Look up candles or candle magick on the internet and hundreds, if not thousands of results pop up about candles being utilized in Wicca, paganism and various other “occult” traditions ranging from New-Age to straight up historical ones. A standard Wiccan altar typically features God and Goddess candles. Candles are used to call upon and make offerings to deities, elements, energies, quarters, fae, demons – just about anything and anyone. However, as usual, I was more concerned about why candles are used this way and what is the most efficient way to use them – and more importantly, do I really need to have patchouli oil at home every time I want to do a money spell? I was hoping not.
The Cross-Cultural Significance of Candles
Candles (coming from the word “candela” or “candele” meaning to shine) have been in use for a very long time in many different ways. While obviously they were used for the light they provided, interestingly they were also used for keeping time.
Candles have been used in various faiths and traditions. In Christian tradition, candles have represented “the light of God”, “the light of Christ” and the sacred light of truth that exists in opposition to the darkness of evil, ignorance, sin and heathenry. The ceremonial use of candles in Christianity has to be prefaced with the discussion of the hallowedness of Light and Fire. Vigilantius, a minister of Barcelona, described the increasing use of ceremonial lights and candles around the bodies of martyrs and icons as, “…a rite peculiar to the pagans introduced into the churches on pretext of religion…” Unsurprisingly the use of ceremonial lights, as many other things in Christianity/Abrahamic religions, has its roots in pagan customs.
Stepping outside the Western/European perspective, Buddhism too involves the use of candles as a ritual item representing the light of Buddha’s knowledge and wisdom. Hinduism and other Dharmic religions feature the festival of lights known as Diwali which celebrates light as a symbolic “victory of light over darkness, good over evil, and knowledge over ignorance.”
In Wicca and witchcraft, candle magick is used to practice sympathetic magick (like produces like) – with money spells being paired with green or gold candles, and love spells being paired with pink or red candles. These correspondences are not limited to color, they also include correspondences with days of the week as well as a wide variety of oils and spices to anoint said candles with. And all that is effective – or rather, has the potential to be effective – the same as any other type of spell or magickal working. But in light of our recent discussion on chaos magick and practical results-based magick, I am concerned with the core essentials one needs to get something meaningful out of this practice. Will my money spell fail unless I have mint oil and green candles on hand? I would certainly hope not. And if it did, that would work against everything we do know about magick. Let’s break down candle magick into the meat and potatoes of it all.
What Role Do Candles Play: The Theory Behind Effective Candle Magick
- Candles are everyday, commonplace objects that are also used in enchanted settings – they straddle the line between sacred, profane and banal, and that makes them absolutely fascinating. Most of us are familiar with the tradition of blowing out birthday candles after making a wish, yet we don’t tend to call that a spell even though it absolutely is. Don’t be fooled into thinking that magic has to be all pentagrams, exotic pet familiars and witch’s brew (it can be those things, certainly, but that doesn’t mean it is); it can be as simple or complicated as the practitioner needs it to be.
- Now, keeping that in mind, let’s shift gears into the effects of candles within a magic circle. Candles, like incense, add a certain mystique and enchantment to a magickal working (whether due to its elemental properties of air, light and fire, its aroma or color, or even just cultural conditioning and association of candles being used in a magickal/religious/sacred setting). This is important because it helps the practitioner get in the appropriate head space for ritual, and this allows her to truly focus her intention, uninhibited, and that is the goal of any magickal work at the end of the day.
- As we have discussed thus far, candles are important for a huge host of reasons. They are a representation of fire, air and light. Their warm glow is a bridge to the “otherworldly” or “metaphysical” (be that God, Gods, fae, spirits, or simply the universe). Cross culturally, as we have determined, candles represent wisdom, knowledge, good and morally right. They represent the sacred and the hallowed, and as such are a way to connect with and communicate with the Gods. Many believe that the wisps of candle smoke can communicate one’s wishes and desires straight to the heavens/gods. And these cultural associations are powerful – each and every one of them continue to fuel the power that candles have. When a witch sits in front of her candle, staring into the flame, chanting magical words of power, she is lent the combined power of all those before her who have ever focused their energies and intentions into the flame of a candle. Solitary candle magick, with the right focus, mindset and intention, can raise energies and power equalling a coven of hundreds. There is power in shared connection, and there is perhaps no more ancient a form of magick than this one.
How to Do Candle Magick:
- Take a candle. Any will do – tall candle, birthday candle, green candle, black candle, votive candle (depending on your intention and the specifics of your spell that is).
- Go to a quiet place where you will not be disturbed. This could be outdoors. This could be your altar. It is entirely up to you. But it has to be a place where you can focus and conduct magical workings without distraction.
- Burn the candle as you chant and focus all your energies and power towards your intention as you stare into the flame. You can do this as part of a more “complete” spell if you need, but a simple chant is enough. You can call upon your gods or work within a circle, whatever you see fit. It is helpful to use visualization as a technique – visualize your intention as something that has materialized and been perfected/achieved.
- Once you have spent all the energy that you possibly could direct at your intention, put out your candle. You can blow it out or snuff it out – some guides talk about avoiding blowing out a candle, but I think that depends on the witch herself. Blow it out if you are confident in doing so and don’t associate negativity with it.
Yes, it really is that simple. You don’t need some complicated spell or ritual here (in fact, often the most powerful spells are those that we don’t even consider spells). You can dress your candle with a corresponding oil, herb or spice if you need. I would recommend drawing an appropriate sigil into your candle as a very effective and powerful practice. Some practitioners even go so far as to use drops of their blood or other bodily fluid into the candle (I would not recommend doing this and this definitely is not necessary, especially at this stage, but more on the specifics of blood magic another time).
-What do I do with my candle after my spell?
While many recommend burning the candle all the way out, it isn’t necessary. You can reuse this candle to repeat the spell you carried out or another one like it. In that case, it might even intensify the effect since it would already be imbued with power and magic. Don’t use this candle for a spell of a different sort.
-Do I have to burn the candle all the way out?
You can. You certainly don’t have to – please do what is best for your individual practice.
-What correspondences should I use for candle magick?
Whatever makes sense to you for your particular spell. Check out our guide on spell-casting for more information. But for the most part, if you build and act on your own, personal associations for spells, the more powerful and specific the results.
Based on everything discussed in this guide thus far, we can conclude that candle magick can be used as a standalone type of magick, or to enhance other forms of magick. For example, let’s suppose that you are trying out a kitchen magick spell, there is no reason that you couldn’t enhance your spell by including a candle, setting your intention upon it and putting it out. The beauty of candle magick is not just its simplicity, but also its versatility – it can be applied to enhance any type of magical practice.
I cannot recommend candle magick enough – it is often one of the fastest ways to get acquainted with the world of magick and is both efficient and beginner friendly. All the best on your magickal journey – Blessed Be.