Candles feature today with the celebration of the Feast of St. Blaise, and the blessing of the throats. Legend has it that St. Blaise, a bishop and a physician, while on his way to be martyred, cured a child who was choking on a fish bone. In the Catholic Church, a priest will bless a parishioner’s throat with two crossed candles, praying for protection from choking and diseases of the throat. It’s fascinating how Christian and Pagan rituals and celebrations share so many symbols and themes — from candles, fire, light, smoke and herbs for ritual, to gods and goddesses (or angels and saints) who are patrons and protectors for various human experiences.
Between St. Brigid’s Day, Imbolc, Candlemas, GroundHog Day and St. Blaise’s Feast Day this week, there’s a whole lotta light and candle magic going on. I celebrate the Solstices, Equinoxes and cross-quarter days in some small way, as I find this to be a sort of anchor for the rhythm of my days and the flow of the seasons. They can certainly be something to look forward to, much like the phases of the moon for me. There is endless information available over how different cultures celebrate some of these festivals or feast days, but I prefer to do my own abbreviated versions of various rituals associated with my own Celtic heritage — and as we are now halfway through the dark season and moving into the light, naturally I have candles lit. Keeping it simple means I will actually celebrate with some intention. For St. Brigid’s Day and Imbolc, I have my herbal smoke blend with violet leaf, and a supper of salmon, with my riff on Colcannon (basically a mash of potato and cabbage) of kale and potato — the salmon symbolizes the return of Springtime for me, violets are early harbingers of the warmer days ahead, and the potato is a reminder of the importance of the dark of the underground, as well as the light from above for growth and renewal. Stuff like this is just one of the things that floats my boat, what floats yours?