Candles and their esoteric use


The very control over fire represents an indescribable advance for the evolution of the human being in every way. The divine origin of fire, transmitted in various myths throughout the world, shows that from the beginning, not only due to fear or ignorance, it was given a very special value. In very distant places we find veneration of fire, as well as important social roles around it. It is still a primordial element, considered part of the natural elemental balance. The thought of this power has not been separated to this day, where in religions candles have a fundamental value in most rites. The Celts and the Nordic pagans had fire as a creative and renewing element in their festivals, energizing the sun. In night rituals, including funerals, they are the guiding light. The Romans had it as a purifying element. In China, candles are used at festivals as wish carriers. For the Jews and their Menorah, the light offered by God. In Christianity, candles are means of communication, as offerings, to the saints, to the Virgin, etc. The fire and the Sun and the stars, held by angels and spirits, in some way, are united and connected. In night rituals, including funerals, they are the light that guides the spirits, but drives away demons and protects from spells.

Fire not only provides warmth and shelter, but also light, and this light, once again identified with the supernatural, has developed its own symbolism as the ultimate reach of the supreme intellect and knowledge. The flame of the candle also symbolizes life and the soul, since life is consumed but the soul, the flame, continues in the smoke and the air in which it is lost. One more surprise is found in the fact that fire has no shadow. It is something ethereal that can connect with the ethereal, just like its smoke going out and rising. And at the same time, fire is destructive, and the candle itself is perfect proof of this, melting as the wick burns. The candle becomes the best tool to enjoy its virtues without taking excessive risks.

Candles have been used for thousands of years, mainly as a source of lighting, sharing their origin and use with oil lamps. The first candles that we know of (Roman, Indian, Chinese) were made of tallow, lard, animal fat, and natural fibers that allowed their controlled burning. Already entering the Middle Ages, beeswax is presented as a substitute, although only by those who can afford its production.

In the need to keep certain special places illuminated, that is, mostly sacred, the best candles or specific candles were kept there, places where there should be a light, also spiritual, perennial. Perhaps the exclusive use of candles for these special occasions led to any act far from the majority religion being taken as witchcraft, and hence paganism gradually lost its religious character. Lighting candles is not, therefore, an exclusively religious or exclusively magical ritual. Yes it is, or if it is considered so, the fact of turning it on for a specific and personal purpose. However, there are very common exceptions, such as in the Catholic religion, where the saints are asked by lighting a candle, which due to formalities, are not taken into account.

The use of candles in magical rituals, associated with them due to their nocturnal character -as was the case with torches or lamps-, is much more common in the Western world and in those cultures where it has influenced, but also in the East we can find some examples. It also requires ritualization or consecration for its effectiveness: you have to make sure that this candle is not a common candle. There are multiple methods for this: it can be purified with holy or flavored water, it can be rubbed with a natural fiber cloth designated for that purpose, it can be surrounded by flowers and herbs, it can be anointed with oils or spices. Depending on the case and tradition, there are those who wet the wick with a little saliva or make a small cut on their finger to wet it. After this, it is understood that the candle acquires another dimension, beyond lighting.

There are two main uses for candles. The majority is the request or mental work with the candle, that is, lighting the candle as a tool to support a request or magical work, and also as a thank you or offering (more common in religions). The other, less known, is divination by the movement of its flame, lampadomancy, which often merges with the previous one, as a response to the request or sample of the effectiveness of the magical work. The observation of fire, also called pyromancy, is closely linked to lampadomancy.

By this last system of divination, if the flame remains steady, united, and the flame does not waver or move, it is taken as a good sign of the spell working, while if the flame is weak and splits or flutters, it is considered that there is some obstacle against its fulfillment around the candle, for which many believe that they are low spirits; however, if the flame of the candle grows upwards or if it turns blue, the spirits that are nearby will be conducive to the purpose invoked. Also, from the way it burns, you can deduce the time it will take to achieve the requested objective: if it burns quickly, the results will be visible soon, while if it burns slowly, it will take longer. As can be seen, this observation is simple and its interpretation is quite evident, without going into details.

There is also divination for the remaining wax on the ground or saucer, as well as the one that is intentionally poured on water, trying to discover recognizable shapes in the silhouette that is formed. There are also those who evaluate the smoke that forms during or when it goes out.

However, there are also some superstitions around common candles, when they are in the home: some are that if any candle, not necessarily magical, goes out suddenly, it announces a death, and if among several candles, one it is consumed faster, announces the fall into illness of one of the inhabitants of that house. Likewise, that three candles lit in the same room of the home attract misfortune, which is contradicted by rituals of several candles or purposes at the same time, even a type of altar of the God and Goddess of the Wiccans.

The ritual system of using candles, where the candles, once prepared, serve the function of paths, paths or tools, but have no power in themselves - the true "power" is found in the wishes of the person expressed through of it - is based, first of all, on the space where it takes place. It must be a clean and safe space, and the individual who wants to perform the spell must be focused on what they are doing. There are those who purify themselves mentally and physically beforehand, there are those who take off their shoes when lighting the candles, or dress in a special way. It is also said that it is better to light the flame with wooden matches, due to its natural connection. The purposes for which it is turned on are defined by the shapes, colors and even the positions, which trace magic circles or triangles, if there are several, evoking the practitioner's intentions.

The most common form is the elongated one, that of a candle or candle, sometimes with images, and other times smooth, where they lend themselves to being engraved or written with the wishes of the person, either symbolically or literally. They are considered suitable for any request or spell due to their neutral form. It can be written on it with a wooden stick (again because it is natural), or with an instrument (knife, pen, pencil...) ritualized or with a certain spiritual or emotional value for the person. The area and direction in which it is written is also relevant: from top to bottom, the candle will attract what is requested, since it burns them in that order. But if it was written from bottom to top, then the candle "consumes" what was written, that is, it pushes away what was written or drawn.

The circular candle evokes cycles, attracts the good and drives away the bad, balancing them. The square sail offers stability of what is requested. The pyramid helps to achieve goals and projects grow. The candles with specific shapes are intended for what they evoke, although depending on their color and their treatment they will vary in purpose.

Liquid candles or candles that are arranged in water (floating) have the specific purpose of adaptation, fluidity, meditation, or, at most, for specific magical works where the presence of water and fire is required at the same time.

The candle, as a magical tool, has been associated with the four Western elements: fire, obviously, is the flame; the smoke is the air, the wax is water and the saucer or surface on which it is placed is the earth. To include metal, an oriental element, some speak of external elements, such as the usual metal support in lamps or chandeliers, but it is a modern and rather forced connection.

The colors, although considered universal, are not. It is a fact that must be taken into account if the purposes and situations in which the candles are lit are analyzed.

Black candles, associated with negative magic, are also protective from evil energies, since black is a color considered a shield from these influences (hence the color of the priests' habit, for example). Therefore, they are used both to damage and to expel. In meditation rituals, they serve to delve into introspection. With white candles, in principle always considered positive, there is also the value of their neutrality of use, just as in different Eastern countries, white is a color of mourning, which offers these candles a closeness to the world of spirits, for better or worse. They are common in divinatory rituals, in offerings to the divinities and purification.

Red candles, like pink ones, are used at an esoteric level almost exclusively for love and erotic purposes. However, at some point they also exclusively evoked passion, courage and energy. Some of this remains in the application of the orange candles, destined for happiness, success, reconciliation, friendship, meetings and family.

The yellow candles symbolize work and success, perhaps because of their relationship with the sun and wheat, as a reward for all year's work. They also symbolize money, but at a lower level than green candles, which evoke prosperity and fertility. However, in certain festive settings, perhaps linked to the color denied in the theater, yellow is not an excessively auspicious color. In a way, the yellow candles offer a reward and the green candles a continuity. In addition, the green ones are identified with health and spiritual well-being.

Blue and purple candles seem meant for spirituality. Blue evokes the immensity of the sky and the sea, while purple has always been a color associated with religion -perhaps because of the purple of Christ, or because of its development from blue. They are used for meditative and purifying purposes, but also energizing.

The colors are also associated with the zodiacal signs, but it is easy to verify that there is not much consensus, which shows its relatively recent creation. In addition, there are those who associate this color with seasons, dates, planets...

Three more colors are emerging with the rise of the market, which is why, for many, these "modern" candles cannot effectively deliver what is promised. But if it is said that any candle, well ritualized, can be used, the reason for rejection would not be valid. In any case, the "modern" colors are the following:. The brown, of confused ends, sometimes destined to the material, other times to the animals, and the golden and silver candles, related to the virtues of the Sun and the Moon respectively.

Regarding the moon, there are two aspects of relationship with it in rituals with candles. One aspect, linked to traditional magic, postulates that the full moon is the moment of its maximum power and influence, so performing rituals of any kind, including candles, is much more effective, because it is nourished by it. Likewise, performing them on a new moon causes the effectiveness of the spell to be subjected to the increasing effect of the waxing moon until it is fulfilled on the full moon. The other side is totally contrary to this one. He considers that light is much more related to the sun -as a star, not as light, since the moon receives sunlight and this position would not make sense- and that the candles should be lit at times when the moon is waxing or waning, but not full, where the overflowing energy would create chaos in the solar-based petition or spell, nor new, where the sun, so to speak, is not even present.

The ritual before and after lighting the candle are quite similar. There are those who surround the candles with spices, herbs or minerals, with a special meaning for the intended purpose. This is usually done in odd numbers. The plate or glass on which the candle is placed is preferable to be round, evoking the cycle from which you want to leave, or to which you want to enter. If several candles are lit at the same time, it is better to light one and take its flame with the others, or light all with the same match. It is believed that, in this way, they share the purpose, while in another way, their effectiveness is divided and diminished. It is considered important to watch that the candle never goes out before reaching its end. If this occurs, the ritual must be restarted and repeated, as it has been interrupted. In the event that it has to be turned off for a greater reason, you must "ask for permission" and consider that the light is still on. There are two ways to understand how a candle should go out. In one of them it is considered that it should be blown out, never removing the air, and better with the hand from behind, so that the energy is not distributed freely. Another way is precisely by removing the air, because it is thought that by blowing the spell is canceling or voluntarily ending.

The candle, in short, has not only been a common element in the esoteric, for its symbolism, but also practical, for its closeness and discretion. It is difficult to separate, historically speaking, its magical origins from its religious ones. However, it is verifiable that currently its versatility has opened a door for esoteric works, to the point of not being an auxiliary element, but a central one, in many rituals.

Pietro Viktor Carracedo Ahumada -


-Frazer, J. G. , La Rama Dorada. Fondo de CE México-Madrid-Buenos Aires, 1944

- Cunnigham, S. -Wicca: una guía para la práctica individual. Arkano Books, Madrid, 2008

- Grimassi, R. - Encyclopedia of Wicca and Witchcraft. Llewellyn Publications, Minnesota, 2003

- Tondriau, J. - Diccionario de las ciencias ocultas, La tabla de esmeralda, EDAF, Madrid, 1985

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