Where does the word Candle originate?
The word candle is an unusual word in that it is from Old English but it didn’t as is usual, come from a Germanic source.
For the longest time candles were associated with church and so was the word, and so it originated from Latin. The Latin word candere means 'to flicker'.
What is a candle?
A candle is a source of light, and heat, most commonly consisting of a solid block of fuel (such as wax) and an embedded wick.
Today, most candles are made from paraffin. Candles have also be made from beeswax, soy or other plant waxes, and tallow (a by-product of beef-fat rendering). Modern gel candles are made from a mixture of paraffin and plastic.
A candle manufacturer is traditionally known as a chandler.
Various devices have been invented to hold candles, from simple tabletop candle holders, to elaborate chandeliers.
How does a candle work?
The heat of the match used to light the candle melts and vaporises a small amount of fuel. Once vaporised, the fuel combines with oxygen in the atmosphere to form a flame. This flame provides sufficient heat to keep the candle burning via a self-sustaining chain of events:
The burning of the fuel takes place in several distinct regions (as evidenced by the various colours that can be seen within the candle's flame). Within the bluer regions, hydrogen is being separated from the fuel and burned to form water vapour. The brighter, yellower part of the flame is the remaining carbon being oxidised to form carbon dioxide.
As the mass of solid fuel is melted and consumed, the candle grows shorter. Portions of the wick that are not evaporating the liquid fuel are consumed by the flame. The incineration of the wick limits the exposed length of the wick, thus maintaining a constant burning temperature and rate of fuel consumption.
Some wicks require regular trimming with scissors (or a specialised wick trimmer), usually to about 7cm, to promote slower, steady burning, and to prevent smoking.
History of Candles
In Rome, around the first century, 'candle torches' were made out of tallow and the pith of rushes. The Egyptians and Cretans made a 'candle lamp' from beeswax, as early as 3000 BC.The earliest known solid candles originated in China around 200 BC, and were made from whale fat. Candles did not appear in Europe until sometime after 400 AD, due largely to the availability of olive oil for burning in lamps.
The early European candle was made from various forms of natural fat, tallow, and wax. In the 18th century, spermaceti, oil produced by the sperm whale, was used to produce a superior candle. Late in the 18th century, colza oil and rapeseed oil came into use as much cheaper substitutes.
Paraffin was first distilled in 1830, and revolutionised candle-making, as it was an inexpensive material which produced a high-quality, odourless candle that burned reasonably cleanly. The industry was devastated soon after, however, by the distillation of kerosene (confusingly also called paraffin oil or just paraffin).
Recently resin based candles that are freestanding and transparent have been developed, with the claim that they burn longer than traditional paraffin candles. They are usually scented and oil based.
Candles and Timekeeping
With the fairly consistent and measurable burning of a candle, a common use was to tell the time. The candle designed for this purpose might have time measurements, usually in hours, marked along the wax. The Song dynasty in China (960–1279) used candle-clocks.
By the 18th century, candle-clocks were being made with weights set into the sides of the candle. As the candle melted, the weights fell off and made a noise as they fell into a bowl. A form of candle-clock was used in coal-mining until the 20th century.
Candles and Religion
Candles have been used for centuries for magick and ritual in one way or another by every religion and spiritual practice.
The candle is used in Sikhism on Diwali, the festival of light.
Candles are a traditional part of Buddhist ritual observances. Along with incense and flowers, candles (or some other type of light source, such as butter lamps) are placed before Buddhist shrines or images of the Buddha as a show of respect. They may also be accompanied by offerings of food and drink. The light of the candles is described as representing the light of the Buddha's teachings, echoing the metaphor of light used in various Buddhist scriptures.Google: Ubon Ratchathani Candle Festival for an example of a Buddhist festival that makes extensive use of candles.
In almost all Hindu homes, lamps are lit daily and sometimes every day before an altar. In some houses, the lamps, or candles, at dawn, and in some, twice a day - at dawn and dusk - and in a few, it is maintained continuously.
A diya, or clay lamp, is frequently used in Hindu celebrations and forms an integral part in many social rites. It is a strong symbol of enlightenment and prosperity.
In its traditional and simplest form, the diya is made from baked clay or terracotta and holds oil or ghee that is lit via a cotton wick.
Traditional diyas have now evolved into a form wherein waxes are being used as replacements for oils.
In Christianity the candle is commonly used in worship both for decoration and ambiance, and as a symbol that represent the light of God or, specifically, the light of Christ. The altar candle is often placed on the altar, usually in pairs. Candles are also carried in processions, especially to either side of the processional cross. A votive candle or taper may be lit as an accompaniment to prayer.
Candles are lit by worshippers in front of icons in Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Eastern Catholic and other churches. This is referred to as "offering a candle", because the candle is a symbol of the worshipper offering himself or herself to God (and proceeds from the sale of the candle are offerings by the faithful which go to help the church). Among the Eastern Orthodox, there are times when the entire congregation stands holding lit tapers, such as during the reading of the Matins Gospels on Good Friday, the Lamentations on Holy Saturday, funerals, Memorial services, etc. There are also special candles that are used by Orthodox clergy. A bishop will bless using dikirion and trikirion (candlesticks holding two and three candles, respectively). At Pascha (Easter) the priest holds a special Paschal trikirion, and the deacon holds a Paschal candle. The priest will also bless the faithful with a single candle during the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts (celebrated only during Great Lent).
In the Roman Catholic Church a liturgical candle must be made of at least 51% beeswax, the remainder may be paraffin or some other substance. In the Orthodox Church, the tapers offered should be 100% beeswax, unless poverty makes this impossible. The stumps from burned candles can be saved and melted down to make new candles.
In some Western churches, a special candle known as the Paschal candle, specifically represents the Resurrected Christ and is lit only at Easter, funerals, and baptisms. In the Eastern Orthodox Church, during Bright Week (Easter Week) the priest holds a special Paschal trikirion (triple candlestick) and the deacon holds a large candle during all of the services at which they serve.
In Sweden and other Scandinavian countries, St. Lucia Day is celebrated on December 13 with the crowning of a young girl with a wreath of candles.
In many Western churches, a group of candles arranged in a ring, known as an Advent wreath, are used in church services in the Sundays leading up to Christmas. In households in some Western European countries, a single candle marked with the days of December is gradually burned down, day by day, to mark the passing of the days of Advent; this is called an Advent candle.
In Judaism, a pair of candles are lit on Friday evening prior to the start of the weekly Sabbath celebration.On Saturday night, a special candle with several wicks is lit for the Havdalah ritual marking the end of the Sabbath and the beginning of the new week.
The eight-day holiday of Hanukkah, also known as the Festival of Lights, is celebrated by lighting a menorah or Hanukkiyah each night to commemorate the re-dedication of the Temple in Jerusalem.
A memorial candle is lit on the Yahrtzeit, or anniversary of the death of a loved one according to the Hebrew calendar. The candle burns for twenty-four hours. A memorial candle is also lit on Yom HaShoah, a day of remembrance for all those who perished in the Holocaust.
Candles are also lit prior to the onset of the Three Festivals (Sukkot, Passover and Shavuot) and the eve of Yom Kippur, and Rosh Hashanah.
A candle is also used on the night before Passover in a symbolic search for chametz, or leavened bread, which is not eaten on Passover.
For some Humanists the candle is used as a symbol of the light of reason or rationality. The Humanist festival of Human Light often features a candle-lighting ceremony.
A common element of worship in many Unitarian Universalism churches and fellowships is the lighting of candles of joy and concern. Here members of the congregation may come up to the altar or chancel, light a votive or other candle, and share a personal concern or joy with the community. Unitarian Universalism also incorporates candle-lighting ceremonies from other spiritual traditions, from which they draw inspiration.
In Paganism, the candle is frequently used on the altar to represent the presence of the God and/or Goddess, and in the four corners of a ritual circle to represent the presence of the four classical elements: Fire, Earth, Air, and Water. When used in this manner, lighting and extinguishing the candle marks the opening and closing of the ritual.
Altar candles are traditionally thick tall candles or long tapers which are available in many colours.The candle is also frequently used for magickal and/or meditative purposes.
In Paganism, the candles that are used, are a variety of colours, depending on the nature of the ritual or practice being performed.Pagans use candles to invoke the divine, they create a sense of ceremony and they are mesmerising to watch during a meditative session.
Candles can easily be purchased from many stores or shop without anyone blinking an eye or suspecting magick or witchcraft so candle magick is ideal for the practitioner who wishes to remain in the broomcloset!
As they come in every size, colour and shape imaginable, finding just the right Candle for just the right Magickal workings is fairly simple, and enables the practitioner to imbue their working with a sytrong sense of the intended desire.
Candles enhance the ability to focus your mind on your intent, they aid your projection of will, spirit and energy, to manifest your desire.
Everone has seen Candle Magick in action, even if they are not consciously aware of it and have most likely used it in one form or another all their life.
Most people's first experience of Candle Magick would be the first time they blew out the candles on their first birthday cake and made a wish.
Even those that do not see the inherant magick of the candles use it's power, from the simple candles on a birthday cake, to burning red rose scented candles during a romantic dinner for two, as a form of Love Magick, to lighting a candle in rememberance of a loved one who has passed.
Candle Magick is one of the simplest forms of Magick to work with, however this doesn't this mean it is a weaker form of Magick, far from it. Candle Magick calls for very few tools and so is fantastic on the move, it does however require great concentration and focusing of intention in order for it to be successful.
Candle magick is considered by some practitioners to be a complete form of magick within itself.
The body of the candle is made up from the elements of Earth, Air and Water, Fire is the flame and Spirit is placed within the candle by the practitioner and represented by the glow of the candle, within this glow of light lies the potential of the candle, magick, meditation and creation itself.
Basic Rules for Candle Magick
1) Always smother a flame that is to be extinguished before the candle is completed its burning, it is considered an offense to the Fire Elemental so blow out a candle.
2) Remember to keep yourself, your belongings and your surroundings safe and protected from fire hazards when working candle magick.
3) You can use any kind of candle that appeals to you. White is always a good choice, when you can't find a colour that corresponds with your intention but where possible you should choose candles whose colours correspond to specific energies.
5) Before using it, "dress" the candle (This imparts your special energies to it and forges a psychic link) with an appropriate oil. Where you are unable to find a specific oil, olive oil may be substituted.
6) Create an altar or special sacred place where you can burn your candle and leave it undisturbed afterwards. You can add flowers, incense or other symbolic items if you wish.
7) Try where possible to time your candle-burning magick to correspond with the correct phase of the moon. You can find this out by looking on the weather page of your newspaper or on the internet. To bring something into your life, do your rituals when the moon is waxing (or growing). To rid yourself of something, do it when the moon is waning.
8) Meditate briefly on your intention before lighting the candle to help still the mind and bring your desire into focus. When you light the flame, state your intention out loud, in simple, clear terms. Imagine that you already have what it is you want in your life. Watch the flame steadily, but don't stare intently. Focus on being receptive and open to what it is you want.
9) Let the candle burn as long as you want, but NEVER leave it unattended. Be sure to put it out at the end of your session (see rule number 1).
10) Repeat the ritual as often as you like, but don't get obsessive. Candle burning is a way to help you stay open to the possibilities of life. It may seem that your particualr wish didn't come true, but who knows? Maybe its because something better is coming along.
Important pointers on choosing a candle for magickal purposes:
Any candles to be used for magickal and/or spiritual purposes should always be 'Virgin' (unused) at the start of the ritual. Using secondhand candles or other materials in magick can have disastrous effects as they contain the vibrations (energies) from previous use.
The only exception to this rule is Altar Candles which are used specifically to contain and increase energy each time they are used, however they should only ever be used for the same purpose and form of ritual (eg Altar candles used during the full moon esbats should only be used at full moon esbats).
There are some practitioners who make an exception to this when using Deity Candles for a Patron Deity, as Deities are considered to hold within them many different properties, many practitioners consider the use of a Patron Deity Candle as an exception outside of the general rules for Candle Magick and will have the same canlde burning on their Altar at all times. This is one of those practices that must be decided upon by each individual practitioner as to what feel right for them.Although candles can be purchased readily from many shops, in many colours, scents and shapes, many Pagans prefer to make their own, this enables them to pick out the Herbs, Scents and Colours appropriate for the intention they will be used for.Purchasding or making candles is the preferance of the individual practitioner, but whatever your choice there are some basics that need to be understood before beginning candle magick.
Performing Candle Magick
Candle Magic has been around for many, many years, and may be traced as far back as the Palaeolithic era. It is a very powerful form of sympathetic magic. Candle Magick, as with any type of Magick is not a game to play with, and as with any Magick should be taken seriously.
This magickal practice is based on three principals;
1. Choosing the right candle - Before choosing a canlde think about what your intended outcome is and decide upon the colour and form you wish your candle to take, for example for healing magick you may wish to choose a blue candle in the shape of a human figure.
Any type of candle may be used for candle magick as long as it has been cleansed and consecrated prior to use. Although beeswax candles are higher in price than store bought candles, they are considered by many Pagans to be more powerful because they are produced from an unprocessed natural substance.
2. Cleansing and Consecrating- Once you have chosen your candle the next step is to cleanse and consecrate your candle, this is a very important step and should not be omitted. Cleansing removes all the negative energies that the candle may have picked up along the way. As with all magickal supplies you want your candles to to be as free of psychic debris as possible. Once meathos is to submerge the candle in sea salt and the ask The Lord and Lady to bless it. The phrasing is up to the individual practitioner as, it is better when it comes from your own heart.
3. Dressing the Candle - Dressing ther candle is simply to imbue the candle with energy by annointing it with oil. Dressing the candle with an appropriate oil is an important step. However what is most important is the direction in which you dress the candle.
To bring something to you, rub oil on the candle in an inwards motion from the ends to the middle.
To send something away from you, rub the oil in an outwards motion, from the middle of the candle out to the ends.
Never make a back and forth motion as this defeats the purpose of dressing the candle.
Dab the remaining oil from your fingers onto your third eye and on your breast bone, and rub it between your palms.
4. Inscribing your Candle - If you choose to inscribe a candle and you as a practitioner who uses both and Athame and a Boline, you should use your Boline (this is an area of dispute however dependant upon your path) for this task. However if like myself, you use your ritual knife for both cutting the physical as well as spiritual then you would use this knife.
The same principle as dressing the candle is used...
To draw something to you, write from the top to the middle, and then from the bottom to the middle.
To repel things, write from the middle to the ends.
5. Charging your Candle - To charge your candle you can choose one of several methods:
Whatever method chosen is up to the individual and what works best for them.
Once you have performed these steps your candle is prepared and ready, for some practitioners this is the extent to which their spell is prepared and the candle will then be lit and left to do it's work. For others the candle iteself may be a smaller part of a larger spell, again this is up to the individual, the requirements for the outcome and the practitioners prefered method of working.
Pagans use different coloured candles to reflect different powers, as well as different intents. In various colour combinations, any form of Magickmay be invoked.
Amber - Develop Witchery Skills, Goddess Magick
Black - Warding from Negativity, Remove Hexes, Protection, Spirit Contact, The Universe, Night, Truth, Remove Discord, Confusion, Meditation, Shape shifting, Uncrossing, Binding, Banishing, removing negative energy, bringing balance, empower personal strength and power. They are also used to end or cause disagreement, protection from retribution, banishing rituals and protection.
Dark Blue - The Goddess, Water Elemental, Watchtowers of the West, Truth, Dreams, Protection, Change, Meditation, Impulse.
Light Blue - Psychic awareness, Intuition, Opportunity, Understanding, Quests, Safe journey, Patience, Change.
Blue - (any shade) Health, Good Fortune, Opening Communication, Truth, Personal Goals, Peace, Calm, Loyalty, Protection During Sleep, Peace and Harmony, protection, healing, curing fevers, re-uniting friendships, house blessings, breaking bad habits, overcoming addiction, clearing atmosphere where there are arguments or trauma.
Brown - Earth elemental, Endurance, Steadiness, House/Homes, Physical objects, Uncertainties, Friendship, Lost Objects, Telepathy Clairvoyance, Female Powers, Animal healing, pet magick, and understand your familiar. Used for grounding and stabilising. Concentration, balance, ESP, intuition, study, justice and separation.
Copper - Passion, Career, Maneuvers, Money Goals, Professional Growth, Business Growing
Gold; The Sun God, Solar energy, Power, Physical Strength, Success, Achievement, Mental growth, Skills Sought, Healing Energy, Intuition, Divination, Fortune, Money Promote Winning, Wealth, Male Power
Gold (or pale goldenYellow) - Fortune, Understanding, Divination, Attracts cosmic influences and is beneficial in rituals intended to bring fast luck and money. It is also used in rituals needing solar energy.
Gray - Cancelling, Neutralising, Stalemate, Understanding and Wisdom
Green - Lord and Lady of Greenwood, Earth Elemental, Watchtowers of the North, Herb Magick, Nature Magick, Faery Magick, Luck, Fertility, Healing Balance, Employment, Prosperity, Courage, Agriculture, Changing, Hesitation, Garden Magick, Money Growing, Abundance, Money, Treasure, worldly possessions. Green is also used to clear obstacles in the way of revealing hidden treasure, and in job seeking, good fortune, generosity, money, wealth, success, renewal, marriage, healing cancer and helping with female problems.
Greenish-Yellow - Negate discord, Sickness, Anger, Jealousy
Indigo - Meditation, Spirit communication, Karma Workings, Learn the Ancient Wisdom, Neutralise Another's Magick, Ward Slander, Gossip, Hex Breaking, often used in meditation, astral projection, balancing Karma, calming the spirit and stopping gossip.
Lavender - Spiritual Development, Psychic Growth, Divination, Sensitivity to the Other World, Blessings
Magenta - Brings quick changes, spiritual healing and spirit magick. Raises the vibration frequency and tends to quicken other magickal work. It is often used with other candles or added to magickal work.
Orange - The God, Strength, Healing, Pulling Things To You, Adaptability, Luck Vitality, Encouragement, Clearing the Mind, Dominance, Business Goals, Property Deals, Ambition, Success Justice, Selling, Opens Communication and understanding. Joins telepathically, enhances telekinetic energy, heightens the extrasensory senses. This is excellent for job hunting, success, encouragement, adaptability, stimulation, attraction, sudden change, control, power to draw the good things in life and to change luck.
Pink - Honour, Morality, Friendships, Emotional Love, Love Spells, Femininity, Good Will, Maturity, Caring, Nurturing, Affection, Healing Emotions, Partnership, Gentle love, to fall in love, romance. Brings love, affection, romance, spiritual awakening, healing of spirits and togetherness.
Purple - Spiritual Development, Intuition, Ambition, Healing, Progress, Business, Brings personal power, spiritual strengthening, strengthens magickal energy within ones self. Purple is a colour of honour, to bring respect and have respect recognised in others. Spiritual Communication, Protection, Occult, Wisdom, to Strengthen Magickal Powers, Psychic Ability, Stability in all things
Red - Fire Elemental, Watchtowers of the South, Strength, Power, Energy, Health, Vigour, Enthusiasm, Courage, Passion, Sexuality, Longevity, Sex, Lust, Anger, Willpower, Magnetism, Fertility, Fast Action
Silver - The Goddess, Lunar Magick, Meditation, Psychic Development, Success, Balance, Wards Negativity, Moon Magick, Goddess Magick. Variegated; Inner Development through Relaxation and Introspection
Violet - Success, Self Improvement, Intuition, Success in Searches
White - The Lord and Lady Together, Full Moon Magick, Purity, Protection, Truth, Meditation, Peace, Sincerity, Justice, Warding off doubts and Fears, Spirit Magick, cleaning, purity, positive energy and spirit magick
Yellow - Air Elemental, Watchtowers of the East, Divination, Clairvoyance, Mental Alertness, Intellectual Growth, Prosperity, Learning, Changes, Harmony, Creativity, Meditation, Spiritual Strength, Exorcism, Healing
In addition to plain candles, spiritual suppliers, as early as the 1930s, have provided figural or "image" candles for special uses.
Whilst more expensive than plain candles, figural candles are often preferred by many practitioners when working unusual or extremely strong spells, because their visual symbolism is easy to see and by carving names or other features in them, they can be personalized to represent individuals, in what amounts to a magickal cross working with candles and working with poppets. Most of the old figural candle styles are still manufactured. Among the most popular are the following:
If doing a spell working for another person, you should try to incorporate the use of a candle with the colour in accordance to their birth candle as well as a candle the colour of the intention.
Astrological Colour Associations