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If there’s one item that comes to mind when thinking about occult ceremonies and magical rites, it’s the humble wax candle.
In typical Hollywood portrayals of witchcraft, the candle is as iconic with magic as the black cat and the cauldron. So where does that leave this common household item when it comes to real Wiccan magic and ritual?
Regardless of cliches, candles still play an important role in Wiccan and pagan customs. They’re valuable tools not only for setting mood, but also because they can be “charged” with energy as a means of amplifying and attuning spells and embedding ritual processes.
In this guide, we’ll teach you how to select the right candles for your spells and rituals, as well as explaining how to charge a candle to give it your magickal energy.
Before we do that, lets delve into the candle’s folklore origins.
A Brief History of Candles and Their Folklore
- The history of the candle dates back to at least the time of the Ancient Egyptians. The Greeks and Romans added a wick and moulded the body into sticks, establishing the classic candle that we still use today.
- Like fire, candles have very deep roots in folklore beliefs and customs around the world. In the West, many of our seemingly decorative uses of candles hark back to pagan festivals, folklore and rituals.
- The candles in a Jack-O-Lantern were thought to ward off evil spirits on All Hallows Eve, the modern Christian version of the Celtic Samhain festival. Sound familiar?
- The tradition of birthday cake candles may have begun in Ancient Greece, where people brought cakes with lit candles to the temple of the goddess Artemis. The candles represented the moon, a popular symbol of this goddess of the hunt.
- The origins of burning church candles may date back to the days of the Old Testament, and candle lighting as a votive offering is common practice in religions both ancient and modern.
- In many countries, candle lighting (and extinguishing) holds various superstitious beliefs. This can pertain to anything from love and luck to misfortune and even death.
How to Charge a Candle For Use in Magic Rituals & Spells
As you can see, the use of candles in Wicca and Wiccan magic is extensive and detailed. However before they can be used in spells, rituals and ceremonies, candles need to be charged.
Let’s now take a look at how to charge a candle and turn it into a powerful magical ally.
Selecting a Candle
Like any other magical tool, a candle only exists as an “object” until it is properly charged. That means in theory, any old candle(s) will get the job done. Of course, that’s a very cold and shallow way of approaching a ritual or spell. If you’d like to add a little more thought into the selection process, here are a few ideas to get you started:
Colour: The choice of colour can have profound influences on mood and the outcome of your spells. It’s not 100% necessary to match the colour of your candles to a particular spell or ritual. It certainly does help reinforce your intent. However the most important thing is that you’re in the right headspace. Candle colours can have a big impact on that process, so choose something that feels “right” in your subconscious. If this colour also corresponds with your spell intent, so much for the better.
Scents: Smell, even more so than colour, profoundly alters mood. Have you ever caught a waft of a scent and been instantly transported back to a far-away time? Scented candles achieve the the same effect in your spell casting, altering consciousness and blurring the lines between dimensions.
Materials: This is a minor consideration, but it’s probably best to stick to organic candles of a mostly beeswax construction. Organic candles feel, smell and look more natural. They’re also far healthier in enclosed spaces.
Construction: It probably goes without saying, but some of the most powerful candles are home-made. Making your own candles for ceremonies, spells and rituals allows you to tailor them exactly to your needs.
“Adding personally significant items and scents into the candle during the moulding process can actually “charge” the candle during its creation.”
(Don’t feel bad if candle making isn’t something you’re able to manage. This guide focuses on regular store-bought candles).
Above all, the atmosphere created by lit candles should serve to trigger the unconscious or “primal” brain. Smells, colours and ambient light effects are all powerful psychological triggers that help a magician tune-in to the task at hand.
Knowing how to charge a candle requires an understanding of Charging Ingredients. For newcomers to Wiccan practice, this usually means selecting one (or more) of the following items:
- An Oil.
- A Herb.
- A Crystal.
- A form of light.
Your choice will very much depend on the intended use of your candle. Here’s the reasoning behind each of the four ingredients:
The magical properties of essential oils could (and does!) fill entire books.
Since the dawn of time, shamans and priests have used scented oils in magical rituals, medicine and spell casting. When learning how to charge a candle for magical use, a background knowledge of oils helps immensely:
Almond Oil: Attracts money and good fortune.
Angelica Oil: Attracts friends and brings popularity
Spearmint Oil: Gives psychic protection and repels negativity.
Before starting the charging process, choose an oil with properties that best suit the spell at hand. Pour a small amount of oil over the candle, then let it stand for a while until fully absorbed.
You may need to gently heat the candle with your hands to aid the process.
Like oils, herbs can be powerful magical aids. In English folklore, Rosemary bushes were often planted next to houses, in the hope that they would deter evil spirits from crossing the boundary.
Once you’ve chosen a suitable herb, add a large measure of it to a mason jar. Next, place the candle in the mason jar as well, and seal the lid. Feel free to shake and agitate the mixture to circulate the aromas.
Finally, a little patience is required.
Leave the mason jar somewhere safe, ideally on your own magical altar, for around 2-3 days. During this time, you can agitate the herb and candle mixture as frequently as you like. When you’re ready to begin the charging process, take the candle from the jar.
Crystals can be used alone, or in combination with one of the other ingredients listed above. Using crystals as a charging ingredient requires a slightly longer timeframe than oils or herbs. Typically, to imbue a candle with the properties of a crystal will require it to be left untouched for around a week.
Crystals have many different qualities and powers, but in this instance, we’re tapping into the unique resonance of crystals and aligning our candle with the earth and the realm of nature.
Grounding the candle before (and whilst) charging it allows the magician to more easily “tune in” during the charging process, and can also help the candles “attenuate” to each other during whatever future spells and rituals they may be used for.
Arranging the crystals:To begin the crystal charging process, arrange five stones into a pentacle, with a single stone at each of the five imagined points. Make sure you do this in a place where you’ll also be able to perform the charging ritual later on.
The Moon has played an important role in magic and the occult for centuries. Wiccans and pagans universally associate the moon with many of the central concerns of human existence, such as love, passion, fertility, death and rebirth.
Moonlight is the simplest of the ingredients to implement, and can be added in conjunction with herbs, oils and crystals to create a potent charge.
Because all of the above techniques require leaving the candle for a period of time, you can easily incorporate moonlight into the process at the same time by placing the candle next to a window, or outside in the open air if you have the space.
At this point, you’re almost certainly thinking along the same lines as every other novice witch reading this article:
I wonder if I could combine all of these ingredients into something extremely powerful?
The answer is a resounding yes, with a few caveats that mostly pertain to modern day logistics!
Sure, you could warm your candle, gently rub herbs and oil into its surface, place it in a mason jar surrounded by crystals, then leave it outside for six nights with the hope of catching the rays of the full moon on the seventh evening.
That’s a little ambitious and, dare we say, pompous for a charging ritual on a humble candle. After all, you’re probably going to use candles often, so brevity is probably a more important concern here!
The Final Process of Charging a Candle
So to the charging itself…
Because the major work of imbuing the candle with complimentary properties is already completed, the final charging process might seem a little underwhelming.
But remember: The basic act of working on the candle, anointing it with oils and herbs and having it play on your mind whilst it sits outside at night is a very powerful part of the charging process by itself. In essence, you’ve already laid the groundwork, the final piece of the puzzle is merely to solidify the process and establish your intent.
The Final Act: Take the candle from its mason jar, and hold it with both hands. Close your eyes and focus intensely on the intended purpose and ritual that the candle will be used for. Pour your energy into the candle, and once you can feel a sense of closure, open your eyes…
Your candle is now charged and ready for use! Please practice safe candle use and see our disclaimers for more information.