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Candle magic basics

Updated: Jun 6

Candle magic is one of the simplest forms of spellcasting, and as such, it doesn’t require a lot of fancy ritual or ceremonial tools. In other words, anyone with a candle can cast a spell. Think back to when you made a wish before you blew out the candles on your birthday cake. The same idea applies to candle magic, only instead of just hoping for your wish to come true, you're declaring your intent.

If you think about it, the birthday candle ritual is based on three key magical principles:

  • Decide on a goal.

  • Visualize the end result.

  • Focus your intent, or will, to manifest that result.

Candle magic has roots that stretch back through the annals of time, with traces of its practice found in ancient civilizations around the world. In ancient Egypt, candles were used in rituals honoring the gods and goddesses, with the flickering flame symbolizing the presence of divine energy. Similarly, in ancient Rome, candles were often lit as offerings to the gods, believed to carry prayers and petitions to the heavens.

During the Middle Ages, candles were often inscribed with symbols, words, or sigils to enhance their magical potency, and they were used in rituals for everything from healing to protection to divination.

People choose candle magic over other kinds of divination due to how quickly it works. This is due to its fire element. Jar spells take a while to manifest, but tend to hold, while candle spells manifest quickly but may not last as long.



Choosing a Candle

Most practitioners of magical systems will tell you that the size of your candle really isn't important. In fact, really big candles may be counterproductive. For instance, a candle that takes three days to burn can be highly distracting to someone working a spell that depends on the candle burning all the way down.

Typically, a short taper candle or a votive candle will work best. In some cases, a spell might call for a specific type of candle, such as a seven-day candle or a figure candle to represent a particular person, a form of sympathetic magic. One of the most popular candles, believe it or not, is the little menorah candle sold by the box in the kosher section of the grocery store. They're about four inches long, white, unscented, and thin. Because of this, they're perfect for spell work.

You should always use a brand new candle for spell work and not candles that you burned at, say, the dinner table or in the bathroom the day before. According to some magical traditions, a candle picks up vibrations from the items around it once it starts to burn. If a used candle is already tainted by vibrations, some people believe it will lead to a negative or ineffective magical outcome.

Candle Colors

When it comes to colors, you may wish to have a variety on hand for different magical purposes. Typically, color correspondences for candle magic are as follows:

  • Red: Courage and health, sexual love, and lust

  • Gold: Financial gain, business endeavors, and solar connections

  • Dark Blue: Depression and vulnerability

  • Brown: Earth-related or animal-related workings

  • Silver: Reflection, intuition, and lunar connections

  • White: Purity, clarity, spiritual enlightenment

  • Green: Abundance, prosperity, growth and fertility

  • Light Blue: Healing, tranquility, communication

  • Yellow: Success, creativity, optimism and protection

  • Purple: Intuition, psychic abilities, spiritual power

  • Black: Protection, banishing, absorption of negative energy

  • Grey: Neutrality, balance, neutrality

  • Pink: Sweet Love, affection, compassion and friendship

  • Orange: Creativity, enthusiasm, vitality


* Note that in many Pagan traditions, it is acceptable to use a white candle in place of any other color.

1. Set Your Intention

This is the heart and soul of candle magic – the thing you want to manifest or bring into your life. Take a moment to think about what you truly desire, whether it’s love, abundance, healing, or anything else your heart desires. Be as specific as possible, without limiting the spell. For example, you can be super specific about what you want, but may not want to mention how or when you get it, to allow the magic to work in unexpected ways.

Once you’ve got your intention clear in your mind, hold the candle in your hands and focus on infusing it with your energy and intention. Visualize your goal as if it’s already happening, and really feel the emotions associated with it. When you’re ready, place the candle in a holder and get ready to light it up!

2. Light Your Candle

With your intention set, it’s time to light your candle. As you strike the match or flick your lighter, take a deep breath and feel the energy shift in the room. As the flame ignites, imagine it as a spark of divine energy, carrying your intention out into the universe. Some people like to say a little prayer or affirmation as they light their candle, while others prefer to simply focus on their intention in silence. Do whatever feels right for you!

3 Focus and Meditation

With your candle burning bright, take some time to focus on your intention. You might want to meditate, pray, or simply sit quietly and visualize your goal coming to fruition. Let the flame be your guide, drawing you deeper into a state of relaxation and receptivity. Pay attention to any thoughts, feelings, or insights that arise during this time – they could be messages from your higher self or the universe guiding you towards your desired outcome.

This is the part where you can write your intention on a piece of paper and burn it in the flame if you desire. But this isn’t at all necessary for a candle magic spell.

4. Close the Ritual

Once you feel like you’ve spent enough time with your candle, it’s time to close out the ritual. You can do this by extinguishing the flame with a snuffer or by blowing it out gently (just be careful not to blow wax everywhere!). Or, you can let the candle burn down until it extinguishes naturally. Trust that your intention has been heard and that the wheels are now in motion to bring your desires into reality.

Using Your Candle in Ritual – other considerations

After you've selected a candle, oil or dress it before burning. This is a method by which you'll establish a psychic link between you and the candle itself. In other words, you're charging the candle with your own energy and personal vibrations and projecting your intent into the wax before you burn it.

To dress a candle, you'll need a natural oil; many practitioners like to use grapeseed because it has no smell. Another option is to use special candle magic oils from one of the metaphysical supply stores. Begin at the top of the candle, and rub the oil down to the middle. Then, begin at the base of the candle and rub the oil up towards the middle, ending where the first coating of oil left off. In some traditions, the anointing is done just the opposite way; start in the middle and work your way towards the two ends.

If your working calls for herbs to be used as well, roll the oiled candle in the powdered herbs until it is coated all the way around. It's important to remember, however, that a candle is just a tool. It is not inherently magical but a way to create magic using the element of fire to set one's intention into motion. Just as other tools used with magical intent are, candles should be spiritually cleansed before they're included in a spell.

The most basic form of candle magic uses a piece of colored paper that matches the intent of your candle. Decide what your goal is, and write it on the piece of paper.

If you're going to do a money working, you would write down your intent: "I will become financially prosperous." In some traditions, you would jot down your goal in a magical alphabet, such as Theban or Enochian. Because this is a money-oriented working, we would select either a gold or green piece of paper and a candle of the same color. As you write down your goal, visualize yourself achieving that goal.

Think about the different ways in which your goal might manifest, such as getting a raise at work. Perhaps someone who owed you money will arrive out of the blue to repay their debt. Or maybe you'll get a large tax refund check!

Once you've written down your goal, fold the paper, concentrating on your intent the whole time. Some people like to say a small incantation as they do this. It doesn't have to be anything fancy. You can use something as simple as:

Extra money come my way,

I could use a little cash today.

Extra money come to me,

As I will, so it shall be.

Place one corner of the folded paper into the candle's flame and allow it to catch fire. Hold the paper as long as possible (without burning your fingers) and then place it in a fire-safe bowl or cauldron to burn the rest of the way on its own. Allow the candle to burn out completely. When the candle has melted, dispose of it, rather than saving it to use again for another working. Usually, there's not much left of a candle except a stub of wax, and you can either bury it outdoors or dispose of it in whatever manner you choose.

Candle Magic for Divination

In some magical traditions, candles are used for divinatory purposes. The two most commonly used methods of candle divination are reading the wax and the way that the candle actually burns.

To divine by the way the candle burns, you'll have to pay attention to whether the candle burns low or tall, if it flickers, or if there's more than one flame. Two flames could mean someone from the spirit world is helping you reach your goal. Even the colors found in the flame may give you a hint about the effectiveness of your spell. But there's no consensus about what these signs mean. While some practitioners believe a candle that burns tall and strong signals that one's wish will be fulfilled, others point out that the length and quality of the wick can influence how the candle burns, as can an air vent. Focus more on your intent than on how the candle burns.

On the other hand, if you want to divine by reading the candle wax, you'll need to drop the melted wax into a bowl of cold water. The wax will harden almost immediately and form shapes. Use these shapes to get the answers to your questions, much as you would if you were reading tea leaves.


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