A Book Journey – Chapter 5: Candlemas
A monthly book study by Amy McGehee-Lee
Festivals of the Year: A Workbook for Re-enlivening the Christian Festive Cycle
by Roger Druitt
Candlemas brings us to a point within the festival cycle at which we step into the role of creator. This festival imbues us with “the gift of resurrection.”
Druitt tells us that Candlemas is essentially a pre-Christian quarter day. Things begin to get especially intriguing when he follows that statement by saying we will need to look to the Celtic fourfoldness of Woman in order to elevate this day into the Christian realm.
As always, Druitt pulls our attention to nature in order to find images for this festival. He says, “The light is still cool and crystalline; we can imagine its rays carrying down into the Earth the spirit-picture of the plant to come, to be united with its life-picture slumbering in the earth, like the light of a ‘kingly’ (sovereign) idea, through which we see what needs to be done”. We can let our imagination roam. Listening to this cool, winter light, we can let it tell us the story of what is to come. Things beneath the surface are exploding with possibilities of what can be, but only for those willing to listen to this strange and revealing story. Heaven meets Earth, imbued with our will. What needs to be done? What am I here to facilitate? I am not a bystander, but an important piece of this creative puzzle. I must listen.
We are now closing the season of Epiphany. With its close, we can begin to shift the nature displays within our homes. Snow crystals begin to be replaced with the very first blossoms the Earth will call forth. Druitt suggests that quartz of the rose or amethyst variety might be just right for this point within the festival cycle. I have begun letting these nature displays lead themselves and evolve their own pictures within me. I also have enjoyed letting there be a brief breathing space between one nature display and the next. Our nature corner might be a blank slate for a few days following one festival and before the next. Currently, our nature corner is blank. Silks have begun suggesting themselves to me, along with a few quartz we have around the house. I will place these few chosen items out carefully in the next few days. After my few items are mindfully placed, I will then let my children know their new nature treasures may start to join the selections I have made.
Now Druitt speaks to the heart of every Waldorf parent. 🙂 He begins to talk about gnomes. This book seems to definitely have a serious vibe going on, but here come gnomes, ready to hear our stories or push up a few crystals and blossoms from the cold Earth. I feel happy to have them here! Druitt tells us, “The gnome is the ideal person to create your festival.” He encourages us to let the gnome tell us where to place the crystals and branches within our nature display. I especially enjoyed Druitt’s saying in regard to the gnome, “He will himself want to stand just where he can look best and where the Sun’s rays can transform his ancient beard into light.” He even gives us tips for listening to the gnomes in our gardens.
As we move to the biblical context of this festival, Druitt first reminds us that Candlemas falls in the midst of the 40 days in the Wilderness. It all begins to come together when Druitt explains it as follows:
“Candlemas is a festival in which the divine Sun-quality that has created or begotten the world out of primal dark substance now incarnates in Christ and grasps the loving female nature of the Jesus man. In so doing he unites with the light-maiden of nature (Brighida).”
For me, this idea enlivens the entire festival. Jesus is the component of Christianity to resonate most strongly within my soul. Jesus, he breathes compassion, breathes love, breathes connection with all that is. The idea that the divine Sun-quality that is the creative source of the Universe now incarnates within him, meeting in equal holy measure the sacred feminine that resides within him: this is good. This is exciting. Jesus begins to make contextual sense to my female heart. I am part of him. All the things that enable Christ to be of divine nature, to cradle the Earth in his arms and transform it from a desert to a garden, come together in this moment. It is done. All things that have been possible are now chosen to grow to fulfillment.
Druitt turns to his idea of looking to the Fourfold Celtic woman. He says, “ The four main pagan festivals follow the life phases of woman: Maiden, Bride, Mother and Crone (or Wise Woman).” Candlemas is the festival of the Maiden. The Maiden is happy and full of life, but already facing the many responsibilities that lay before her.
Druitt now begins to throw out a few ideas in regard to activities appropriate to Candlemas. He encourages us to delve into the rich story material found in this festival. He says we might even try reading or telling some of these stories to the gnomes. He admits we might feel awkward about this at first, but that it can be beneficial nonetheless. He also suggests we try our hand at candle making. I’m sure most of us may be familiar with this tradition. Perhaps it is the only one we are finding familiar at this point! I enjoy his idea of using the candles we create at Candlemas during All Souls. He says it “brings a memory of the growing sunlight into the season of increasing darkness.”
Druitt says we can use this festival time to focus our prayers on what challenges we might face in the year ahead. We can “call for light to shine on us all like a consecrated candle.”
The author tells us that Candlemas “may last two or three days or a whole month, depending on our inclination and the timing of Easter.” He says we need to make a change to our festival table at Lent, at the latest. He tells us that our best guide is “our own inner feeling and awareness of the quality of light.” We “may also choose to have a festival-free period at this point.”
Candles are sacred in almost every culture and religion. Druitt says, “We do not light candles without reason.” He encourages us to use natural beeswax for our candles, as it is close to nature. “It’s light creates a wonderful, glowing space, which we can enter, as though entering a temple.” The candle allows us to meditate upon the interplay between what is coming from the Earth and what is of Heaven. “For is not the candle an image of our own self, born out to the interplay of Earth and Heaven, with a straightness inside it?”
When we live into this festival, we are consecrating our spirits for the year to come. As Druitt says, “The maiden soul in us has given birth and is purified.”