February 2 is the feast of Candlemas. It’s a special day for writers. Traditionally, on this day, bees wax candles were blessed in churches before being taken home for use throughout the year. Candlemas was also a time when many women would make candles and re-stock their home supplies. Candlemas coincides with Imbolc – the great fire and flame festival that rejoiced at the signs of winter ending and hastened the return of spring with its light filled days. This feast day is also sacred to Brigid, Celtic Goddess and saint. Candlemas, or Imbolc, celebrates Brigid and the promise of the light and warmth.
Brigid is the patroness of all crafts. Metal work or smith craft was especially connected to Brigid. In some legends Brigid forged the great cauldron, the cup of life blessings, herself.
Smith craft has given shape to some of our earliest artefacts. Gold, silver, copper, iron, tin, lead and even mercury, once called quicksilver, have all been forged in the furnaces of time. Metal’s form can be altered through heat, known as annealing, and reshaped while red hot, before setting and cooling down. Metal can be worked in its pure state, or its strength and hardness altered by making it into an alloy, by mixing it with another metal. From metal, smiths have wrought horseshoes, swords, gates, and of course, candle sticks.
The word metal itself comes from the meaning to search after. Alchemists searched for the philosopher’s stone, the ability to transform base metals into gold. “The alchemists said that their prima materia (their prime material) could be found anywhere, rejected as useless by common man, but capable of being distilled and transformed into purest gold,” explains Gareth Knight in his book Magic and the Western Mind. “So it is with the imagination. It is there for any to use, free to all, yet few realize its true potential or try to distil it to a precious quintessence.”
“‘But what gold? How will I know the gold?’ You will know the gold,” writes the author of The Artist’s Way and creativity coach Julia Cameron in her book The Vein of Gold. Creativity is an alchemical process that can transform the metal of your daily life. You can distil your dreams into gold, with the craft of your hands.
The ringing of its busy bent anvils, The sound of songs from poet’s tongues, The heat of men at clean contest, The beauty of its women at high assembly, Blessings on the forge! ~ Irish, traditional
Craftspeople of long ago would clean and prepare their tools on Brigid’s feast day to bring good fortune for the year ahead. It’s a lovely custom for writers:
• Clean and organize your writing space. Clear your desk. Order shelves and drawers. Empty the waste paper basket. Dust and tidy. Establish harmony and order.
• Bring as much natural light and air as you can into your workspace.
• Clear out clutter on your computer or tablet. Delete excess files and emails.
• Clean your writing tools. Treat them with care.
• Re-stock on stationery and office supplies.
• Evaluate your writing hopes, goals and dreams for the year.
• Light a candle.
• Forge ahead.