a big production out of
making and blessing all the candles they'll need for the whole year, on this day. This
custom is still practiced in the rest of the British Isles and in some parts of the US. As
the days begin to get longer, it is tradition for every candle or lamp in the house to be
lit for a little while welcoming the return of the Sun. The Catholic Church was quick to
confiscate this symbolism as well, using 'Candlemas' as the day to bless all the church
candles that would be used for the coming year.
Some symbols or tools appropriate to this
ritual would be a white flower and snow in a glass or crystal container if available. An
orange candle annointed in musk ,cinnamon, frankincense or rosemary oil is used to
sybolize the renewing energy of the Suns rebirth. Dairy foods are appropriate to the
Sabbat since Imbolc marks the festival of calving. Our suggestion would be to prepare a
full bodied meal in honor of the Sun's rebirth. Candlemas is also a time of light,
creativity and dedication.
For information on all individuals and organizations
listed in this website, or the name of a contact person in your area
that can give you further information,
contact Gwen. Let us hear from you! You may also call us at
000-000-0000 If you access our voice mail, we will call you back collect
if long distance. Or,
you can write to Gwen: Dynion Mwyn, P.O. Box 673206, Marietta, GA