As before, if you wish to carry out a similar ritual, choose candles, crystals, incenses, etc. of the correct associations to strengthen your ceremony.
Candle colours: White, cream and pink or any pale colour - these are associated with innocence and gentleness
Crystals: Garnet and bloodstones, also amethysts, rose quartz and gentle moonstones for awakening fertility and feelings
Symbols: Ice, milk, seeds, first snowdrops or very early-budding leaves or flowers Flowers, herbs, oils and incenses: Angelica, basil, benzoin, celandine, heather and myrrh A Ritual To Release The Frozen Life Force
Work after dusk on the eve of 31 January or on the following evening, 1 February, and perhaps incorporate the ritual into your Candlemas party. With close supervision, even children can join in the ritual. Place the candles in a deep holders and make the miniature straw bed perhaps in a deep metal bowl or even the family hearth, if it is no longer used for fires.
* On a table, your altar or the hearth, create a small bride bed of straw or dried grasses, decorated with coloured ribbons and any early flowers. Near it place a tiny fabric doll or any small doll to represent the Maiden Goddess.
* Encircle the bed with seeds and newly budding flowers or greenery and behind it, at a safe distance to avoid the danger of fire, place a single, tall, white 'bride' candle.
* On a tray in front of the bride bed, place an earthenware jug of milk, a small dish of honey and a dish containing an ice cube or small amount of ice. Round these, again being careful to avoid fire risk, set a circle of small pink and pastel candles.
* Light first your 'bride' candle, saying:
Bride, bride, enter your bower, your reign begins at this hour. The old hag her sway is done, winter's gone, new spring has won.
* Place the doll in the bed and then light the candles surrounding the jug deosil, saying:
The maiden's wand of fire does melt the snow, Ice depart and spring flowers grow.
* Drop the ice or ice cubes into the jug of milk, stirring it deosil with a wooden spoon or birch twig, repeating the chant.
* Add a teaspoon of honey to the milk and again stir your jug deosil, saying:
Flow, life anew, through bud and flower, the thrall of winter has no power; Flow, love and joy and growth and light, ice and snow begone from sight.
* Leave the ice to melt while you and any others present can place coins, flowers and ribbons on the bride bed, making wishes for the coming spring, for the land, the creatures, for others and for yourselves.
* When the ice is melted, stir the jug and very carefully pour a single drop on the bride bed, saying;
See, bride, I bring the first milk, symbol of nourishment and fertility, honey from the warm South, heralding fertility and abundance and above all the life force now released that can transform wish into reality and sustain us through the days ofcold and wet still to come.
For we have seen the spring and so I send you light, that light may be shed throughout the world.
* Blow your tiny candles out widdershins, naming for each a blessing that you ask for the world.
* Leave the 'bride' candle to burn through and the bride bed in place for the rest of the festival.
If you are working in a coven, you can create a real, full-sized bride bed and choose the youngest member to be the bride. I once carried out the ritual on television, in which all the crew came to kiss the bride, played by Becky, the presenter, and ask her blessing. In spite of their over-enthusiasm and the male presenter Carl's generosity in spreading honey on all who came near, the festival was well and truly a celebration of the return of life.
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