Candle Magic For Beginners
Candle magic is one of the most common forms of petition magic, and one of the easiest and most accessible for newcomers to the Craft. Once you’re set at your favorite local metaphysical store, though, how do you know what kind of candle you’ll need?
There are a few different varieties, so the first step is to make sure you’re getting the right kind of candle. Your basic candles will be about four inches long and fairly thin. In my experience these burn for a couple hours or less, and so they’re ideal for a shorter or single-day spellworking. They also come in, as you’ve definitely seen, a wide variety of colors and there are some gorgeous candle holders out there you can use with them as well.
You’ll also see a lot of interesting larger candles, often including special herbs, scents, and even crystals that appear as the candle burns. These are totally amazing for a grab and go style spell - have a look, see if you like the scent and style of the candle for what your spellwork wants to achieve, and you are on your way! One stop shopping, gotta love it. There may also be large pillar style candles, and these generally are used in longer workings where the candle is meant to be burned for a week or longer, every evening.
Why does candle color matter?
A lot of magic and spellwork is rooted in sending cues to both the Universe and our subconscious to bring us into alignment with our desired goal for the spell, and to let the Universe know - “hey! doing a spell over here so direct all that prosperity/loving/protection energy this a way!” - and one of the best and quickest ways to do this is via color. That’s also why I don’t provide recommendations as far as which candle colors to use with which workings; they vary widely across traditions and practices, and I believe the best results will be the colors you decide upon. So if yellow says prosperity to you where most websites say it’s got to be green for that? I’d advise you use yellow.
(For the sticklers among us, I do have a listing of recommended candle correspondence colors here — and don't forget: white candles can be substituted in for almost any candle color you need for a spell. So if you can only buy one color, buy white ones!)
What do I burn it on or in?
Personally I can never get the wax out of all those pretty candle holders you see in the shops so I use the plate method. That's where you grab a clean fireproof plate (the bamboo plate is beautiful, but please don't use it here, I want everyone to live in nice fire-free homes as much as possible), light your candle, holding it at a slight angle, and wait for a few nice big wax drips. Then you affix your candle to the warm wax, pressing gently, and it should stay up nicely. If it doesn't, try it over again; I usually have to. Once your spell is complete, rinsing the back of the plate with hot water will loosen the wax enough to remove it entirely, and then it's a quick wash and back to the cabinet!
The plate method has some nice other advantages if you're doing freeform spellwork, as you can burn the candle in the center of a ring of salt or related herbs for your working, if you've not chosen to dress the candle or you feel that's not needed for this particular casting.
My candle has to get dressed now? Huh?
Don't worry, in my view this is optional and I pretty seldom do it unless I feel like my spell really needs a lot of extra magical oomph. Yes, that's the technical term. To dress a candle for a spell, you need three more things: some manner of carving implement, oil (can be scented or unscented), and herbs that complement your working. You'll use the carving implement to carve a word or name to set the intention of your spell, after which you'll anoint the candle with a mixture of your oil and herbs, working from the two ends inward towards the middle of the candle if it's manifesting you're doing, or outward towards either end if you're doing a letting-go, banishment type of spell. Remember, when it comes to herbs here, less is more!
My candle's runway ready... now what?
Spell time! I like to leave this part as freeform as possible, but you might feel more comfortable with a traditional working where you cast a circle and call quarters and invoke any particular deities that you work with or that may bless your spellwork and bring aid. Whichever you choose, be sure that you direct your energies towards your goal and only that; try not to let any other thoughts cloud your mind or your magic while you work. I like to write small incantations to chant while I allow my spell candle to burn; you may want to try this, or to sing, or simply to sit in meditation and focus on your intention.
When your spell is concluded, if you're using a small spell candle, it's recommended not to blow out your candle but rather to let it burn entirely until completed. (Some practitioners also use this moment as a time to scry using the wax and attempt to divine the potential outcome of their work utilizing the shapes their candle melted into.) Conversely, if you've got a large, multi-day style candle, you'll want to light it for about an hour each day until completed; usually, that will take seven days on a spell. Always burn on fireproof surfaces and never leave your candles unattended.
Is that really all I need?
It's all you need for successful candle magic — but it may not be all you want to include! Remember, it's your practice and there's way more than one way to get things done in the Craft of the Wise, so add in other magical practices to your candle magic as and when you learn them. For example, I'm very into crystals and crystal magic, as well as astrology, so I try to time my candle spells for auspicious astrological dates, and it's rare that you'll see a candle spell from me without at least a few stones arranged nearby (usually on a crystal grid!). I know some practitioners who are very Reiki focused, and they very successfully merge their existing energy work practice into their magic, whereas my friend who is way into plant life and Kitchen Witch style magic may also make a small herbal sachet to be passed through the smoke of the candle and carried until the spell is complete. The sky is the limit here — make your spell reflect you!