Welcome to the Introduction to Candle Magick Pages
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INTRO TO CANDLE MAGICK
The Basis of Candle Magick
The basis of Candle Magick is based upon the belief that by focusing our intent as we light a candle, we are transferring our thoughts to the candle flame, which then releases the thought into the realm of the divine, causing the energy of the candle to help us achieve a particular aim.
Candle Magick: An Ancient Magick in Modern Times
Candle Magick, although one of the most ancient forms of magick, is still practiced today by an ever-more growing number of people. Since the dawn of the New Age in the 60’s, candles have become such a common part of everyday ritual that they are even commercialized on television. From the simple act of blowing out the birthday candles on a cake, to lighting a candle to accompany a relaxing soak in a tub, various forms of Candle Magick are to be found everywhere in our daily lives. The intent in our minds as we light or extinguish a candle has a profound psychological effect on us, whether we realize it consciously or not.
Candles: A Link to Our Ancestors
Candles serve to connect us to our ancestors through the force of their ancient, primal energy. Candles have the power to convey the ideas of Romance, Warmth, Spirituality,Special Wishes and Light itself.
Candles have been embraced by people of every faith and nationality as symbols of hope. There is something about candles that makes us feel safe, despite the inherent danger of fire itself. Who can forget the solemnity and quiet power of people wielding candles in a vigil? In times of need, candlelight vigils have proven to be a source of community togetherness, bringing a sense of comfort to all who attend, or merely witness them. Somehow, a single flame seems to say, “I am still here, remember me.”
There are a couple of continuous flames that should be mentioned: One of which is the continuous flame that is used to ignite the Olympic torch every 4 years. Kept alive in Athens, Greece, the Olympic Games cannot begin until the lit torch is brought directly from Greece to the hosting country of current year’s Games. The other famous continuous flame is located at the grave of the beloved, slain former United States’ President, John F. Kennedy. No one can argue the power of fire as a means of conveying eternity, and remembrance. As such, Candles are universally considered to be one of mankind’s most direct connections to the Divine.
Candles in the Modern World
Despite the modern presence of electricity in the world, the popularity of Candles is skyrocketing. Due to the better production capabilities of modern candle-making it has become easier to mass-produce candles than ever before.
In addition, other reasons for the boom in the candle market are such factors such as, wider choices of colors and scents. In fact, Aromatherapy, since being incorporated as a candle-selling selling-point, is the single largest factor in the popularity of candles. Aromatherapy candles are used in psychologically therapeutic ways to create a sense of healing and balance in our hectic lives. Aromatherapy candles contain essential (pure) oils that act upon our olfactory nerves to promote health and well-being.
Candles and Modern Magick
People of all faiths enjoy using candles, and find solace and comfort in their usage. However, individuals who are members of many of the ancient magickal groups, (such as Wiccans, Voudons, or Ritual Magicians) use candles on a daily basis to connect them to various Gods, Goddesses, Orishas or Spiritual Entities. These Candle Magick pages are prepared with the Ritual Use of candles in mind. However, anyone needing to learn more about the Aromatherapeutic uses of Candles, Oils and Incenses should visit the forthcoming pages devoted to the study and practice of Aromatherapy.
Candles and Aromatherapy
Candles: A Brief History
Since time immemorial, humanity has had a fascination with the element of Fire. Prehistoric people found themselves at the mercy of predatory wild beasts during the long hours of the night. People were largely unable to defend themselves at night until they discovered the ability to create and preserve Fire.
During this phase of history, the Moon became revered as a beacon of light and protection during the dark hours. Much of the magickal power attributed to the Moon is directly connected to this time in history, the time before mankind achieved mastery over Fire.
Prometheus: Bringer of Light
(This Fire Myth will be posted soon!)
The First Candles
Once people had learned to create and control Fire, they found a need to preserve it in a more manageable way. Campfires and bonfires were useful for cooking food, and creating light; however, inside dwellings were not ideal for the burning of large fires. No doubt, at some point people recognized that the substance dripping from cooking meat was flammable, and that moment marks the true beginning of candle history.
People learned to collect the fat from the meat of animals and created the first candles in this way. This fatty substance was called, “Tallow.” Our ancestors learned to render the fat of livestock, (mostly sheep, pigs and cattle) to produce enough tallow to create large amounts of candles.
Some time later, people found ways to cull the fat from vegetables as well. Candles were made from the extraction of vegetable fat from various plants and their barks, berries, and leaves, as well as grasses . In fact, the bark of one tree, came from a tree that was later even known as the Candletree.
There are some reports wherein people have stated that vegetable candles came first, however, this is incorrect as heat/fire is necessary to collect wax, from both meat and vegetables alike.
Candles Made from Animal Fat
Candles were also made from the tissue and secretions of certain animals, such as spermaceti (whale oil), ambergris, and beeswax , which was rendered from the insects’ secretions. Particular animals, such as the Stormy Petrel and the Candlefish of the Pacific Northwest, were actually made into candles themselves, being threaded through with wicks and burned. Despite the convenience of these types of tallow candles, they were rather crude, and created much smoke, and additionally were quite time-consuming to make, as well as foul-smelling.
Candles Made from Vegetable Fat
Early candles were made from vegetable waxes collected from the leaves, barks, and berries of such plants as the Candelilla, Bayberry, and certain varieties of Palm leaves, such as Carnauba and Ouricury, as well as Esparto Grass.
Candles Made from Beeswax
Of the two kinds of animal/insect tallow candles, beeswax was considered more favorable as it burned “clean” (without smoke and unpleasant fumes) and also possessed an alluring scent However, Beeswax was highly expensive, and only wealthy people, or those associated with the Church, could afford candles made with this precious substance.
Candles Made from Paraffin
In all of modern Candle History, the single most event occurred in 1850, when the substance known as “Paraffin” was originally refined from petroleum oil, making petroleum-based candles possible. Paraffin was combined with “Stearin,” a substance which made it possible for the Paraffin to harden enough to retain a shape. Paraffin and Stearins were combined at a time when the properties of candle wicks were also being improved upon, thus revolutionizing the entire industry of candle making. In fact, the breakthroughs accomplished during the 19th Century have given us the modern industry of candles, as we know and use them to the present day.
The Politics of Candles
The importance of Candles cannot be overstated as a direct influence on modern civilization. Light became synonymous with power. In fact, at one point during the 17th Century, European state laws controlled the weight, size and cost of candles. Specifically, in 1709, an English Parliament created a law banning the making of candles at home, unless an individual purchased a license and paid a considerable tax.
The Invention of Lighting Matches
The second most important modern event in the popularizing of the candle happened in 1827, when the first lighting matches were invented. The original matches were made with the poisonous substance, Phosphorus. Luckily, these dangerous and foul-smelling matches were improved upon by the end of that century, thus eliminating any need for such traditional “sparking” implements as flint, tinder and steel. Also, matches were a convenient way of being able to keep a fire lit 24 hours per day.
Container Candles: Candles poured directly into a container with the intent that they be burned within the container itself, are known as “Container Candles.”
Such candles are usually made of soft wax, and are not able to stand alone without their containers. Additionally, the candle’s container prevents the soft wax from dripping, and are usually quite safe. In fact, most churches and public venues utilize this popular candle, which are ideal as they are able to safely remain burning for long periods of time.
Taper Candles: These candles are the type most commonly envisioned by most people. Tapers are long cylindrical candles that bring to mind the old ideas of “candle-dipping.” Traditionally, tapers have been made by dipping long wicks into melted wax. However, they can be made by pouring wax into taper molds. They can also be made by rolling sheets of wax (usually beeswax) around a wick. Taper candles fit well into most candle holders.
The usual size of taper candles are 1/2 inch or 7/8 inch in diameter at the base because most holders, and most are designed to fit these two sizes. Exceptions to these dimensions are birthday candles, (which are 3/16 inch) and Danish tapers (which are 1/4 inch). Of course, some specialty candleholders are currently designed to hold tapers larger than 7/8 inch.
Pillar Candles: A candle with a large diameter that is thick and is able to stand alone is called a “Pillar Candle.” This candle can come in any shape, such as round, square, hexagonal, or even star-shaped. Most pillars come in standard sizes and in round shapes for commercial and religious use.
Votive and Tea Light Candles: Originating in the Catholic church, the term “Votive” now simply refers to small plug-type candles that are commonly 1-1/2 inches in diameter and 2 to 3 inches high. Votive candles have become the most popular size for scented candles because of their small, and convenient size. As votives melt, they quickly become liquid in their containers, as the wick uses up all the liquid fuel. If you burn a votive on a plate, the burn time will be shorter because the wax will drip and the wick will be unable to use it.
Tea Lights: These tiny candles are exceedingly popular. Tea lights are small votives used to warm pots of potpourri and to heat foods. They fit in smaller-than-standard votive cups.
Novelty Candles: These are irregularly shaped candles made by molding, sculpting and/or pouring. These candles can take any shape, such as toys, etc. and are very popular for parties and special events.
Dimensions of Candles
A candles is usually referred to by it’s diameter followed by it’s height. For example, a 3-by 6-inch pillar would be 3 inches in diameter and 6 inches high, and written like this: 3"x6", or simply as 3x6.
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