Candle Magick 101

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Fate does not intrude in your life no matter how you act.
She intercedes for you . . . who do not act. - Chesterton


Welcome to Candle Magick 101.

I’m going to share with you what I have learned from doing, as well as what the books have taught me. (But please do not reproduce without my permission as it would be impossible to credit who with what!) A good candle magick book is needed to learn which oils to use for which purpose. Also Herb Magick and Stone Magick books are useful, if you want to boost a candle spell by sprinkling it with herbs and circling the candle with stones.

What kind of candle?

I rarely use novelty candles. Candles shaped like men, women, cats, devils, etc., or candles made and charged by other witches. (Unless, of course they are made by my Royal One, who has just begun making candles that are both lovely and powerful!) I know that candles made and charged by other witches can produce positive results - otherwise what would be the point of arguing whether we should work for one another. And using other witches spells and candles is fine if one doesn't have the expertise or the time to work. But, since I cleanse all my candles to remove any unwanted impressions, what’s the point of buying witchly pre-charged candles. I like to work so I use the least witchly candles I can find. And I never use candles that are pre-scented in pre-printed jars.

Some people feel they should make their own candles…that’s great if you have the time. Some people feel only pure bees wax candles should be used. Well, if you’ve got the money feel free…they’re lovely. (As for me, I'd have trouble focusing on a serious banishing spell while the candle oozes that sweet honey smell.) I often use 6” tapers (short table candles) or the 4” candles about the size of your pinky. (Since many spells require a candle to burn to the end, 10 – 12 inch tapers can take hours and candles should not be left alone. for some that may be a lot of candle sitting.) These smaller candles are inexpensive, but sometimes hard to find. Around (or just after) any holiday is the best time to go bargain candle hunting. One of my mail order catalogs put their 6” candles on sale each holiday…Xmas: reds, greens, whites, golds, plus metallic golds and silvers to please the gods….Halloween: oranges and blacks…Easter: light blues, pinks, yellows…Independence Day…reds, whites and dark blues. In the small sizes, the hardest colors to find are magenta, purple and black. So I buy, buy, buy when I make a find. The smaller candles are easier to manage. The only time I use the large tapers or pillars is when I will be blowing them out and restarting as decreed in the spell.

I have always used votive candles in glass jars (for healing, spiritual aid, memorials, protection/blessing wards to mark the quarters) that I will let burn over a long period of time. I oil and sign the wax surface and charge it visually. I also add herbs to the liquefied wax to boost or recharge the spell. They are not, however, as desirable for beginners because they cannot be fully dressed and lack the ability to experience the tactile sensuality of being able to physically work with the wax, which I recommend. However, as I have grown and internalized twenty years of candle magick practices, my spells have required less physical practice. Consequently I use the glass enclosed candles more and more often. They are clean, cheap and I practice constantly - using them.

What kind of oils?

My favorite oils are essential oils, not blended oils. There are thousands of oils out there marked Success, Money, Love, Banishing (I have a lovely Peace oil and a Fire oil (that I sometimes use in place of Cinnamon and Clove oils) and a Seduction oil to knock your socks off!). There are oils named after the planets, after goddesses and gods, and after the astrological signs. Some oil blends and their names are so old, no one remembers who designed them first. Some of these blended oils have recipes that are decades if not centuries old and if you are lucky enough to find them, use them by all means. However, everyone has jumped on the witchly merchandising bandwagon and one will find more blended oils that require a modern recipe and they vary widely. I’ve bought five Virgo oils in an attempt to find an astral oil and none of them liked me. The more I practiced (a year or two), the more an oil chose me. Mimosa was a scent that was not Anchored to any previous emotion, person or event in my life and thus - it became my sacred oil, astral oil, all purpose oil, despite what any book tells me it should be used for. And as I’ve grown in knowledge I’ve mixed a few of my own oil blends. As I grow in time, I would love to learn to make my own oils.

How to light a candle.

In the strict use of candle magic, (here comes that “proper purity” that I lack) it is a taboo to use matches. Matches use phosphorous and sulfur, and we all know what sulfur means.....eeeee-vil. The ideal way to light your candles (and it’s a lovely one) is to “Draw done the Sun” on MidSummer and keep a vigil candle burning all year to light your candles from. (Again great, if you have the money and a permanent alter.) Since most people do not have permanent alters, the books advise that you go into another room away from you sacred space, light a “lighting candle” with a gas lighter, carry it back into your sacred space and light your candles from that…. (Apparently the gods don’t like gas either) I often have other spell candles going so I may simply use a lighting stick (leftover fireplace long handled matchstick) But, you choose. Since I do not believe that anything in nature is inherently evil and I happen to like the smell of matches…I use matches. (Although, over the years, I developed a kind of criteria for what kind of matches I prefer to use. They have to be special matches. Matches from special occasions…like weddings or parties…or from special places that I’ve had a wonderful time at, like restaurants and hotels. (I still have matches from the Hotel (where my husband and I met 15 years ago) and our favorite (a restaurant that was a longtime family favorite…both which no longer exist. But I still use those matches for very special purposes.)

Before you start to prepare your candles, you may prepare yourself in the any ritual way that is familiar to you. With a bath, sacred garments, incense, candles, meditation or just taking three good deep breaths to purge yourself of the day’s tension...what ever is purifying and respectful. If nothing else, I wash my hands and feet, I light incense, and strike a bell thrice to open and close my meditation. (My “bell” is actually a Brass candle snuffer that I strike against any hard object…which has a lovely sound.)

Preliminary Cleansing:

Small carving knife, blessed for the purpose…see below. Cloth, wax paper or paper towels Olive, mineral, baby or furniture oil (lemon scented is okay. I use olive oil.)

In an area other than your sacred space, trim away unwanted wax…usually off the bottom if any. Rub the oil onto the candles to remove any dust or smudges. A polishing cloth brings them up with a nice luster. Exorcising and Blessing: (the magick begins) Prepared holy water: Use pure spring water, or seawater (my choice) or you can make Rose water, Lilac water or Sacred water by using spring water and adding drops of Rose oil, Lilac oil, or a pinch of sea salt. (I use the latter when I’m overdue for a trip to the beach.) Incense: Choose your incense as you would your oils…research and ask what others use them for and then let your instincts guide you. As with my oils…over time, an incense chose me (Cedarwood) and though I love and use others - (It seems Nag Champa is everyone's current favorite and thus our Esbat incense!, I still prefer Cedarwood above all others for personal use.

Carving knife…I have a long handled paring knife…the long handle makes it easy to hold as either a knife or a pen. For the tricky carving, I also have used a carving tool with a straight edge on one side and a curved on the other. It’s a standard crafting tool. Now, a Crafting tool.

Make a sign of Power (a solar cross or pentagram both to banish and then to bless) Sprinkle water over the candles. saying: Wicca: “Let these creatures of wax be cleansed (+) and sanctified (+) and blessed (+) for my intended purpose. May they bring realization of that purpose to the one for whom they shall burn…by all the powers that be, by and though my hand. Blessed Be.” (Too many words for me.) Mine: Facing East, holding the water before me, I say: “With Light and Air before me, With Light and Water behind me, With Light and Earth to the left of me, With Light and Fire to the right of me, do I accept (+), cleanse (+), and bless (+) these servants.” (I wrote these words because they make a solar cross over me (blessing me) before I make the solar cross over the candles. This is my standard blessing. I just fill in the blanks with what ever I’m blessing…this garment, this room, these stones, this knife…you get it. ) Irish traditions, say that I should face the North, but I salute the North before facing the rising sun or rising moon - under which I bless most of my tools.

I pick a special day for cleansing & blessing my candles. Many choose the high holiday of Imbolg (Brigantia, Brighid's Day) on February 1st/2nd in honor of the fire goddess Bridget to bless a year’s supply of candles (a tradition borrowed by the Catholic Church) and to prepare them for charging. (However, I have never accurately estimated how many candles I use in a year and will have to bless more throughout the year, so sometimes I try, at least to just bless those I might use as vigil or warding candles.) Many people carve (see below) and charge their candles immediately after cleansing and blessing with specific intentions and have a store of already generally charged (Health, Love, Money) candles in the drawer ready to incant over and light.

I don't. I store my cleansed/blessed candles in preparation for charging at the moment they are needed. I want the need of the moment and the person of the moment to help focus me on the precise intent of the candle. (I simply don’t look upon charging a happiness candle for a family member the same as I would look upon charging a happiness candle for, say, a coworker.) On a somewhat passive day of cleansing and blessing, I cannot conjure the kind of energy I need to fully transform a candle into the thing I want it to become. But I understand how, when one is short of time, a fully charged candle can come in handy.

Bless with Incense thoroughly:

Wicca: “May the petitions and prayers that accompany these candles as they burn ascend…as does the smoke from this incense…purified and pleasing to the Gods, and mingle with the Holy cosmic Mind, which knows how to provide for our needs. So mote it be!” Mine: A Sacred Silence: Envisioning the smoke permeating the candle, blessing it from the inside out, and carrying away all negativity.

Carve a sacred symbol into the wax of each candle at the base. (A cross or pentagram or something sacred to you like a rune sign or a glyph or any made up symbol that roots itself deeply in you. What ever feels right to you. I was taught this to secure these candles as having been cleansed and blessed for a sacred purpose and to prevent them accidentally being used on the dinner table. Although as I grew as a witch, and began Living the Magick, (not just practicing it at an altar or under moon or tree) I realized that meal time was one of the most sacred times of the day, the daily bounty of the gods, good food, good company and good conversation. Why wouldn’t I want sacred candles blessing the food, the moment and those I loved who shared it? so, now - in my house there is not such thing as an unblessed candle.

Charging: (Done within a sacred space) This is the most important part of the procedure which consists of rubbing the candle in a certain manner, while concentrating deeply on your purpose or petition and strongly visualizing the desired outcome. ((( If thought is form, then remember…we don’t wish on candles…we project the objective as if completed…already achieved in the future. And we just wait for time to catch us up to it. ))) The medium of transference will be the desired Magickal Oil chosen for each individual purpose. Some people use one all purpose “Candle Dressing Oil” or neutral oil on all candles. But I find that individual oils evoked for a specific purpose aid a stronger focal ability, especially when, for me, banishing and drawing are too very different mental disciplines. (All I have to do is open some of my oils and the intent I’m seeking comes bursting forth from me. Sometimes a certain oil will instantly remind me why I used it last, the spell and for whom-even if I haven’t used it for months – (that is called Anchoring.) If you are charging several candles for different purposes...wash hands between each charging so as not to pollute one candle with another’s oil.

If you haven’t already, Carve a symbol or word to represent your intention on the surface of the taper. Here’s where a love of runes can save you time. You can use glyphs for health, happiness…and even make your own glyphs to include the rune or glyph that represents the person you are casting for. Use the same visualizing technique…see the person in the rune…see the petition in the glyph… (I made Futhark glyphs of the names of each of my family and friends. I also have alchemical symbols that represents my clan. Some are in their mundane names (My glyph ended up being the rune for the letter ea. I carved it on my athame almost 20 years ago), then later made glyphs in their craft names. Now some have a glyph in Ogham. Whichever looks the prettiest, the simplest, the strongest, the most right.). When in doubt or in a hurry or have a very specific intention (97 Black GMC Silverado, lifted with low mileage for my husband)…carving a name or intention in English on the side works just as well. Contrary to the British love of Latin...the gods can read your Mother language. After carving…

Tapers and pillars: To banish: begin by rubbing the candle from the center towards the bottom. Then rub from the center toward the top. (The gesture drawing the intention away from the center of the candle.) To draw: begin by rubbing the candle from the bottom towards the center, then from the top down to the center. (The gesture drawing the intention into the center of the candle.) ttggyhhhh <— Lady Familiar (stepping on my keyboard as I type!) reminds me to tell you that the books say to never pour the oil directly on the candle, but put the oil directly in the hand. (If pouring it on the wax feels right to you do it. Pouring it in my hand made too much oil and too much of a mess for me. I simply hold the bottle in my right hand, tips the bottle of oil three times, onto my index or middle finger, lifting my finger each time, then rub the oil on thumb and apply to the candle. Each movement is measured and as deliberate as a Japanese tea ceremony.)

Glass enclosed candles: After carving on the top bit of wax. Pour a few drops of appropriate oil on the wax (scandalous!) or onto your finger and rub into the carving to set the runes, projecting your thoughts into the candle…mentally combining all the elements that you are bringing together…for a unified purpose. Rub oil in a banishing direction or in an attracting direction.

*** A Note about Clockwise and Counterclockwise gestures.***

When I am in circle - I use the standard circling directions - widdershins (counterclockwise) for banishing and deosil (clockwise) for attraction. However, Grandmother had a different view regarding right-handedness. One never gestures away from oneself to attract something. (It's like cutting a deck of cards towards oneself to draw the luck towards oneself.) Being right handed as my power hand, circling towards myself to attract a blessing on a candle or other object is actually widdershins (counter clockwise, supposedly meaning the opposite according to Wicca). And a banishing gesture over or around an object would be deosil (clockwise - again in Wicca, the opposite meaning). If one is left handed and the left is one's power hand, then the Wiccan circle casting rule would be the same - deosil for attraction and widdershins for banishing.)

If you are right handed and banishing, rub oil deosil (clockwise)…if attracting, rub oil widdershins (counterclockwise). Since I cannot actually hold the wax in my hands because it’s surrounded with glass…I hold my hands over the candle in a triangle pattern…at a height where I can only see the wax on the top of the candle. When I block the glass from my view, I feel closer to the wax. Hold the intention in your mind as long as you can, until it fades, or you just feel it is right to let it go. (At this point…I can spend an hour on one candle…that’s why I never charge more than one candle at a time unless they are for the same purpose and the same person. But that’s just me. If you can hold a deep concentration for a short period and change gears rapidly to charge another…you go! My mind works on six levels all at once…it takes a bit for me get everyone to shut up while I focus as deeply as I feel I need to.)

Astral or Image Candles (even entouvment of simple tapers as people) Follow the same rules as tapers, but charge the candles to become the human you wish them to represent. ( I’m still very careful with the language of entouvments regarding obedience to me. That’s just arrogant and dangerous, and since my vision is only almost always perfect, I don’t like the following… ) Wicca: “Here stand the image of Bob…Allen...Kim. It thinks like s/he thinks, moves as I wish her/him to move, behaves as I wish her/him to behave and by my hand is a true person, obedient to me.” Breathe on the candle saying “Breathe now Bob, and receive the gift of the Spirit” or “Receive the gift of life” or “Receive the gift of vibrant health.” Mine: “Creature of wax, thou art NAME, Born of Earth, Air, Fire and Sea. No longer wax but flesh and blood. Receptive to me. Thou art Name, as I decree. As it hurts no one, so shall it be.” I have to put the Rede on the end, so I can complete the intention without reservation. Even if the person I’m working for instructs me in exactly what s/he wants, then should there be something we aren’t taking into consideration…there’s a ward on the spell to keep anyone from suffering do to my blindness. There’s no such thing as an undo spell.

7-Knobbed candle: This candle is rubbed all in the same direction. Banishing: begin at the base and rub up to the top. Drawing: begin at the top and rub down to base.

If you use Altar or Deity candles, light them first (If you haven’t done so already), If you use an astral candle (a candle that represents you or the person you are working for), light that next. Then light your petition candle.

How to put out a candle.

If the spell requires you to put out the candle before it has burned fully, the books say, “Never! Blow out a candle! Pinch it out with your finger.” From the beginning, I felt this was wrong for me. Breath is sacred. Prophets and Sages have used their breath in blessing since the beginning of time. The Dali Lama still does. Years later, I learned that the Wind was my spirit guide. Instinctively, I knew that I should blow candles out or snuff them with a snuffer, if the spell is to be restarted at another day or time. When I blow out a candle(s) I always say:

This (These) goes out, but not the sun.
It does not end, what is begun.

Credit this incantation to Valerie Worth, a witch gifted with words. I loved it upon first hearing and have never written anything better. It’s meaning suggests that the candle is a small representative of the masculine divine and great power source, the Sun. As long as the Sun is burning, the spell continues to work even if the flame of the candle is out.

© 1992 - 2012 Ardriana Cahill

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