The anniversary of my arrival on this plane of existence happened earlier this month (like it does every July) and we had a groovy party with lots of my favorite people. At the party, we partook of a family tradition which is a little different than I was raised with. Every time we do this with new people, they always are surprised and pleased, so it seems like a good time to spread the wealth.
When I was a kid, we did the old candles-on-the-cake thing for birthdays. Y’all know how it goes: your mom (or someone) puts the exact number of little “birthday candles” on a cake which are then lit, then (boom-boom) out go the lights and she brings the cake to you as everyone sings the jolly (and also possibly subject to royalties if your party is a commercial event1) “Happy Birthday to You”. At this point, you’ve wracked your brains for the very best wish you can think of without discussing it with anyone, and as the cake is set before you, you take a deep breath and blow out the candles. If you blow them all out at once, you get your wish! Simple!
Later in life, our clan learned a little something about actual magick. We learned that candles can hold prayers and that Fire is a great energizer and transformer. This made the old birthday candle ritual a little weak, as far as real juju goes, so we came up with a new idea.
Rather than having a bunch of small candles, we have the birthday person choose one bigger candle. It doesn’t really matter how big it is; that’s totally up to you. Also, it doesn’t matter if it’s a pillar, or a taper, or some other shape. I prefer beeswax myself, because, of course, bees; and I like pillars because they’re less tippy.
Now you’ve chosen your candle. At some opportune moment during the festivities…oh yeah, you need to have a party for this. A small soiree or a big bash, either is fine.
So, at some opportune moment, you (or your mom, or your boyfriend, whoever) call the folk together and explain the process:
This is the Birthday Candle. It will hold all the wishes we all make for our friend until such a time as they choose to light it and energize the wishes and send them winging toward satisfaction. We will pass the candle, starting to the left of the Birthday Person, and each of you will have an opportunity to put your blessings in for the upcoming year. You may do this silently or aloud. We finish with the candle in the hand of the BP and they get to speak their own wish for themselves.
And here’s a secret: when it’s your turn at the end to bring it all home, you can veto any wishes that you don’t want and add an extra boost to the ones you do want! Do this silently or aloud, depending on who’s there and how they’ll take it if you give their wish the boot.
And so it goes. If your guests are all Witchy-types, they’ll get it right away and feel very comfortable. If they’re not, they’ll probably still really dig this plan, but need a little more encouragement. We’ve done this ritual with folks of every religious or anti-religious stripe and it’s always been a great experience. If nothing else, it gives everyone a chance to be still for a moment and spread some birthday love.
~Gratitude to all the Beachys who came before me and laid the groundwork for this awesome ritual!~