Prayers In Wax
The Magic Of Candleburning
In every field of esoteric study -- from psychokinetics to sorcery to nursery-school prayers -- can be found the fundamental precept that the human spirit, acting through the will, can accomplish some direct effect upon the world in ways that are not physically explainable. To be very simplistic, magic is the use of physical techniques as aids to accomplish this effect. The power belongs to the magic user. The techniques of magic may use ritual behavior, chant, substances such as stones, water, wine, or blood, devices such as cups, knives, and divining tools, incense, fire, and the sacrifice of penance, money, or the life of animals or people. The use of these is intended to focus the spiritual will of the magic user, or Magician, to accomplish an effect in the world. In this regard, magic and music have much in common. The instruments and techniques are only the means by which the creative conscious will of the musician is able to express herself.
Academicians acknowledge two principal kinds of magic, distinguished by objective: theurgical magic, and thaumaturgical magic. Theurgical magic is intended to cause a change in the Celebrant's relationship with God. An excellent example is the Catholic Communion, a ritual of magic in which bread, wine, chant, and candles are used in the magical sacrifice of Jesus to change the Celebrant from one damned by Adam's fall to one saved by Christ's resurrection. Thaumaturgical magic is intended to cause some effect in the empirical world. Burning a blue candle and praying to the Virgin to help your daughter pass her bar exam would be a good example.
Candleburning has been an important part of mankind's use of magic everywhere in the world. The magic is experienced at an early age when we see the lighted candles on the birthday cake. The act of making a wish then blowing out the candle to make it come true is a simple form of candleburning magic. Clearly, it is not the candle itself which makes the experience magical, but the wishes, the love, and the good intentions of the celebrants at the party. Candles have no magic of themselves, nor do crystals or oils. However, these things all have been shown over the centuries to help the magic user focus the power of her own will to accomplish change in the world. The power is spiritual, a property of the person using it. The prayerful Magician must put something of herself into the experience. The extent of ceremony necessary is something the Magician comes to understand about herself.
WHAT DO YOU NEED?
It is not necessary to have a special altar for your candleburning, though you may wish to create one. Altars are particularly valuable to the Celebrant who does not celebrate alone, but with a group of others. Consider the great spiritual power generated in cathedrals and temples by the burning of thousands of candles, each the focus of some Celebrant's spiritual intention. Altars are also of value to the Celebrant whose personal ritual calls for very active participation, as with chant, drumming, or dance while the candles burn. Others may find it more fulfilling to simply to place their prayers in wax upon the mantle and leave them to conduct their work through the subconscious and superconscious of the Magician.
Some Magicians instruct that one should "dress" candles before burning, that is, to rub them lightly with some significant oil. Though this book does not include the significance of particular different oils, there is a wealth of information available among practitioners of such alternative ameliorating techniques as aromatherapy and massage, so such oils offer a very fertile range of symbolic associations and influences which could be included in a Magician's Celebration.
Clothing likewise offers a range of possibility for including powerful symbols and substances into your magic, as you may find some things work better for you than others. Any ritual garment should be comfortable, and not binding upon the body or its energy flows (all the time, not just in rituals). These include tight foundation undergarments, belts, neckties, and garments which force the body to take unnatural positions, such as high-heeled shoes. The flows of life energy, which some call chi, or mana, can be restricted by such binding devices as rings, bracelets, belts, and necklaces, especially if worn only for fashion, without understanding of their significance, or physiological effect on the body. Some Magicians perform Celebrations nude, believing garments hinder the use of power generated by the body. Others insist elaborate costumes are necessary for the ritual to succeed. A good example of such symbolic costume magic is the attire of the Pope, a collection of symbolically-significant details which could be thought of as a wearable historical library of Catholic magic. Another is the twelve-stone Breastplate of Aaron. This suggests another range of associational magic tools in the use of significant stones. The use of a small stone as the heartstone of a hand-dipped candle is a recommended technique, and a chapter on the influences attributed to many stones is included at this link.
AMULETS AND TALISMANS
Though the same objects might be used as either, there is a difference between these. An amulet is a device to focus power, usually a symbol-bearing object, either crafted or natural, worn bound to the body, like a necklace, ring, or stud. It's capacity to channel the Magician's power is inherent in its symbol or substance. A good example might be an Amethyst birthstone necklace worn by an Aquarian. It "feels good" on her, and she is at her best when she wears it. Her Capricorn sister might find it tepid and enervating, and prefer the green fire of her Emerald, or the ancient warmth of a scarab carved in Lodestone. A talisman is a device to evoke a connection with another person or entity. The power of talismans lies not in what they are made of, but in the people (or other souls) with whom they have been associated. If, for example, a spiritually powerful friend has given you a crystal necklace like the one mentioned above, you may wish to wear it during your ritual to remind you that you have the spiritual support of that person. The Shaman is able to use talismanic gifts from other species to gain access to their wide range of spiritual experience and power, such as a staff made from a yucca stalk to which one was led by a Burrowing Owl. Talismans can also be used to "steal" the power of others, as with a scalp taken from a warrior you have defeated. Taken in coup, a lock of hair might do as well, exerting a covert influence upon the living.
YOUR FIELD OF LIGHTS, OR STELLIUM
Each time you conduct a candleburning Celebration, you choose to use a particular number of candles arranged in some particular way. The group of candles so set for a Celebration is called a Field of Lights, or Stellium. Your Field may consist of only one candle, or as many as you desire, and may include candles which have different significance in the event. Most candles can be recognized to fill one or more of the following three functions, Altar Candles, Index Candles, and Mission Candles.
ALTAR CANDLES, usually used in pairs, often white or black, establish a consecrated space, and also set the tone of the Celebration. White Altar Candles are used to evoke hope for the future purity and success of the result being sought by the Magician. Black Altar Candles are burned to acknowledge the end of something, or the submitting of something into the past. There is a special name for a pair consisting of one white and one black, that is, Janusary Altar Candles. This is for the Roman Janus, a god with two faces, one looking into the past, the other into the future. This is also the source of the name of our month January. Janusary Altar Candles would be appropriate in rites of passage, or of hail and farewell.
An INDEX CANDLE is a personal candle used to represent and to identify the Celebrant (the person burning the candles), the Enchanted (the one to whom the desired effect is to happen), or some other specific individual. The colors and other such elements help to establish the identity and link the spiritual intention of the Celebrant to the Enchanted. That is, Index Candles are magic to focus spiritual power on particular persons. Using a talisman for the heartstone of a self-dipped Index Candle is very powerful magic.
A MISSION CANDLE is used to represent the reason for the ritual, the mission you wish to accomplish. The different colors and stones represent characteristics of the desired result. That is, Mission Candles are magic to focus spiritual power on particular events, qualities, or conditions.
If a Magician were to host a candleburning Celebration to help an injured friend, for example, her Field of Lights might consist of a pair of white Altar Candles, a pink Index Candle for herself, a blue Index Candle for the Enchanted, and two green Mission Candles, with heartstones of Bloodstone to strengthen the flesh, and of Garnet to staunch the spilling of blood. Another Magician might use a single white candle with a heartstone of blood-red Ruby.
The days of the week are also common magical associations.
THE DAYS OF THE WEEK
Monday's colors are pink and silver. Monday is ruled by the Moon. (Note Spanish "Lunes", from luna, moon.) Monday is a good day for rituals for travel, long-range plans, dreams, messengers, and reconciliation after separation. The time between a pre-dawn rising of the Moon and sunrise Monday is the strongest time to pray for the more tender emotions in your relationships, for gentleness, and temperance, as well as erotic and sensual pleasure.
Tuesday's power color is red. Tuesday is ruled by Mars. (Note Spanish "Martes", from Mars.) Tiu's day gets its name from a Norse god of war, hence an association with Mars, another god of war, for whom the red planet was named. Since the Martian influence is strength, health, vitality, leadership, and combat, Tuesday is an excellent day for rituals involving war, sports, and lawsuits, and also those involving surgery, violent injury, or struggle against a disease.
Wednesday takes strength from yellow and orange. Named for Woden (Odin), Wednesday is associated with Mercury. (Spanish "Miercoles".) Wednesday is strongest for rituals involving communication, eloquence, business negotiation, establishing contact, and also for artistic inspiration, scientific insight. Wednesday is the time of peak influence for the creative intellect, for taking delight in knowledge, perception, and reasoning.
Thursday thrives on green. Named for Norse Thor, Thursday is associated with Jupiter, the Roman equivalent of Odin. (Spanish "Jueves," Jove's day, the Greek equivalent of Jupiter.) Thursday is best for rituals dealing with station in life, social power, honor, wealth, fortune, and other such estate-holding activity, and for the establishment of groups, and for family, corporate, or national matters.
Friday is bright blue. Named for Norse mother-goddess Frigga, this day is associated with Venus. (Spanish "Viernes.") Friday is best for rituals involving friendship, love, romance, and beauty. Early Friday morning, particularly if there is a pre-dawn moon, is the time of peak influence for development of psychic and intuitive abilities.
Saturday glows a lighter blue, and soft violet. Named for Roman god Saturn, and associated with the planet of the same name, Saturday is the time of peak influence for patience, endurance, self-discipline, calling for great clarity of mind and detachment. Late Saturday night is the strongest time for rituals dealing with remorse, repentance, forgiveness, restoration, and taking oaths upon fearful matters.
Sunday brings the deepest purple, and the brightest gold. Named for the Sun, source of energy and thus symbol for the source of life, Sunday is the best day for rituals dealing with gratitude, hope, generosity, and for declaring covenants, and also for joyful dedication, consecration, promise and prayer for the future. It is a time to be regal, to celebrate the great benign powers who rule wisely. It is the day of peak of influence for universal peace and sodality.
THE MAGIC OF COLORS
Likewise, the basic colors are common to all magical uses of candles. Some of the greatest literature in the world is about the subtle influence of color upon our lives, but a brief discussion of the basic associations might be instructive.
Black is not necessarily a symbol of evil, nor of negation. It is the color of release, of apology, forgiveness, atonement. It is used to release events and feelings to the past, into the hands of God.
White is purity, truth, sincerity, and spirituality, commitment to a new good. White is hope, which looks to the future, where black is forgiveness, which looks to the past.
Gold is a symbol for the Sun, and its influence follows the Sun. It is most powerful at noon each day, and is most powerful of all at noon on Sunday, the royal day. Gold is unity, universal brotherhood, success in community, universal love, agape. The Magician may burn a gold candle, or one which has flakes of gold foil in it, to pray for the bestowal of those qualities upon the recipient, or to celebrate and give thanks for one who possesses those qualities.
Silver is a symbol of the Moon, reflective, changeable, objectively detached yet still intimate, perhaps even warm. Silver is most powerful at midnight, and as Monday is ruled by the Moon, silver is most powerful of all as Sunday night turns to Monday morning. Silver is neutrality, and therefore represents peace, serenity, and nobility. It is a cool and serious color, and may be used to assist the Magician in opposing evil influences and seeking psychic development.
Pink is most powerful at dawn Monday in the earliest hours, as the warming violet of Sunday's passing brightens to pink, and deepens to become Tuesday's scarlet. Pink is often treated as different from red, but it is not, only softer, more tender, more subtle. Where red is passion, burning loyalty, and action, pink is affection, respect, and gentleness. Pink is Eros, the tender, sucking, trusting, perfectly sensual infant state to which the orgasm can reduce the mature man or woman. This makes pink a strong symbol for rebirth, as the mature ruler of Sunday is reduced to the infant, and returned to the passion of life.
Red is most powerful on Tuesday, the color of the fire of life which is all-consuming. It is burning lust, energy, strength, vibrant health. Red is the blood of life, passionate love, the power and courage which leads the warrior to kill and die, which drives the mother to face Hell for the life of her child. It is the will to live and to perpetuate life, the burning drive to overcome. Because these energies are very powerful, and associated with the strongest driving emotions, red is a relatively easy color to use in a hostile manner. However, it is difficult to control rationally, and can most easily backfire on the Magician. A Celebration to use red in hostility should be planned in blue.
Orange, amber, and brown (and the substance amber) are most powerful on Wednesday. Orange is the color of joy and enthusiasm, deeper than the effervescent gaiety of yellow. It is a strong stimulator of deep friendship, attraction, and enthusiasm, a love less passionate but friendlier and more fun, or group love as tempered with the restraints of family, church, or country.
Yellow is most powerful on Wednesday, and is associated with intellect and imagination, creativity, attraction, cheerfulness, gaiety, laughter, and energy. Mercurial, it catches the attention, and pleases the senses. The Flapper Era was a time of yellow strength. The bright yellow Stutz Bearcat was the perfect symbol of the time. It is a very delicate color, easily muddied by darker influences, yet even a bit of yellow in its pure state is a delight to behold, as seeing a daffodil blooming on a rubble-pile can restore one's faith in life.
Green is most powerful on Thursday. It is lush, fecund, juicy veggie Life, natural balance and abundance, the flourishing of nature, youth, strength, health and freshness. Green is the symbol of wealth, money, success, luck, fertility, cooperation and generosity, a combination of the gaiety of yellow and the dignity of blue. It is the color of the serenity of nature, of sympathy, nature, youth, and rejuvenation.
The deep richness of Indigo blue is most powerful on Friday, and the lighter blue gains in strength through Saturday. Blue is the color signifying loyalty, fidelity, and truth, inspiration, immortality, serenity and tranquility, dignity, poise, and reserve. Blue candles may be burned to express the Celebrant's simple faith and appreciation of the goodness of the Now. This is an expression of thanks, and of affirmation, not seeking any kind of change or effect. This is the color for religious inspiration, of truth and loyalty, of devotion and clarity, the color of the Third Eye, the seat of intuition, psychic power, clairvoyance, telepathy, and direct healing, therefore very useful in dispelling confusion of thought, and of bringing about peace of mind.
Purple is most powerful on Sunday. Purple is sovereignty and royalty, dignity, ambition, idealism, justice, majesty, psychic ability and spirit contact. It is also associated with the somber reverence of funerals or other such instances of collective grief. A Magician might choose to burn a purple candle with a heartstone of gold if consecrating herself to accept the burden of high public office, for example. The use of a Royal Purple candle for a curse would be to evoke the power of spiritual dignitaries to act on your behest. This is a form of overt sorcery, and as such, is very dangerous. You may succeed in calling up that which you believe is more powerful than yourself, and if you have done so for evil intention, then you will surely evoke an evil dignitary. It may amuse itself for a time by raising you up as you command, but the more you thereby become convinced that you yourself are a high, mighty, and majestic being, the more certain it is that you will one day be cast down.
HOW TO CONDUCT A RITUAL CANDLEBURNING CELEBRATION
The following is a simple example of one way to create and conduct magical candleburning Celebrations. As any good Magician knows, the substance of her ritual should rely on both the tradition of her line and her own creative personality. Therefore the acts of choosing the elements appropriate to her intention, making her candles, and conducting her Celebration will be unique to each Magician. The function of the ritual is, after all, to precisely focus the will and intention of the Magician upon the task to be magically accomplished.
There are three stages in the conduct of a candleburning Celebration, PLANNING, PREPARING, AND CONDUCTING.
The first step is planning. This planning stage may be done in her head as she goes about her day, or it might call for a special Celebration itself. The Magician might place herself at her altar, light a candle to consecrate the time and establish a mood, and meditate upon the needs of the planned event. The Magician should address the objective of her Celebration, and determine the correct elements, including the number of candles in her stellium, their colors, heartstones, and the best times for making and burning the candles. She determines how many Index candles she needs, and how to make each one of them representative of the person it identifies, what colors to use, and what heartstones. She decides what day, and what time of day would lend greatest power to her intentions. She focuses clearly on what her intended objective is, and how that can best be displayed in her stellium and in the order in which candles are lighted or extinguished. This collection of identifications, relationships, symbolic associations, and intentions is most correctly called a SPELL. It is the purpose of the Celebration to "cast" this spell, that is, to project it into the real world by the focussed power of the Magician's will.
The second stage is preparing, which includes making the candles, setting aside and staging the space, and laying the stellium. The Magician can easily learn to make beautiful and effective candles by the simple technique described here. These are simple dipped candles, very to easy to make, and very pretty. A good source of paraffin in vessels perfectly shaped for dipping can be found in the grocery markets favored by the Hispanic homemaker. They are tall narrow votive candles, glass vases usually having labels with images and prayers from both Catholic and Indian myth, popular with the Mexican Catholic culture. Sometimes the color of such candles is painted onto the outside of the glass, and the wax inside is clear. Others use colored wax. These candles may be placed into a large pot of water, and the wax melted and kept at a controlled temperature. Once dyed, each candle becomes a re-usable color vat which can be cooled and shelved, then taken down and easily remelted without mess or loss, to be used many times.
Each candle made by this technique contains a heartstone, that is, a stone which is imbedded in the base of the candle itself. The objective of this is to enable the Magician to employ the many centuries old associations with particular stones having magical or mystical properties. The selection of the best object for the heartstone may be aided by the Magician's knowledge of magical substances. A tooth or bit of bone from an animal totem would be very powerful to the Shamanist Magician, for example. A metallurgical alchemist might prefer a piece of titanium, or bronze. The heartstone selected is fastened to the bottom end of the candlewick to be dipped, and the melted wax forms a ball around the heartstone, and a tapered candle up the wick. The size of the candle is determined by the size of the heartstone, the depth of dipping, and the number of times the candle is dipped, cooled, and dipped again. When it is the desired size, the candle is set upright, forming a flat bottom on the ball so it will stand by itself. Considering the breadth and virtuosity of the work of candlemakers for millennia, this might sound like a gross oversimplification, but the fact is that with a little experimenting, you can make beautiful and very functional candles easily this way.
Having decided the number of candles in her stellium, and the size, color and heartstone of each, the Magician places the right color vats (that is, her tall votive candle vases) into her double-boiler pot, fastens the heartstones to the wicks, dips the candles, and sets them aside for the final event. Cleaning up consists of letting the vats cool, then putting them away.
The third stage is actually conducting the candleburning Celebration itself. Each Magician will have her own approach to ceremony, but most magical rituals consist of the same series of steps. These are ablution, consecration, invocation, supplication, affirmation, and closure.
- Ablution, which means washing, might mean bathing and dressing in a particular manner, or only taking a deep breath, clearing the mind, and beginning.
- Consecration is setting apart the place and time of the Celebration, perhaps by entering into a prepared sanctuary, or drawing a circle around herself in white light or salt.
- Invocation is made to call forth whatever influence she trusts. Her stellium having been set up before, the Magician may at that point light her altar candles. Whether that might be the One Eternal God, by any of the numberless Names, or her own Higher Self or Aumakua, the invocation is an opening of the heart, and an invitation to share the consecrated space.
- Supplication might be accomplished by lighting the mission candles, and lending one's will to the hope and belief that the objective of the Celebration will be fulfilled.
- Affirmation of that hope and belief are best accomplished by the offering of thanks, and prayers of benediction.
- Closure, the final act, may be accomplished by extinguishing the candles, or by permitting them to burn, and departing the consecrated space.
Candleburning, like any form of magic, can be as simple or as complicated as the Magician requires to focus her will to accomplish her objective. The simple system described here, not difficult in any way, has the great advantage of leading the Magician to deep introspection, to the clear identification of her intentions, and her commitment to the consequences of her will. Therein lies great strength and wisdom, and the true spirit of the magical power in the making and burning of candles.
CANDLEBURNING FOR "THE DARK SIDE"?
It would be pleasant to think that all who choose to be magic users are of the "chaotic-good freedomist" alignment, intentions directed by a spirit of unconditional love. Most of the so-called New Age or Aquarian Age literature certainly takes that viewpoint. However it is a fact that people of all the different moral alignments do exist, and their potential for using any magic technique is the same. It is not the nature of the tool that determines whether its use is good or evil, but the intention of the user. It is wise to remember, however, that spiritual laws work the same for Magicians of all alignments. The law of the circle is the most fundamental and powerful in the creation, and is expressed by such sayings as, "What goes around comes around," and, "You reap what you sow." This truth makes the curse a particularly dangerous technique to employ. Curses are reflexive, and like a scorpion stinging itself to death, the Magician can find their use self-defeating. If you curse someone for something, and then ever do or become that which you have cursed, your curse is upon you, and you will destroy yourself with your own power. Remember that you judge yourself always in your own court, and none is more tightly bound than she who binds herself. Your only freedom is to forgive the one whom you have cursed.
It is a common misconception among the uninitiated that they should use black candles for whatever they perceive to be evil ends. It is probably fortunate that black is actually among the very weakest colors they could choose to evoke evil future consequences. Black is for releasing life into the past, for freeing the present of the consequences of past acts. It is the color of forgiveness, of apology, and release. Each of the colors has magical associations which could be used for evil intention. Red is a good anger color, which makes it useful to focus hatred or revenge. Greens have long been used to denote envy, and may be used to arouse self-destructive envy and greed in the weak-minded. Deep blue and purple evoke depression, and can be used to create an emotional burden. The mixing of opposite colors, like red and green, produces a muddied effect which can create a feeling of confusion, even of neurosis, which is a sense of conflicting intentions.
Such qualities as morality and intention are difficult to define, since we each tend to evaluate them in the light of our own. Somewhere in this shifty field of understanding one's own place in the scheme of things lies that most subtle of qualities, wisdom. Do not bother looking herein for a candle formula to bring you wisdom. Wisdom, which is after all the expression of the love of God within us, is the product of patiently suffering long tribulation without losing heart. Pray to be wise enough to meet this day, and even a fool may know Heaven.
This is included in the anthology SEDONA ESOTERICA, found at