Candle Magic: A Brief History

Early humans lived during a time in which, they believed, that spirits inhabited both living things such as other humans, animals, trees, and plants; but also non-living things such as rocks, dirt, and water. For them, everything was inhabited and/or controlled by a spirit which must often be negotiated with and appeased. Not surprisingly, then, the history of candle-magic likely has its origins in the “invention” of fire itself.

Fire was both friend and foe to our early ancestors. It offered them light in darkness and warmth in winter, protection from dangerous animals, and allowed them to forge more powerful weapons with which to defend themselves and each other. However, it also burned the flesh, destroyed crops, and gave their enemies equal footing in conflicts.

Perhaps the connection between fire and magic began when someone noticed that, when burned, the smoke of dried leaves and branches produced different scents which were perceived as the presence of various spirits or that the smoke ascended towards the sky and to the ultimate source of fire, the Sun. In some cases, certain herbs when burned and inhaled by those nearby produced hallucinogenic effects resulting in shamanic or out-of-body experiences where spirits were not only seen but also conversed with. From contact with such spirits, sacred rites were developed and performed and early religion began to form.

Flash forward several hundred-thousand years to ancient Egypt where the core of reeds were melted in animal fat to produce torches; and in Rome where rolled papyrus was repeatedly dipped in tallow (animal fat) to produce the first-known candles to have wicks. Though these candles burned unevenly and smelled foul, they were used for practical as well as religious and magical purposes.

During the Middle-Ages, candles were still being made in largely the same manner as in ancient Rome. The discovery of beeswax produced candles that burned cleaner and smelled more pleasant. However, beeswax candles were more expensive and harder to obtain and thus were primarily used in religious rites to light holy temples and burned as offerings to God(s) often accompanied with one’s prayers.

The thriving whale-industry of the 18th century contributed large amounts of whale-oil which was used to make spermaceti-wax and which replaced tallow and beeswax as the main source of candles. Like beeswax and bayberry candles before them, the candles made from spermaceti-wax burned brighter, longer, more evenly, had a pleasant smell and did not melt as easily in the summer months.

The industrial-revolution that came with the 19th century along with the discovery of stearic-acid, which hardens the wax, aniline dyes, and the invention of paraffin, introduced the first mass-market candles in various colors produced by machines. Further improvements in infrastructure, railways, and transportation allowed for quality candles at an affordable price to reach homes from across town or even across the country! No longer did the average person have to make his or her own candles or purchase them from a candle-maker when they could easily be purchased from a mercantile at an affordable price.

As candles became cheaper and more readily available they became more popular in the magico-religious practices of various cultures including Hoodoo. The popularity of candle-magic not only has a direct correlation to the availability of quality candles at an affordable price but also to the commercialization of Hoodoo as early as the 1940’s with the publication of such books as “The Master Book of Candle Burning” by Henri Gamache and “The Guiding Light to Power and Success” by Mikhail Strabo. Such books were often advertised and distributed to African American customers all over the United States by mail-order spiritual supply houses. So popular was “The Master Book of Candle Burning” that it is still in print today. This is largely due to the book living up to its title in that it describes precisely how to choose, anoint, arrange, and burn candles for a variety of purposes.

Prior to the early 1900’s, traditional practitioners led a nomadic life, constantly traveling from town to town offering his or her services and selling their baths, oils, and candles. By contrast, many workers settled into communities where they acted as doctor, magician, priest, and counselor.  Between 1910 and 1940, however, it is estimated that more than 2 million African-Americans relocated from the southern states to escape racism and seek employment in northern industrial cities. As they gained access to more education, many of these African-Americans abandoned the beliefs of their ancestors as they began seeing Hoodoo more and more as superstition and ignorance rather than as a faith and a practice.

Thanks to the efforts of people such as Zora Neale Hurston and Harry Middleton Hyatt, the practice of Hoodoo did not die off completely. Their work to collect and preserve the beliefs and practices of Hoodoo and conjure as shared with them from actual practitioners from all over the south, helped paved the way for the modern Hoodoo revival.

Beginning around 1965, and continuing to this day, census data has shown a trend in which blacks have begun to return to the south citing improved racial relations and economic growth. With their return to the south, many blacks displayed a renewed interest in the spirituality of their ancestors. The accessibility of the internet in the mid 1990’s along with this renewed interest in all things spiritual set the stage for the beginnings of the Hoodoo Revival.

With that, humanity has come full circle. As our early ancestors lived in a world inhabited by spirits, so do we recognize that little has changed in that regard. Rather than building fires in the wilderness to push back the darkness and light the way to love, success, health, and prosperity today we burn candles to protect and guide us along life’s journey.

tumblr_m941kkJMX51ru5jk4o1_500How to Burn Candles for All Occasions

Candle burning is an ancient spiritual practice that has evolved into a complex magickal art and science without losing its simplicity and capacity for creating powerful change. To practice successful candle magick, you must understand the principles behind this application. They are:

  • Candle Color
  • Size and Shape
  • Candle Flipping
  • Marking and Dressing
  • Measuring
  • Charging
  • Lighting and Extinguishing

Color Correspondences

Color has a profound effect on human behavior, feelings, and emotional outlook. The impact that color has on the human psyche did not escape the attention of the ancient maters, who assigned specific correspondences to each color.

The color of the candle should always, if possible, match your goal. People’s perception of, and reaction to, colors can be highly individual experience, therefore, the list below should act only as a guide and not a definitive source. When in doubt, trust your intuition.

  • White- Protection, healing, cleansing, blessing, all purpose.
  • Yellow Creativity, communication, compelling.
  • Pink- Romance, friendship, happiness.
  • Orange- Employment, activation, stimulation.
  • Red- Health, passion, lust, strength, love.
  • Purple- Power, success, independence, spirits.
  • Brown- Friendship, law, stability, order.
  • Blue Truth, justice, mental health, wisdom, wishes.
  • Green- Abundance, physical health, luck, prosperity
  • Black- Banishing, binding, protection, cursing.

Size and Shape

Candles come in an array of shapes and sizes, which I will divide into three categories, votive, Household, and Vigil. Votive candles are smaller, burn quicker and hotter. Therefore they are often used for spells where fast results are needed. In some cases they are burned around taper, vigils, or honey jar to speed up results.

Most, in not all, candle spells, are worked using tapers. These candles can range anywhere from 6 to 12 inches or longer and come in every color of the rainbow. The thickness of household tapers will also vary.

Vigil candles are encased in glass and often have special labels indicating their use or purpose. They can burn anywhere from seven to nine days.  Pillar candles are similar to Vigil-Candles, however they are not encased in glass. Pillar candles can be used as an alternate to Vigil Lights. They may be marked with a wish, dressed with oil, placed on an overturned saucer, under which a written petition may be placed. For long term goals, a pillar candle can be prepared in this manner on the day that corresponds to your goal which falls closest to the Full Moon. The candle is then burned on the same day of the week every week until your goal is manifest. If your candle is spent and your goal has yet to manifest, prepare a new one, lighting it from the flame of the old one, before it is spent.

Candle Flipping

Candle Flipping is a very old practice, which some say originated with the Gypsies, who were said to burn candles ‘upside down’ to ensure they would not be (justly or unjustly) incarcerated.

To flip a candle means to cut off a portion of a candle where the exposed wick is, called the head; and then cut away the wax on the opposite end, called the foot, to expose the wick on that end. As a general rule, candles prepared to pull things towards you are burned upright, those designed to move things away from you are flipped and burned upside down.

Marking and Dressing

To mark a candle means to inscribe something in its wax. Candles are marked with two pieces of information, they are:

  1. Who the candle spell is to affect.
  2. The goal of the spell.

The name of the individual can be written in your native language or in a magickal alphabet. Your goal may be written in the form of a keyword or phrase, or a magick symbol such as a Rune, Astrological Sign, or even a magickal symbol of your own making. In either case, the candle is marked vertically from the top of the candle to the bottom, with the name of the individual on its ‘face’ and the goal on the reverse.

Dressing a candle refers to the act of anointing the candle with oil. Candles are anointed with oil to spiritually cleanse them and seal the magick inside until releasing it through the act of burning the candle. Candles are anointed in two ways, either to draw things towards yourself, or drive them away.

To anoint a candle, hold its base against your abdomen (as if to insert it in your belly button). To draw something to you, dip your finger in the oil and stroke the candle from the tip to base three times and call the essence of your desire, using a keyword of phrase. To drive something away from you, anoint the candle from base to tip.

Herbs represent another aspect of dressing candles, which brings an added dimension to the process. After dressing the candle with oil, it may be rolled in a mixture or a combination of an odd number of herbs from 10 to 13 and never more than 13. Herbs chosen for dressing the candle should match your goal.


In most spells, a candle will be allowed to burn until it burns all the way down and finally extinguishes itself. However, some spells require a candle to be burned in intervals at specific times. The method of dividing a candle to accommodate these intervals is called measuring.

Candles are measured in two main ways, They are timing, and pinning. In timing, a candle is allowed to burn for a certain number of minutes per day over a certain number of days (typically nine days, but also sometimes 7) and then allowed to burn out on the last day.

In pinning, a candle is divided into a certain number of sections by sticking a needle or pin through the candle. The candle is then burned at the same time every day for as many days as required until the needle drops, at which time it is then extinguished.

In the case of a candle that is measured with needles or pins to burn for nine days the candle is divided into nine equal sections with eight pins, and a ninth pin going through the wick.

If a written petition has been placed under the candle, the pins will be placed in the petition until the spell is complete and then ritually disposed. If not petition has been written, the pins will either be saved for re-use or ritually disposed of with any left over wax.


Now that your candle is prepared, it must then be charged. To ‘charge’ a candle means to fill it with energy, much like charging a battery. Charging a candle fills it with power that it will release into the universe as it burns in order to accomplish your goal.

To charge your candle, hold your hands over it and form a triangle with your forefinger and thumbs. Position the candle in the center of your triangle. Visualize that which you desire as your make your fervent prayer or petition. When you are done, gently tap the candle on the table three times to signal that your intention is sealed.

Lighting and Extinguishing

Many individuals light their candles with ordinary matches, while others feel that the sulfur with which matches are tipped, disturb the nature of the work. These people light a small candle in another room, which they use to light their spell candles with, at the appropriate time. The effectiveness of your candle spell will be greatly enhanced by focused intent and chanting during its preparation and burning, as will having a clear vision of your goal

Extinguishing candles is another issue where magickal practitioners are divided. Methods of extinguishing candle include:

  • Pinching out the flame, but some say you pinch out your wish.
  • Blowing out the flame, but some say you blow away your wish.
  • Snuffing out the flame, but some say you snuff out your wish.

Just like lighting your candles, you will either have to experiment or trust your instincts when choosing how to extinguish your candles. Whichever methods you choose, it is important that you remain consistent.

Various Types of Candles

e864981df20321fa2d848ab4f3d94647This section will cover some of the various types of candles and how they are used. For the purpose of this entry I will divide the various types of candles into two categories. They are:

  1. Specialty Candles
  2. Figure Candles

Specialty Candles

Specialty candles differ from other types of candles mentioned in that they meet one or more of the following conditions. 1. They come in a size different from votive, taper, or pillar candles. 2. They consist of one candle molded in two or more colors of wax. Examples of specialty candles include Jumbo Candles, Double Action Candles and Reversing Candles.

  • Jumbo Candles are nine inches long and come in either a single color, two colors, or sometimes three colors. Due to their size and width they are usually used in seven-day type spells. They are used just like regular candles as described before.
  • Double Action Candles are candles which have been made from two different colors of wax. They are usually red, white, or green on their top half and black on their bottom half. They are believed to simultaneously reverse negativity while drawing in positive influences as represented by the color of candle used. In addition to carving names on these candles and anointing them with oils, they are usually ‘flipped’ by cutting off the wick turning it upside down and digging a new wick out of what was the bottom. In this way the evil as represented by the black portion of the candle burns away so that the good as represented by the other color can draw in the positive influences.
  • Reversing Candles are jumbo candles which consist of a red candle covered with a layer of black wax and are used to reverse negativity back to its source. They are often employed in the same manner as double-action candles by flipping the candle, marking it with the enemy’s name (usually backwards), anointing it with a condition oil and burning it on a mirror. As the candle burns the red wax will overcome the black wax and run down the candle symbolically overcoming the evil.

Figure Candles

Figure candles are candles which have been created in various forms and which represent certain conditions, ideas, or people. They come in a wide variety of choices and colors from which a practitioner can choose when deciding to perform spells. Examples of Figure Candles include, Human-Figure Candles, Cat-Candles, Cross-Candles, Genital Candles, and Skull-Candles to name a few.

Figure candles add an extra dimension to candle-burning due to the sympathetic qualities their specific shape provides. In and of themselves, figure-candles are no more powerful than regular candles. However, some practitioners may find that they react more strongly to the visual/tactile aspects of the candle which allows them to be more successful in their endeavors. 

Some Types of Figure Candles and their Use(s)

  • Human Figure Candles- These are candles which have been molded in the shape of a naked Man (Adam-Candle) and a naked woman (Eve-Candle). Human Figure Candles are often used to represent a specific person. They come in various colors including black, white, green, and red. Just as in general candle-burning practices, the color of the candle should be in harmony with the goal of your spell. Typically, the name of the person the candle is intended to represent is scratched across the chest of the doll. The individual’s personal concerns, when available, are ‘loaded’ into the base of the candle. Once prepared the candle may be burned, either alone or with other candles. In some cases it may be manipulated as part of a “moving candle spell”, that is it may be moved towards/away from another candle(s) or object to symbolize movement on the issue or problem with the ultimate goal to bring about a certain condition. A good example of one such spell is placing two prepared Red Human Figure candles on an altar facing towards one another about a foot apart with a red taper in the center. Each day the candles are lit and move closer together in order to bring the two people together. In some cases, the Human Figure candle isn’t burned at all. Many practitioners often prepare the candle as described above and then use it in the same manner as a doll-baby.
  • Skull Candles- Skull Candles are shaped like the human skull and come in black, green, red and white. Because they are associated with the human head/mind they are used to penetrate another’s thoughts. However, due to many people associating skeletons with sickness and death, I have seen some practitioners use these candles to bring health to the sick or to curse their enemies with sickness unto death.
  • Cross Candles- Alternately called Cross of Calvary Candles or the Floral Cross, these candles are shaped like the Holy Cross and are further embossed with a set of crossed-keys and an open bible. Cross candles come in an array of colors whose use follow the same line of color symbolism in practical candle-burning spells. However, due to their association with Christianity, they are often used in conjunction with praying the Psalms for specific goals. I have also seen them used in workings to open or close doors (physical or spiritual).
  • Lovers Candle- These are candles which resemble a nude heterosexual couple embracing and are used to enhance the romantic/sexual aspects of one’s relationship.
  • Cat Candle- A candle molded in the shape of a cat sitting on its hind legs. These candles come in red, green and black. Due to the cat’s perceived ability to always land on its feet, to slip in and out of placed undetected, and longevity cat candles are used to draw in good luck. The type of luck desired is often represented by the color of candle chosen and the petition placed under the candle.
  • Genital Candle- Candles which are representative of the Penis and Vagina. These candles are used to manipulate/enhance/control one’s sexual prowess and nature. Perhaps the most common use for these candles are to attract a new sexual partner, arouse passion, ensure sexual fidelity, and curse another individual’s sexuality.
  • Pyramid Candle- A large candle molded in green wax in the shape of a Pyramid with an eye in its center. This candle is a three-dimensional representation of the pyramid found on United States Currency and is associated with the wealth of Egypt. It is thought to quickly draw money and prosperity to the individual when properly prepared and burned with sincere prayer.
  • Mummy Candles- These candles are shaped like an Egyptian Mummy and come in either black or red wax. Due to the binding nature of the mummy, they are often used to bind enemies or keep them down. However, they are also used to lift cross conditions and empower the individual.
  • Praying Hands- Candles which resemble hands brought together in prayer. Praying Hands candles are available only in white and are used when praying for the sick or injured.
  • Witch Candle- These are candles molded in the likeness of a stereotypical witch complete with conical-hat and broom. They draw upon the belief that witches are naturally attuned to magic and can command powerful forces. They are typically available in either black or red wax and are used to cast hexes (black) or bring about love (red). I have also seen these candles used by magical practitioners against other magical practitioners for both good and ill.
  • Devil Candle- Candles molded in the likeness of a devil, they come in red, green, and black wax. This devil is not the Satan of Christianity but rather an amalgam of Pagan/African/Christianity deities into a powerful ally in magic. Depending on the color, these candles are used to incite passion in another, bring in money, or hex your enemy.
  • 7 Knob Candle- These are candles which have been created to have seven knobs and come in white, red, green and black. Their color symbolism follows the same general concepts as found in practical candle-burning spells. Seven Knob candles are used to bring about one’s wishes by carving one’s wish on each of the seven knobs, anointing each know with oil, and then burning one knob per day for a total of seven days.

Candle-Magic Tips and Tricks


In this section,  I’d like to share some tips and tricks that you can try in order to be more successful in your candle-burning activities.

Some of the topics we will cover  include:

  1. Hiding Your Activities
  2. Hedging Your Bets
  3. Some Practical Tips
  4. Fire Safety

 Hiding Your Activities 

  • Due to privacy reasons, many people find that they cannot openly burn candles on an altar or shelf. They may live with those disagree with their beliefs, and who may actively attempt to sabotage them. They may live in a situation where they have very little privacy, even sharing a bedroom with another individual as in a dorm room environment. In order to get around this obstacle, some workers have learned to ‘dedicate’ candle holders to certain magickal goals. Dedicating a candle-holder allows you to burn candles openly for magickal purposes without raising suspicions.To dedicate a holder you will need one whose bottom is lined with felt. Carefully peel back one section of the felt. Write your petition and fold is as per your usual practice. Fold it up and place it in the base of the holder behind the felt and then glue the felt back. When you are done, you will then use the candle for only the purpose for which you wrote your petition.
  • You can find candles that have a hollow base but which are not lined with felt. In these cases you can simply tape your petition, herbs, personal concerns, the inside base of the candle and then glue your own piece of felt to the candle. If you have many of these disguised candle holders, you may want to choose a candle holder that speaks to the nature of the work do you don’t confuse your hexing candle-holder for your landlord with the love candle-holder for the cute boy at the supermarket. For example, I have a candle holder that incorporates a heart into its design that I use for a specific kind of love work. Alternately, you can mark each candle-holder in some way, perhaps my matching the color of the felt you glue to its base to the goal of the spell (red for love, green for money, yellow for success, etc..)
  • Another option for those who feel the need to hide their candle-burning activities is to  make use of  scented candles like those you find in the supermarket.  Most everyone burns these types of candles in their home so it would not be surprising to find one burning in your environment. To use a scented candle try to choose a scent that matches your goal. For example, the scent of jasmine is believed to assist in bringing psychic dreams so you can purchase a jasmine-scented candle and put a few drops of Psychic Vision Oil in the candle and burn it while you sleep. As the wax melts the oil will mix with the liquid wax and no one will be the wiser.
  • Perhaps you’re burning a reversing type candle but you think that burning the candle on a mirror would raise too many suspicions? If this is the case you have two choices. 1) Place a piece of tin foil (shiny side up) under the candle as it burns. If anyone asks, you can just tell them that the tin foil is to protect the surface underneath from any wax that may dribble down the candle or 2) Burn the candle on the ledge of a window at night. The window will act like a black mirror reflecting the negative energy back to the individual as represented by the candle.

Hedging Your Bets

  • No one ever became successful without making enemies. As a magical practitioner you will eventually come across another magickal practitioner who will oppose your work for some reason or another and who will actively work against you. They may have the same goal as you (i.e. they may be your competition for the same promotion or you may have the love interest) or they may have been hired by another individual to do so. Non-magical people with strong wills can interfere with your work with their thoughts.   Even in the best situations there are those around us who often don’t want you to get your wishes “for your own good”. For this reason, it is wise to place a ring of salt around any spell-candle that you are burning to prevent interference and opposition.
  • As a candle burns down it will sometimes form a well near the wick. When this occurs you can ‘feed’ the candle by filling the well with your condition oil. This will ensure that the candle remains strong as it works for you.
  • Just as strong-willed people can often interfere with your candle-burning activities with their thoughts,  you can enhance your spells with your own thoughts! It is your responsibility to monitor your thoughts as your candle burns by shutting out all doubt about the work or any thoughts of failure and to let your mind dwell only on a successful outcome of the work.
  • Many people labor under the belief that a spell is complete once the candle is spent, but this is not the case. I often tell my students that a spell is not complete until they have properly disposed of any left over wax or other ritual remains. This is especially true in the folk-magic tradition of Hoodoo where disposal of ritual remains has a direct symbolical bearing on the work at hand. I’ll touch more on this subject in Part Five but generally speaking if the work was done to draw something to you, the remains are buried on your property, often near your front door to draw in those influences and conditions; if the work was done to move something away from you the remains are buried off of your property, often in a graveyard or at a crossroads (but not always).

Practical Tips

  • Perhaps you’re on a budget and need to make what supplies you have last. A lot of people will not agree with me on this one, but there were times when I purchased 12 inch candles and cut them into halves or thirds so that I got two or three spells for the price of one.
  • Another option is to invest in a bag of 50 count tea lights and use these for your spell casting. Some of the reasons people fail to utilize tea lights in candle spells may include 1) They believe that the un-familiar size and shape of the candle is counter-productive to casting spells in the same manner that they are accustomed to.  2) They may believe that because tea lights are small and do not burn as long as larger candles that they lack a certain degree of power.  3)The thought may have not occurred to them. You can cast candle-spells with tea lights by gathering all your equipment and materials before you. Next, remove the tea light from the little tin cup that it comes in, and using a pin or needle carve your wish around the candle. Put a very tiny bit of your chosen herb(s) inside the bottom of the tin cup and add one to three drops of oil. If you have a hair, nail pairing, small scrap of cloth belonging to the person the spell is to effect, then place that in the cup too. Place the tea light back in the tin cup. Then place some of your chosen oil on the tip of your finger. You will then place your finger on the top of the candle and run it on the top of the candle around the wick three times. If you are drawing something towards yourself, move your finger clockwise; if you are moving something away from yourself, move your finger counter clockwise. Charge your candle with your prayer or petition and finally, light the candle and let the magick do its work.
  • As mentioned in part one of this series there are traditionally three ways to extinguish your candles they are: 1) Blowing them out 2) Pinching them out and 3) Snuffing them out. Many people prefer not to blow out their candles because of the belief that it ‘blows out their wish’ or that using the element of air to kill the power of fire upsets the balance of the work. There are those who do not wish to ‘pinch’ out a flame, out of a fear of burning or otherwise hurting themselves. For these reasons, many people choose to ‘snuff’ out their candles using a candle-snuffer. However, a candle snuffer isn’t always available to everyone. In these cases I’ve often advised the individual to make use of the concave part of a metal spoon, which works just as well.
  •  As a magickal practitioner it is your responsibility to ensure that you have the proper tools you need to perform your work. I have seen practitioners use long screwdrivers to bore holes in Vigil Lights for the insertion of oils, herbs, etc…, I have seen nails, large sewing -needles, the tip of a knife,  and even a drill bit used to scratch names on candles, I have seen salad tongs used to hold a match in order to re-light a Vigil Light which has become extinguished. I have seen candles being cut up and carved on with a pairing knife. As you can see, your tools need not be fancy or expensive and many of the things that you will need can be found in your home right now or are easily available. Once you have your tools, it is important to respect them by keeping them clean and in working order as well as to only use them for magical purposes. You wouldn’t want to peel potatoes with the same knife you used to cut up a candle.

Fire Safety

  • As far as possible NEVER leave a candle burning unattended, that’s just common sense. However, there are some time-tested tricks that we can do during those times when we need to leave a candle burning while we are away. Some of these tricks include 1) Placing the candle in your stove. 2) Burning the candle on a dish filled with clean sand. 3) Placing your burning candle in your bath-tub or sink (away from anything that is liable to catch fire such as curtains).
  • As far as possible, burn you candles out of any drafts. A draft can cause a candle to burn un-evenly and result in a lots of drippings. Furthermore, he movement of a candle that is in the direct path of a draft can be misinterpreted as signs of spirit activity.
  • A candle which loosely fits into a candle holder can be made to fit more snugly by wrapping the base in tin foil. NEVER use a flammable material to wrap a candle in this manner.
  • ALWAYS keep your candles away from anything flammable or which can get hurt or injured if it comes into contact with the flame such as curtains, photographs, children, pets,  etc…

About Signs


This section will discuss some of the various signs that a worker may or may not encounter in the practice of candle-burning. Not all magickal traditions give credence to the manner in which a candle burns or seeks to divine the success or failure of a spell by observing patterns left in wax residue. When I was a new student to the craft, that is Wicca, none of my teachers at the time taught about these concepts at least none that I am aware of. When the subject was broached it was usually vague or concerned itself with the practice of Ceromancy, the art of divination by melting wax in cool water.

It wasn’t until I began to delve deeper into the folk-magic practices I had often heard about growing up in the South that I began learning about the various signs encountered in the practice of burning candles for love, money, success, etc… Some of the topics that will be addressed in this entry will  include:

  1. The Behavior of the Candle-Flame
  2. Signs Left by Vigil Lights
  3. Symbols in Left-Over Wax
  4. Things to Keep in Mind

The Behavior of the Candle-Flame  

Just like God spoke to Moses in the form of a burning bush, your candles are speaking to you each time you light them to attract or dispel certain influences. Granted they may not speak in a voice that you can hear with your ears (although it has been known to occur) but rather with the movement of the flame. Some of the signs through which a candle may be trying to communicate with you are given below.

These signs presuppose that you have already ruled out any mundane factors which may give the appearance of a positive or negative sign, such as a candle which has been left in a draft, an improperly made candle, too much oil used, etc…and have made the necessary corrections.

  • Weak or Low Flame- This is a sign that you have not accumulated sufficient power to accomplish your desired goal or that another is working against you. Watch the flame to see if it grows stronger as it burns, if not, this means that your desire may not manifest and if it does it will take a long time. When this occurs you should re-evaluate your goal or continue burning candles until you see improvement.
  • Strong or High Flame- A strong flame indicated a great amount of power or energy is being spent to achieve your goal. A flame which burns abnormally high is indicative that God has heard your petition and this is generally taken as a sign that your work will succeed.
  • Flame Goes Out– A candle that will not burn or whose flame goes out is trying to tell you that there are strong energies working against you. When this occurs you have three choices. They are 1) Dispose of this candle and start over with another. 2) Re-light the candle and refortify it with fervent prayer. or 3) Dispose of the candle and re-evaluate your goal.
  • Flame Relights Itself- A candle whose flame appears to become extinguished and which then begins burning again is a sign that there are energies opposing your work but that your candle is fighting back to keep working for you.
  • Flaring Flame- When the flame flares up and down this is a sign of opposition and that you are in an active struggle with the subject of your spell. It could be that someone is working against you or that someone is working for the same goal as you (i.e. casting spells for the same promotion, lover, etc…) Pay attention to how the candle continues to burn for additional signs.
  • Crackling Flame-  A candle which snaps, crackles, or pops  is generally believed to be a sign of the language of spirits (ancestors, angels, etc…). It is believed that the spirits are either talking to you or to each other.
  • Fast Burn- A candle which burns down quickly and leaves little to no residue is given as a sign that the work will be successful but that perhaps the results will not be lasting.
  • Slow Burn- A candle which burns down slowly, or slower than other candles of the same type previously burned is given to indicate that 1) the goal of the spell will take some time but that the results will last or 2) there is resistance to your spell.

Signs Left By Vigil Lights 

Unlike free-standing candles,Vigil Lights are candles which are encased in glass and which are designed to burn anywhere from 7 to 9 days. Due to the fact that they are encased in glass, many auguries have been ascribed to condition of the glass as a result of burning a Vigil Light. Some of these signs include:

  • Clean Burn- It is given as a good sign that what you wish for will come to pass with little to no resistance if a Vigil Light burns without leaving behind any wax residue or marks on the glass.
  • Soot on Top-  If the top portion of a Vigil Light is blackened from soot, but otherwise clean as it burns down, this is given as a sign that your spell got off to a bad start (i.e. it initially faced some negativity or opposition) but that it worked past those negative energy and worked well for you.
  • Soot on Bottom- If a Vigil Light burns clean in the beginning but later leaves a black soot on the bottom portion of your candle, this is a sign that your spell got off to a good start but ran into opposition before completing its work for you. When this occurs you should back up the work by lighting another candle and continuing to do so until you get a candle that burns clean.
  • Soot All Over- A Vigil Light that burns completely black is a definite sign that a strong enemy is working against you.
  • Cracked Glass/Explodes- As in the case with many of the signs mentioned, the signs given for a Vigil Light that cracks or explodes largely depends on the the goal of the spell. Generally speaking a cracked/exploding Vigil Light can indicate 1) Breaking through an obstacle such as another person’s defenses 2) Breaking a spell such as a hex that was placed on you or 3) Your candle broke because it took a ‘hit’ for you or 4) The person is actively working against you and broke your spell before it could have an affect on him or her.

Symbols Left in Residual Wax

Sometimes a candle will melt down and drip wax in puddles as it burns. These puddles are often searched for signs and symbols which will give an indication of the success or failure of the work. Some common symbols include Hearts, Faces, Tears, Eyes, Circles, Genitals, Some individuals have attempted to assign specific meanings to commonly occurring symbols which have often found in these drippings. However,  I feel that although there are universal meanings to some such symbols, but that they are also very subjective. For example, it has been said that wax which forms droplets down the side of a candle are called tears and that they represent that someone will cry before the spell is complete. This is usually interpreted as tears of sorrow, regret, or grief. However, tears can also be interpreted as joy and happiness. For this reason I will not presume to tell the reader what a certain symbol means, but rather would instruct him or her to define for themselves what a symbol represents.

Things to Keep In Mind

This entry is not intended to cover every aspect of signs found in candle-burning, but rather to give a brief overview of the subject. Many of the signs given are subjective and largely dependent on the goal or intention of the spell. As you practice candle-burning, I suggest that you observe your candles closely and take notes as to the behavior of the candle and how they burn. When your spell is complete, pay attention to what does or does not happen next and write this down as well. With practice over-time you will begin to understand how your candles speak to you and what they are trying to tell you.

Disposal of Magical Remains

Many people think that a spell is complete once the candle is spent, but this is not the case. A spell is not complete until  its magical remains (i.e. candle wax, petition, herbs, etc…) have been properly disposed of. This is especially true in the folk-magic tradition of Hoodoo where disposal of magical remains has a direct symbolical bearing on the work at hand. Some of the topics I will cover include

  • Disposing of Candle Wax
  • Disposing of Used Vigil Lights
  • Disposing of Your Written Petition

Disposing of Candle Wax 

As stated earlier the intention of your spell often has a direct correlation on how you dispose of magical remains. Below you will find a general guide-line grouped by intention/goal to help you determine how best to dispose of magickal leftovers.

  • To Attract Influences- If the work was done to draw something to you such as prosperity, a new lover, or good health,  the remains are buried on your property, often near your front door or under your front doorstep.
  • To Keep and Maintain- If the work was done to keep something with you indefinitely such as a straying lover, the remains are buried in your backyard.
  • To Move Away- If the work was done to move something away from you such as a jinx, an enemy, or a negative condition, the remains would be buried off of your property. Choices for burial include 1) tossing in running water  or 2) burying at a crossroads.
  • To Increase- If the work was done to create or increase a condition such as prosperity or good health, bury or throw it toward the East so that its strengthen with the rising Sun.
  • To Decrease- If the work was done to end or weaken a condition such as an enemy’s good luck, ill-health, etc.. bury or throw it towards the West so that it will diminish with the setting Sun.

Disposal of Used Vigil Lights 

Vigil Lights are typically 8 inch tall Pillar type candles which have been encased in glass. They usually burn anywhere from 7 to 9 days. When a Vigil Light is spent there is always the question of how to dispose of them. Your choices include:

  • Burying/Disposal- Depending on the actual spell, some workers have been known to dispose of used vigil lights in the same manner as other magical remains.
  • Trash/Recycle- Some workers have been know to simply toss them in the trash, while others choose to clean them out and place them in the recycle bin.
  • Reuse-  Again, I have known some workers to clean them out and reuse Vigil Lights around their home as storage for incense sticks, as vases, or filled with decorative items such as marbles.

Disposal of Written Petition

 Procedures for disposing of written petitions such as prayers, name paper, or petitions for specific goals often follow the same guidelines for disposal as other forms of magical remains. Typically, petitions are either 1) Burned or 2) Buried. However even with these two choices there are variations and choices to be made.


  • If the candle was free-standing, the petition may be burned and its ashes mixed with any left-over wax to be disposed of in the manner described above on disposal of candle wax.
  • If the candle was a vigil-light, the petition may be burned inside the glass and the ashes 1) Tossed out with the glass 2) Washed down the drain 3) Scattered to the Winds 4) Disposed of in the same manner as candle wax described above.
  • Alternately, the petition can be burned along with incense or powdered herbs with prayer as an offering to deity.


  •  The petition can be wrapped up with left-over candle wax, herbs, etc.. and buried 1) near your front door to attract influences 2) in your backyard to maintain conditions 3) tossed in running water to move something away from you or 4) at a crossroads to disperse energy.
  • If the petition was part of a working to hurt or jinx an enemy it can be burned and the ashes mixed with any left over wax, or any type of crossing herbs or powder and 1)buried in the individuals front yard 2) buried under their doorstep 3) hidden in a tree on their property (usually on the western side), 4) hidden in their car 5) buried where they are sure to step over it, etc….


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