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It seems like every month or so a new book about one of the eight Sabbats is available at my local bookstore.  I usually glance through them , note the similarity of content to my own collection of information and put the book back.  Not so with Amber and Azrael Arynn K's wonderful book, Candlemas: Feast of Flames. From beginning to end, what makes this book unique in its genre is the depth of its content. Festivals celebrated throughout the month of February from many cultures are described.  I found the information to be well researched and accurate. As a bonus, many of the customs are easily adapted into one's own seasonal routine.  Not surprisingly, there is an large amount of material about the Celtic goddess Brigid, later identified with a 5th-century Irish saint (right around the time of the infamous St. Patrick). Through the careful word crafting of the ladies K, the goddess comes alive as something much more than just a symbol of smithcraft, poetry, and healing.  Her core personality shines through, and the reader understands how central she is to the land, its people, and their identity.  The ritual suggestions (broken out for solitary celebrants, families, and groups) are detailed and carefully thought out.  Although I have not actually performed them, they felt like they would evoke deep personal meaning in the practitioner.   One delight was the description of the cross-quarter days as particularly good for divination magick.  Candlemas provides excellent and original suggestions suited to the season. The instructions for scrying with fire were both powerful and especially appropriate to the season.  Fire workings are such primal magick, accessible to our ancestors long before the first tarot card was created. There is, of course, a section on candle-making and its corresponding magick, which gets into the details of traditional methods and materials.  Again, this level of detail is not often found in other writings. 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 this fire festival. Here the authors' humor shines through in such pieces as "The Bright Side of the Crusades" discussing the introduction of spices and nuts into feast dishes; or the "A Trout in the Pan is Better Than a Salmon in the Sea" recipe for baked fish.   The practice in other books I have seen 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.  I found Candlemas: A Feast of Flames to be an excellent read.  Fun and informative, including delicious recipes that widens the scope of 'Irish' feasting beyond potatoes and fish.  It is a pleasure to add this book to my collection. ~review by Lisa Mc SherryAuthors: Amber K and Azrael Arynn KLlywellyn Publications, 2001$14.95
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