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Pagan Portals Candle Magic
A Witch's Guide to Spells and Rituals
By Lucya Starza
John Hunt Publishing Ltd.Copyright © 2015 Lucya Starza
All rights reserved.
First Steps in Candle Magic
A Simple Candle Spell
If you're reading this book, I'm guessing you want to do some candle spells, so I'll leave the history, theory and safety advice until later. Let's start with some practical magic.
Go and find yourself a tea-light candle; an ordinary white one will be fine. Most people have one or two somewhere around the house, even if that's just in case of a power cut. Obviously if you are reading this book on the bus, in the library or sneakily beside the shelf in a shop, you will probably have to wait until you get home to find a candle, but do it as soon as you can. The best way to learn magic is by doing it – not just reading books.
Once you have a candle, find something to scratch a word onto the wax – a small craft knife will do, or a pen knife. If you are an experienced witch you might have a special knife set aside for this kind of thing (sometimes called a boline if you want to get technical). Or you could use a cocktail stick or toothpick. Any of these will do just fine.
Now think of something you want to wish for. Keep it simple and try to sum it up in one word; health, wealth, happiness, love, success, security, justice are all good words to use. Take the tea-light out of its casing and scratch that word onto the side or bottom. If you want a new job or a new home, just scratch 'job' or 'home'. Short and simple is best.
While you are inscribing your word, concentrate on a mental picture of what your life will be like when your wish comes true. (This technique is called 'visualisation' and it draws on the powers of the imagination to help you see clearly what you want and work towards getting it – but that's enough theory for now.) Hold the candle in your hands for a moment or two after you have finished carving your wish, but continue the visualisation.
Find something safe to put the tea-light in. If you have a pretty tea-light holder, that's ideal, but you can put it in a glass or ceramic dish or a jam jar – or a cauldron if you've got one. (I find cauldrons are better as candle holders than as things to brew potions in – I usually use a saucepan for potion brewing, but I'm digressing.) Light the candle. Ideally, let it burn down all in one go, but that isn't always practical and you shouldn't leave a lit candle unattended. An alternative is to burn the candle over several evenings until it is finished.
One final bit of advice – don't keep wondering whether your spell will work. When you aren't actually doing the spell, try to keep it out of your thoughts. Carry on with your normal life and let the magic happen. If you keep worrying about whether your wish will come true there's a chance you will disperse the magic through fretting about it.
Now you've done a candle spell. You may be thinking that if it works, why do you need to read a whole book on the subject? Well, many experienced witches only ever use candle magic in this basic form. Simple spells can be very effective, just as simple food may be what we prepare most often out of choice. But, as with cookery, there's a lot more you can do beyond the basics.
These early chapters are the best place to start if you are new to witchcraft and magic. The book starts simply and gradually goes deeper. There are all sorts of ways you can make your candle magic more effective – through different colours and scents, by the powers of different phases of the Moon and days of the week and by adding all sorts of other witchy ingredients into the mix. I promise you won't have to add any wing of bat or eye of newt to your candle spells though – at least not real ones. I have used some bat-shaped candles in the past.
As well as covering more complex spells and candle rituals, I'll briefly explain how to make candles. Oh and I'll also be covering a bit of history and theory for those who like that kind of thing. And if you're a witch who has been doing candle magic for years, I hope I'll still be able to teach you one or two new things.
Types of Candle
Pretty much any candle can be used for magic, but different types are better for different things. I made a classic mistake when I first cast a candle spell. I picked a big, impressive candle, carved my intention down the side, lit it and waited for it to burn down.
The instructions I had read for the spell told me I had to let it burn all in one go, so that was what I did. After I got bored staring at it, I carried the ruddy thing around the house while I did the housework, cooked supper, ate, watched a movie on the telly and stayed up long past the witching hour reading a book. The candle was still only half burnt. The lesson I learnt was: next time get a smaller candle.
Now I am a wise enough witch to know you don't always have to let a candle burn down at one sitting for a spell to work, but it is best to use the right type of candle for the spell you want to cast. Here are various types of candle you are likely to find and a bit about the spells and rituals they are best for.
Tea-Lights and Night-Lights
The most versatile and common candles, tea-lights can be used pretty much whenever and wherever you want – the dining table, bathroom, garden, bedroom, meditation space or altar. Every witch should keep a stock. To state the obvious, tea-lights are small wax discs about 1cm to 2cm high and about 4cm wide. They are usually encased in a metal, plastic or wax-paper case and have a central wick with a small metal disc at the bottom to keep the wick straight. This makes them about as mess-free as possible.
Tea-lights get their name because they were traditionally used in teapot warmers and in other contraptions designed to keep food hot, including fondue sets. There's a magic fondue spell later in the book ...
Night-lights are similar to tea-lights. As I mentioned earlier, they were once commonly used to light bedrooms at night, but modern electric night-lights are considerably safer. Tea-lights typically burn for about 3 to 5 hours, although night-lights – as the name suggests – should burn all night long and usually have the duration marked on the casing.
Taper Candles and Dinner Candles
Designed to go into a standard candlestick or candelabra, these are so traditional they are almost certainly what springs to mind if someone mentions the word 'candle' – or 'fork handles', for those old enough to remember the Two Ronnies' comedy sketch. They are the kind you might put on the dinner table for a decoration that's a bit posher than a tea-light, which is why they are often called dinner candles, obviously. They are 'taper candles' because they are generally long and slim and taper to a bit of a point – a pleasing shape that's also practical. This is the shape created when candles are made by repeatedly dipping a wick in melted wax – the oldest method of manufacture. Taper candles are often used on Wiccan altars, usually in colours picked to represent the seasons. They can be used for spells too, of course.
Pillar candles are usually bigger and sturdier than taper candles and, let's face it, they are impressive. White church candles are a type of pillar candle and they do look superb in any ceremonial setting. If you have your own temple to do magic in, put a huge pillar candle on a tall stand and it not only sets the scene, but is also great to stand next to while doing a reading as part of a ritual. Pillar candles aren't always round and tall; they can be short and fat, square, triangular or fancy shapes. Some are huge and have multiple wicks. Pillar candles are usually referred to by their diameter and height when they are sold.
These get their name because they burn in the container they are made in. Like tea-lights they are relatively mess free, but are usually larger than tea-lights and last longer. The containers they come in can be lovely, especially those sold to be given as gifts. Once the original wax has gone you can reuse the container – either by popping a tea-light into it or making a new candle yourself. These are easy candles to make at home and great for combining spellcraft and candle making – more on that later.
Particularly relevant for spells or rituals are seven-day candles. As the name suggests, these are made to burn for seven days. There are two main types of seven-day candles. The first – the kind you are most likely to find in the UK – are often called memorial candles. They are designed to be left on the graves of departed loved-ones from one week to the next, between visits. Often for outdoor use, some will have a spike you can stick into the ground.
Other seven-day candles are specifically for spellwork or to petition the help of a deity or saint. These are more common in the US than in the UK, but you can find them for sale on the internet without much difficulty. They usually have a design on the container that either depicts a figure – a goddess, god, angel or saint for example – or symbols relevant to a specific spell, such as a four-leaf clover for luck. They can be used as pre-prepared spells; just light and leave. You can also add other components to them, such as scented oils.
These are, by definition, intended for spiritual or religious devotions. One dictionary defines the word 'votive' as: 'An object offered in fulfilment of a vow, such as a candle used as a vigil light.' Some of the container candles I've mentioned above are essentially votives, but in the UK the term votive candle often means a free-standing candle, not in a container. They can be small, short candles, but are often marked by how long they will burn. They are perfect for offerings in temples or churches or for use while meditating or conducting a vigil.
I love floating candles. These are usually round and smooth or flower-shaped, but can come in other designs such as butterflies or hearts. They look beautiful alight in a bowl of water and are especially used as wedding decorations, but I think they can be great for candle magic as well.
Those big container candles I mentioned earlier can be called spell candles, but what I'm actually talking about here are small candles specifically designed for quick candle spells. They are like miniature dinner candles – usually about 1cm wide and 5cm or 6cm long. They can be bought in a huge range of colours so you can pick one that suits the spell. (There's a lot more on colour correspondences coming up next.) The reason these miniature candles are so great for candle spells is that they burn down fast. Some will last half an hour or so, some less. You need a suitably sized candleholder to put them in while you burn them, of course.
Some spell candles are mass-produced, but if you shop around you can buy handmade ones – and many witches prefer to use handcrafted items for their magic. Later on in this book I'll show you an extremely easy way to make your own spell candles – I do believe that anything you have made yourself will be most effective when it comes to doing magic.
Back in Victorian times candles of this size were used on Yule trees before electric fairy lights were invented, and they still are in some places. Obviously this poses a massive fire risk and shouldn't be attempted unless you watch the tree like a hawk and have a big fire extinguisher to hand.
Figures and Fancy Shapes
Candles can be moulded to look like pretty much anything. Around Yule you get snowmen and Santas, but you can also get them shaped like fruit, animals, people – even gods and goddesses. These can be used for spellwork or put on an altar as a representation of a deity or seasonal symbol, but think carefully about how well it fits in with what you intend before you use anything like this. You can use them to symbolise things wished for or powers you want to draw upon. Pagan supply shops sell figure candles of the type frequently used for magic. Two figures entwined are often used for love spells, cat shapes can be burnt for luck or protection and devils can be burnt for a bit of naughtiness if you are into that kind of thing (but do read the section on ethics first).
Another fancy shape sold specifically for spellwork is called the seven-knob candle. And before you start singing a song about a witch's candle having a knob on the end, this is actually formed from seven balls of wax on top of each other. You burn one ball each day for your spell to take effect. You can carve notches down the side of any old candle to divide it into seven sections if it doesn't have knobs to start with.
Tapers are different to taper candles although the name sounds the same. These are long, wax-coated wicks used to take a flame from one candle to light others. They are useful when you are doing spells and rituals that involve lighting lots of candles because they are less fiddly than matches and also easier than lighting a candle with another ordinary candle. Personally, I rarely use them. I have a thing that looks like a wand and works like a gas lighter. You can also use a spill or even a stick of dried spaghetti to light candles. Sounds odd, but it works.
As I mentioned earlier, making a wish over a birthday cake and blowing out all the candles is usually the first kind of candle magic anyone does. These little candles are great for candle spells too as they burn down really fast. I think you are never too old for this kind of magic – and it doesn't even have to be your birthday. Here is a cake candle spell you can do any time.
Cake and Candle Wishing Spell
All you need is a birthday cake candle and holder, and a cake. It can be any kind of cake you like; one you made yourself or one bought from a shop. I like a chocolate cupcake with lots of sprinkles.
Push the candle holder into the top of the cake and put the candle in it. Visualise your wish, light the candle and spend a few moments concentrating on what you want. Before the candle burns down completely, blow the candle out and imagine your wish being sent out to the universe. Remove the holder and remains of the candle and eat your cake – with a cup of tea or a glass of wine as you desire. Trust that the universe will hear your wish and respond ...
Colour and Correspondences
Although it's always okay to use a plain white candle when working magic, colours make spells more effective. The reason is that colours have symbolic associations that witches call 'correspondences'. The more correspondences you add to any spell you cast the more powerful it is – and it is easy to buy coloured candles these days.
It is well known that colours can influence our moods and affect our emotions. Warm colours are cheerful, vibrant colours are exciting and cold colours are calming. There are also traditional cultural associations we grow up learning. Nowadays in the western world, pink is stereotypically used for a girl and blue for a boy, but before the 20 century it was the other way around – boys were dressed in pink because it was a subtle shade of manly red, while little girls were dressed in delicate shades of blue. White is associated with weddings in the west, but in parts of Asia white is the colour for funerals and red is considered better for bridal decorations.
Because colour associations vary from person to person, when picking a colour for a spell go with whatever feels right to you – that will work best. However, when you are stuck for an idea or want to learn what other witches have done, it can be useful to see the common correspondences attributed to various colours. I'm going to start with the four colours most often used by witches to represent the elements: yellow, red, blue and green.
Yellow represents the sun, creativity, confidence, joy and happiness. It is the colour of ripe grain, sunflowers and honey. Natural beeswax candles are yellowish – although they vary in shade from pale cream to dark amber. Use yellow for spells to cheer someone up, sweeten the mood, celebrate success or boost a creative project, particularly writing or communication. I often use yellow candles for money spells, because to me it is the colour of the abundance of the harvest and close to gold. In the past, yellow had less pleasant connotations – such as cowardice. In the fin de siècle of the Victorian era, yellow was the colour of decadence associated with Bohemian artists.
When casting a magical circle, some witches put a yellow candle in the east to represent the element of air, although in other traditions, including Tibetan Buddhism, yellow represents the element of earth.
Excerpted from Pagan Portals Candle Magic by Lucya Starza. Copyright © 2015 Lucya Starza. Excerpted by permission of John Hunt Publishing Ltd..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
One: Candle Spells,
First Steps in Candle Magic,
Types of Candle,
Colour and Correspondences,
Scent and Essential Oils,
Herbs and Crystals, Bells and Whistles,
Candlesticks, Tea-Light Holders, Bottles and Jars,
Purification and Anointing,
When to Cast Your Spell,
Moving it all About,
Ethics and Curses,
Wax Poppets, Talismans and Amulets,
Two: Ceremonies and Rituals,
Basics of Ritual,
Altars and Altar Candles,
Candle Ritual to Send Healing,
Candles for Seasonal Celebrations,
Devotional Candles, Sacred and Eternal Flames,
Three: Meditation, Divination and Psychic Sight,
Divination and Oracles,
Using a Candle to Increase Psychic Sight,
Four: History, Chandlery and Safety,
History of Candle Making,
References and Bibliography,
About the Author,