“I thought it was a broken bell. I did wonder why we stocked broken bells.” With nary a hint of embarassment, the young lady continued: “So many of them. In different styles and colours too.”
This was quite funny and a little sad I suppose, because the youngster serving had not asked the shop owner what their purpose was. Neither had she been to church and waited around long enough see the lesser candles extinguished at the end of a service. I refer of course to the snuffer – the preferred option of the thinking person for extinguishing candles.
There are many ways of extinguishing a flame: a fire eater for example would just eat it. Not usually having a fire eater to hand, lesser mortals fond of their facial hair and eyebrows, require accoutrements such as fire extinguishers. These might be a bit of overkill because they tend to be all or nothing. Water, depending on the mode of application may also be messy. Pinching an appropriately sized flame between the fingers will work but can be a tad painful. A puff of breath – especially useful on multi-candled birthday cakes – would seem to be the most widely used, even in ritual. I used to think that in church they used the snuffer because huffing and puffing at a large number of candles would cause bouts of hyperventilation but they may possibly inadvertently be doing the ‘right’ thing.
Symbolically the breath means life. We take our first breath when our newly birthed butts are brutalised with a slap or two. Birth into the light. We come into the light and take our first breath.
Using the breath of life to extinguish the light does not sit well symbolically especially in a ritual situation such as attunements, circles meditation or treatments. Enter the snuffer.