This festival celebrates the strengthening of the light and the beginning of new growth. The usual date is 2 February, when the Sun is in Aquarius. Candlemas is one of the major Celtic festivals and is celebrated at dawn.
Candlemas is Brighid's feast, so it is a very special time for me. In the Christian calendar, this is the time that Jesus is dedicated at the temple. And since, according to legend, Brigit is Christ's foster mother and midwife, this is also a special time for her. Her saint's day is 1 February.
The ancient Celts celebrated the festival at their hearths. The three other fire festivals were great tribal feasts held on hilltops, but this one, as it fell at the end of winter and many roads would have been unpassable, was held at home. The hearth is sacred to Brighid, and her festival was held there.
People in Scotland used to celebrate the day by making "Bride's bed" and inviting the Goddess into their houses. A young girl in the family takes on the role of Bride (BREED) and blesses everyone in the household. Since I don't have an extended family, I welcome Brighid into my house another way. On the eve of Candlemas, I light as many candles in the house as I have holders for. I spread them all around the house and light them all. I turn off the artificial lights and marvel at how bright a few candles can be. I then open the door and invite Brighid in to come and bless my home and hearth for the rest of the year.
Candlemas happens during the Maiden Moon. Things are beginning to grow. I'm quite amazed how many signs of spring I can find if I just keep my eyes open. So this is the moment to celebrate that freshness and to ask the Goddess's blessing over my work.
Candlemas corresponds with the North Eastern point of the Wheel of the Year, so that is where I place my altar. On it are the usual symbols of the Elements, as well as a fireproof bowl and the ingredients for a Candlemas incense. In the centre of the circle stands my cauldron, with three white candles in it, as yet unlit.
I cast the Circle and invoke the Elements. Then I state the purpose of the rite, the celebration fresh growth, and invoke the Goddess. She is Bride, the Star of Hope for the year to come. I light the Candlemas incense.
I begin my ritual with some divination. A new season begins, with new tasks for me to perform. I ask the Goddess what she would like me to do. I lay out three Tarot cards, one for my spiritual life, one for my work life, and one for the world. I then meditate on the cards, and listen for their practical application. I also ask myself what qualities I will need to make those things happen.
I raise the power by dancing around my cauldron and chanting words appropriate to the Festival. When I feel ready, I direct the power into the cauldron and the three white candles for the triple Goddess Bride. I carve a word in to each candle, one for each quality I will need to perform the tasks I was given. I then light the candles and ask the Goddess to awaken those qualities in me by the light of the candles.
As the candles burn, I meditate for a while and feel the qualities I asked for inside me. I know that they are there. All I have to do is give them the chance to grow and become strong in me.
I finish off with a communion of bread and wine, an affirmation of my Unity with all things on the Web of Life. Then I thank the Goddess and any spirits who have come to visit and I open the Circle.