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Why candle magic and why now?
A lot of us are turning to nature and mysticism and spirituality and witchcraft in different ways to feel more connected and empowered in a world that seems to be spinning out of control and leaving us barely surviving, let alone thriving or having any say in the kind of life we build for ourselves.
If you count yourself as one of those people, basic candle magic is a great way to slow down, refocus, and connect with your inner voice and personal power.
Read on to see how it all works and how to get started.
First of all, what do you mean by magic?
There are so many different ways to define magic. First and foremost, we are not talking about white rabbits and hats and quarters behind your ear.
Real magic is not about illusions and impressing onlookers. It is the practice of raising and focusing our energy or inner power to manifest change in our lives. Often, magic also involves harnessing the energy or mystical properties of the natural world (plants, bodies of water, crystals, the moon, and more) to help bring about your goal or desire.
And you know what? More and more people are turning to alternative or new age spirituality, witchcraft, and more nature-centered theologies these days. I have a couple theories about why that is:
- Maybe we feel an unending uncertainty and lack of guidance and purpose in modern society. Turning to witchcraft, new age or alternative spirituality, astrology, and more is a way of returning to something older and bigger than ourselves for guidance.
- Or perhaps we sense a lack of ritual and connection in our lives. Ritual work like candle magic, meditation, yoga, and more provide that grounding and empowerment.
- Our realization of how disconnected and out of harmony humanity is with nature could certainly be calling us back toward a more natural, Earth-centered spirituality.
However you define it, the crux of magic is that it allows us to get crystal clear about our intentions, focus our energy positively on what we want to attract or manifest, and practice a sense of connection with and trust in the Universe.
That’s a point worth emphasizing here. Magic isn’t just about getting the right stone or the right herb or digging around your mom’s attic for that pentagram necklace you got from Hot Topic in middle school. Similarly, the magic isn’t in the specific words or the special candle or in your tarot cards.
The magic is in you – your intention, your focus, your energy. Everything else is just there to help you tap into it.
So what is candle magic specifically?
Candle magic is simply any type of ritual or spell work that uses a candle as a way to focus your intention and visualization to bring about a change in your life.
If you think about the occasions and situations in which we light candles in our everyday lives, you’ll realize that we have always regarded candles as special and magical: in church, during sacred rituals, in memory or mourning, birthdays and anniversaries, romantic or special evenings. We already instinctively associate candles with special and sacred moments.
Why is candle magic so beginner-friendly?
Anybody with a candle can cast a spell, and since candles are so easy to find, candle magic is quite accessible.
In fact, you can make do with any candle. Yankee Candle Co. jar candles and those three-wick monstrosities from Bath and Body Works included. I realize you may be bummed to hear that if you want magic and spell work to be really fringe and weird and out of the ordinary. But I just don’t subscribe to that belief!
After all, the intention and power behind the magic is what counts the most, and that comes from you – not any candle, tool, or special object.
But aside from being easy enough to do, candle magic can be extremely powerful because a candle calls upon all four of the magical elements of the Universe at once:
- The wax of the candle represents Earth;
- The oxygen needed to light the candle and the smoke upon extinguishing the flame represent Air;
- The flame, of course, represents Fire; and
- The melting of the wax into liquid represents Water.
So you see, simply lighting a candle and making a heartfelt wish is a perfect and complete spell in and of itself! (Where do you think blowing out your birthday candles came from?)
But really, what kind of candle should I use?
I wasn’t kidding when I said any candle will do. You don’t need to get a special “witch candle” from a special “witch store” or anything like that. However, the simpler the better. And there are some principles in traditional magic that you may want to follow as you delve into candle magic.
1. Do not reuse candles.
When you use a candle for a specific ritual or magic spell, that’s it. You cannot reuse it for anything else later.
Likewise, you can’t grab a candle you’ve already burned in the bath or at the dinner table to then do magic with.
I mean, you can do whatever you want. But the idea is that you infuse all your focus and intention and energy into a single candle to help you manifest your one specific desire. So you don’t want to be reusing something that has all sorts of different energy and associations attached to it already.
2. The smaller the candle, the better.
A candle spell isn’t complete until the candle has completely burned itself out. (This is in line with the previous one-candle-per-ritual rule.)
Practically speaking then, if you use a seven-day prayer candle for a spell, the spell won’t be complete for seven days and however many hours it takes for that candle to burn itself out! Now sometimes that’s ideal. But most of the time, you want to use a small candle that takes just a few hours to burn so that you can focus your energy and intention on your specific desire for a concentrated amount of time and be done with it.
For this reason, birthday candles work really well. Menorah candles also work well. I use the candles pictured below by Wicca Wicks because they come in every color, are high quality, and happened to be the perfect fit for the IKEA candlesticks I already owned. (Hey, I paid good money for them and want to put them to use!)
If these candles look familiar, that’s because they were on my Ultimate Witchy Gift Guide for Your Spiritual and New Age Friends. I also gushed about them on Instagram!
3. Candle magic colors to keep in mind
In traditional witchcraft, certain colors correspond with different types of rituals and spells. So, if you want to be a purist, below is a simple list of candle magic color meanings to guide you.
- Red: passion, sex, courage, power
- Orange: creativity, inspiration
- Yellow: joy, happiness, inspiration, sun
- Green: growth, fertility, abundance, success
- Blue: mental health, focus, understanding, academic success
- Purple: psychic power, spiritual enlightenment, ambition
- Pink: love, friendship, self-love
- Brown: home blessings, animal blessings, nature, lost items
- Black: protection, banishing, releasing
- White: purity, truth, clarity, rebirth*
- Gold: abundance, prosperity, financial gain
- Silver: intuition, dreams, moon
*Note that white candles can be used for anything. So if you can’t find a specific color, opt for a white candle.
Okay, I got my candle. What do I do with it?
First, you need to charge your candle. This essentially means to infuse your intention into the candle and dedicate it to the spell you are doing. You can charge a candle in various ways depending on your needs, the specific spell you’re following, or simply what you have on hand.
Candle magic can be as fancy or basic as you want it to be. Like I said above, what matters most is your intention and focus. If you don’t have that, all the oils and herbs and pentagrams and incense in the world won’t help you. And that’s the truth!
Option 1: Just charge the candle with your own raised energy.
Like I’ve already said, your own inner power is the most important element of ritual magic. So, to charge the candle before using it in a spell, hold it in your dominant hand and simply state aloud or think to yourself the purpose of your candle spell.
Traditionally, you focus as hard and as long as you can, sending all your energy and strength into your dominant hand so that it leaves your hand and enters the candle. If your hand is shaking because you are mustering all your strength into it, that’s cool. Just be careful you don’t break your candle!
Honestly, this can be it. Then you light the candle and meditate or journal on your desire or intention and call it a night. Magic can be quite mundane, my friends!
But if you like some pomp and circumstance or are the type that needs more steps and accessories to stay focused, read on.
(By the way, I should point out in case it’s not clear enough by now that I am not referring to any type of religious witchcraft or magic here. I am not a Wiccan nor do I call myself a witch by religion. I am talking about secular, personal magic. Cool? Cool.)
Option 2: Anoint, or dress, the candle with an oil or herb.
Another way to charge your candle is with oil.
Some people use a neutral oil or a scented essential oil to anoint their candle. If you are using anointing oils, pour a few drops of the oil into your dominant hand. Take the candle in your non-dominant hand and use your dominant hand to rub the oil all over the candle, including the wick.
The traditional way to do this is to start at the middle of the candle and rub up to the top of the candle and the wick. Then go back to the middle of the candle and rub to the bottom of the candle. But honestly, whatever gets the job done.
If you are using herbs in your spell as well, you can sprinkle the herbs onto the top of the candle around the wick. Or, you can roll the now oiled candle into the herbs to get them all over.
Option 3: Inscribe your intention into the candle.
A third way you can infuse your intention into the candle, or dedicate the candle to this specific spell, is to inscribe your intention into the candle with a blade or sharp point.
Now you can get super technical and find an athame ( a fancy term for a witch’s blade). Or, you can just use a safety pin or some other sharp edge to carve a symbol or word into the side of your candle. For example, you could carve a dollar sign into the candle for a money spell, a heart for a love spell, and so on.
Now it’s time for the visualization – the actual “spell work.”
After you have charged your candle in whatever way you like, place it into your candle holder and light it. Matches are used traditionally since they are more natural. But if you need to introduce a plastic lighter into the situation, I have no problem with that.
In the light of your magical candle is when you do the actual “spell work,” which always involves some kind of visualization. You can simply sit (or pace or dance – whatever works) before your candle, close your eyes, and visualize your goal or intention coming to fruition.
Or, if you need some help holding your focus on your visualization, you can do various things, including chanting, singing, drawing, focusing on a photograph, writing a letter, or whatever else speaks to you or that the spell you are following calls for.
Again, the actions you are taking, by themselves, are not the magic. The magic is focusing your intention and trusting that the Universe (or a god/deity, Source, Spirit, whatever you believe in) is listening and is ready to co-conspire with you to manifest your intention. The magic is in your recognition of your power and your worth to bring about what you want in this life.
And honestly, folks, that’s it! Magic is just fancy goal-setting and visualizing! Like, at the end of the day, that’s honestly all it is and I will die on this hill.
Magic need not be weird or evil or goth or edgy or strange (that’s just Hollywood!). It can be those things, of course! But it can also be quite ordinary, I’m afraid. And you can do it wearing your jeans and J. Crew sweater to boot!
(Again – same caveat here: I am talking about secular magic, not any specific sacred or ceremonial magic of any specific religion, coven, or what have you.)
(Related: A Simple Candle Spell for Creativity)
Okay, I’m done. How do I complete my candle magic?
Ideally, you should let the candle burn itself out so that your intention has taken hold and the spell is complete. If you must extinguish the candle because you need to leave the house or room, do not blow it out. Snuff it out with a snuffer like the one by Normil Scented Candles on Etsy pictured below, which is similar to the one I have.
Or, pinch it out quickly with wet fingertips if you’re a daredevil and aren’t terrified to do that. Actually, I shudder at the thought. Don’t do that. Just get a snuffer. (I bet a little espresso cup would probably work too actually!)
The idea behind not blowing the candle out is that it blows the intention and magic out of the candle as well. Snuffing it out keeps all that energy you just raised inside the candle.
Then, when you’re able to come back to the candle, repeat your intention, relight your candle and let it burn out.
Whatever you do, don’t reuse this candle for something else. And don’t just forget about the candle and throw it out. Finish your ritual as a way of honoring your intention, the energy, and the Universe (or Spirit or whatever deity you believe is working with you in bringing about your desired change).
Let me know if you’re ready to try some candle magic yourself! Or, if you already do, I’d love to hear what kind of candle magic you like to do. Leave a comment below!
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