Candle spells are an excellent base form of magic to learn. You can do just about any spell with a candle and candle spells present many opportunities for tinkering and adjusting spells which I think is paramount to the learning process. Because of this, learning basic candle spells gives beginner witches a kind of “blueprint” to work with. Once they master the blueprint they have solid knowledge of all the pieces involved and this allows them to begin substituting, experimenting, and personalizing spells right from the start.
Candle spells also start instilling the theory behind witchcraft early which speeds future learning and helps bring greater confidence and excitement into their craft.
Every candle spell begins with a few supplies. You will, obviously, need a candle. The kind of candle you choose is going to depend on the way you plan to use the candle. Glass pillar candles are lovely but they don’t work if you want to carve symbols or words into your candle. Do you want to dress your candle with oil and herbs?
In addition to making sure that your candle will actually work for the methods you want to use, choosing an appropriate color and scent, what size candle you want (bigger may be fun but they sure do take a long time to burn!), and whether or not you want the candle to have a particular shape.
Other supplies you’ll need include some way to light the candle, perhaps oil and herbs for dressing the candle, a candle holder, a tool for carving, and any added items you wish to have on your altar or temporary workspace. You might also consider playing some music and dimming the lighting in the room but if you’re brand new it’s best to keep things simple.
(Despite the fact that this is step one and seems like an overwhelming number of decisions right up front, you don't need to worry. Finish reading the article and THEN decide how to proceed with your spell, I explain everything in detail.)
The next consideration is your workspace. Remember, we’re working with fire here so you’ll want to make sure your workspace is fireproof! Set up your workspace somewhere that doesn’t have curtains hanging too near it, don’t put a highly flammable altar cloth on your table and keep pets and children out of the room. Singed whiskers do not make for happy spells. You might also consider the kind of clothing you want to wear. As pretty as they might be, long flowing gowns and shawls can easily find themselves falling into candle flames. The same is true of long hair, throw yours up into a bun or a ponytail to keep your hair safe.
How you set up your workspace isn’t set in stone. I personally like to have my candle sit front and center, perhaps with something pretty for decoration on either side. I keep all of the tools I plan to use on the right-hand side of the altar and my book to take notes in on the left. I’m typically not a terribly reverent person so unless the spell is particularly likely to have backlash I often also have a cup of tea on the altar while I work.
Keep in mind, unless you intend to include a deity in your candle spell this is not an altar for worship! This is a workspace altar, it is meant to be useful and to be used. There’s no need to treat it as though you are afraid to be disrespectful. It’s all yours!
Next, it’s time to prepare your candle. This typically happens in three major steps.
1. The first step is carving. As long as the candle is large enough it should be simple enough to carve. You don’t need a fancy knife for this, a simple butter knife, ice pick, or other vaguely pointy objects will do. You can carve words into your candle identifying your intention or your target or you can carve symbols into your candles. These symbols can be as simple as a heart or a dollar sign or as complex as a sigil made specifically for the spell you’re casting. The choice is yours. Carving is NOT a mandatory part of the spell. If it’s too much for you during your first spell, you can skip it!
It's also a good idea to keep backup candles on hand if you're new to carving candles. I've snapped a few candles while carving and if it's your last candle it's a bit of a show stopper.
2. Next is dressing the candle in oil. The kind of oil you use isn’t important, plain old olive oil will work well if you don’t have anything else to use. Often this oil has been blessed or enchanted in some way. A simple “may this oil carry my will into reality” can suffice. Many people prescribe a specific direction of applying the oil depending on the type of spell (from the center to the ends for banishing, from the ends to the center for attracting magic) but I find that simply going from top to bottom works just as well for me. Do what feels right for you.
After your candle has been oiled you can add ground herbs to it. The herbs you will use depend on the spell you’re casting, you don’t need anything complex though. One or two herbs from your kitchen cupboard can often be made to work for just about any spell. The herbs should be finely ground (no whole peppercorns here) and you can either sprinkle them over the sides of the candle or roll the candle directly in the herb mixture. The herbs will stick to the oil and lightly coat the candle.
At this point, you’ll probably want to set your candle in its candle holder and go clean your hands. I always end up covered in oil and herbs.
This is the easy step. Light your candle! It doesn’t matter what you use, matches are cool, lighters are fine, pretty much just use what you have on hand. Some people prefer one method over another which you’ll figure out over time.
There are several ways to do this. You can simply meditate or daydream about your intention. You can chant if you feel like creating a small chant about your intention. You can journal, or speak aloud and perhaps record yourself. The choice is yours, just find some way to focus your energy on the purpose of your spell while it burns. This is where you're really pouring your energy into your spell and charging all of the layers of meaning that you've built into your spell so be sure to spend a fair amount of time on this!
This is a big dispute in some witchcraft circles. Some people feel that blowing out your candle is “extinguishing” your intention and that you should only ever let the candle burn out. I think this is silly. As an air witch, my breath is one of the most powerful tools I have. If anything, blowing out a candle after a spell is a way of releasing my power out into the world through my breath. Do not be afraid to blow out your candles.
Of course, you can also let your candles burn down. Depending on the spell I will allow candles to burn down occasionally, generally for banishing, cursing, or other such magic. Keep in mind, you should NEVER leave a burning candle unattended! If you’re going to let a candle burn out you MUST stay with it the entire time. Burning your house down is not a good way to cast a spell.
Disposing of spell remains is a rather personal subject. Some witches like to just throw spell remnants in the trash, others into a fire. The only thing I really do not recommend is burying spell remnants or throwing them into natural bodies of water. Unless absolutely everything being buried is biodegradable is pretty much just littering.
You can also keep the remnants of your spell for later use if you think you might want to reverse it. Spell remnants should be properly labeled if you intend to keep them for such purposes. You wouldn’t want to be undoing the wrong spell!
And there you have it! All the basic pieces of a candle spell laid out in a simple fashion. These spells are truly about as basic as you can get, if you haven’t tried any spells yet and have perhaps been a bit too intoned to give it a go, this is a great place to start. Pick an intention, fill in the blanks (and remember, many of them can be omitted) and give it a go!