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Candles have a long and interesting history in religious worship, magic, and folklore. They light the way to the sacred, they dispel the forces of darkness, they are associated with ghosts and the dead, they can find buried treasure, and they play a role in incubated dreaming.
The origin of candles is not known, but there is evidence that beeswax candles were used in Egypt and Crete as early as 3000 B.C.E. Other early candles consisted of tapers made of a fibrous material, such as rushes, saturated with tallow.
Ancient peoples observed that candle flames revealed mysterious things. By staring into a flame, one could enter an altered state of consciousness and see gods and spirits, or see the future. The late Egyptians of about the third century used lamps, and possibly candles, in a magic ritual for "dreaming true," or obtaining answers from dreams. The individual retired to a dark cave facing south and sat and stared into a flame until he saw a god. He then lay down and went to sleep, anticipating that the god would appear in his dreams with the answers he sought.
Ancient Pagans used candles and lamps in religious observances, a practice that the Roman Christian theologian Tertullian vehemently protested as "the useless lighting of lamps at noonday." By the fourth century, both candles and lamps were part of Christian rituals, but it was not until the latter part of the Middle Ages, from the twelfth century on, that candles were placed on church altars. The Catholic Church established the use of consecrated holy candles in rituals of blessings and absolving sins, and in exorcizing demons.
According to the prevailing lore during the witch-hunts, witches were said to light candles at their sabbats as offerings of fealty to the Devil, who was often portrayed as wearing a lighted candle between his horns. The witches lit their candles from the Devil's candle; sometimes he lit the candles and handed them to his followers. Witches also put lighted candles in the faggots of their brooms, which they rode through the air to their sabbats.
It was believed that witches made perverse use of holy candles in putting curses on individuals. According to an English work, Dives and Pauper (1536), "it hath oft been known that witches, with saying of the Paternoster and dropping of the holy candle in a man's steps that they hated, hath done his feet rotten of."
At the turn of the 19th century, Francis Barrett, author of The Magus (1801), wrote that candles made of "some saturnine things, such as a man's fat and marrow, the fat of a black cat, with the brains of a crow or raven, which being extinguished in the mouth of a man lately dead, will afterwards, as often as it shines alone, bring great horror and fear upon the spectators about it."
Candles and the Dead
Wicca and Practical Magic
As part of the preparation for casting a spell, rub a candle with anointing oil while concentrating on the purpose of the spell. The formula of the oil will be determined by the purpose of the spell. Or, write a spell on a candle and then burn it.
The following are some of the energy vibrations and influences evoked by colors. Burning colored candles in magical work enhances the vibration of the colors.
In angel magic, use colored candles in work with these principal angels:
Rosemary Ellen Guiley was a leading expert on the paranormal, and authored more than 45 books and hundreds of articles on a wide range of topics. She conducted original field investigations of haunted and mysterious sites, ...