The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Happy Candlemas

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

The wheel of the year turns and turns, and the foul weather being suffered by the Lords and Ladies of the Pentacle this day is actually a good thing- for it means that the hag Cailleach Bheur sleeps rather than gathering more firewood to outlast the winter. As is the case with several of these ancient calendrical milestones (November 1st for instance), February 2nd seems to be one of those special dates on which things just seem to happen.

Today, after all, is the anniversary of New Amsterdam gaining “municipal rights” from its degenerate Dutch masters in 1653– the day that a colony became incorporated as “The City” and the seedling megalopolis was established.

from wikipedia

Candlemas occurs 39 days after Christmas.

Traditionally the Western term “Candlemas” (or Candle Mass) referred to the practice whereby a priest on February 2 blessed beeswax candles for use throughout the year, some of which were distributed to the faithful for use in the home. In Poland the feast is called Święto Matki Bożej Gromnicznej (Święto, “Holiday” + Matka Boska, “Mother of God” + Gromnica, “Thunder”). This name refers to the candles that are blessed on this day and called gromnicy, since these candles are lit during (thunder) storms and placed in windows to ward off the storm.

Within the Roman Catholic Church, since the liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council, this feast has been referred to as the Feast of Presentation of the Lord, with references to candles and the purification of Mary de-emphasised in favor of the Prophecy of Simeon the Righteous. Pope John Paul II connected the feast day with the renewal of religious vows.

According to over eight centuries of tradition, the swaddling clothes that baby Jesus wore during the presentation at the Temple are kept in Dubrovnik Cathedral, Croatia.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Today is the day that the Germans finally threw in the towel at Stalingrad in 1943, the anniversary of the opening of Grand Central Terminal in 1913, and the day that Sid Vicious died in 1979.

It’s also Groundhog day, of course, which is the modern enactment of certain more… ancient rites.

from wikipedia

Imbolc (also Imbolg or Oimelc), or St Brigid’s Day (Scots Gaelic Là Fhèill Brìghde, Irish Lá Fhéile Bríde, the feast day of St. Brigid), is an Irish festival marking the beginning of spring. Most commonly it is celebrated on February 1 or 2 (or February 12, according to the Old Calendar), which falls halfway between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox in the northern hemisphere.

The festival was observed in Gaelic Ireland during the Middle Ages. Reference to Imbolc is made in Irish mythology, in the Tochmarc Emire of the Ulster Cycle. Imbolc was one of the four cross-quarter days referred to in Irish mythology, the others being Beltane, Lughnasadh and Samhain. It has been suggested that it was originally a pagan festival associated with the goddess Brigid, who was later Christianised as St. Brigid.

In the 20th century, Imbolc was resurrected as a religious festival in Neopaganism, specifically in Wicca, Neo-druidry and Celtic reconstructionism.

Written by Mitch Waxman

February 2, 2011 at 1:02 pm

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