Candle magick is the ancient process of using a candle to concentrate and then release magickal energy. This involves packing the candle with magickal energies from symbols, essential oils, botanicals, stones and of course from yourself. When you do candle magick, you are doing Fire magick. Below you'll find a guide to charging your candle and releasing your magick.
~ NOTE ~
PLEASE don't set up your candle near curtains, furniture, carpet, tablecloths, etc. - that's how house fires start! If you intend to leave your candle burning unattended, be very sure it can't set fire to anything as it burns!
The principles of candle magick
Candle magick is infusing a candle with energy and releasing that energy by lighting the candle. To infuse the candle, you must pick the right sort of candle then dress it with the right essential oils/essences, put the right botanicals inside it, the right stones around it and carve the right things onto it (all discussed below). Those are the general practices Witches use to empower their candles, but you don't necessarily have to use them all every time you do candle magick. It helps, but it's not mandatory. These physical actions combined with the energy you raise yourself through chanting/singing/drumming/saying spells etc. are the means by which you charge the candle. When you have charged the candle, you light it to release the magick. We'll talk about lighting and snuffing candles a bit further down the page.
Obviously, the candle is the most important part of candle magick. If you can make it yourself, do it - the more personalised your magick is, the more powerful it is. It's not at all hard to make a candle if you have the equipment. You need to pick a candle that is the right colour, the right size and the right shape (yes, they come in different shapes). The colour/s in your candle should be appropriate for your intent (pick the right colour here) - remember that if you can't lay your hands on the right colour, you can substitute white without jeopardising the power of your magick. You also need to consider the size of the candle you'll use - if you only intend to light it once and you don't want to let it burn for days, you don't want one of those huge cylindrical candles with three wicks in it: pick something like a votive candle instead. Conversely, if you intend to snuff and relight the candle several times to continue your magick over a long period, or you're going to let the candle burn constantly for a specific period that has significance (a period that is days long, for example), you may need something bigger than a votive candle. These days you can find candles labelled with their burning times - I've seen candles made to burn for periods of seven hours to seven days and all the times in between (you may need to visit a specialist candle shop for a 7-day candle, though). Note that the size of the candle doesn't affect the potency of the magick - it's just a practical thing to make sure you can burn it for the required amount of time. If you're fortunate, you may also be able to find a candle with an appropriate shape - a heart shape for love magick, for instance.
Once a candle has been used in magick, it traditionally is not used again because it has been charged for one spell already. This is partly why a candle is usually burned down completely in candle magick.
Magickal symbols are useful in candle magick, as they can be carved into the candle itself. You can use them to bring more of the energy you want into your candle - to use magickal symbols in candle magick, they must be carved into the candle. You can use a pointed crystal or your bolline or something else pointed/sharp that has been ritually consecrated as a ritual tool to carve your candle. You can find a list of some magickal symbols here. You can also use runes, astrological signs, etc.
Essential oils - dressing the candle
Essential oils and essences are used to 'dress' your candle, adding more of the right energy to your candle - this is a vital step in the candle magick process and you really shouldn't omit it. When you dress you candle, you are covering it in the essence of a botanical that is appropriate to your working and visualising your desire manifesting - if you have a glass-encased candle, dress the exposed wax in the appropriate direction (deosil/widdershins). There are a few different ways in which you can dress your candle:
The Up Technique
This technique is used to draw something to you. Put your essential oil on your index finger and start from the base of the candle. Turn the candle with your other hand with the wick end closest to you (you can turn it deosil if you want to add that little bit of extra 'alignment') and bring your finger and the oil up from the base to the wick in a spiral motion, overing the candle in the oil.
The Down Technique
This technique is used to send something away from you. This is the opposite of the Up Technique - begin at the top of the candle (the wick end) instead of at the bottom, with the wick end closest to you. If you wanted to you would turn the candle widdershins.
The Twisting Method
This is an easy one, but rather messy. Apply a liberal amount of the oil to your palms, them grasp the candle with both hands, one towards each end. Twist the candle in your hands like you're wringing a towel, but be careful not to grip so tight you break the candle. If you need to, apply some more oil to your hands - make sure the whole candle is covered in the oil.
The Witches' Triangle Method
This is an (apparently) ancient method of dressing candles - it basically entails drawing a triangle on the 'front' and 'back' of your candle. Draw a line in your oil from left to right along the bottom of your candle, not going more than halfway around the candle. At the end of the line, take the line up to the wick end on an angle towards the left of the candle. Take your finger off the candle and pick up your horizontal line at the beginning, then draw an angled line up towards the wick to complete the triangle. Repeat this on the 'back' of the candle.
The Witches' Triangle Method
Botanicals are yet another way to cram more of the appropriate energies into your candle. There are two schools of thought on this - you can carve out a hollow in the base of the candle in which you then pack the appropriate botanical/s, or you can crush up your botanicals in a mortar and pestle, spread them out on a plate and roll the candle over it, using the essential oil you've dressed your candle with to hold the botanicals on the surface. If you do carve out a hole in the base of your candle, you need to moisten the botanicals with oil so they stick together inside the candle. Seal off the bottom of the candle with wax and be warned that when the candle burns down to the botanicals they'll explode into flame - you don't want to do this under a smoke detector. This small fireball sends your magick off with a bang.
Which method you use basically depends on the type, size and shape of your candle - you can't carve out much of a hollow in the base of those long, white generic house candles or one encased in glass, can you?
Stones are another way to add extra energy to your magick. As mentioned in my Stones page, a candle flame reflected off the surface of a stone will draw the energies of that stone into your cone of power. Pick some appropriate stones and place them around the base of your candle for a bit of extra oomph.
Lighting and burning
This is an important bit! If you're going to call on a god or goddess to help you with your magick then you do it as you light the candle. When you light the candle, try to use a lighter or a taper candle instead of matches - the acrid smell of sulphur isn't all that conducive to good magick. You can light the taper with matches, but don't do it in your nice magick circle: do it before you begin the ritual.
There are a couple of choices when burning your candle - you either let it burn continuously until it's gone, or you snuff and relight it over a period of days. I personally don't want to burn my house down because I left a candle burning overnight so I always snuff them before I go out or to bed. That's entirely up to you, though - how long you burn the candle for could depend on the size of your goal or the length of the event for which you're doing magick (an exam period perhaps). For example, during an exam period, you might like to let your candle burn for half an hour a day until exams are over. For a difficult goal, you may need a bigger candle to burn for a longer time every day for a few months.
If you need to leave your candle burning, here's a method that may just stop you burning the house down - put your candle in its holder, then put the holder on a plate of some kind and put the whole lot in the bottom of the bath or the shower (only if you haven't got long curtains or a plastic shower curtain flapping around nearby).
When you want to extinguish your candle - any candle in any ritual - you should always snuff it out with some sort of candle snuffer. Blowing out the flame blows away the magick!