Candle magic is a simple, intuitive entry point for working with spells and intention. This is largely because it’s something we’re mostly all familiar with in some way – everyone who has ever celebrated a birthday party with the traditional cake with candles has, in fact, done candle magic. Thinking of a wish, setting an intention, lighting candles, then blowing them out to make that wish come true, is the basic form of much candle magic.
Candles have been, for centuries up until the advent of electric light, the primary mode of lighting across cultures from all over the world. They are how our ancestors tamed fire, and I think that even now when I see a candle flame, something in my brain remembers that connection, reaches back through time and feels a sense of continuity – and change, for unlike an electric light, the candle flame is ever-changing and moving.
My family’s religion was Catholic, and candles were always on the altar at church, as well as trays of small votive candles which were often lit for prayers, offerings or memorials. Candles were a visual representation of a prayer, and a way of connecting with the divine. While I no longer follow that faith, I still appreciate this idea, and if I go into an old church while out on a country walk, as I sometimes do out of historic or architectural curiosity, I generally still make a small donation and light a candle.
I incorporate candles into almost all of my witchcraft and rituals. The central candle on my shrine is lit every day and night as part of my morning and evening mini-ritual to greet the day, and bring it to a close.
Lucya Starza (2016) writes: “Most witchcraft rituals that take place after dark are lit by candles. The soft glow helps transport us outside normal space and time to a liminal place where all things are possible – and that is the best place for magic to work”.
There are many books out there on candle magic, and most of the popular witchcraft-101 introductory books will include at least a mention of this most popular form of spellwork. You can read a lot of, sometimes contradictory, information about what types of candle to use for what thing, what colour correspondences mean etc. This can be adapted into your own witchcraft, but like anything should not be done uncritically. For instance, many books refer to green candles as being used for money spells, but as Starza (2016) points out, this may be due to many popular witch books being American, and American money is green. In the UK, our most common coins are silver, copper and gold in colour, so those may be more appopriate colours to use.
Of course, as with so many things in witchcraft, intention matters more than tools. Rather than buying a set of multicoloured candles or worrying about not being able to do a spell if you don’t have the “right” candle for the job, any candle can be used for any spell – if used with intention. Also, many of the commercially available coloured candles (or white candles for that matter) are made of petroleum-based waxes like paraffin. These, it could be argued, may not represent the best offerings in a nature-honouring spirituality. Beeswax candles, while often pricier, are a more natural alternative – and smell nicer, too!
Starza, Lucya. Candle Magic: A Witch’s Guide To Spells And Rituals. Moon Books, 2016.