This is my personal attempt at creating an elegant and cohesive system of candle magic, despite the presence of candle magic in literature whose publications could fill a warehouse. My reasoning behind adding to the undeniably oversaturated category of magical “how-to” texts is to provide a system less based in color correspondence alone, and imparts a greater deal of involvement from the user.
I will describe the processes of selecting ingredients and materials for making the candle from scratch, along with some alchemical processes that may be performed to the materials prior to constructing the candle. I will also elaborate on the use of shapes, numbers, and other characteristics that may be used as symbolic additions when considering the construction of the candle, and finally will describe methods of employing the candle effectively as to my own personal experience with this elementary magical technology.
Considerations Regarding Intention
Before jumping into the means of constructing a candle for magical endeavors, I’d like to go over some things first about what we may wish to do with a candle. Candle magic is an excellent way to utilize correspondances and by this concept, we are creating a magical link, which does not immediately suggest the intention. The reason that is of importance is so we may remove ourselves from the intended manifestation we wish to occur, as lusting for result is a sure-fire way to reduce the chances of getting what you wanted from it, as well is allowing any mental faculty to wander away from the operation itself. This will be expounded upon later when describing the means of using the candle.
A candle is not only a medium for containing and activating ingredients that correspond to occult properties and entities, but it acts as a focal point for our operation.
Selecting Materials to Best Suit Your Desire
Your candle is primarily going to be, obviously, made of wax. The color of the wax you use is the most well-known variable in selecting your material, but additives such as small amounts of essential oil, plant matter, and even minerals and metals can be used to great effect as well, which I highly recommend experimenting with. I must also place a word of caution that oils make the wax softer and burn hotter, and plant matter tends to cause erratic flames and potential splattering when burned, and some minerals may release toxic gases when heated. So be wary of this when selecting your ingredients.
Let’s say I am planning to make a candle that provides financial grace and luck in tight spots. Myself, being quite keen to using the seven classical planets, and sometimes even the three not classically recognized (Uranus, Neptune, Pluto) in the majority of my magical work, I would choose ingredients that relate to Jupiter, the great benefic. I would use a light blue wax, bronze shavings (the combination of tin and copper are complementary), a touch of lavender oil and a dash ground cloves and cinnamon. I may even go as far as to make the wick from the wood of a juniper bush. Simply lovely. You may also wish to make a candle that is simply devoted to an entity this way, without any specific aim in mind. I do this often and find the results to be quite general and beneficial; an umbrella blessing, if you will.
Another material to consider is what you could use to hold the candle, such as a cup or jar, or a candlestick, some sort of jig to mount it on, whatever. You might do well to inscribe sigils or other encrypted representation onto this vessel, and have it made of a material that compliments what you’ve made the candle to be associated with. In that regard, I might use a green-colored, or copper vessel to hold my candle if it were attributed to Venus. Now the important thing to realize about correspondences is that it doesn’t really matter what you attribute to what, or where you borrowed the associations from, or whether or not you came up with them on your own; what matters is that you consistently attribute these things to what they represent, and minimize overlap. What I mean by the latter is you wouldn’t want one herb or stone, or color to represent two opposing entities, i.e. using the color red to represent a spirit of violence and one of peace wouldn’t make much sense in the same paradigm, while if you were trying to make a Santa Claus themed candle, you likely wouldn’t be attributing it to Mars anyway.
Now On to Making the Damn Thing
The most popular wax to use for this sort of thing is beeswax, but it’s up to you, really. I personally use a combination of waxes to get the right color and opacity to my favor, and tend to melt down a lot of candles from the thrift store, and sometimes mix in a crayon or two. Some waxes blend together and allow for mixed colors, while others separate and can make a nice layered or marbled affect. I recommend experimenting with this at your leisure and figuring out artistic techniques on your own. I’d also like to point out that beeswax melts hotter than other waxes, and is liable to cause 1st degree burns if you pour it on your skin, so if you want to use it for such sensual applications, I’d recommend soy, or even milder, paraffin wax, or even a calculated ratio of the two as to best suit the recipient of the melted wax. This being said, I have previously mentioned that adding oils to the wax makes it hotter.
You’ll also want to consider your wick, which you will want to be of a porous, cellulose-based material, so avoid using wool yarn and DEFINITELY don’t use synthetic string. Cotton, jute, flax, hemp, and thin pieces of untreated, dry wood are preferable. There are two ways that I would recommend inserting your wick. Firstly, there is the method of
attaching one end to a stick that lies across whatever mold or container you’re using for the shape of the candle and pouring the wax around it, and secondly for stiff wicks like wood, you can just push it into the wax when it starts to cool and thicken enough to support the wick.
When you’re melting your wax, it’s a good idea to use some sort of double boiler, by placing a container that is easy to pour from, like a small pitcher (metal works best because it conducts heat well), into a pot of water and heating the water over a stove until the wax is melted down. I would advise against using the dipped wick method, which I deliberately did not include when explaining ways to place the wick, because you end up with a lot of leftover wax to clean up, and you would have to put your other ingredients into the container before dipping the wick. Instead, have a mold (if you want a free-standing candle) or the final vessel to pour the wax into, and stir in the other ingredients. This way you can just keep the wax for later without worrying about anything else being mixed in with your stock.
The process of heating the wax is a good time to spend concentrating on what the candle is to be used for, watching it carefully the entire time, possibly reciting some sort of incantation and stirring it. Say your liturgy as you pour the wax and stir in the additives, describing the intentions you had in mind when you selected them. For oils, a few drops will do, but you can be a little bit more liberal with the amount of herbs you put in to the candle, but it shouldn’t come out looking like pesto, so just use your better judgement. Those herbs will be drawn toward wherever you place the wick as the flame melts the wax, and the herbs will burn, so keep that in mind as well, so you don’t burn your house down. You shouldn’t leave candles burning unattended anyway, just be careful.
As the wax cools, you may wish to use that time as well to do a final incantation, focusing on the candle, performing consecrations and the like, to finalize and close the creation process. Your final incantations should be the most removed from the intended goal of using the candle, and geared more towards dedicating its use to magical purposes in general, as well as any entities you’ve attributed its contents and properties to. Try to make each step of the process, even inserting the wick, an act of meaningful, symbolic action. Think of it as creating a machine, knowing what each component does in relation to the other parts to make the whole thing function how you want.
Geometry, Metrology, and Numerology
An often overlooked avenue in using correspondances in the creation of candles is the use of numerological and geometric associations, such as the five Platonic Solids attributed to elements, or using a shape with a number of sides that corresponds to a Sephiroth on the Tree of Life, and through that, a planetary correspondence. You may also use a certain number of wicks, or a number of layers, or even a specific size in any or all dimensions of the candle’s shape. It’s also common practice to carve the candle from a solid block into an effigy or symbolic figure, so if you’re interested in carving sculptures, have at! This could also be accomplished by using a permanent mold to cast the shape, if you want something more easily reproducible. You could form the candle into a pyramid or ziggurat shape and have each layer measure out to a ratio that reflects some kabbalistic interpretation. Get fancy with it, go nuts.
Using the Candle, Finally!
Now that we have the candle ready, hypothetically speaking, we’re going to want to put it to use, probably soon. To explain the means with which I have determined to best the most effective in my experience, I have to explain something called Dharana, which is one of the eight limbs of yoga, but is really just intense concentration. I find it to be one of the most important mystical practices of all, and is very simple to incorporate into various magical operations.
To do Dharana, you must understand that there is no goal other than to do Dharana. You must let go of any expectations of what should or could arise from it, and just do only Dharana; just focus on one thing. Don’t think about what the subject of your concentration means, in this case, the candle, don’t think about scratching that itch, or your pants riding up your ass, JUST DO NOT THINK. If you are thinking about anything, if you’re letting your vision blur and unfocus, or try to see things appearing in the flame, or visualize your desired outcome, you are doing it wrong, especially in the case of the latter. Do not think about what you want, just focus on the flame of the candle for as long as you can. Eventually, like holding onto a coin or something for a really long time, the effort involved in focusing on the candle flame is going to disappear and you will just automatically become absorbed into that focus, becoming only aware of your focusing and that which you’re focused on. That is called Dhyana. There is another step beyond that, called Samedhi, where you lose even the sense of you being an observer of the focal point, the flame in this case, and this focal point becomes indistinguishable from literally everything ever, and everything becomes one big, cosmic, divine and omnipresent nothingness, which is pretty much the goal of Shaivism and Yoga in general, but is also besides the point of this primer on candle magic. The aim here is just to do Dharana on the candle, and not be at all concerned with any mystical experiences that may arise from it, nor with achieving what we set out to make the candle for.
Now, if you’re like me, you may run into the issue of having a multifaceted and divided mental state that can’t be fully occupied by visual focus alone. My way of working around this is to employ some meaningless mantra to repeat, one that takes a full breath to say, while having something in my hands to make repetitive movements with, such as a mala or rosary, or some other mystically-oriented fidgeting device, and holding the mental concept of a dimensionless point. The catch with this is that everything used for this has to combine into one fluid and constant rhythm. If you use this method and attain Dhyana, all of these stimuli will meld together and become indistinguishable in that state.
Sometimes the most elementary mediums of artistic expression are
the best to expound upon. They give us the greatest opportunities to apply our creativity and experiment with new ideas and branch off into more possibilities as we learn tricks of the trade, whatever that may be. That freedom is one of the most wonderful things about art. Find yourself enthused about raw materials and imagining what you can do with them, collect art supplies, and never stop learning. Create as much as you can, and develop yourself through the application of creativity. And lastly, Try not to burn your house down.