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The Basics of Candle Magick

One of the first things I learned as a fledgling witch were the basics of Candle Magick. Candle Magick can be one of the simplest, and highly effective, forms of magick to learn and practice.  Candle Magick has been used by nearly every religion, Eastern or Western. It is widely practiced, even by the mundane population. Blowing out the candles on your birthday cake is a form of candle magick (you make a wish, don’t you?)  We have all lit a candle for a recently departed relative, seen Catholics light candles for prayers, watched (or participated) in a candlelight vigil to offer support and best wishes for the return of an abducted child.  All of this, and more, is candle magick.

In learning about candle magick you will find you can make it as simple or as complicated as you wish. During this process you will be working to imbue a candle or candles with your intentions, then lighting and burning the candle while focusing (visualizing) your goal as manifest. The spells is completed when the candle (or candles) is spent. This can be done with one candle or many, with or without spells, props or other aids, performed one time or many.  Remember, you are the magick. The candle is there to assist you in your focus and aid you in your workings.

Basics of Candle Magick – Instructions

Below are basic instructions for practicing your own candle magick.  I have listed them in basic order of operation – kind of a candle magick “recipe” if you will.  As with all good recipes, try it out then add or subtract what does or doesn’t work for you. 

  1. Write down your intention:  As with any spell or ritual you need to have a plan of what you intend to do.  Do you want a spell for love, to find money to pay your bills? Maybe you wish to discover your inner child?  Write it down!  Review it several times to make sure that a) You really need this; b) You will not infringe on anyone’s free will       (especially in regards to love spells); c) You really need this.
  2. Write your candle magick “recipe”:  Now is the time to decide how you wish to proceed.  Will it be simple with a single candle or will you need several for different aspects of the spell?  Do you want to add additional correspondences to aid the spell?  How many times should you perform the spell? What color candle should you use?  What type? Will you repeat a chant, meditate, sing or use some other method to focus your intention?  Have fun, write it down, and then gather the ingredients required.
  3. Cleanse and consecrate:  Always cleanse and consecrate all     candles, oils, herbs, etc. before beginning. Candles can be cleansed       and consecrated using most of the usual methods.
  4. Get your ingredients together:  Gather your ingredients, anoint your candles (see instructions below), then add your catalysts (herbs, tokens, etc.). Grab your Book of Shadows handy or at least your written spell, ground, center, and….
  5. Get Cooking:  Now you are ready to practice your candle magick!  Imbue your candles and catalysts with the required energies and intention. Take a deep breath, focus, light your candle(s) and perform that spell!

Now that you have the basic “recipe” lets discuss how to pick the best ingredients to add to the strength of your candle magick.

Choosing Candles

When discussing the basics of candle magick, choosing the right candle (or candles) for your spell is important. As you try to decide on your candles, keep the following in mind:

  1. Pick a color to match with your intention: Choose a color from your color correspondence tables to best work with your intention.  For example; green for a money spell, pink for a love spell, blue for a healing spell.  White is a great all-purpose color and can be used for any type of spell.
  2. Size your candle to match your spell: The size of the candle can differ depending on the time and type of spell. I prefer to use four-inch candles. However, birthday candles are great if you are short on time. If you are going to be performing the spell for consecutive days you can burn a new candle each day. Or perhaps buy one of those cool 7-knob candles. Alternately you may use a taper candle or small pillar and mark a line on the candle to separate it into sections for each day. Then you can burn it down to the line and snuff it out till the next day.
  3. To scent or not to scent: Some Witches like to use store-bought scented candles to add to the ambiance and impact of the spell. However, most are heavily scented and the aroma that corresponds best to your spell may make you sneeze.  Sticking to essential oils, or a simple, imbued, carrier oil, is usually best for those with allergies or sensitivities.

Adding the Spice to your Candle Magick

Using and choosing an oil: I feel that the use of oils for anointing candles is essential for my spell work. As you anoint your candle with your chosen oil you are adding your intention as well as giving the spell direction.  What do we mean by direction? Rubbing the oil into the candle in specific manner indicates whether you are drawing something to you or pushing it away (banishing).  To pull something towards, you anoint your candle from the top down to the center, then from the bottom to the center. To push away or banish, start from the center and rub the oils upward towards the wick, then from the center to the bottom. 

“Spices” for your recipe:   Your “spices”, or catalysts (correspondences), for a candle magick spell are the herbs, tokens, stones, etc. that are used to, a) focus your intention; and, b) add to the energy and/or vibrations require.  For example, when doing a spell to heal someone (always with their permission), you may include a picture or drawing of that person. Add in a personal item of theirs, stones and healing herbs and a healing oil to anoint your candle.  Use what has meaning and energy to you.

Imbuing with purpose and energy: Now is the time to get personal with your ingredients and imbue them with your energy and intent.  Place your candle in your hand or your hands over the candle and let your energy flow into the candle.  Tell the candle what you would like it to do, such as “As you burn you will open my mind and heart to aid me in finding my true spiritual path.” Be specific and don’t be stingy with the energy.  Remember, the candle is acting as your focus and as it burns so your intention is made manifest.

Spell repetition: Deciding on the repetition of a spell can be, for some, the most difficult step.  How much is too much and what is not enough?  There is no set time to cook your spell – the use of trial and error is your guidepost. To assist you, try using the sacred numbers of three, five, seven or nine.  Three is a good starting point for less intense spells and seven repetitions are perfect for longer and more focused spells (thus the seven knob candles).  As always, use your intuition and decide what’s best for you.

Basics of Candle Magick - A single candle flame

A Word on Candle Safety

A discussion on the basics of candle magick would not be complete without a few words on candle safety. Please, whenever you are burning candles, keep these safety tips in mind:

  • Never leave a burning candle unattended.  If you know you may have to step out of the room, place the candle inside a cauldron or on a fireproof surface such as a cookie sheet. Better yet, make it portable and place the candle in the bathtub to continue burning.
  • Make sure that nothing flammable will come in contact with the flame.  Always place in a non-combustible candle-holder and keep any flammable herbs, tokens, papers, etc. out of the reach of the flames.
  • Keep pets out of the way of the candles.  Pets, especially cats, are curious about the pretty flames.  They can hurt themselves or knock the candle over and start a fire.

Now you are ready!  It’s time to put all this information on the basics of candle magick to good use.  You will find below a simple candle magick spell to help bring peace and love to the Universe.  Have fun!

Candle Magick Spell for Universal Peace and Love

Items required:

  • 1 white candle – marked with a line to separate it into three fairly equal sections or 3 tea lights
  • Oil for peace and love such as gardenia, lavender, peppermint, vanilla

Anoint your candle with the oil.  Imbue with your energy and your intention to bring peace and love to all that inhabit this Universe.  When ready, light your candle and say:

May peace and love embrace each being that dwells within this Universe divine,

May the peace of the God fill your essence

May the radiant love of the Goddess upon you shine.

Repeat the chant three times visualizing a Universe of peace and love. 

Burn your candle to the first line (or let your tea light burn completely). Repeat for two more consecutive days. 

Blessed Be!

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Ancestral Altars – Creating Space for the Dead

As Samhain approaches and the veil thins we often become introspective.  We muse on the things we have accomplished in the past year, and ponder what we wish to accomplish in the next.  We think of the turning of the Wheel of the Year, the endless cycles of birth, death, and rebirth. Our minds contemplate those that have passed before us.  This is the time of year when our ancestors call to us. This is the time for building our ancestral altars and creating space for the dead. A sacred place, a portal, where we can communicate and call to our ancestors, both of the blood and of the heart.

Ancestral altars are a part of many different cultures and religions around the world. Many homes in both the Japanese and Chinese cultures have altars for their ancestors that are used every day.  In ancient Rome, Greece and Egypt, there were many different forms of honoring the dead and the ancestors. However, one of the most well-known celebrations for the ancestors is Dia de los Muertos, or the Day of the Dead. Celebrated from November 1st through November 2nd, those of Mexican descent erect ancestor altars and visit the graves of their loved ones to celebrate both life and death. 

Ancestral Altars - a gravesite in Mexico decorated for Dia de los Muertos
A gravesite in Mexico prepared for Dia de los Muertos

Ancestors of the Blood and of the Heart

Earlier in this blog I mentioned honoring your ancestors by blood and of the heart.  Those by blood are of course your biological ancestors, those directly related to you through your parents.  Ancestors by heart are those individual who have passed on in which we feel a spiritual or personal connection with.  These ancestors may include those of a different culture or spirituality that you connect with. Perhaps they were your favorite neighbor, a teacher or instructor, or your best friend from high school. Our ancestors of the heart are those that have had an impact on our lives, those we hold dear to us regardless of familial relationships. They deserve, and need, to be honored as well.

Creating Your Ancestral Altars

An ancestor altar may be constructed just about anywhere. It may be used just for the Samhain Sabbat or left up all year. Be sure to create the altar on a flat surface such as a table, fireplace mantel or hearth, a dresser, ora side table.  Some of the items you may wish to place on your altar are as follows:

  • Altar cloth – any color but traditionally black
  • Pictures of your Ancestors – these can be photos or other representations
  • Candles – I prefer black or purple but the colors are up to you.
  • A chalice with wine or water
  • An offering bowl or plate
  • Incense burner and incense
  • Favorite items of your ancestors – These can be articles of clothing, toys, their favorite drinks or foods.

Let your creative juices flow when setting up your altar. You may include flowers and special tokens from passed relatives. A wish/prayer box to send messages to your ancestors is great addition. You may wish to add scrying mirrors, crystal balls and other divination tools can be included as well. The only limits are your imagination and needs of your ancestors. 

Using Your Ancestral Altar

Use your ancestor altar to commune with the ancestors, to give them offerings of thanks for all they have done, for you and your family. You can sit before your altar with your family and friends and tell stories about those that have passed before you, their deeds, adventures, as well as misadventures. Light the candles and incense and then meditate or scry before the altar. This communion is when you may ask your ancestors for guidance and insight. But above all, use your altar to remember, to keep the memories of those that have gone before you alive and well.

For me, taking the time to sit, commune, and honor our ancestors has greatly improved my well-being and my Craft. I have been given information from my ancestors that I could have never learned in books. Many warnings have been expressed, ethereal pats on the back given, and admonishments sent. Once you have stood in front of your altar, given your offerings and then felt the reciprocal love wash over you, you will never be without an ancestor altar in your home.

I encourage you to go ahead, build your altar, light your incense and candles. Commune and honor your ancestors this Samhain Eve and know that you and they are interconnected, intertwined, and forever a family.  Blessed Be. 

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Creating a Devotional Practice

Rubbing her sleepy eyes, she yawns and then hits the “off” button on her alarm. Raising her arms above her head she stretches, trying to shake off the last of the sleepiness. Turning, she places her feet upon the floor and slowly rises. She grabs her robe from the side chair, slips it on, and with soft steps moves towards her bedroom altar. She pauses, breathes deeply, then lights the candle placed on a crystal plate. Another deep breath and she begins to recite her morning litany, the beginning of her daily devotional practice.

Devotional, as defined by the Miriam Webster dictionary is “a short worship service”. The Free Dictionary further defines it as “relating to worship; “a devotional exercise.” While most Wiccans have no problem relating to worship, some Witches may get stuck with this word. The act of worship itself is defined as “the feeling or expression of reverence and adoration for a deity.” Perhaps you don’t work with deity but instead invoke a Universal One, Nature, or power. If so, you may still wish to worship – express reverence to that energy. A devotional practice does this.

I am often asked about daily devotional practice by my students and community. While sometimes a controversial subject because of its Abrahamic religious undertones, I find it an important one. I have touched on this subject in previous blogs, but have never gone into much detail. However, before we delve into the makings of a devotional practice, we must first understand the “why” of doing so.

The Importance of a Daily Devotional Practice

By performing a daily devotional, we are giving thanks, reverence, and energy towards our chosen Deity or Power. We are sharing with them, speaking words of praise, and using the time to gain a closer relationship with them/it. This act of worship and reverence, to me, is crucial for our Craft and our spiritual well-being.

Another plus of a daily devotional practice is allowing ourselves to ground and center, rooting ourselves in the here and now. Grounding and centering only takes a few moments but it can change the entire course of your day. When done first thing in the morning, at the beginning of our devotionals, we are giving ourselves a head start towards a mindful, purposeful day, rooted in serenity and peace. Done at the time of evening devotionals, we are able to put aside the craziness of our day and reconnect with the Earth, the elements and the great web of creation and life.

The second aspect of a devotional is an offering to deity or our higher power. Whether it be a poem, a thank you, a litany, or a prayer, each time we perform our daily devotional, we bring ourselves closer to them. This aids us in all of our workings. When we are closer spiritually to those we choose to honor, our rituals, our spells, and our daily lives are enriched.

Devotional Practice - My current altar honoring Hekate where I do my devotionals to her.
My altar honoring Hekate. I do both devotional and other workings here.

Beginning Your Practice

As we’ve discussed, a daily devotional practice can enrich your life, your connections with deity, and improve your personal practice. But how do you begin?

  • Create a dedicated space for devotionals.: A shelf, tabletop, or even a flat stone in the yard can be set aside for your daily practice. It can be as simple or elaborate as you like. Make sure that there is enough room for things you may wish to incorporate into your daily ritual.
  • Cleanse and dedicate the space.: Using your usual methods, cleanse the area and all items you will place upon it. Then dedicate this space and the objects to the deity or power you choose to honor in your devotionals.
  • Decide on a time to do your devotionals.: Mornings or afternoons are fine, (or both). Just try and keep the times as consistent as possible. Currently, I do both a morning and an evening devotional. The morning is more of a connection with deity and the All and the evening is for thanks and praise for a wonderful day. You may have to work with it a little to see what feels right to you.

Now that you have the place and time decided upon you can begin to perform your devotional. Below is a suggested format for a daily practice. This is just a guideline. Take what works for you and add or subtract to customize your own personal working.

Simple Guideline for a Daily Devotional

  • Ground and Center: Using your usual methods, ground and center yourself. You may also wish to add in a simple smudging of yourself and your area if this is your tradition.
  • Greetings and salutations: Begin your devotional with words of greeting. A simple “good morning” can suffice or you can do elaborate hand gestures, clap, bow, or stomp your foot to “awaken” and signal the start to your devotions.
  • Statements of Purpose: You may also wish to add in a statement of purpose as to why and to whom you are performing your devotional. Something as simple as ” I give greetings to (insert deity) on this beautiful morning. I ask that you look upon me as I start my new day.”
  • Add in elements that honor your chosen Deity/Powers: Lighting a candle in their honor, chanting, singing, or offering a litany to the day are just some of the elements you can add to your practice. Read a poem, place flowers on the altar, or give offerings for a bountiful day. Do whatever feels right to you.
  • Closing statement: When you have completed your devotional, be sure to acknowledge and thank the powers for their presence. Just a simple, “Thank you and farewell.”, may suffice. Do what feels right an natural to you.

A devotional practice does not have to take a great deal of time. It may only take 5 minutes, or it could take an hour – depending on your personal preference. The important thing is the connection, the focus and intention that we create and then share with our deities/powers and to ourselves.

Speaking from personal experience, there is no better way to start (and/or) the day than by giving thanks and connecting with Deity and the Universe around me. It’s lifted my spirits on gloomy days and downright saved my sanity on bad ones. The understanding of, and relationship I have achieved with my chosen Goddess has enhanced my personal Craft ten-fold.

May your own daily devotional practice bring you as much joy and spiritual connection and awareness as mine has.

Blessed Be!

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There Is No Such Thing As “Safe” Witchcraft

Not long ago I had a new student ask me if witchcraft and magick were “safe”. My first impulse was to launch into a long diatribe regarding intent, precautions, yada yada. Instead, I giggled, or maybe more accurately cackled, (not entirely certain if it was out loud or in my head). After I’d composed myself, I sat her down, took her hand, and proceeded to explain that there is no such thing as “safe” witchcraft. Ever.

Merely by using the words witchcraft, witch and magick, you’ve launched yourself completely out of any and all “safe” zones. These words are loaded with mystery, superstition and fear. Hell, just giving yourself the moniker “witch” is dangerous enough. But telling someone you are a witch or studying the Craft? Danger, danger, Will Robinson! Be prepared to answer questions, defend yourself, or beat feet out of a sticky, and perhaps volatile, situation.

As for the practice itself – safe has never been a word I’ve used for it. Face it. We didn’t start practicing Witchcraft to be safe. It called to us, grabbed us and held on. That in itself was a scary prospect, answering a call into the unknown, into the mysteries that are the Craft. Do you recall your first ritual? Your first spell? Can you still feel the apprehension, the suspense, the fear and the anticipation? I recall the chills that ran down my spine, the sweat on my brow and the utter joy to finally connect with the magick, the whole, everything. Cue the goosebumps. No, safe has never been a part of the Craft and it never will be.

"Safe" Witchcraft - A picture of an altar during a ritual

Magick Isn’t “Safe”

Then there is the magick itself. Magick isn’t safe. It is messy, explosive, emotional, powerful, and many times, freaking scary. To be a witch is to push and break boundaries – not at all a safe prospect. We work with the dead, the Gods, and the “Others” of this dimension and the next, and the next. By its very nature, magick is dangerous. So many things can go wrong if our hearts, mind, and intentions are not in sync. Even when everything is aligned and our spells manifest exactly the way we desired them to, there is always a cost. Magick costs us personal energy, time and often, a piece of ourselves. Nothing is free so we must always cast wisely.

Should we be scared of doing magick? No, but we do need to give it the respect and caution it deserves. Magick is not for the faint of heart, the dabbler, the skeptic, the weak of mind and spirit. Well-trained practitioners understand this and treat magick and its energies with reverence, and act in consideration for all of its actions. They are mindful in their castings, always heeding the laws of magick and that of their guides and chosen deities. In contrast, those that do the most harm, who are the most dangerous, are those that treat magick as a “thing”. They treat it as a toy, a plaything, abusing its energy without understanding it. When there is no consideration of possible harm, no cognizance of where magick comes from, how to channel it, then magickal backlash and chaos can, and does, occur.

Witches and Wiccans and Wizards, Oh My

Another seemingly harmless yet inherently dangerous part of our craft is what the “muggles”, the “regulars”, think of it all. Others may perceive our Craft, our magick, our work, even ourselves, as frightening, creepy, otherworldly, and “evil”. A lack of understanding about what we do can lead to threats, animosity and, at times, violence. Our neighbors hear us chanting in the back yard, talking to plants and animals, and drumming in the Full Moon. They see our pentacles, brooms, and protection sigils and become alarmed. Out of fear they label us “weirdos”,# scary” and “delusional”. Perhaps they hang an extra crucifix or two around their property, cross themselves when they see us or just shake their heads as if we were wayward children. If we are lucky, that’s as far as it goes. It’s when they decide to “cleanse” or “protect” the neighborhood that things get scary and dicey.

Opening dialogues with the neighbors can ease some of this tension, but don’t count on it. I’m lucky that one of my neighbors is cool with it, may not fully understand, but remains open to what I may share with her. The others? They are more of the “cross themselves” variety. But it’s all good. Just keep doing what you’re doing, bang that drum, stir that cauldron, and cackle maniacally any chance you get. A tiny bit of fear will keep them from asking you to their next boring Tupperware party.

“Safe” is a Four-Letter Word

Is Witchcraft Safe? No. Is it scary? Yep. But it is worth every shiver, every goosebump, every daunting and disquieting moment. “Safe” is a four-letter word, an expletive, one to be uttered only in company of the “regulars”. Leave the magickless, the “muggles” and the uninspired to the likes of “safe”. Remember, we ARE the magick and we will not hesitate to cast, stir, and conjure, safe or not. Because it is who we are. It is our life, our blood, bones, and being. We will not be quieted. We will not be stopped and we will not be frightened back into a “normal” life. Safe is for the uninspired, the non-magickal, the muggle. Practice your magick with prudence coupled with fearlessness, knowledge mingled with power, and strength joined with daring. Together, we are the Witches, the Wiccans, the Wizards, Sorcerers, and Magicians, the future, the magick and the danger.

Blessed Be!

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When Deity Answers Your Call

February’s New Moon brought our first Healing Ritual of the year. I had a few relative new-comers present so I began running through the ritual. While reviewing the Goddesses we were calling one of the women present asked a couple of very astute questions. “How do we know when deity answers our call? How do we know when Goddess has arrived?” Good questions my friend, good questions.

Our time for the ritual was limited, (it was set to start at a specific time so those in cyberspace could “tune in”) so I made my answer brief. Yet, I continued to ponder these questions. The more I did, the more I realized that my previous answer wasn’t complete. Many practitioners have these same questions, so how was I going to answer them in a way that made sense to them? Also, can I really answer for them? In order to give the most informed answer we all need to know the basics. I’ll begin with explaining what a call to deity is and why we do it. Next, I will discuss what is experienced when deity answers your call.

Calling to Deity

A call to Deity is an invitation. Your call is a request for your chosen God or Goddess to be a part of your working, whether it is a ritual or spell. We call to them to lend us their support, their energy, and knowledge. Sometimes, we request them to be there as witness for rites of passage. Notice the terminology here – Call. We do not demand, we do not summon, we call.

Our calls can be simple. A few words or phrases asking them for their presence in our circles. Calls to deity can be elaborate – think of the times Goddess has been called by reading the entire “Charge of the Goddess.*” No matter the form of your call, it must be heartfelt, sincere, reverent (mostly, but that’s for another blog). If you go at this half-assed, deity hears you and will place your request on “hold” or not honor the request at all.

The same may be said of calling a Deity that you are not familiar with. If you haven’t taken the time to learn about who you are calling, to sit and commune with them, why would they take the time to answer you? Some of the most uncomfortable rituals I have attended were facilitated by those who neglected to understand this fundamental rule of respect.

Please don’t forget to learn the Gods proper names and how to say them (to the best of your ability). If you call in a Sumerian God you’d better pronounce his name properly if you expect him to answer. Google translator has been a huge help to me in this respect. While it may not translate Sumerian, it can help you with Greek, Irish and Latin. If their name has several possible pronunciations (like Hekate), use the one that resonates with you.

Knowing When Deity Answers

You’ve begun your work, perhaps created sacred space and called your corners. Confidently, you stride to towards your altar, raise your hands towards the heavens (or down towards earth for the Chthonic) and call unto deity. The words you speak are joyful, yet reverent. Completing your call you wait for their response. What, wait? For what?

This is where it gets tricky. Why? Because we are all different. We all process sensory and emotional stimuli in different ways. Each of us experiences Deity and their presence from our own levels of understanding and perception. Knowing when deity answers your call is extremely personal. What I feel when Hekate is present may be may the complete opposite of what you are feeling. You may hear a “pop” when deity arrives whereas the person standing next to you gets goose bumps. When I work with Sekhmet I know she is present because I smell lotus blossoms but Brighid’s presence brings a not so subtle heat. These are my experiences and I don’t expect you to have the same.

Remember that all of these feelings are completely valid because they are yours. When deity answers your call, you will know, just know. Whether you see, hear, smell or feel, you will know when deity answers your call. I can’t be any clearer than that.

When Deity Doesn’t Answer

But what if deity doesn’t answer? What then? Deity can’t always be at our beck and call and sometimes they just don’t wish to answer. If this happens, especially if it occurs during a public ritual, acknowledge the fact they are not present. Be honest and don’t try to fake it (I’ve seen this happen). You can say to yourself -or the room full of people standing there, waiting – that although Deity has not answered, is not present, the rite can still move forward with the energy of all present and the Universe. Just because Deity didn’t show up when we first called, doesn’t discount them from popping in later on in the ritual. Trust me, it’s happened.

Even if deity never joins your circle, your working can still be a success. After all it is your work, not theirs. You alone make or break your rituals and spells. We call in Deity for assistance, for the additional energies they bring to us, to commune with and have them protect our rites. Their presence is not mandatory for success. I know witches that do not work with deities at all and they do some fairly spectacular work. Yes, I wish to have my deities acknowledge and be present with me as I work, but I understand when they do not join me. They are deities and perhaps they know that they are not needed at that particular time. Who am I to question the Gods? – Okay I do question but again, another time, another post.


As with all Witchcraft, what we do, think and feel is very personal. Knowing when deity answers your call is no different. Next time you step into circle, whether it is your own or at a public ritual, breathe, relax and allow the connection to happen. It is only when we experience things for ourselves, and not as we are “supposed” to , that we allow the magick to truly happen.

Blessed Be!

*Charge of the Goddess by Doreen Valiente