Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Candle Magic

It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness. - Mother Theresa-

 I love candles; I always have.  Was a time long, long ago that I used to make candles. There is something so magical about them that we use them to invoke a mood, light up the darkness, or to send out prayers and cast spells.  We even use candles for their delightful scents.  It's a shame that hubby doesn't like them, but I cannot fault him on his beliefs.  His mom was of an old belief that candles invited evil spirits into the home, and hubby, just does not like them.  I don't believe that he actually takes his mom's beliefs literally as he is very open-minded, but you know how it is.  When you are raised a certain way, it sort of sticks to you whether you believe in it or not. Needless to say, I still find ways to use candles during my prayers or rituals...when hubby is not at home.

Candles have been used since ancient times to light up the darkness. The word candle is derived from the Latin word candere which means to shine, to gleam, brilliant whiteness.   And, while the first candles are thought to have been made by the ancient Egyptians who used rush lights of weeds or torches  soaked in hot tallow,  but, in truth, there is actually very little known about their origin.  It is the Romans, however, who are credited with developing the wick candle, using it to aid travelers at dark, and lighting homes and places of worship at night. 

Burning candles for magical purpose is probably one of the best methods for getting in touch with the powers of the subconscious mind, and most of us have already performed our first act of candle magic before we are two years old.  Blowing out our birthday candles is such a fun tradition, but blowing out the candles on our first birthday cake and making a wish is our first act of magic.  The earliest tradition of this stems from the ancient Greeks who baked round cakes to represent the Full Moon and took them to the temple of the Goddess.  There, they placed candles on the cake to make it appear as if it was glowing just like the moon.

Candles have been important in ceremonies and during festivals in many religions.  The earliest Pagans lit candles for mourning, love, and healing. 
In Christianity, they are believed to represent the light of Jesus. They are commonly found in pairs on either side of the altar. Votive candles are sometimes lit as an accompaniment to prayer.  During parts of certain services, the congregation will stand holding lit taper candles such as during Good Friday, the Lamentations, or on Holy Saturday, at funerals, or other memorial services.  Candles are lit by worshippers in front of icons in Orthodox and other churches.  In the Catholic church, one finds rows and rows of  of votive candles, also called vigil lights.  These are often placed near a statue or icon of Mother Mary indicating  that someone is praying about something in particular, either for themselves or on behalf of someone else.

The Jewish tradition of lighting candles on Friday night at sundown to bring in the Sabbath is called Shabbat.  To do it the traditional way,  move your hands in circles...three times over the candles...drawing in, towards you  that  special sense of Shabbat. Then, close your eyes and loosely cup them with your hands so your eyes are covered while you recite a special Jewish blessing.  During Hanukkah, the lighting of the menorah candles commemorates the rededication of the Temple of Jerusalem after its desecration by foreign  forces.   The Hanukkah menorah has nine candle holders. There are eight candles, one to be lit on each night of Hanukkah. The ninth is called the Shamash. This is the candle that is lit first and used to light the other candles.  The Jews also use a memorial candle which is lit and burned for 24 hours on the anniversary of the death of a loved one...or on April 30th to remember those who died in the Holocaust.

In Buddhism worshipers place candles before Buddhist shrines or pictures of the Buddha to show respect.  The light produced by the candles is said to represent the light of the Buddha's teachings. There is also the Ubon Ratchathani Candle Festival which occurs at the start of the Buddhist Lenten period.  Huge white candles are paraded through town, each representing a local  temple, district, or other institution.

To the Hindus,  candles are a symbol of enlightenment and prosperity. Diyas or clay lamps are most frequently used in Hindu celebrations.
The Festival of Lights known as Diwali is the lighting of the small diyas to signify the triumph of good over evil. The even, which falls somewhere between mid-October and mid-November lasts for five days. Most people celebrating this holiday wear new clothes and share food with friends and family.

One of the easiest forms of magical practice is candle magic, and, as you can see,  anyone can practice it; we use it all the time.  It is not just for those who follow a certain religious or spiritual beliefs. Candle magic is for everyone.  They bring us out of the darkness and into the light.

There isn't enough darkness in all the world to snuff out the light of one little candle.--Author Unknown


  1. I light a candle every single day I am home (and sometimes on vacation I will bring tealights). It is a very easy way for me to honor Spirit and a physical reminder as I pass by and see it.

    Great post Mary.

  2. I light a lot of tea lights at my drumming circle. For our last drumming session, we turn off the lights and drum by candlelight -- always magickal!

  3. Have always loved candles..... but for what reason ?

  4. Did anyone ever comment, that you are thoughtful, to/of husband... To not burn candles, when he is home? Yes you are!

    Even if he doesn't really believe the bad stuff, it is "in him," as you said. And it's very thoughtful of you, to not make him deal with old stuff.

  5. Mary...interesting post today....I used to always have lit candles burning around my home...but as I have gotten a little older....the fragrance and smoke does play havoc with my lungs. So I use the little battery operated ones now...maybe not at ethereal but a lot easier on this old body.



  6. We love candles in our home. They are always burning for the most part. Even the kids will change out a burned out one and relight them. Wishing you a beautiful spring week!