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Young woman in bowl shaped bathtubWhat is it about luxuriating in warm water that feels like forgiveness, as if you are being welcomed back into the eternal, universal oneness-with-all? Perhaps it is due to prenatal memories of free-floating in the womb, if you believe such as thing is possible. But whatever you may believe, you probably agree that bathing is sublime.

Young boy lighting candlesHappy Hanukkah!  Tonight will be the first night of the eight nights of Hanukkah, also called Festival of Lights or Festival of Dedication.  It is a Jewish festival signifiying the rededication of  the Holy Temple in Jerusalem after the Maccabees–a group dedicated to reasserting the Jewish religion–successfully rebelled against Antiochus IV Epiphanes (who issued laws forbidding the practice of Judaisim).

After the victory, the Maccabees went to purify and rededicate the Temple only to find there was enough pure olive oil to burn in the menorah for just one day.  The everburning lights symbolize the spirit that can never be extinguished, so it was immensely important to find more oil to keep the menorah burning.  The miracle of Hanukkah is that the one-day supply of sacred oil burned for eight days, allowing enough time for the pressing of more oil and the light to remain alive.

Lighting an oil-lamp  menorah is considered the traditional way of celebrating the miracle of Hanukkah, but many Jews today light candles in a menorah. Some people have electric menorahs as well.

Every night of Hanukkah, a candle is lit and blessings are sung over the candles. Hanukkah is celebrated with a wide variety of songs, playing the dreidl game, and eating special foods fried in oil such as latkes. If you celebrate Hanukkah, what activities are most important to you and why?

Diwali celebrations in Coventry, United Kingdom. Taken by Satinder Singh.

Diwali celebrations in Coventry, UK

Diwali–Festival of Lights–is an important five-day festival for Hinduism, Jainism, and Sikhism that happens somewhere between mid-October and mid-November (according to the lunisolar Hindu Calendar). Each faith has their own legends, myths and stories surrounding Diwali. But the common theme is the victory of good over evil, the passage from the darkness of ignorance into light–the indwelling light of the soul that both represents our divinity and our striving toward divinity.

The word “Diwali” is a contraction of “Deepavali,” which translates into “row of lamps” in Sanskrit. At Diwali, people light small clay lamps–diyas or dīpas–filled with oil to signify the triumph of light. During Diwali, all the celebrants wear new clothes and share sweets and snacks with family members and friends.

Deepavali is an official holiday in India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Mauritius, Guyana, Trinidad & Tobago, Suriname, Malaysia, Singapore, and Fiji. But its message is of such universal appeal, it is celebrated in many more countries around the world, including the United Kingdom (pictured.


Warm greetings! I am Lisa Estus, founder of Scents for Living. This blog is intended to explore the numina of candles and scents.

What do I mean by numina? I mean the mysterious qualities of candles and scents that can evoke a state of profound calm, a sense of well being and peacefulness that awakens the inner divine.

The way candlelight can make an ordinary dinner special. Or turn an old bathroom with a chipped porcelain tub into a sacred place for ablution. How a beautifully scented candle can all at once tickle your olfactory bulb to evoke a romantic mood and soften the features of your lover’s face with its glow.

The way candles and aromas are used in cultures all over the world in hundreds of different ways for hundreds of different reasons that transcend mere function.