Sweetness and Light

We have chosen to fill our hives with honey and wax, thus furnishing mankind with the two noblest of things, which are sweetness and light

The Romance of Beeswax Candles

There are few things more comforting than the warm, golden glow of handmade beeswax candles. The intimate light never fails to transform the cold dark night into a special evening, whether it kindles romance between two people or intensifies a personal meditation. In my home, I like nothing better on long winter evenings than to light as many candles as I can. I suppose this desire comes from a long tradition of people who, wanting to encourage the sun to reappear, lit fires in the night. This literal and figurative ‘illumination’ of bringing light into darkness by lighting candles or miniature fires is universal and timeless.

Holy Honey, Batman!

Bees and candles have a long history in spiritual beliefs and customs beginning with the ancient Egyptians and continuing through today. Fires have been a holy mystery for humankind since Greek myths made fire’s warmth and light a possession of the gods. Bees have had a place in religious traditions for centuries, ever since being identified with the “Queen” or Mother Goddess. The use of beeswax in sacred candles date as far back as the earliest organized religions.

To begin with, ancient Egyptians believed that bees were born from the tears of Ra, the Sun God. When his tears fell onto the soil, they were transformed into bees that built honeycombs and produced honey. This led beeswax to be honored as sacred and candles made from beeswax were to be used solely by spiritual leaders.

Later on, ancient Greeks believed that bees were born spontaneously from animal corpses and therefore symbolized resurrection and rebirth. Bees were revered as holy messengers that carried prayers from earth to heaven. Any creation made by these holy creatures, such as honey or beeswax, was valued as a gift from the gods.

In the Chinese teaching of Feng Shui, beeswax candles bring fire ch’i energy into a room, which is thought to encourage passion and expressiveness.

In Hebrew the word for bee, Dbure, has its origins in the word Dbr, speech and thus bees symbolized eloquence and intelligence among early Jewish believers. The Torah states, "The spirit of man is the candle of the Lord."

More recently, in Christian tradition, honeycomb symbolized the monastery cells where monks lived and worked. Bees often were a symbol of Christ, with the honey and sting of the bee representing his mercy and justice. A popular legend states that bees hummed on Christmas Eve to honor Jesus at his birth.

As the workers of the hive, bees are an industrious and prosperous community governed by the queen bee. This led the French to use bees to symbolize all that is royal and imperial. Napoleon I used the bee motif on his coronation robes and palace rugs.

Today, common rituals include lighting candles for prayers, for remembering the deceased, for celebrating Advent or Hanukkah and illuminating icons. When I visited the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, the first thing I did upon entering was light a candle and say a prayer.

Candles at home

When I want to meditate, I light a candle. Something mysterious happens while staring at the flickering flame that helps me see my problems in a "different light." I always light candles before I begin a task that requires focus, such as writing.

When I set the table for dinner, I always light candles whether I’m eating with guests or by myself. Eating by candlelight lets you slow down and pay more attention to the subtleties of your surroundings. In Jewish households, the tradition of lighting the evening Havdalah candle is a very important Sabbath ritual that brings the whole family together.

In the dining room, I like to group different sized candles in the center of the table. The subtle, sweet smell of the warm beeswax complements but never overwhelms the aroma of the food. I pick candles that have complementary colors to the tablecloth, but I like to use a variety of sizes and shapes such as pillars, votives and tapers.

I group small vases of flowers or wreaths and twist vines around the candles or place candles on a small round mirror to reflect the flames. Try grouping votive candles with small, smooth rocks or polished stones to create a Zen feel. Experiment using different candlesticks too. I like to change them with the season and often use crystal for winter, silver for spring, ceramic for summer and gold for fall. Take those wedding presents out of storage and use them without fear because beeswax candles won't drip on your precious linens or candleholders.

Celebrate the seasons by creating a harvest bounty wreath with candles: Choose a flat-bottomed round platter with short sides and arrange medium pillar candles in soft colors with fresh fruits and leaves of the current season.

For meditation purposes, I choose specific colors for my candles: blue for healing, purple for divine connection, yellow for energy, red for passion, green for connection with nature, white for truth. If your have a sacred space or altar set up in your home be sure to include a few beeswax candles and burn them often.

When I take a bath, I add lots of scented bubbles to the water, turn on some soft music, and of course, light my candles. I like to place the candles in front of the bathroom mirror so the light is caught and reflected back into the room. I then soak in the soothing soft glow and let my thoughts wander.

In my bedroom, there is nothing more romantic or comforting than soft candlelight. The yellow flame bathes the room in a warm glow and softens the hard edges, transforming an ordinary bedroom into a place to let your imagination run wild. I prefer to use small votives in glass containers to gently reflect more light.

Mind Your Beeswax

There are many reasons why beeswax candles are superior to regular paraffin candles. Beeswax candles are thought to clean and purify the air as well as emit healthful ions. Beeswax gives off a much brighter light with a beautiful golden halo and less flicker. Beeswax is naturally aromatic and smells like sweet honey. Beeswax candles burn longer so the total cost is less than buying "cheaper" candles. Beeswax is cleaner to burn; it doesn’t drip or give off unhealthy by-products such as soot and smoke.

Most commercial candles are made from paraffin, a derivative of crude oil. Manufacturers will dye and scent them with chemicals in an effort to produce colorful "aromatherapy candles" as cheaply and quickly as possible.

Long dark nights are a perfect time to decorate your home with candlelight. As you light your candles, remember the people who have gone before, and what beeswax symbolized to them. Honor the long history of holy bees and their sacred offerings by using beeswax candles to add a special light in your home. And do your part to encourage the sun to return by lighting your "miniature fire."

It just may work.

- Lorraine Aho

Lorraine is the founder of SacredHome.com®”for the art and soul of your home.” She enjoys helping people create sacred spaces in their homes by providing a broad variety of advice and products to accomplish this with style and panache. Lorraine is a practical romantic and lives with her silly romantic husband and two cats in Sonoma, California. To learn other tips for incorporating the sacred into your home and your life, visit Sacred Home.com or give her a call at (888)599-4106

Peeking Around the Corner

And if a finite consciousness can know what card is going to be turned up three seconds from now, or what shipwreck is going to take place next week, then there is nothing impossible or even intrinsically improbable in the idea of an infinite consciousness that can know now events indefinitely remote in what, for us, is future time.

I have had a wonderful week. No prospects for employment just yet, but just as there are things “in the works,” I know there are blessings just waiting to happen, too. They must be, because the way things went this week, my gratitude for the weight of my “right now”  blessings is much more than ever before.

This was the week of my second daughter’s wedding, and a long-overdue reunion with my adult children. The wedding was just as beautiful as the bride, and the reuniting of old friends and family was warm and loving.

My anticipation of this event was tremendous. Might it be boring to know what is going to happen? But, if I knew what would happen, what would be the need to experience it? And yet, there I was trying to peek around the corner, trying to foresee how everything was going to turn out for this gathering of my family. Just the experience of being in that place, seeing and hearing, would not have been enough, as it turns out.

This was not an event for the head, just an exercise for the mind, oh no! It was a day of the heart. The sun, the fragrance of the flowers, the sight of the wedding party (especially the bride and groom!), smiles and warm embraces; so many tears of joy! Yeah, I cry at weddings. Sue me.

Once I relaxed into the situation, once I just let go, as I began to be open to the possibilities of what this time and this place would bring to me, it seemed that everyone else did, too. Old hurts seemed to be forgotten, old wrongs forgiven. This was here and now - a joyful time for a joyful purpose - and that was then, and all that old “stuff” was well behind us, thank goodness.

As we gathered, listening to the couple exchange their vows, each individual present was reminded of just how much love was in their life, each given an opportunity to examine just how committed we may be to the relationships in our lives, again reminded by this loving example how others fill our lives with richness and provide a connectedness that makes life real and so worthwhile.

Without saying so out loud, there may have even been some mental speculation by some of the guests, myself included, on what the future may hold for Sally and Jay. It happens at weddings. This is an important step in one’s life! Who can say what the future may bring for them? We all wished them well, and came away with the sure knowledge that their love and their spirituality would bear them up in difficult times, that their love would answer a call to arms when all else might seem to work against them. Two became one, and even more, on that special day.

Later in the week, I was asked if I had any regrets over where my life had taken me. “Few” was my answer. Oh, I could find a lot, if I looked. There are many things in my life that I could feel bad about. So many steps I took in the wrong direction! But regretting those wrongs would not make my life different. It would just be a burden to carry that regret, to lug it around without having a real purpose for doing so. In truth, I am grateful for the lessons that each of those missteps taught me. In fact, the only regrets I have are for those lessons that needed to be “repeated until I got it,” until I learned what I needed to learn, and was ready to move on to the next thing. I should have been paying closer attention. Oh, well, water under the bridge. Foreknowledge of those lessons would have decreased the intrinsic value of the lessons. No thanks.

And yet, at this end of the week, I find myself wanting to be able to look into my own future, to peek around yet another corner, and to know where things will go from here: in my life; in my job; in my relationships. I ask again, would knowing the future help? Then, I remind myself that I am connected to Truth, to Sweetness and Light. I am connected, in every way necessary, to Divine guidance. All I need to do is to trust and embrace that guidance, and I will receive all the visions and guidance, all the advance notice I need.

All the knowledge and wisdom I need is there for me, as it is for Jay and Sally. Not too much to spoil the surprise, nor enough to neutralize the lesson.

Just enough insight, if I am paying attention, to know that I am never left alone.


email: Michael@N-Spire.com

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