“On the first of Sunwait we light,
The candle of Fehu so bright.
Until the return of the queen of skies,
May her beauty and splendor in it rise.”
One of the most recently created heathen traditions I have come across is that of Sunwait (also known as Väntljusstaken.) We have celebrated it as a family for a couple years now.
The basic idea is simple, six candles are set up about six weeks before before Yule. On the first week, one candle is lit, and each additional week one more candle is lit, until they are all aglow. Many people typically paint or carve a rune into each candle, the first six in the elder futhark alphabet across all six candles, and we do this as well.
Some people chose Thursday as the day to light their candles, sacred to Thor, thus lighting their sixth candle on the Thursday just prior to Yule. Our family is not particularly drawn to this deity, we instead go back six weeks from Mother’s Night (the eve of Yule) so that our final candle is lit during our dísir ritual on that eve.
I love the creation of new traditions. There are many aspects within witchcraft and heathenry where practitioners can become incredibly focused on reconstruction only, and practices that are rooted directly in historical fact with little room for unverified personal gnosis. While that is completely alright if that is the way someone chooses to take their personal practice, it is not for me.
I enjoy and take great interest in researching and learning historical practices, and also make ample room for my own spiritual revelations and experiences. As a mother of two, I am also always interested to see how other pagans reclaim what are considered in the modern world to be Christian practices, and celebrate them in a way that makes them more meaningful to our heathen hearts.
Sunwait is certainly one of these celebrations for our family.
(The first week’s Sunwait candle is that of Fehu, if you would like to read more about this rune, I have an article about it: Reading the Runes: Fehu.)