This was the first pagan book I ever bought and its served as a great reference for me. It provides great stories, and history of the holiday and background on the Goddess (the first 60 pages or so are all wonderful stories, history and lore). Its written in an easy relaxed way so its enjoyable to read. There's a good solid chapter (30 pgs) on customs, traditions and symbols. I've started to do seasonal decorating and this chapter had some neat items to make that I've added to my decorating. There are also some great blessings included here which are nice to welcome the season, hobor the transitions of the year. There's a chapter on divination that provides a number of differnt methds ranging from tarrot cards to melted wax in water. I haven't tried these yet so I can't really comment on them but the instructions and relevancy/interpretations all seem very straightforward. There's a section on cleansing which I love - it feels so good to clean things out, and cleansing the home and your self are wonderful to take time in. A number of activities ranging from baths to spring cleaning are provided here. There's a chapter on celebrations and Rituals - here there is a collection of things such as music, and candlemas rites (for one or for small or lage groups). I love the rite for one - its a nice soothing bath with candles and such. Quite peaceful. There's also a wonderful meditation at the end of winter - a wonderful nature meditation. There's a chapter on candles (how to make them - very fun)And then there's a chapter of recipes. I'm vegetarian so many of these did not appeal to me. There's a short section on resources at the back - I wish they had included some recommendations for music cds. Overall great book that is down to earth, and seems to really provide the basics in understanding the history of this celebration and great ways to honor/mark the day. Highly recommended especially for those new to paganism.
Llewellyn publishes a series of books on the eight sabbats of the Pagan year. The books in the series vary quite a bit in quality. This one, devoted to Imbolc ("Candlemas" being the Christianized name) and written by Wiccan priestesses Amber K and Azrael Arynn K, is the best one in the series to date.
What sets this book apart is the substance of its content. There is very little padding here. February festivals from various cultures are reviewed, and the information given is well researched and accurate. Many of the customs and folkways described cry out for adoption into one's own seasonal routine.
There is an enormous amount of material of the Celtic goddess Brigid (pronounced Bree-id), later identified with a 5th-century Irish saint, a rough contemprorary of St. Patrick. After reading the material collected here, the goddess comes alive as something much more than a symbol of smithcraft, poetry, and healing. She emerges as a powerful personality, central to the land, its people, and their identity.
The cross-quarter days are all associated with divination magick, and this book offers some fine, original suggestions suited to the season. I particularly appreciated the instructions for scrying with fire. This is such a primal magickal operation, accessible to human beings thousands of generations before the first tarot card saw the light of day.
The ritual suggestions (for solitaries, families, and groups) are thorough and carefully thought out, and will carry significant personal meaning when performed. There is, naturally, a section on candle-making and candle magick, which gets into the details of traditional methods and materials, not often encountered in other books. The table of correspondences for candle magick also displays the authors' characteristic attention to detail and thoroughness.
The book winds down with a fascinating selection of recipes appropriate to the ancient and medieval Irish roots of the Imbolc festival. The practice in other books in this series has been to feature mostly "fun" recipes that somehow carry out the theme of the holiday, in color, decoration, or sometimes just name. There's a place for this, but it was a delight to open this book and find something more-an attempt to make some kind of connection with the original people for whom this festival was an important milestone in the passage through winter.
In fact, that seems to be what this whole book is about from cover to cover, a vigorous and lively attempt to forge a link-to the extent that it's possible for us-with Brigid and her people at this, her most sacred time of the year.