If you follow me on Instagram, you may know I personally do not celebrate or acknowledge the wheel of the year very much. There are many reasons for this and I plan to divulge on it at a later date, but for now that is how my life is set up and it is how I prefer to be. I live in South Florida; winter/harvests look much different for me down here than they do where the holidays on this mod-podge wheel are. Simply put, spring is here because summer never left. Winter doesn’t exist, and Fall is a latte.
Historical Notes on Imbolc/Imbolg
Imbolc, typically celebrated Feb 1/2, is an Irish/Celtic holiday marking the beginning of springs return. It also falls on a “cross-quarter day” which is the halfway point between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. Additionally, around this time there is also the Christian Candlemas, Penn-Dutch Entschtanning, Japanese Setsubun, and for Americans – Groundhog’s day. Hopefully Phil sees his shadow this year, because I cannot deal with Summer coming any earlier.
To clear up some confusion with Imbolc and Candlemas that gets spread like wildfire in the Pagan IG community but is painfully false – Candlemas is NOT the christian takeover of Imbolc. Candlemas originated in Rome before they were even aware the Irish/Celtic celebrated this cross-quarter day. Anytime you have a significant day in seasons or astronomy, chances are someone else has a tradition with it too, this time it was the Romans. Candlemas is most likely derived from a Roman-Pagan origin, but that is to be explored at a different time.
The Craft – The Re-kindling of Brigid’s Fire
Why a candle? Why not a standard reed cross? Similar to Vesta, Brigid had a perpetual flame that was tended to in Co. Kildare, Ireland. Legend has it, this flame was tended to by followers of the Goddess Brigid until the catholic Conversion of Ireland where it was then tended to by the followers of “St. Brigid”. This flame stayed lit until possibly the 16th century. It was not relit again until 1993 in the Market Square by Mary Teresa Cullen, the then leader of the Brigidine Sisters.
I felt as though it would be awesome to bring a little bit of this flavor of a perpetual flame into my own home. The idea being, ice and fire – Where there was once ice there is now warmth and everything the melting of the ice brings (fertility). The burning of this candle is meant to welcome the return of the warm months and spring into our hearts and homes.
- Wax Carton (or Mold if you have one)
- Taper Candle
I Purposefully chose to use recycled wax in this project for two reasons: 1. I love these candles but their wicks suck. 2. I found it symbolic to literally warm the incoming season with candles I’ve burned all winter. Since these candles weren’t used in any rituals or spellwork, I felt they were fine to use in this project. If you want to use virgin wax, that’s a personal call.
You’ll also need a taper candle of semi-matching color to your wax, ice, and a mold. I also recycled this wax carton from my recycle bins. Please learn from my mistake: USE WHOLE ICE CUBES. DO NOT CRUSH THE ICE. Crushed ice will guarantee that this project fails.
Step One: Melting of the Wax
The first step is to melt the wax. This is where you can get as creative or basic as you want. How do you want your candle to look? You could add color, glitter, anything really. I personally made my candle red, with a white top. The white top on mine was to symbolize snow. Since I haven’t seen snow in like 5 years or something, this will have to do. Please feel free to make yours look LITERALLY however you want.
To melt the wax, place the wax in a glass container in a pot on the stove in some water. Set it on high and forget about it for approx 15 mintues. After about 15 minutes come check on how it is doing. If you have to use more than one candle, or you are using a recycled candle, continue on reading. If you are using a real virgin wax block (you’re rich, huh?), skip on down to “pouring” instructions.
Once the wax has melted, you will need to pour it into a second container so that you can melt the next candle and also filter out any of the gross wick sediment and whatever else is floating in the used candle wax. Put a paper towel or cheese cloth over your bowl, and pour the wax on top. The wax will filter through the cloth while leaving the gross stuff behind.
Continue this step as many times as you need in order to have enough wax for the project. When you have all the wax you need, just stick this container in the stove pot again to make sure the wax is melted and mixed properly. This would be the time to add anything (glitter) if you’re going to be adding it.
Step Two: Pouring
Before we can actually pour, you will need to set up the carton. Cut the top of the carton off, and wash/dry the inside. You don’t want any residue on your candle. Cut the top off, and place the taper inside. Make sure to measure where you want the top of the taper to be vs. how much wax you’ll approx. need. I discovered I needed about 2 cups of melted wax for this project, but based on the size and shape of yours it may be different.
Next, fill the container with ice. WHOLE ICE CUBES. DO NOT CRUSH THEM. Literally, I fucked my first candle up so bad lol. Once the taper and ice are in, you’re ready to pour.
Pour quickly, but evenly. Where you stop is personal preference, I stopped where the taper stopped. I didn’t want to see any ridge there before I lit the candle but if you don’t care, it’s personal preference. Once the wax is poured, set it on the counter and forget about it, literally. Leave it out for the day, let it sit overnight. Personally I set it out in the 80 degree weather we had here today in Late January. The point of letting it sit is that you need all that ice to melt.
Step Three: Draining
Once the ice is fully melted, peel off the carton over the sink. Allow the candle to drain. Once it is fully drained and dry, its ready to go! At this point, you can carve sigils into the wax, decorate or paint it, remelt it if you hate it. The candle is your oyster!
Yes, it looks like Swiss cheese because of the ice. That’s totally cool though, because once its lit and burning down, you can see the flame from in-between the holes and it has this awesome between worlds feel to it. Also, as a side note, the wax from this will escape through holes of various places. Burn it on top of something that you can easily remove the wax from.
If you try this craft I’d literally love to see it! Tag me on Instagram @wildwoman_witchcraft to be featured in my story! Good luck y’all!
Y’all ever read a pagan writer and be like, where the fuck are they getting their information from? Here’s a short list (but not full list) of further reading:
Campanelli, Pauline, and Dan Campanelli. Wheel of the Year: Living the Magical Life. Llewellyn Publications, 2003.
Temperance Alden is an Occultist, Folk Witch, and Author of Year of the Witch (2020). She is based out of South Florida.