Rituals

Candles… relaxation, celebration or passion ?

The website of Otis & Leaf candles features beautiful words about why lighting a candle. It starts with : “Why light a candle ? Because it’s a companion in the dark, a gentle flutter of light that says that you are not alone.” Read more… 

Over the past two years, I have become a regular consumer and lover of deliciously scented candles. They are my warm companions for my morning meditations, when I make a prayer and want to dedicate my thoughts to someone dear to me traveling on a plane, or going through a difficult time. I naturally light a candle that will spread its elegant scent when I want to create an intimate or sensual atmosphere at home. I will light a smaller candle when celebrating a religious holiday or someone’s passing. There are many reasons why I light a candle and I suggest you find your own reasons to include such a beautiful ritual into your life.

Thistle Farms deliciously scented candles are crafted by women survivors

I can be very picky about choosing a candle as I will only purchase candles that offer a subtle and authentic fragrance ( not the heavy vanilla-pumpkin-cinnamon type ), are made out of natural soy or coconut oil wax, have a cotton wick and are preferably poured in a transparent glass container. It is essential to avoid purchasing cheap colored candles in mainstream grocery stores or chain interior design stores to avoid inhaling toxic fumes. You can’t find these more natural candles in regular grocery stores. Whole Foods Market is probably the exception to this rule of thumb. Being able to see the flame move through the glass is an essential part of the pleasurable experience as I really enjoy staring at the flame. It brings me joy, calm, hope or excitement, depending on the time and the occasion. I usually try to purchase scented candles from Fragonard when visiting my family in Paris. They offer delicious fragrances and beautiful packaging. They can be beautiful presents too. I tend to prefer Orange blossom ( “Fleurs d’oranger” ) which makes me travel to Morocco or Tunisia or Sleeping wood (” Bois dormant” ) which smells like a winter home fire. However, in South Florida, I usually gravitate around the wonderfully scented candles from Thistle Farms or Paddywax. I truly love the delicate fragrances of the candles from Thistle Farms, especially “Cardamon and amber”,which is truly divine. I also feel proud to support their mission whenever I purchase one of their candles, as the Nashville-based company offers work opportunities, education, social support, and a free roof to women who survived prostitution, trafficking and/ or jail. Furthermore, there are always locally handcrafted brands such as the French label Adoressence, which showcases its soy wax scented candles at arts and crafts fairs in the Fort Lauderdale area. I can’t wait to try their Campfire wood wick candle.

Lighting a candle can also get us closer to our soul or become our friend during a prayer. Many religions incorporate candles and the symbolism of the flame in their celebrations. In Judaism, candles have a major role at home as they are lit during eight days on a nine branched candelabra during the festival of Hanukkah. They are also lit before and after the Shabbath or day of rest as well as before major holidays. Rabbi Phillip Namanworth wrote about the significance of the flame during the Hanukkah festival : ” We are all flames on the menorah ( the candelabra ). Hanukah focuses our meditations and practice on realizing the flame within us, the mission that is uniquely ours; to spread light wherever we go.”

In Christianity, small votive candles are often lit for prayer, at home or in church, to dedicate a thought or an intention to someone and create a reflective atmosphere. In Buddhism, candles are often lit in front of Buddhist shrines together with incense. They represent respect and evoke the impermanence of things and constant change as well as the enlightenment of Buddha.

Candles have been included in secular celebrations and religious rituals for centuries. Flames can refer to warmth, hope, peace, joy, eroticism as well as danger and destruction, depending on how they are used.

As far as I am concerned, I never feel alone if I can manage to light a nice candle in the dark…or spread out small candles throughout home and whisper to myself : Happy New Year!

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