Candle magick is, for many Pagans and other magick workers, one of first types of enchantments they attempt. It can be surprisingly effective, sometimes to the extent of scaring the person who did the spell because part of them didn’t expect it to work. This is because of the amount of involvement and concentration involved in choosing, magnetising, marking and, in some cases, making the candle from scratch, activates the energies needed for a successful spell. Engaging both the conscious and subconscious mind in this creative task ensures that the magickal energies are raised in a productive manner in line with the intent of the spell.
Some people seem to think that candle magick is a very ancient art and, for them, conjures up images of a magick user in the middle ages or earlier carving mystic letters or pictographs in the wax of the candle in harmony with their intent. Unfortunately this is less than accurate as candles as we know them today were in short supply for the common person until relatively recently. In the eras mentioned the most commonly used type of candles in the West were made out of animal fat which gave off lots of smoke as they burned and smelt awful. True, candles from beeswax have existed before the time of the Egyptian Old Kingdom (2686 BC), but they have always been very expensive and only usually available to temples, churches, and the aristocracy. There were other sources of waxes that could be made into candles- Bayberry in 19th century USA, and the ones in the 18th century made out of spermaceti wax from crystallising whale oil that are considered the first ‘standard candle’.
However, it was not until the 1850’s that chemists learned how to extract the naturally occurring waxy materials from petroleum and combine it with steric acid discovered in the 1820’s to make an affordable durable product that gave off a good light and little smoke. Steric acid on its own had been used to make candles, but were a little too expensive for the average person to use regularly. It also helped that in the 1830’s a machine had been developed that allowed the shape and size of candles to be consistent, with the combination of these methods the candles that we are familiar with today came into being.
Nobody is sure when this type of candle was first used for magick. There have always been what I think of as “Research Mages/Pagans” who have experimented with new materials and techniques as they have been discovered to see how they could be used in magick. So I suspect that it wasn’t long before someone took a look at a commercial candle and thought ‘I wonder how this can be used in spellcraft?’. It might have been that the techniques were already used in temples and churches with the hand-made candles, and they transferred over to the mass produced ones with little change, except for deliberately having to cleanse and charge them.
Having to do this in a specific operation is one of the few ways that using a commercial candle differs from one crafted from raw materials. In latter case as the person made the candle their intent would start to put pressure on the ‘inner planes’ already putting the spell in motion as the candle was made. It would also be charged by the person’s bioplasmic energy, also called “Chi” or “Odic Force” among many other terms, attuning it to their intent for the spell and connecting it with the inner planes forces already in motion. There are several ways of doing this, one of the simplest is to soak the candle in a solution of ˝ a cup salt to half a cup of water for several hours. This cleanses it, stops wax from dripping, and makes it easier to charge with your own intent. Candles treated this way also tend have brighter flames as they burn because of the extra sodium provided by the salt.
Other ways to purify a candle include the traditional one of using the four elements, running water, incense smoke, a candle flame or a small fire (quickly and carefully!), and sprinkling it with earth. Another technique that is highly effective, but requires a certain amount of confidence, is willing/feeling/imagining your personal energy into the candle so that it drives out any energies not in alignment with what you intend to use the candle for. Some people like to imagine this as the mass of the candle glowing and ‘burning out’ any impurities, others like to feel the discordant energies being pushed or pulled from the candle by their intent, or kinaesthetically. You really are only limited by your imagination with this technique.
Having cleansed the candle you can now magnetise or ‘charge’ it with your energy for spellwork or devotional use. How you do this is determined by the purpose for which you are doing the spell or ritual, remember the candle spells mentioned in the article on using Four Thieves Vinegar? ‘Pulling’ or ‘pushing’ spells involve “magnetising” the candle by oiling it with oil that has the appropriate correspondence either in itself, or by adding herbs, essential oils, or other ingredients to it. Smoothing the oil from the wick to the base of the candle attracts items, situations, and/or people to the spellcaster, while doing this from the base to the wick removes or lessens impediments and circumstances.
However, while this is effective in the short term, for more permanent results experimentation has shown that “magnetising” from the middle to either end of the candle works best. This balances the inner plane forces that are responsible for the energies that condense things into the material plane. We will go into this, and other techniques, in the next article along with some simple but effective spells.