Some who want to use magic can not burn candles on their magical altar, either due to circumstances beyond their control, or even for health reasons like disability or impairment. For others, candles may be impractical, such as a situation where one is working outdoors or for those who use an altar that is deconstructed and kept to a minimum of items. Well, as nice as candles are to use in magic, their use is certainly not required to be able to cast a spell.
First, here is a brief discussion of how candles are used in spells.
COLOR – Candles are available in a wide variety of colors. Each color is representative of the desired result, ie. red = lust, desire .. green = money
SHAPE – The candle itself is a symbol, a model of the phallic image and it represents will, power and energy. When candles are used properly, they become the focus of the ritual or spellwork, effectively concentrating and moving energy in the desired direction, much like the magic wand or the athame of some magical traditions.
Candles are available in a variety of shapes as well. There are round candles, square candles and even candles that are shaped like figures (figural candles). Basic spells are cast that are centered around the shape of the candle. For instance, a lover’s spell can be cast by using a pillar or taper candle (long and skinny candles), but, an added and more focused effect is created by using a figural candle that is shaped in a human figure.
SIZE – The size of the candle that is used is also a consideration. A quick spell can be put together and cast by using a mini-candle and taper candles, which usually burn for a few hours or less, depending on the size. Ongoing spells or candles used for devotion are best cast by using a larger candle that can be burned and re-lit several times. Candles like these may take more than a few days to burn down.
INGREDIENTS – The ingredients that are used in candles and on candles, such as oils, are meant to add an extra effect. Oils or herbs are placed into the candle at the time of creation, or alternatively, candles are anointed during spell casting or ritual for magical effect.
USE – Candles are placed on the altar in designated areas, that denote what the purpose is for. In my altar arrangement, I use a center candle to cast my spells, and to the left of the center candle is my Bast statue, where I also burn candles on occasion. The appropriate candle is chosen before the spell is started and before the ritual begins. the candle is also empowered with intent and/or anointed with oils before it is lit. In working with two candles, I will light the first candle, and then light the second candle with the flame of the first candle that was lit, symbolically passing the flame from one candle to the other.
So, as you can see there are many ways that candles can be chosen, prepared and used in magical ritual. Doing without candles is no great sacrifice if you understand that the tools you use are representative of the effect that you want to create. All it requires is the use of basic, natural ingredients and a little creativity. So here are some suggestions to get you started.
– Talismans and Sigils. Create a talisman or sigil from natural ingredients like clay or paper. Use this talisman or sigil as a focus during spell casting. Use colored inks or colored paper for an intended effect.. No candle burning required.
– Herb Magic. Use an offering dish to place herbs into. the herbs act in much the same way that oils and candles do, as a representative of the forces that you are working with. Make a ritual tea (from SAFE and ingestible herbs such as mint or catnip..not all herbs are meant to be taken internally and some interfere with medication, so please research thoroughly) and as you create your tea and sip it during your ritual, focus on your result.
– Crystals. Meditation and focus with crystals and using their energies makes for a great method of casting magic. All one has to do is be familiar with crystals and their properties and be aware of how they are used. For more information visit my ongoing series – Working With Crystals, Stones and Metals at my Left Hand Path Books Blog.
– Ritual Oils. Some oils are safe to use on the skin, especially if they are diluted with a carrier oil such as jojoba, olive oil, or sesame. Ritual anointing with oil is a great way to absorb the qualities of an oil into your being. Be aware that some oils should never be put on the skin as they can irritate (cedar oil, cinnamon, orange oil etc.), and unless an oil is known to be food-grade (like almond oil made and specifically labeled for cooking) it should not be ingested or taken internally!
-Herbal Baths. There are specially made preparations for ritual baths that are created with sea salts, oils and herbs that are used as a magical bath. When used in spellwork they are like being anointed with the qualities that the bath contains.
-Magic Bags. Called magic bags, mojo bags, etc. they are like sachets which contain certain herbs, powders, gemstones, and possibly magical charms (symbolic charms). Placed in certain areas or kept on the person, they cause a magical effect to take place. For an example, If I were to make a sachet for gambling luck, I would put dice in it, and also some mint and patchouli herb, along with my lucky 2 dollar bill! Shazaam!
So, as you can see there are plenty of ways to create magical effects without using candles. For many, candles are a convenient way to cast spells, and are a focus of magical work, and for others, these methods that I’ve mentioned here are also great ways of creating magical spells.
According to the National Candle Association, Candle safety is an important consideration. “More than 15,000 candle fires are reported annually. According to fire experts, the bulk of candle-fire incidents are due to consumer inattention to basic fire safety or to the misuse of candles.”
Here are some important safety notices about candles. Many of these things seem like common sense but a reminder is always a good thing:
Always keep a burning candle within sight. Extinguish all candles when leaving a room or before going to sleep! Do not, under any circumstances, leave a candle unattended.
Never burn a candle on or near anything that can catch fire. Keep burning candles away from furniture, drapes, bedding, carpets, books, paper, flammable decorations, etc. Be very careful if you wear robes with sleeves during ritual.
Keep candles out of the reach of children and pets. Do not place lighted candles where they can be knocked over by children, pets or anyone else.
Trim candlewicks to ¼ inch each time before burning. Long or crooked wicks cause uneven burning and dripping. Trim your wick ONLY when the candle is extinguished.
Always use a candleholder specifically designed for candle use. The holder should be heat resistant, sturdy and large enough to contain any drips or melted wax.
Be sure the candleholder is placed on a stable, heat-resistant surface. This will also help prevent possible heat damage to counters and table surfaces and prevent glass containers from cracking or breaking.
Keep the wax pool free of wick trimmings, matches and debris at all times. These things can easily catch fire.
Keep burning candles away from drafts, vents, ceiling fans and air currents. This will help prevent rapid, uneven burning, and avoid flame flare-ups and sooting. Drafts can also blow lightweight curtains or papers into the flame where they could catch fire.
Always burn candles in a well-ventilated room. Don’t burn too many candles in a small room or in a “tight” home where air exchange is limited.
Don’t burn a candle all the way down. Extinguish the flame if it comes too close to the holder or container. For a margin of safety, discontinue burning a candle when 2 inches of wax remains or ½ inch if in a container.
Never touch a burning candle or move a votive or container candle when the wax is liquid. Wax is burning hot (especially dark colored waxes) and will burn you on contact.
Never use a knife or sharp object to remove wax drippings from a glass holder. It might scratch, weaken, or cause the glass to break upon subsequent use. You can easily crack your glass container which will make it unstable.
Place burning candles at least three inches apart from one another. This is to make sure they don’t melt one another, or create their own drafts that will cause the candles to burn improperly.
Use a candle snuffer to extinguish a candle. It’s the safest way to prevent hot wax from splattering.
Never extinguish candles with water. The water can cause the hot wax to splatter and might cause a glass container to break.
Make sure a candle is completely extinguished and the wick ember is no longer glowing before leaving the room.
Extinguish a candle if it smokes, flickers repeatedly, or the flame becomes too high. The candle isn’t burning properly and the flame isn’t controlled. Let the candle cool, trim the wick, then check for drafts before re-lighting.