Winter is rough. Sure, some people like it, but even for those who do, it’s not the easiest season to survive. Full of short days and long nights and temperatures lower than high school students’ ages, it gets pretty bleak at the best of times, and downright deadly when it gets really bad. I know of several people whose houses don’t have heat due to shoddy contractor work or slummy sleazy landlords, not to mention other friends who’ve gotten into accidents from driving on icy roads. Historically, winter is the whole point of having a giant harvest season, because if you didn’t put in the work earlier in the year, you were setting yourself up for starvation and death. Hell, even in George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series, the phrase “winter is coming” is famous and ominous at the same time, and for good reason. All told, winter isn’t exactly the gentlest of times.
This isn’t just a mere weather-based inconvenience thing, either. In the winter, the Sun is so weak so as to be close to death or is only freshly reborn, far from being king over all during his summer solstice height. Plants in general die or go into stasis and animals hibernate, depriving the world of motion and activity to keep things flowing properly. The cold itself saps life away, and buries everything in a locked-down sense of malaise. Even sound loses its echo after a snowfall, leaving words themselves drained of any power you put into them. The long nights induce depression in those who are seasonally affected, and can even bring down the brightest of moods in those normally manic. The unseelie court wields power, for those who’re into faerie lore; the strict Holly King rules. We’re having to build ourselves up from scratch while living on so little.
It’s during this season that having Light in the home is most important, moreso than any other time of the year. I’m not just talking about the usual Solar work, either, but I mean real, actual fire that you burn. Whether it’s a fire in the hearth or a simple candle by your bedside, I’d urge you to follow through. Keep the Light going, and it’ll make your life easier.
When I do a thorough house cleansing, like if someone’s having issues in their home due to spiritual malignancy or moving into a new place, one of the first things I do is I set up Light throughout the house. I take a large white candle, either a pillar candle or a novena candle, and a number of white tealights, as many as there are rooms in the house. After gathering them all together in the center of the home (central hearth, stove of the kitchen, whatever), with the large candle in the middle and the tealights around it, I inscribe or write on the symbols from the Key of Solomon (book II, chapter 12):
After this, I anoint each candle with holy oil, starting first with the large candle and going clockwise with all the other tealights. I then light the large candle, and use my normal candle benediction, a slight variation on that of the Trithemius conjuration:
I conjure thee, oh thou creature of fire! by him who created all things both in heaven and earth, and in the sea, and in every other place whatever, that forthwith thou cast away every phantasm from thee, that no hurt whatsoever shall be done in any thing. Bless, oh Lord, this creature of fire, and sanctify it that it may be blessed, and that it may burn for your honor and glory; so neither the enemy, nor any false imagination, may enter into them; through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
From this central candle, I light each of the other candles in turn. Once all the candles have been lit, I energetically link the primary candle to the smaller ones, so that the same blessing is set upon all of them at once. Then, with all the tealights lit, I move them and set them in all of the rooms in the house, such that no matter where you are, you’re always within eyesight of one of these little flames. This includes bathrooms, walk-in closets, sheds, and the like, so that literally every part of the property has light burning inside. I leave the primary pillar candle at the center of the house, and return to it after moving all the tealights everywhere; there, I pray over it, and from it radiate Light and warmth and blessing throughout the entire place. Whether it’s my own prayer of lightbringing or another prayer more focused on a particular problem at hand, by means of this central focus candle, I fill the entire house with the same prayer and the same oomph. After this, I go through the house doing my thing, and leave all the candles to burn out on their own. The remains are then collected together and disposed of respectfully.
This is a little ritual I developed on my own as part of a thorough house-cleansing and -blessing, as one of the first things I do. Think about it: if a house is filled with gunk and filth, or if you have crusty crap stuck on your stove or sinks, you want to get rid of it. However, some of the tougher gunk tends to be harder to remove, so what do you do? You soak it in cleaning agent for a few minutes before actually scrubbing it off. The candles set up above do a similar thing; the Light weakens any darkness and any filth that may have accumulated, so that when I go through and actually banish the place by suffumigations or prayer, the groundwork has already been established to weaken the filth and to further empower me as I go about my work. In addition, the candles in each room act as a kind of warning-canary; if the flame of a particular candle gets weak, flickers a lot, or goes out on its own, then it’s a signal that there’s something especially rough in the vicinity of that particular candle. If such a candle goes out, I relight it and pray over it specifically before re-linking it back to the focus candle in the home’s center; I focus on that room specifically before continuing on elsewhere, making sure it’s sufficiently emptied of gunk and filth before going on to another room.
That said, I’m also in the habit of just having a candle burning in the center of the house anyway all the time. For me, it’s partially related to the small work I do with Hestia as overseer and mistress of the home, and the goddess of the hearth herself; with a fire burning under this goddess, it helps ensure my house and home and family that we always have fire to warm ourselves, power to strengthen ourselves, purity to cleanse ourselves, and protection to keep ourselves safe under her watch over the most sacred of all places, the οικος-domus-home. In point of fact, for myself and my housemates, I’ve noticed our mental health levels decrease and malaise increase over time the longer we don’t have at least one fire going in the house; we tend to slack off, leave more messes behind us, and generally feel crappy. This is essentially us starting to lose our own inner heat without an external heat to empower us; if we get too cool or go cold, we start on a slippery slope to nowhere good. When spiritually-inclined friends come over, if we don’t have a candle burning, they tend to sleep rougher and with more active or disturbing dreams; sure, myself as houseowner may be used to it and shrug it off, but for people who’re used to their own levels of protection in their own environments of familiarity, it can be a jarring experience.
Keeping at least one fire burning, whether under the watchful eyes of Hestia or the Virgin Mary or God himself, in the home for the sake of the home is always something I’d recommend to everyone. Heck, this would go for people traveling, too. Whenever I’m in a new room I’m unaccustomed to sleeping in, especially hotels, I always bring a candle with me and keep it lit when I’m asleep. Sure, the hotel may not exactly approve, but it’s something I prefer to do to bring some of that extra protection with me (in addition to the normal wards and protections I set up). Some people insist on having a candle burning by their bedside no matter where they sleep; if I’m doing a particular working that demands light at all times, I’ll do this, too, but normally that’s just overkill for me when I keep my own stuff up and running.
Of course, never forget the usual warnings about keeping fires burning, especially unattended. Make sure pets or children don’t reach them, make sure they’re stable enough to resist being knocked over, keep them enclosed, &c. Don’t burn down your house for want of warmth, even if you do have a generous insurance plan.