Witches love working with candles, and rightly so. Whether you’re burning sigils, performing a ritual, or simply setting the mood, having a lit candle near during spellwork is like having a little companion with you. It’s also a great visual of something happening — especially helpful for those more hands-on witches who work their magic more tactilely and less mentally.
A candle is nothing but action. It flickers with life, melts sinuously before your eyes and can set things on fire! It’s powerful, and not only that, but because of its versatility it has a lot more uses than you may realize. I want to make sure you’re getting the most out of your candles so you can use your waxy little friends to their fullest potential.
Wax & Wick
I don’t know about you, but using candles is pretty essential to my craft. If I’m trying to work a spell, you better believe I’ve got at least a few candles lit, and when I write spells, I always include a lot of them. Lately, though, I’ve cut almost everything else away except candles. While other tools are fun to have, candles are quick and more than enough for most spells. So, I want to share a few of the new ways I’ve been using them.
1. Dressing Candles
You’ve probably heard about anointing candles in oils and dressing them with herbs — it’s pretty standard. But there are so many other options beyond oil and herbs you can use! Are you a sea witch? Let the candle sit in the sun for a while to soften it, then pack it in sand. Earth witch? Do the same thing, but with loose dirt. You can crumble up another candle and roll your spell candle in the waxy dust as a way to reinforce your intention — two colors instead of one. Roll the candle in eggshells and salt to add another layer of protection in warding spells. Roll black banishing candles in cracked pepper to give your spell an extra boost.
I’ve rolled candles in loose pet fur and even used candles to crush seeds. This is a great way to save money, too. Instead of buying expensive “spell candles” with a lot of ingredients mixed into the wax, you can add exactly what you need just by rolling your candle in it. It’s also safer than burning these candles because whatever you’re rolling the candle in is on the outside of the candle and away from the flame, unlike the herbs and flowers in spell candles that are sometimes right next to it while the candle burns!
If you’re having difficulty getting elements to stick to the waxy surface of the candle, you can warm it up slightly beforehand or apply a very thin layer of diluted honey, so it’s tacky before you roll.
2. Time-Elapse Spells
It’s a long process to burn a candle down, so this method is perfect for spells that also take time — like self-improvement spells or spells for reaching a goal. Think of your candle as a timeline and divide it into different sections by making thick grooves in the candle’s surface. The spacing is up to you. If you’re doing a self-improvement spell, you may see that certain aspects are bigger problems than others and will take longer to burn away.
Likewise, with reaching a goal, certain obstacles are smaller than others. Once you’ve divided your candle up, make sure each section represents what you’re trying to banish or strengthen (intention is key here). You can write the word in the wax or apply other symbols as you see fit. As you begin this process, light the candle and let it burn through each section as you consider what needs to change, how to accomplish this, and what additional magical help you may need.
3. Carving & Cutting Candles
Another standard practice is to carve words or symbols into candles. You can take this further by carving the candle into a specific shape. This isn’t easy, and it takes practice, but it’s a lot of fun and results in a very potent magical object. If you’re doing a spell to protect a loved one, you can carve the candle into the shape of a person and give it a few defining features.
Cutting candles or snapping them is another way to symbolically link or break something. If you take a tapered candle and cut out a small section in the middle, you make a sort of nunchuck. These two candles are connected by a single wick and can be burned side by side in unison — what happens to one happens to the other. This would be good to use in spells involving siblings, spouses, or close family members.
4. Saving The Wax
Colored candles have a LOT of dye in them. If you’ve ever gotten wax on your clothing or carpet, you’ll know that it can stain. But you can use this to your advantage by taking a candle used in a spell and, after it’s burned down, using the wax as a writing utensil. Imagine that you’ve charged a candle with a certain intention because you used it in a spell for love. That candle’s sole purpose was to help manifest something you want — it’s programmed. This magically charged, colorful wax can now be used for other things — like drawing love sigils to bolster your spell.
Have more than one color? You’ve basically got a set of magic crayons, and if you’re creatively inclined, there is really no limit. Melt them down for altar decorations. Draw an image of what you’re trying to manifest on a piece of paper and hang it over your bed. This even works with white candles! Because watercolor is repelled by wax, you can draw beautiful sigils on paper with white wax and then paint over them with watercolor to create a beautiful little tribute to your sigil, and to keep it in mind and focus on it while you go about your day.
5. Sigil Candle
Tired of constantly re-activating sigils? When I’m making sigils, they are typically single-use. Other sigils, however, become very important and their intentions are ongoing. I use one for success that I’ve had for over two years and since being successful is something I’d like to be continuous, I draw this sigil on everything. I also used to consistently re-activate it.
The problem with this is that even though I wanted to incorporate it in my weekly altar ritual, I’d forget or get too busy and the sigil wouldn’t get burned. As you can imagine, this leads to erratic results. So instead of drawing the sigil each week and burning it (something that for me involves going outside in unpredictable weather), I simply found a way to “auto-activate” it when I burned my altar candles each week. Problem solved.
Search online for prayer candles. Helpful hint: The Dollar Tree sells them in cases of 12 for $12. They come in a lot of colors and are in 8 inch glass cylinders. Once you’ve picked a color that matches your sigil’s intention, take some paint or a sharpie, and draw your go-to sigil on the glass. Now, whenever you’d like to activate your sigil, you can simply light the candle. It’s lovely; the glass gets warm and the wax slowly moves down the sigil. A very gentle activation that’s easy and paper free.
I don’t know about you, but I buy very temperamental (read: cheap) candles. The candle goes out constantly because the wick drowns in the melting wax. This means I have to babysit my candles and pour out the overflow of wax whenever the flame is in danger of going out. I’m forever having to find containers for the wax, then dislodge the wax once it hardens, and repeat the whole annoying ordeal every week or so.
There are a lot of things you can do with leftover wax, like making new candles or just letting it pile up to create interesting altars. You can also get creative with how you drip it. On a flat surface you can drip the wax in a circle or design and, depending how you make the edges of the circle, add water to it. This gives you a lovely little lake to work spells with. Make a second circle within the first and you create a mote, within which you can perform a spell with an extra protective or strengthening layer.
7. Reading Flames & Ceromancy
Reading candle flames is a technique often used for divination or to gauge how a spell is progressing. If the candle flame is lively and flickering and tall, then your magic is working or similarly, the answer to whatever question you’re posing is yes. If the flame is low and barely there, your magic is not working or the answer to your question is no. If the flame won’t stay lit or goes out entirely, more time or effort is required. If the candle is noisily crackling and popping, it could mean a spirit is trying to make contact.
Personally, I’m not that fond of this form of reading. I can influence the candle’s flame by simply turning on a fan or sitting in a still room. I’m not saying this isn’t a valid magic, but I do think it’s a little flimsy. Instead of reading the flames, try reading the wax — a method of divination called ceromancy.
Get a large bowl filled with water and gently stir it. While the water is in motion, add a stream of hot wax and see if you can divine anything in the shapes the wax forms. Hearts and teardrops are both significant. Does the wax spiral or just sit gently on top of the water? As the wax floats and more drips are added, what are your first impressions?
Pro-tip: Burn and drip candles of different colors when you’re first beginning with ceromancy — it makes finding the clues much easier if there is more than one color in play.
Cord, herbs, the ash from a burned sigil, and more can be combined into a small, portable, and scented disk with wax melted over it, then arranged on altars, placed on your desk or stored in the refrigerator for safe-keeping. These waxy spells can be as small or large as you like, combined with other wax spells or snapped in half if you’d like to perform a banishing or other symbolic breaking.
You can add oils before the wax hardens. You can draw shapes in the cool wax. If you’re worried about the wax breaking or becoming damaged, add your spell ingredients to a small tin before covering with wax, so everything is protected. This will also prevent your wax from accidentally re-melting all over your belongings in the heat!