For the the practitioners and members of Wicca, a group that values an ancient understanding of the supernatural world and emphasizes the sanctity of nature and multiple deities of both genders, candles are a vital part of the magic -- or, in Wiccan terminology, "magick" -- around which most spiritual rituals revolve. Candles are used to meditate, divine the future, banish evil, invite tranquility and communicate with the dead. The light that they provide is one of the most powerful forms of energy revered by Wiccans, and so the use of candles and the beliefs that surround them are taken very seriously.
The contemporary importance of candle magick evolved from ancient rituals that focused on the lunar cycle. During these rituals, torches were lit to invoke the goddess of the moon. This goddess was an immensely powerful deity, also known as the "Enchantress" and "Mistress of Magick." The use of candles in Wiccan rituals today are thought to be aided and further propelled by all previous rituals and spells performed in her name.
For Wiccans, candles often operate as symbols or stand-ins for the practitioners who use them. Even the individual parts of a given candle correspond to parts of the person performing the candle ritual or spell. For example, the wax of a candle symbolizes the body; the candle's wick symbolizes the mind; and the flame, itself, symbolizes the soul or spirit of the practitioner.
Candles are prepared for use in spellcraft by being anointed with with natural oils, bringing about a sort of "charge" that makes them more effective for magickal use. A variety of incense is often burned for the same purpose, with the added benefit of creating an atmosphere that helps a Wiccan practitioner to calm him or herself and focus on the nature of the task at hand, as well as its desired outcome.
The shape of a candle can indicate its intended use. For example, black cat-shaped candles are burned during spells meant to attain luck or psychic power. Knob candles, which feature seven spheres of wax that share a single wick, are used to achieve multiple wishes, with the melting away of each knob symbolizing the future achievement of a particular wish. Candles shaped like phalluses are used in spells that seek to bring about fertility.
Wiccans believe that a candle's color is tied to its purpose, as different colors attract different energies, spirits and natural vibrations. Black candles ward off evil energy. Blues candles seek honor, truth, loyalty, protection during sleep or prophetic dreams. Yellow candles help practitioners to achieve confidence. White candles work to achieve consecration, peace, spiritual strength, healing or clairvoyance. Purple candles seek success and power. Red candles signify fertility, romantic love, passion, sexual magnetism and even physical prowess and the ability to achieve revenge. Brown candles help practitioners find lost objects, and orange candles stimulate bodily energy.
There are a handful of primary means for performing candle magick today. One of the simplest and most popular is the "marking" of a candle. The process of marking includes the engraving of small notches into the side of a candle, each notch representing a day. (Candle magick performed over an extended period of time usually takes anywhere from three to seven days.) The candle is lit every night and allowed to burn down a single notch. Meanwhile, as the candle burns, the Wiccan performing the magick meditates on the outcome of his or her spell.
Perhaps the oldest use of candles among any religious or spiritual group, including Wiccans, is for the practicing of meditation. Gazing into a candle's flame and concentrating on its movement can offer great calm and, to a Wiccan, the opportunity to see into the future or make psychic connections. Divination comes from the interpretation of whatever images or symbols appear in a practitioner's mind as he or she focuses on the candle's flame. The more trance-like the practitioner's state when these visions occur, the clearer these visions' meanings will become.
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