And so my party post is all about candles and the infinite uses they have in our lives, both mundane and magickal.
Candles in the Mundane World
Candles have been in use for thousands of years, yet little is known about their origin. There is no historical record of the first candles, however clay candle holders dating from the 4th century BC have been found in Eygpt. The earliest people credited with developing the "wicked" candle are the ancient Romans, before 3,000 BC. They used rolled papyrus and dipped it repeatedly in melted tallow (cattle or sheep fat) or beeswax.
Early Chinese candles are said to have been molded in paper tubes, using rolled rice paper for the wick, and wax from an indigenous insect that was combined with seeds. In Japan, candles were made of wax extracted from tree nuts, while in India, candle wax was made by boiling the fruit of the cinnamon tree. The first known candle in America dates to the 1st century AD. Native Americans burned oily fish(candlefish) wedged into a forked stick. Early missionaries in the southwestern United States boiled the bark of the Cerio tree and skimmed the wax.
In America colonial women discovered that boiling the grayish-green berries of bayberry bushes produced a sweet-smelling wax that burned cleanly. However, extracting the wax from the berries was extremely tedious. As a result, the popularity of bayberry candles soon diminished. The growth of the whaling industry in the late 18th century brought the first major change in candlemaking since the Middle Ages,when spermaceti, a wax obtained by crystallizing sperm whale oil, became available in quantity. Like beeswax, the spermaceti wax did not elict a repugnant odor when burned, and produced a significantly brighter light. It also was harder than either tallow or beeswax, so it wouldn't soften or bend in the summer. A pure spermaceti candle is the measure for candlepower. Candlepower is a common term for describing light output. It is based on a measurement of the light produced by a pure spermaceti candle weighing one sixth of a pound, burning at a rate of 120 grams per hour.
Candle magick is probably one of the simplest forms of magick to perform. All that is needed is a candle and some matches (Witches prefer matches to lighters because sulphur - once known as brimstone - has been believed since the Middle Ages to possess the power of purification). Candle magick can also be seen to be complete within itself as the body of the candle is made up from the elements of Earth and Water. Fire is added by lighting the candle and Spirit is represented by the wick, as the wick is where the potential of the candle lies and will be unfolded with. With the candle lit, the flame of your intent will burn.
Unwittingly, you probably performed your first act of candle magick when you blew out the candles on your birthday cake whilst making a wish. This tradition is based on the three principles of magick; concentration, will power and visualization. You concentrated on the candles, blew them out with all your might and visualized your wish coming true - absolute magick!
1. Choose a plain candle of uniform shape. Having unusual or large candles can be distracting and is therefore not suitable for magickal use.
2. Candles used for magick should always be virgin (unused) at the start of the ritual. Using secondhand candles or other materials in magick can have disastrous results as they might have picked up vibrations from previous use, even if it was just on a dinner table.
3. If at all possible, making your own candles for magickal use will increase the magickal potency of the candle many times. It is very easy to make your own candles. Simply heat the wax until it liquifies and then pour it into a mould which is threaded with a wick. The wax is left to cool after which the mold is removed. Essential oils and colors can be added to the wax for extra effect.
4. Charge your candle before using it in ritual. This can be done by annointing it with oils associated with the ritual or magick you intend on performing or by simply touching it and charging it with your own energy. Whilst charging the candle, visualize the north and south poles - rub the oil into the candle starting at the center and rubbing down towards south; then starting at the center again, rub up towards north.
In Wicca and related forms of neo-paganism, the candle is frequently used on the altar to represent the presence of the God and Goddess, and in the four corners of a ritual circle to represent the presence of the four elements being Earth, Air, Fire, and Water. When used in this manner, lighting and extinguishing the candle marks the opening and closing of the ritual.
I thought it would be nice to include a Mabon ritual here for those whole celebrate this Sabbatt.
- An unscented candle in a harvest color such as yellow, orange, or brown.
- Your choice of Money Oil or essential oil of cinnamon, orange, or ginger.
- Something to inscribe the candle with such as a pencil, stylus, or athame.
- A pinch of dried basil, sage or dill.
If you normally cast a circle or invoke Deity, do so now. Using the pencil, stylus or athame inscribe your intent upon the candle. For example, if you need money to pay the bills, carve that on the candle. If you just want extra fun money, write that on the candle too. If you're not sure how much you need, you can use symbols of money such as the dollar sign ($) or a runic symbol. In traditional runes, Fehu is the sign of wealth, prosperity and financial gain. And since I'm into runes, I've included the Fehu symbol here.
Light the candle and meditate on the flame. Continue focusing on your intent and imagine it building, first as a small spark, and then growing into a large ball of light. Maintain this image as long as you can, and then release it into the candle flame. Make sure the candle is in a safe place so as not to be a fire hazard (a bowl of sand is perfect for this) and allow the candle to burn out on its own.
NEVER LEAVE A BURNING CANDLE UNATTENDED!