Imbolc Candle Making

In 2000, I visited Ireland on scholarship for summer study but didn't make it to Kildare and the Solas Bhride Centre, where the Flame of St. Brigid was re-lit 1993 after several centuries of darkness and has been tended by the Brigidine Sisters there since then. Isaac Bonewitz did make it there, however, and when our paths crossed in Gleann Cholm Cille, he asked me to buy a candle. I did, and he lit the candle from one he had lit from the Brigidine flame. I lit another when I came home and gave it to a friend, and when I lost my own candle, he lit another and sent it back to me. I still have that candle stub and use it to light new candles in my home so that the flame of Brigid, who for me is a Goddess of poets, makers, and healers, is always alive in my home. Honestly though, I do think it's past time to make a pilgrimage to the Solas Bhríde Centre myself and light a new candle there, in that place where women tend her shrine. 


Another way I honour Brigid is to make candles during this, her season. I've been Pagan for nearly 40 years, and I'm a folklorist besides, so there is no glamour in reconstructionism for me any longer. My spirituality is in the re-lit flame, the reimagined animism, the renewed symbol. Besides, any folklorist worth her salt can tell you that even canonical religious beliefs rooted in centuries of tradition are humanized and vernacularized in the practices of believers, and that while we tend to give preferential treatment to established traditions in our religious beliefs and practices, these are not qualitatively better that religious innovations by virtue of their oldness. All this by way of saying that I'm a prayerful, pilgrimage-taking gnostic animist, and I make candles at Imbolc to honour the light of Brigid's holy flame, which are themselves an example of material culture in my religious practice.

Here's a snapshot of this year's candle making process.


After Sean and I recovered the jars from old candles for reuse, we began by melting soy wax chips in a double boiler. These chips are for pillar candles, which hold their shape better than container candle chips, but we made plenty of container candles this year, too.

The only pillar candles we made this year were votives, and these are the prepared molds. The wick bottoms are metal disks affixed to the molds with a candle glue dot, and the wicks are long on purpose so the candles can be pulled out easily when they're completely hardened. They usually come right out, but sometimes it's necessary to dip the bottoms of the molds in hot water for a second or two first.


Dyes go in while the wax is melting. This red dye came suspended in a small brick of wax, and wax in this batch is for containers. Quite the colour, isn't it?


Fragrance goes in when the wax and any dyes have fully melted. We only use soap grade essential oils, and the red batch received 5ml of oil for every 1lb of wax. This is a bit lower than the recommended 10ml of oil for every 1lb of wax. We like a subtle candle scent here, and we also have cats. Most essential oils are liver toxic to cats, so scents should be subtle, and scented candles should never be burned in a closed room where cats are present. 


Here are the poured cinnamon candles. You can see that we're balancing the wicks against skewers to keep them upright, and we make micro-adjustments to the wicks as the candles cool. 

Here's the final set. The white candles are rosemary, the green are peppermint, the red are cinnamon, and the purple are lavender. We'll burn these for cleansing, clarity, ancestor veneration, and calm, in that order. 

And now that I've shared a bit of our own sacred practice around Brigid, here's a charm of protection that mentions her. I don't know its provenance beyond the website where I found it, but it resonates. From an ancient flame extinguished, to a charm of protection, to a flame rekindled and passed, the sacred story of Brigid lives on in those who keep and share it.

Hearth Keeper Prayer

Brigid of the Mantle, encompass us,
Lady of the Lambs, protect us,
Keeper of the Hearth, kindle us.

Beneath your mantle, gather us,
And restore us to memory.
Mothers of our mother,

Foremothers strong.

Guide our hands in yours,
Remind us how to kindle the hearth.
To keep it bright, to preserve the flame.
Your hands upon ours,

Our hands within yours,
To kindle the light,

Both day and night.

The Mantle of Brigid about us,
The Memory of Brigid within us,
The Protection of Brigid keeping us
From harm, from ignorance, from heartlessness.

This day and night,
From dawn till dark,

From dark till dawn.1

  • 1. “St. Brigid’s Day: Prayers and Blessings to Mark February 1.” 2023. IrishCentral.Com. February 1, 2023.