Have you noticed the days getting longer and lighter? As we approach the Equinox this month, how can we make the most of the fresh, emerging energy of Spring? Coach and therapist Melanie Gillespie tells us about the cycles of nature and how the turning seasons inspired her candle brand Witch and the Wheel.
Hi Mel. What ignited your desire to create the brand? And why the name Witch and the Wheel?
Well, firstly I am a self-confessed candle addict.
The ambience of having a candle burning on a slow Sunday morning at the breakfast table, or next to a cosy reading nook, stirs something delicious in my soul.
Secondly, I’m a solitary witch and live my life in tune with the seasonal cycles as celebrated in the Wheel of the Year.
I wanted to blend these two passions by creating a candle brand that can be used in rituals or celebrations of the changing seasons. So, Witch and the Wheel was born!
Can you tell us more about the Wheel of the Year and why it’s important to connect with the seasons?
The Wheel of the Year is a cycle of eight turning points, or sabbats, that celebrate the seasonal transitional markers throughout the year.
It’s a beautiful dance between the light and the dark, depending on where we are in relation to the sun.
The main markers are the Solstices. Summer Solstice is the point we reach the most hours of daylight and Winter Solstice is the point we have the least.
And the Equinoxes, which fall in Spring and Autumn, are the only two points in the year where we have equal hours of light and dark.
The other four turning points are cross-quarter dates in between these, meaning we have a seasonal transition to celebrate approximately every six weeks.
We are so deeply and intrinsically connected to nature, I find the most natural way of living is to be guided by the seasonal changes around us instead of battling against them.
How did you come up with the fragrances for each season?
I spent many months creating the full range, I wanted each scent to encapsulate the energy of the seasonal turn.
So it was important to me that the scents in each were seasonally appropriate.
Samhain, more commonly celebrated now as Halloween, has notes of pumpkin and clove, whereas Yule, which is the Winter Solstice in December, holds notes of pine.
The range moves into florals around the Spring Equinox, Ostara, and the Summer Solstice candle, Litha, smells like a warm evening stroll along the beach.
Can you also tell us a bit more about the energies of the coming Spring Equinox and the candle you created for this festival?
Spring Equinox, also referred to as Ostara, is midway between the Winter and Summer Solstice.
It’s the momentary point where we experience equal hours of light and dark before tipping slightly towards more light than dark each day until the Autumn Equinox, where the dark takes dominance again.
I have scented this candle with pink pepper and rose, which creates a wonderful contrast in tones of floral and spice.
These uplifting notes really connect us to the vibrancy mirrored back to us in the natural world at Springtime, as we become surrounded by splashes of colour woven into our landscapes again.
Do you have some suggestions for rituals or ways people can use your candles to gain the most benefit from them?
I love to create a ritual of re-dressing my altar space at every turn of the wheel with natural foliage of the season, be those daffodils or a holly branch, to bring the outdoors in.
I also have a seasonal journaling practice where I reflect on questions that anchor me to what changes are happening in nature.
From Autumn Equinox through to Winter Solstice, I will primarily focus on what I want to let go of, release and shed. Whereas now, from Spring Equinox through to Summer Solstice, I focus on growth, creation and abundance.
Have you always felt a strong connection to Mother Nature?
Always! I’ve had a fascination with the earth, the cosmos, the trees, the seasons, the sun, the elements and the cycles of life since I was a little child.
I remember being referred to as an ‘old soul’ as young as five and spending many hours pondering great philosophical paradoxes.
I didn’t refer to myself as a witch until I reached my thirties though, which was after several years of working as a therapist and becoming quietly known for my use of ancient wisdom in the community.
What does being a witch look like for you?
For me, the term witch essentially means ‘wise one’. Traditionally, the village witches were those who helped and healed the community using ancient wisdom and the workings of nature, for example, the local herbalist, wisdom keeper or midwife.
Often working in tune with the natural cycles of the seasons and the moon, the healing properties of plants and the unseen energy of intention, witches respect the Earth and all who dwell upon and within her.
Unfortunately, the term witch was used to outcast and punish women by those who were threatened by their gifts and therefore stigmatised as something evil.
This has been continued and exaggerated by movies, fairy tales and stories over the years, but thankfully more and more witches are feeling safe to practise more openly again.
Whilst I think it’s wonderful that we are reclaiming the name, I believe it’s important to always honour and respect those who were, and in some regions still are, persecuted for the craft.
What are the life changes and benefits you’ve experienced since working more closely with the seasons?
I allow my energy to flow with the cycles of nature around me. In our modern environment, it is a wonderful relief to sink into rest and hibernation throughout winter!
I also find our annual cycle around the sun a great metaphor for life.
Every period of growth in life is followed by shedding and letting go, just like how every summer is always followed by autumn.
In our darkest hours like winter, the light always returns. Everything is transitory. Nature doesn’t resist this process, it simply allows it to be.
When we release the idea of what we think life should be and instead enjoy it in all its phases, we can release mountains of unnecessary mental suffering and embrace the true beauty of our human experience.
Lastly, do you have any tips for making your gorgeous candles last longer?
Yes, many factors help a candle perform its best.
The first one is allowing the candle long enough on the first burn to reach the edges of the jar. This could be up to three or four hours, depending on size.
This is important because wax has a memory and will only burn out as far as it reached on the last burn, so extinguishing it too soon will result in what’s called tunnelling, where there is lots of unmelted wax left around the edge.
The second factor that can really help a candle’s performance is to always trim the little black end of the wick before you relight it.
This helps keep the flame height safe, the candle burning well, and continue smelling nice.
If you don’t have a wick trimmer, you can just pinch it off with some tissue. Once you start trimming your wick, you won’t look back!