Candlemas Ritual and World Festivals Celebrate Mother Light Female Archetype

The Christian Candlemas ritual coincides with two pagan holidays. But festivals of light are celebrated the world over.

The Candlemas feast is associated with the ritual purification of Mary, mother of Jesus, following the birth of her child in the Jewish tradition of the time.

White vestments by priestly celebrants as symbols of purity, and there may be candlelight processions. Diwali candles and Hindu goddess Lakshmi

All People Celebrate Light and Warmth

The Candlemas ritual is not the only celebration of light.For example, one source says the ancient pagan dates were called Imbolc and Lupercalia.

Judy Haynes presents information about Festivals of Light around the world.

Diwali Honors Hindu Goddess of Light

Diwali festival lights and Lakshmi statue

Diwali, earlier in the calendar year than the Candlemas ritual, is a Hindu celebration for Lakshmi (also spelled Laxmi), goddess of prosperity and light, among other attributes.

Here, too, the woman archetype blazes.

Mother Light warms the earth in February, and new life grows hidden from view. The archetypal associations of Mother Light are warmth, enlightenment, home, family, nurturance, and support.

The Candlemas ritual follows ancient and eternal patterns for the woman archetype.

Demeter Lights the Changing Seasons

Winter is the season Persephone spends with her husband, Hades, lord of the Underworld. Her mother mourns, and the Earth lays barren.

For a unique version of this myth of the woman archetype, updated for cyber-times, see the second book of Kelly McCullough’s Web Mage series, Cybermancy (Ravirn, Book 2).

Hestia Lives in Hearth Fires Burning

Old fashioned hearth fire with cooking pots

A less well-known Greek goddess is Hestia, goddess of hearth and home. She is the only goddess who is not embodied, according to Jean Bolen (Goddesses in Older Women: Archetypes in Women Over Fifty).

The fire in the hearth signifies Hestia as the woman archetype. Again, the connection between the feminine and light is clear.

When a Greek lass wed in ancient times, her mother carried the flame from her kitchen hearth to her daughter’s new home, ensuring continuity of Mother Light.

Perhaps the Candlemas ritual of candlight processions is rooted in this mythic practice.

Hearth, Hospitality, and Story-Telling

My Aunt Mimi will always be my personal Hestia, bustling around her cheerful, warm kitchen, cooking for everyone and telling stories about what’s going on in the neighborhood and family.

Women telling stories while preparing food in the hearth ensures cultural continuity and affirms the value of storytelling.

This continues to this day with the practice of the bedtime tale for children.

Enlightenment also may flow from collectivizing of human experience -- a deep wisdom or people, their needs and actions.

Thus Mother Light has literal and virtual connotations that are honored by the Candlemas ritual and other celebrations of light.

Enlightenment May Grace Elder Years

A woman in the winter of her life may experience Mother Light as the en-light-enment that comes as we integrate a lifetime of experience into our understanding.

Jung reportedly said that the first 40 years of life are for having experiences and the second 40 are for making sense of them.

The second half of life may be a time of creativity, growth, and exploration.

Many elders of both sexes feeling free constraints that bound them and ready to plunge into new adventures. The Road Scholar, previously Elderhostel and Exploritas, provides travel and learning opportunities for people of a certain age.

Another organization for elders is the National Center for Creative Aging which focuses on creative exploration.

The Magic of Candlelight Opens Doors

Older woman relaxing by candlelight

Flickering candles conjure associations with magic, serenity, and romance, all the province of the woman archetype.

A candlelit setting is perfect for life review, meditation on letting go of the ego, and rebirthing the individuated self.

By candlelight, we connect in a deep way with eternal cycles of birth and death. Such a Candlemas ritual may be deeply personal and satisfying.

Jung's Seven Tasks of Aging

Carl G. Jung outlined the seven tasks of aging as follows. Perhaps they will provide food for reflection at your private Candlemas ritual.

  1. Facing the reality of aging and dying
  2. Life review
  3. Defining life realistically
  4. Letting go of the ego
  5. Finding new rooting in the Self
  6. Determining the meaning of one’s life
  7. Rebirth – dying with life

References to a Mother of Light are frequent in mass media.

For example, the 1999 film, Mother Light and Her Daughters written by Ryan Davis, explores a period of fasting devoted to the Virgin Mary by Egyptian Coptic women. It uses this event to explore such themes as the role of religion in their lives, especially regarding education and emancipation.

Mary is recognized as the Mother of Light by Maronite Roman Catholics.

12 Months of Female Archetypes for You

Madonna statue mother archetype Candlemas ritual woman reading by candlelight rainbow photo
The Winter Mother
Mother Light
Hope & the Feminine
Mother Rain
swirling female dancer mask with makeup woman in nature
Dance & Spring SymbolsMother
Feminine Makeover
Value of Storytelling
The Truth Seeker
older woman in nature triple goddess maiden-mother-crone Beautiful crone Older woman meditating
Liminal Space & the In-Between
Crone Re-Emerges
Crone Character & Healing
Croning Ritual

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