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I hadn't planned to write about candles for the C week; candles are not really a large part of my practice these days. But I just looked up from my chair and saw candles everywhere. We had a power outage last night and my daughter brought down ALL the candles (a group of votives on a dinner plate puts out a good amount of light, by the way). We have many. So, candles.

I have a whole little cabinet with nothing but candles. Votive candles, mostly in white, or pink for Aphrodite. Tapers in various sizes and colors (extras in gold and silver) to light my altars or during prayer. Little spell candles in all different colors (just as a FYI, if you have a bunch of candles in all different colors, DO NOT store them all together for years at a time because the dyes will transfer). Tea lights in the most colors (for Temple of the Twelve devotions, among other things).

The thing is, I really don't find myself using candles nearly as much as I used to. When I set up Aphrodite's Lantern on her altar, I chose to use an electric salt lamp, both because the light needs to be constant and because it was the least expensive option among many. Three of my shrines are enclosed, so I tend to use battery-operated candles there for any but the briefest lighting, for safety reasons. My Goddess altar has fairy lights hanging, which is a marvelous effect in a cabinet altar. I also have battery-operated pillars on two of my larger altars (cream-colored on the Greek altar, pink on Aphrodite's) that I use on occasion.

So I suppose what I am really talking about here is the significance of a candle as opposed to other types of light.

There is something about a candle that is special. The sound and smell of the match being struck, the uneven flicker of the flame, the potential for revelation based in fire and smoke and shadows cast. And the fact that a lit flame is fragile and ephemeral, easily ended either intentionally or accidentally. A candle needs some care, some watching. If all I want is to see what I am doing, any sort of light will do although some are more atmospheric than others. Using candle-light expands the possibilities.
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Everyone is doing it, so why not?

In the morning, when I wake up, my first prayer is chosen randomly, or as random as random can be; I draw a name from a basket of god-names (mostly Celtic, some continental Germanic) on the altar, and say a prayer to that god. (This process is the end point of a project I worked on for well over a year, and while it seems to be complete, never say never.) (If I won't have time for this in the morning, I may do this the night before, before bed.) Today I prayed to Mogons.

I check my calendar, and if it is a feast day of a particular deity (Egyptian or Hellenic, I keep two calendars) I light a candle and say a prayer to that god or gods. (Again, if it's going to be an on-the-run sort of morning, I'll do this the night before.) Today I prayed to Tefnut at the Kemetic altar, and to Artemis at the Greek altar.

Later in the day, sometimes just before bed and sometimes earlier, I say my daily devotion to the heathen gods, my daily devotion to the Hellenic gods, a prayer to Brigid, a prayer to Aphrodite, a prayer to Zeus, a prayer to Bast, a prayer to Hathor, and a prayer to Sif.

On my way up to bed I say a prayer to Hekate and kiss my hand to the hekataion at the foot of the stairs by the front door.

When I go to bed my last thought is of Aphrodite, as I look at the lamp I keep lit on her altar.

That is it, ideally, for a normal, everyday day when I don't take on any additional tasks.

Other religious or spiritual things I might do on a given day: study, read, write prayers or other liturgy, knit altar cloths, lead heathen ritual with my kindred, do personal and/or seasonal ritual at my druid altar, attend online chats with co-religionists (more social but still in the spiritual realm), or make some sort of addition to the pagan internet (which, honestly, isn't all that often).

If I feel called to do so I might pour out additional libations or light incense. Doesn't happen too often.

Once in a blue moon I might do a bit of divination, but the older I get, the less interest I have in that.

I have a devotional tattoo on my left wrist and will eventually get at least two more, there is no hurry on that, though.

I keep a number of shrines/altars around the house: my shrine to Aphrodite, my large Hellenic shrine, my Kemetic shrines (one in a cabinet, one curtained off, if nothing else this keeps them clean!), a Hekate plaque by the front door, and two heathen shrines, one to Freyja and Frey, one to Sif and Thor. I also have a working altar for SDF rites. Yes, there is usually a bit of dust on these; no, no one seems to mind it. If I am pouring out libations or making other biodegradable offerings I do that outdoors.

I am, FWIW, a mostly-headblind hard polytheist with an almost entirely devotional focus and a long-term dedication to Aphrodite; I am multi-faith, a heathen, a Hellenic polytheist, a free-form druid and a beginning Kemetic. (Last year I turned 50 and my spiritual life exploded, mostly in a nice way.) I keep these practices separate from one another, as for me it just seems like the right thing to do.

I do not spend all my time on specifically spiritual concerns; that's not the sort of calling I have experienced. Most days I spend more time occupied with the worldly world than elsewhere. I interact with friends and family, husband and kids. I watch mindless TV and bad movies, read the internet, wash dishes, make dinner, do laundry, waste time on Facebook, have friends over to talk about the day's events and what's going on in the community. But I try to live my life ethically and with integrity, I try to be a good person, and although I don't wear my faith on my sleeve(s), I am about as public about it as an intensely private person can bear to be. :)
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You know what I've noticed in a lot of pagan event announcements? Explicit references to kids being welcome (or "welcome with parents" or "welcome if supervised," etc.). It's good to know, I'm sure, but it also seems to establish a norm of kids not being welcome at religious services, or at least the idea that you shouldn't assume that it's all right to bring the kids.

And I'm not saying that kids should be welcome at every pagan ritual, I know that there are many that are not child-appropriate. But I'm talking about public rituals, not intimate circles, not intense magical work, but devotional rituals.

(Granted that I'm heathen, and heathen groups tend to be more child-friendly than neopagan groups overall, but years ago I used to be generically neopagan and our group always made a point of being child-friendly. The non-child-friendly event was the exception, the rarity.)

Although it may be that the point of these announcements has to do with the "if supervised" part--so that parents know that they have to watch their own kids (what a shocker!)--which is a bit different.
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