Candlemas: Festival of Fire and Purification

Ecology Viewed from the Right

Throughout the North, the ground still lies beneath a blanket of snow, and springtime seems a distant memory. Yet now, at the midway point between the winter solstice and the spring equinox, signs of nature’s rebirth are starting to appear: cold mornings give way to sunny, warm afternoons, grasses and blossoms begin to emerge, and the sound of birdsong once again fills the forest. The time of snow and ice is not yet past and the earth still lies dormant – but she is starting to awaken.

The first weeks of February were of special significance to our European ancestors, and a number of holy days, now largely forgotten, took place at this time: Ireland’s Imbolc and Saint Brigid’s Day; the Roman Februa and Lupercalia; and the Catholic solemnity of Candlemas. Despite their disparate origins, these holy days have as their themes purification, fire, and the return of light after…

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