Posts Tagged ‘candles’

Bee shows a greater interest in what I do, and she loves to honor nature outside and inside at her nature table / play altar. The one thing she was missing was a representation of fire – one of the Three Hallows in my Druidic tradition, and an important part of any Celtic spirituality.  I’ve thought about different ways to create an appropriate representation, and when I thought of this Imbolc activity, I realized that it was exactly what she was missing!  Furthermore, it’s a great way to reuse old wine corks!


  • old corks (the hole from the corkscrew will actually come into play later!)
  • paint (I used washable, toddler-safe paint)
  • paintbrushes
  • orange and yellow yarn or other fire-colored fibers
  • a glue gun
  • a tapestry needle or something else that you can use to poke the fibers into the corkscrew hole



The Toddler Part:

Equipped with an apron and seated on our large splash mat, Bee was able to paint her cork. My husband and I joined her to paint two others, making this a fun family activity. I let her choose her color – orange! How firery.

Because we used washable paint, it was very thin.  We had to let the corks dry between a couple coats, and we had to put the paint on rather thick.  That’s ok, though, as it looks like wax dripping down the sides of the candles!  I’m thinking about sealing them with a glaze later on.


20160117-210549.jpg The Parent Part:

Once the corks dried, I cut orange and yellow yarn into very short lengths – about an inch, but I could have gone smaller.  I separated the fibers to give the an airy look, then twisted them together loosely.  Pinch the bottoms tightly and roll them between your fingers to join the fibers.  Put a dot of hot glue into the corkscrew hole.  Using a dull tapestry needle (or other similar object), push the bottom of the fibers into the hole and glue.  Voilà!  Flaming candles!  

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An offering of spicy tea for Brighid in lieu of incense.  Photo by Grey Catsidhe 2012.

Alcohol, caffeine, sushi, unpasteurized cheese…  Just a few things pregnant women are told to avoid or limit.  Changing your lifestyle is part of expecting.  I already find it’s impacting my spiritual practices, but not in a way that is terribly annoying or negative.

One such change has been incense.  Upon learning of my pregnancy, I started to look into it out of curiosity.  There’s smoke involved, and everyone knows pregnant women shouldn’t be smoking. There are some studies floating around about the negative correlations between incense smoke and health problems, including cancer.  People who burn it every day in an unventilated space should be especially concerned.  Incense, like some other burning matter, releases polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, a pollutant.  Some studies link exposure to these during pregnancy to possible behavioral problems.

I used to burn incense a few times each week as offerings, so that probably puts me somewhere between a casual and heavy incense user.  I’ve sometimes thought about the smoke, especially as the weather cools and our windows close.  Although there is arguably room for more studies on the impact of incense on health and, in particular, pregnancy, I don’t feel like taking any chances.  The only time I currently feel comfortable with it is during outside ritual.

Earlier this year, I explored tea as an alternative to incense.  Just as with the fragrant sticks and cones, herbs are combined with heat.  The scent wafts upward with the steam.  Utilizing fire and water seems particularly magical, although it’s admittedly not as potent as incense.  Don’t expect it to mask pet odors.

If your desire is to create a fragrant smelling atmosphere, a trick my mum taught me may please you – especially during the colder months.  Before visitors come, my mum likes to bake an apple (cut in half) covered with some cinnamon.  She bakes it in the oven for 15-20 minutes on a low setting – until the apple becomes soft.  The scent is strong and far more pleasant than any artificially scented candle!  In the spring and summer, why not opt for locally grown flowers placed on a central altar?

Oil diffusers could be another possibility, but pregnant women must be so careful about which oils they handle.  Several sites I’ve looked at all suggest that lavender is safe.  Given it’s calming properties, it seems like a good choice for those expecting.  I’m especially drawn to simple terra cotta ornaments that don’t require any flame. (Check out this adorable diffuser pendant from napotterystudio on Etsy!  Perfect for a Brighid shrine!)   Should you decide to try a candle diffuser, definitely choose to use organic soy or beeswax candles as paraffin wax has shown to be more dangerous.

I definitely intend to keep digging into this matter as it’s one that is close to many Pagans.  We (generally) love to make offerings, use candles, and burn incense.  Yet, as a mother-to-be, I want to err on the side of caution.  Wouldn’t you?

Please share your ideas or any information you find!

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Grist had an excellent entry all about sustainable candles today.  The Pagan community loves candles and must go through thousands each year.  Imbolc, also known as Candlemass in England, is a good time to reflect on our candle usage.  Have you ever thought about the impact your candles have?

Ask Umbra on avoiding candles connected to carcinogens and deforestation | Grist.

I’ve mostly been using beeswax candles for the past few months and they work quite well.  They were locally made too!  For those of you worried about the expense of organic soy candles, beeswax candles are relatively cheap.  Local farmers sell votives for a dollar each.  Sure, you could buy several votives for a dollar in some stores but when you consider the health/environmental costs… why would you?  Switching to organic soy or beeswax is better for the Earth Mother and thus, in my opinion, a better offering to the Kindreds.  It’s any easy way to green your lifestyle!

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