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Candle Magick

By Rainfire Cat

(Written for Ecclasia)

There are countless authorities, books and traditions that will tell you precisely what to do in each candle burning ritual or spell. Few will explain the reasons why it must be just so. The actual reason is because it's what works best for them. Whether it works for you is another matter.

Candle burning is a psychic and psychological experience. The main thing is to understand what you are doing and to create and develop your own techniques and rituals which will bring about the results you desire.

The act of candle burning does indeed cause an altered state of awareness, producing changes in circumstances. Think of something as seemingly mundane as a candlelight supper. Many have been persuaded or seduced, proposed to and have sealed business deals over one. Squabbles have been patched up and differences of opinion have been resolved. Note, I said seemingly mundane. The above situations take place under glowing magick.

Most candles made in the United States are made of beeswax, parafin or stearite, or combinations of these and other good waxes which serve as hardners, drip-retarders, etc. In olden times, candles were made of animal fats.

There are "straights", tapers, pillars, sculptures and glass-enclosed candles, which are all used for ritual purposes. There are three main classifications of candles used for Spiritual work:

1) The first one is the main Altar or Invocational candle and is traditionally used for Spiritual Protection. They're dedicated to a special Deity. The act of lighting them serves to call upon that Deity. When extinguished, they are dismissed. These candles can be reused.

2) The second one is the Personal or Astral Candle. This represents the person for whom the candle is being burned and must burn throughout the entire ritual alongside the "Purpose" candle. Any size can be used so long as it's not more predominant than the Altar candle. These can also be reused but never for a different individual.

3) The third candle is the Purpose or Offeratory candle. This represents the purpose of the ritual. They're usually burned until completely done but certain types of candles or spells may require extinguishing and relighting at specific intervals.

Colors of your Purpose candle should correspond with the intent. Basic colors are:

BLACK - the most controversial of all because we're often conditioned to associate black with dark, bad and evil. Many of us have come to learn black is necessary for balance and also for banishing. Black is absent and void of any coloring, therefore absorbs energy and doesn't emit it. As it burns, it releases what it absorbed - what you put into it.

WHITE - purity, truth, sincerity, virtue of all kinds and the highest of all spirituality. It also represents balance. It can be used to substitute for any color.

RED - life's blood, passion, love, anger, sex.

PINK - affection, love, honor, gentleness.

ORANGE - enthusiasm, fun, vitality, friendship, home.

YELLOW - creativity, adaptiveness, diplomacy.

GREEN - nature, material gain, fertility, abundance, good fortune, good health.

BLUE - peace, tranquility, innocence.

PURPLE - royalty, dignity, wisdom, psychic manifestation.

BROWN - earth, neutrality, hesitation.

Different types of candles include Novena or New Beginning candles, Seven Stud candles, Separation candles, Image candles, Cat candles, Skull candles, Triple Action candles and Memorial candles.

Preparing the Candles

Cleansing & Consecrating:
This is a very important step and should not be omitted. Cleansing removes all the negative energies that the candle has picked up along the way. As with all supplies you want your candles to to be as free of psychic debris as possible. Submerge the candle in sea salt and the ask The Lord and lady to bless it.

Dressing Candles:
Dressing the candle with oil is as important as any other step. Use whatever oil you prefer or what a specific spell asks you to use. To bring something to you, rub oil on the candle in a downward motion from the top to the middle and then from the bottom to the middle. To send something away from you...you rub the oil from the middle of the candle out to the ends. Never make a back and forth motion as this defeats the purpose.

Candle burning has roots stretching back to ancient times as a part of both religious ceremonies and magickal rites. During primitative times, people used fire to ensure a feeling of security and trust, as well as to ward off evil spirits that haunted them in the night. In 5AD, the Catholic Church viewed the white flame of a candle as a symbol of the purity of Christ as well as the infinite power and wisdom of God. During the Italian Renaissance, 1500s to early 1600's, the Catholic Church started to light red candles during High Mass, noticing by doing so, the energy and enthusiasm of the parishioners seemed to rise. In later years, saint candles came into existence. They were golden in color to symbolize not only spiritual wealth but material wealth, as the saints symbolized by them came to them in prayer.

One of earliest holiday celebrations was Candlemas, marking the middle of Winter and holding the promise of Spring. Candle work is commonly done during this ritual even to this day. According the encyclopedia link at infoplease.com, is a Christian festival commemorating the Purification of the Blessed Virgin and the Presentation of Christ in the Temple. The name Candlemas is derived from the procession of candles, inspired by the words of Simeon "a light to lighten the Gentiles" (Luke 2.32). In the Roman Catholic Church the candles for use in the ensuing year are blessed on this day. An old superstition claims that the weather is foretold by the ground hog on Candlemas.

Most Hoodoo practitioners burn candles for magickal effect, spellcasting and as an adjunct to prayers but unlike the traditional and conservative craft of making mojo bags, candle burning in the African-American hoodoo tradition has undergone considerable evolution during the 20th century. Probably the single most important influence on African-American magick from the 1940's to present has been a paper bound pamphlet written by Henri Gamache in 1942, "Master Book of Candle-Burning." It gives detailed instruction how to burn candles for every purpose . Using these instructions, conjure workers of the 1940's to the 1960's burned small, free standing pillar candles of various colors to draw luck, love, and money; for protection from evil and to wreak vengeance or exert control over others.

Christianity is another religion where candle magick is always present. Fire has long been a sign of God's presence. The Old Testament is full of examples: the burning bush on Mount Sinai, the pillar of fire in the desert, the tabernacle lamps, and the sacrificial fires on the altar of the temple in Jerusalem. Early Christians rather naturally viewed the kindling of new fire as a symbol of the presence of their resurrected Lord, the new pillar of fire.

Walk into a Catholic Church and you'll see the use of candle magick on a daily basis, from devotional candles to prayer candles to the Paschal Candle. The Paschal Candle, unlighted, represents Christ's death and burial. Lighted, it represents the resurrection of Christ. The wick represents Christ's humanity and the halo of the flame represents His dignity.

Another Christian symbol using candle work is the Advent Wreath, which is a symbol of ongoing life. Advent is Latin for "the coming". It marks the beginning of the Christmas season and starts the Sunday nearest November 30th. (It starts on December 1st in 2002.) The wreath, in a circular shape and made of evergreen symbolizes ongoing life and eternity and mercy. There are four candles placed within the circle to represent the four weeks of Advent. Three are purple to represent penance, sorrow and longing expectation. The fourth is pink to represent hope and the coming joy. This bit of candle magick has probably been observed since the 4th century.

Even one of the newer religions, Kwanzaa, incorporated candle magick in the use of its Kinara which holds seven candles: three red to represent struggle candles - for the past, the color of blood and courage; one black for the celebration of being black and three green to represent vision candles - for hope, dreams and promise of the future. They're used to instill in African-Americans the memory of a long struggle against injustice and unfairness and a promise that they will continue to work together against this.

Mexico's traditional Day of the Dead is actually a celebration, a time of remembering the dead and rejoicing their lives. The Altars are carefully planned with three distinctive tiers. Photos of the dead are among things placed on the them and the Altars are covered with candles. It's believed the more candles, the better the celebration. The day after the celebration, families of the dead go to the cemetaries with special candles, which are typically placed on the graves with reverence.

Candle magick atop birthday cakes is present but not often thought of as such. Light the candle, make a wish, blow out the candle...sounds like magickal intent to me! In many parts of the world, some traditions are quite similar, holding to the belief that birthday candles carry wishes up to God.

Other candle workings include:

Flame Interpretation and Flame Divination

When casting a spell, if the flame is:

Short - obstacles lie in the path of a successful cast and the universal is currently dealing with those before beginning to deal with the cast's goal.

Tall - great amounts of universal is being put forth towards the cast's goal making the cast strength very high. Normal Height - the cast is proceeding towards its set goal.

Normal to Tall Flickering - cast is proceeding at a normal pace with extra energies needed for certain obstacles (this is common for complex casts).

Short to Normal Flickering - cast is dealing with obstacles and then proceeding until another obstacles needs dealing with (equates to a slow path to the goal).

Short to Tall Flickering - a high strength cast that is intermittently dealing with cast obstacles.

Side to Side Movement - commonly denotes a negative (negative energy, "No").

Clockwise Circular Movement - commonly denotes a high positive (strong positive energy, "Yes", "Soon", "Quickly") also denotes a strong push towards the cast's goal.

Counter-Clockwise Circular Movement - commonly denotes a positive (positive energy, "Yes") also denotes a neutralization of a casting, or energy.

No Movement - a neutral flame bent on the goal only.

Dim - little energy is being put towards the cast goal (weak spell/magick).

Normal Brightness - cast is proceeding towards the goal.

Bright - a lot of energy is being pushed through the cast (strong spell/magick).

Sizzling - the cast is deteriorating a strong reality in order to accomplish its goal, or a force is acting against the casting.

Flame Out - if the flame goes out then the balance would be thrown too far off by the magick and the universal has denied it, or another source has defeated the cast.

Candle Divination

1) One-Candle Divination = Light a candle. Keep it lit for several hours. Ask a yes or no question. Now sit quietly and watch the candle. If the right side burns faster than the left, the answer is yes. If the reverse, the answer is no. When burning a candle to determine future influences, the right means good fortune. If the left side burns, prospects are ill.

2) Three-Candle Divination = Set up three candles, all the same color and in identical holders. Arrange into a triangle and light them. If one burns more brightly than the others, you will have a period of unexpected good luck. A quenched flame signifies a period of negativity. If the flame moves in a circle, someone may be working against you. Sparks shooting out are also negative signs. If all candles burn steadily, your life will be the same.

3) A Multi-Candle Divination= Set up as many identical candles in holders as you have choices facing you. If you wish an answer to a simple question, two candles; one for yes and one for no. Name each candle for one of your choices individually and light them. The first one to burn down and sputter out is your best bet.

4) Another Candle Divination= Light a candle, focus on your question and drip melted wax into a dish or pan of water, then interpret the symbols/shapes the wax makes as it hardens. This works well with dark-colored candles or you can use the proper color candle for the issue.


The Magick Candle: Facts and Fundamentals of Ritual Candle Burning by Charmaine Dey
The Candle Lighting Encyclopedia by Tina Ketch
and numerous websites and web articles.



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This page last updated March 10, 2004