Traditional Date: The Presentation of Christ in the Temple
(Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary; Candlemas), February 2nd.
Astrological Date: Sun 15° Aquarius
See also: Calendar of Festivals
These meditations on the Solar Festivals are intended to be performed on or near the appropriate date. Please see the Calendar for more details.
Imbolc: Candlemas is also known as the Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is almost certainly not a coincidence that the ancient solar feast of Imbolc, falling on the same day, has as its theme purification.
We are all familiar with the tradition of spring cleaning. In the days of coal fires and smoky chimneys it was a practical necessity to remove the built-up grime of winter. But it is also a time when nature is cleaning up; the last of the autumn debris of leaves and cast off branches, the leftover fruit that was destined neither to become a new plant nor to feed the animals and birds, is washed away by the rain and snow. The ground itself, with its seeds already within, is cleansed and made fresh by the frosts, and made ready to receive the new life that will burst forth in the spring.
So, in the same way, we can examine our own beings and purify ourselves. We all have within ourselves that which we do not like, or that is impeding us in some way. Now, we should springclean our minds and our souls, to prepare us to receive the divine spark, which is destined to grow within us until we ourselves become like it.
The word "Candlemas" comes from the practise of blessing on that day the candles that were to be used in church throughout the coming year. In the same way we prepare, bless and dedicate our own mental and spiritual being, the tools that we use to enable us to assimilate that spark of divinity; just as, at this time of the year, the farmer will be cleaning and repairing his implements for the work of the year that is to come.
On the fortieth day after the birth of her son Jesus, Mary was received into the temple to be purified, in accordance with the provisions of the religious law of her time. On the same occasion, Jesus himself would have been presented in the Temple to the priests, who were held to be the earthly symbol and representation of that same divine spark. Thus was the body cleansed and prepared for divinity - for remember that our physical bodies are the tools of our trade, too.
Prepare yourself for meditation in the usual way. When you are ready, visualise yourself on a grassy hillside.
In front of you is a valley, with a patchwork quilt of fields and a river, winding lazily through the middle of it. On either side of the broad valley are mountains, their tops purplish grey in the distance.
You are standing on the grass. Feel the solidity of the ground under your feet, the cool dampness of the grass as you walk. The sun is bright; its rays beat hot upon your face, upon your arms. Drink in its warmth. Picture all this with the utmost clarity, make yourself a part of this place.
But now, the sky is darkening. A black cloud is beginning to cover it, all over. Already it is raining in the valley. The mountains in the distance have all but disappeared. If the storm comes your way, you will get very wet, and there is nowhere to shelter.
As it grows darker, the wind begins to blow, and it turns cold. A few large spots of rain fall, then a few more. But, almost as soon as the rain shower has started, it is passed over, and you did not get very wet after all.
Then, as the rain passes away and the clouds part, you see a rainbow: a promise of help from above, and itself the source of that help. Finally, the sky is clear again. The wind - now a gentle breeze - and the sun, together help to dry out the little rain that has found its way onto your clothes. You walk off across the meadow and you find your Temple.
This is your private Temple, your very own place. You will frequently encounter it in your meditations. You should build up a strong image of it in your mind, so that you can enter it at any time, in any place.
What does it look like? Is it, perhaps, like a small temple built to some god of ancient times? Or is it, perhaps, a small church, or a chapel? Hold the image, so that you may recognise it again and build upon it.
Go to the door. Your Temple must have a door, to keep out animals and wild beasts and anyone who does not belong there. No-one may enter without your permission.What is the door like? Is it large and elaborate, or is it a simple, everyday door?
The door is sealed, but you may break the seal. You open the door and enter the Temple. Some things in the Temple will appear the same for everyone who performs this meditation. It will be spacious, as befits the building that is home to the divinity of your soul. The floor is tiled, with alternate black and white tiles. In the very centre of the floor, there is a small altar, about four feet in height and two feet square.1 At the far end of the room is a raised dais or platform. At the sides of the platform are two pillars: a black one on the left, a white one on the right. Hold the image, so that you may recognise it again and build upon it.
Other details of the Temple will be different for different people. What other furniture is there? Are there seats for many people? or just for yourself? or none at all? Are the walls plain? or are there elaborate hangings? or maybe stained glass windows? What is your Temple like? Hold the image, so that you may recognise it again and build upon it.
On the dais at the far end of the room, there is a fire burning in a brazier. Walk over to it and sit next to it: on a chair if there is one, on the floor if there is not.
Turn your gaze inside yourself now; look at the innermost parts of your being. You know those parts of you that you would be better off without. An old enmity that has eaten away at your life for no good reason; an irrational fear that has prevented you from going forward; a continuing feeling of guilt for an event that is now long passed and over. Any dark thoughts or feelings in your own makeup that you can well be without. All your skeletons in the closet, all your private anguish, gather it all up, gather it al and cast it forth, cast it forth, a piece at a time, into the purifying fire of the brazier.
Cast it forth, keep casting it forth, all the black, dark, horrible thoughts.
Cast it all forth; and watch the flames consume it, until there is nothing left within you but peace, and harmony, and quiet.
Go now to the altar. There are four things on it: a cup, containing a clear liquid; a sword; a wooden rod, or baton; and a golden medallion.
Take the cup. Pour a little of the liquid onto your hands and wash them. Shake the drops onto the floor. Now drink a little of the liquid; feel it, cool and refreshing, in your mouth and throat as you swallow.
Place the cup back on the altar and take the rod. Feel its life, the essential growing nature of the wood from which it is made, the balance and power as it rests in your hand.
Now put the rod back and take the sword. Carefully test the sharpness of its blade. Feel how easily it moves through the air as you make passes with it.
Finally, replace the sword and take up the medallion. Feel its weight, its solidity, its unchanging nature. See its beauty as it reflects the light of everything else that is in your Temple.
Now replace the medallion and, at last, leave your Temple. Close the door behind you and seal it using your special sign.
You are on a sunny hillside. Once more, drink in the delights of nature for a few moments; and then return to objective reality, in the place and the time where you started your meditation. Put your consciousness in the centre of your head, just behind your eyes; and when you are ready, open your eyes.
Take a few hours, or a few days, to absorb the significance of this meditation. If you wish, you may repeat the meditation several times during the period around the Festival concerned.
Note 1: about 120cm high and 60cm across