I mean artistically untalented, of course. I’m sure you’re all awesome and powerful Magi. But when it comes to magically inscribing things -such as candles- I don’t so much tend to inscribe as I do “pen rape”.
However, seeing as candle magic is probably my most common method of enchantment (as I am sure it is for most people), there are a few tricks in dealing with this shortcoming that might be beneficial to share with you.
Much like any occult topic, there are a lot of preposterous claims about how to do candle magic that I want to banish before we begin because the topic itself is preposterous enough. (Magic is preposterous. It shouldn’t work. But it does. Go figure.)
So I am going to break down candle magic into four easy steps. Skim whatever you like.
1. Sourcing Candles
Let’s begin at the beginning. Apparently you are supposed to have pure beeswax candles that have been coloured using only all-natural dyes. So just duck down to pure-beeswax-candles-that-have-been-coloured-using-only-all-natural-dyes-MART and pick some up.
Let me tell you why beeswax is listed as the ‘traditional’ basis for candle magic. It’s because they didn’t have Ikea in the 1600s. Beeswax candles dyed some magical colour like purple (from a carnivorous Mediterranean mollusc) were what you bought… If you could afford them.
The Ikea catalogue is my candle magic bible. Mostly because I live in London and not in the land of the Twin Gods: Walmart and Costco. But also this is because homewares stores tend to have a rainbow of colours and shapes to choose from. Plus I can get 100 tealights for a single pound. Bargain.
The notion that you have to buy premium ingredients and never haggle is a silly middle class fantasy dreamed up by fusty old men who were full of their own self-importance and have been dead for centuries.
Besides, if I laid out my Ikea candle collection in front of whomever penned The Goetia his jaw would hit the ground in shock and wonder. (“Wait till you see the catalogue, mate. The Loft Kitchen will rock your world.”)
Does this make you feel a bit icky? Do you think that maybe I am taking the ol’ chaos magic pragmatism a step too far? If so, explain to me exactly what inherent chemical or magical properties exist in beeswax that will prevent my Ikea candle from performing the exact same operation. Besides, have you seen this candelabra? I have one. It fits eight candles. Perfect for chaos magic or the maximum two dinner parties I throw each year.
Beeswax was the Ikea of the Fifteenth Century. You’ll find just as many medieval spells calling for the use of whale blubber (or worse) as you will calling for beeswax. Yet we don’t insist on using them.
One side benefit of cheap candles: they tend to evaporate. Seeing as I mostly use candles for sigil magic I find this far more useful than a puddle of beeswax on my altar a few hours later.
The take away: Get your candles from wherever.
2. Inscribing Candles
Carving someone’s name onto a long squishy cylinder using an amethyst crystal point?
Two words: paint pens.
Paint pens go hand in hand with buying candles in bulk. It’s cheaper (in the long run) to buy paint pens in multiple colours than it is to try and keep a well-stocked, multi-hued candle cabinet. It’s also easier than inscribing. You can also actually see what you’ve inscribed by candlelight (which seems like an important consideration when you think about it).
And if you’re going to use multiple candles per spell then the combination of sizes and colours you get from cheap candles along with an array of paint pen colours gives maximum flexibility.
My candle magic tends to run to a minimum of two candles per spell. One with the sigil/sign/veve of the spirit in question and the other with the spell sigil or something representing the target of the enchantment.
Use of Colours
Firstly and quickly… Colours are easily cheated by using tealights inside coloured plastic party cups. These are also very safe and stay alight outdoors (mostly). Plus, it means paint pens are still in the mix.
I thought about listing some basic colour correspondences and then thought better of it for two reasons:
- The ever-industrious Pagan Soccer Mom has published an exhaustive article on colours in magic here.
- Colour correspondence has more to do with how your brain works than fixed, immutable rules, anyway. Whichever way you look at it, magical ritual is mostly corrective psychodrama.
Sidebar: Get a free colour swatch from your local paint store. (Are you detecting a home improvement theme here? And yet my house looks like absolute shit.)
Intuit which colours make you feel certain ways. If they don’t match up to traditional correspondences then your feelings win. Always. Go with what feels like ‘wealth’ or ‘healing’ to you. It’s your brain, after all.
Incidentally, the swatch is a very handy tool when it comes to energy visualisation/colour magic.
3. The Ritual
You think it would go without saying but be somewhere dark. Candles have a powerful psychological effect which you are hoping to use to slingshot your spell into your unconscious (or wherever it is they ‘go’).
- Prep the candle with paint pens, etc. You can use names, sigils or sun signs to represent people. Spirits, angels and most gods typically have their own signs.
- Broadly follow or adapt this ritual outline.
- Leave the candle(s) to ‘cook’.
I have this theory. It’s part past-life memory and part common-sense. Using a candle snuffer to extinguish candles (which is ‘traditional’ and -according to most people- mandatory) has nothing to do with ‘offending the salamanders or fire elementals’ and more to do with giving a churchly appearance to your ritual.
Being all churchy was essential in medieval magic and extended beyond candle snuffers to pretending you were a Biblical character, mangling Hebrew prayers and stealing communion wafers.
So having a fancy-pants candle snuffer is great and all (I have one) but when it comes to simple candle magic you can just blow the damn things out. If it’s a specific fire ritual then maybe not. (Leave them somewhere they can burn out.) Besides, I find the great puffs of grey smoke that linger after blowing out the candles particularly evocative… ‘Magicky’, even.
So… Blow, me hearties! Blow like it’s your birthday!
Please note I didn’t mean that in a sexual way. (Yes, I totally did.)