Most rituals — whether they take place in front of an altar or a harrow, in the middle of a circle or a shrine, or outdoors in a holy spot — incorporate candles. While candles can serve a very specific purpose in certain magical ritual, usually their presence is part of an overall ambiance of an event, burning away warmly in the background, hardly noticed by most. This disregard doesn’t mean they aren’t working, though. Candles are very powerful, and candle magic has a long and illustrious history.
Most candles these days are not white, although white is a profoundly divine color and always right to use, there is an abundance of choices available for us to use now. Every candle color has a meaning which ties into the effect they work on those around them. Blue candles are used to invoke high spiritual insight and Odinic wisdom, while green can be used to bring about prosperity and growth (in whatever area growing needs to be done). Golden candles should be burned to bring about victory, wealth, and luck. Red, that color of Thor himself, is used when strength is called upon. Pink candles can be burned to attract love. Black might seem repellent, and it is—but it repels negativity and bad luck so it is a wonderful color to burn.
Carving a symbol into the wax of a candle will bring about extra power as the candle burns. Sigils, runes, letters…the symbol need not be well drawn or well known, it simply needs to harness your intentions. Use an ordinary nail or a knife—although keep away from iron or silver—and be careful not to cut too deeply. It’s easier to do this carving before you decide to dress the candle:
A candle’s unseen power can be enhanced by ‘dressing’ it (the added bonus to doing this is that any residual unwanted energies a candle might have will be cleared off of it by dressing it). Dressing is done by simply coating the candle in an essential oil. Mint oil will boost a green candle, rose oil a pink one…there are as many oils and blends of oils you can use as there as intentions you can have for its energy. To dress: take a candle and mentally divide it in half, then working from the middle up, put a light coating of oil on the top half (I use my fingers, dabbed with the oil); repeat with the lower half, working from the middle down. It is advisable, while you dress the candle, to keep your mind on exactly what you intend the candle to do, even if it’s merely to make a gathering cozier by burning in the background.
Some folks will roll a freshly dressed candle in crushed botanicals to further enhance the magical effects they wish the candles to achieve. Finely crushed dry basil leaves are good for this, as are dried rose petals.
Candles can be used for more than mere background energy ambiance, of course. They can be burned for any reason, from happy birthday wishes (do you really think it was just old fashioned birthday party fun to have a special cake with candles stuck in it that amount to a person’s age (plus one to grow on) upon which a wish can be had if they are all blown out at once?) to stopping people from talking behind your back (for this you need to burn a red candle which has been stuck all over with cloves—as it all burns out, so will the gossip) to ‘inspiring’ water ( burn a white floating tealight, carefully, in a bowl of pure, preferably charged/blessed, water. The combined energies will create water that holds the power of flame—a contradiction, perhaps, but like the Fire and Ice of Norse Creation Myths, a very potent magical liquid to use for any number of creative applications).
It’s been said that a candle must never be blown out (so that it’s magic isn’t dispelled away) and this holds mostly true, with the caveat that sometimes you want the magic to move (as in birthday wishes and love attracting candles). It’s usually best to let a candle burn out by itself, but if you must extinguish one, using a snuffer or just pinching the wick will keep the energy of the candle around the candle.
Finally, remember, bigger isn’t necessarily better when it comes to candles—the smaller tapers work just as well, and much faster than those giant fashion candles so popular on the market. There’s nothing so dreadful as waiting for a candle to go out by itself…and nothing better than watching the last tendril of candle smoke rise and slowly drift, off to the aether, job done.