Choosing Beeswax: a new blog post (2 of 3) introducing Linda’s new booklet: A Short Guide to Lighting a Candle.
What was the first candle you ever lit?
True confession? I didn’t start out with beeswax!
My first intentional candle was a ‘hard’ wax paraffin candle I made in a community course sometime in fall of 1976. I got the wax from an Esso depot that sold various paraffin waxes in north Toronto.
So to get us thinking about choices of candle wax I decided to share an excerpt from a short history of wax in ancient times. It really got me thinking when I compiled it. See what it does for you.
Excerpt from A Short Guide to Lighting a Candle:
What kind of candle?
From very early times, initially mostly out of necessity, humans have been attracted to making light. Here is a short history of candles over the past 5,000 years:
Historically, the first torches in ancient Egypt were very smoky and were wickless.
In 3000 BC Egyptians were credited for first true candle made of beeswax with a plant-based wick. The ancient Romans then dipped rolled papyrus in tallow or beeswax. The Chinese rolled rice paper and wax from an indigenous insect and combined that with certain seeds. The Japanese boiled wax from tree nuts. The people of India boiled fruit of the cinnamon tree. People of Tibet made candles from yak butter. As early as 165 BC, dipped Hanukah candles were also used in Jewish ceremonies.
More to come that includes the Middle Ages and Modern times, along with notable inventions affecting candles.
What a long and rich history of searching for light/heat and ceremonial sources. Yet already, I can see in ancient Egypt, that beeswax and honey were very valuable and held sacred. Many mysteries of their practices are coming to light with modern digital sensors. Those ancient Egyptian tombs reveal the presence of both beeswax and honey used in their mummification practices. Wow, talk about long lasting.
So many choices
Such a contrast to today’s selection which includes flameless electric or battery powered candles!
It is a sign of our times to have many options in our lives on almost everything. We also live in times where we can make choices very consciously if we want.
Maybe we don’t always feel we have choices. I run into this all the time in wanting to light candles in public places. Now I don’t fret about the limitations. Another option always seems to open up. We can make candles inside buildings and light them later or even outside! Sometimes the delays and challenges help strengthen our initial intentions!
Certainly now my choices are different. Pondering the history of candle waxes helped me look more broadly than I initially did. Why did I choose beeswax? You’ll have to read the booklet! I just had to say that of course.
Here’s a bit not in the booklet.
Personally, I am learning to choose activities that support my conscious loving in the world. It was after the death of my mother in 1997 that I made a decision to make beeswax candles to inspire community development. At that particular time it was for inspiring communities in housing co-operatives. And with the passing of dad in 2007, I realized I wanted to offer beeswax candles when life and death really matter in the community in our hearts.
Something to ponder
What roles have candles played in your life?
Send me a note if something I said moves you.
Special note of thanks to all who responded to blog 1! It feels so good to be back in touch with you.
My booklet comes next week. Yeah!
Community Candle Maker