Candles hold many different meanings and functions. They are ceremonial, ritualistic, symbolic, and utilitarian all at the same time. They can shine bright or glow dully. They can flicker or synchronize movement with other candles, and they can blow out suddenly for no apparent reason. The way that a candle burns can hold hidden significance about other worlds, the energetics of a room, the direction a ritual is going, the presence of otherworldly ancestors, or any number of spiritual occurrences.
For thousands of years, candles have been employed for spiritual insight. As a conduit for fire, the candle represents illumination in the dark, for both the material world and the spirit realm. The open flame is an avenue for communication to other realms of existence, making it useful for carrying prayers, transmitting chants, and asking questions. One would light a candle to accompany them on journeys through darkness and unknown territory. The candle also symbolizes consumptive power, elemental magic, and transformation. It is the ideal tool to have for conducting spells and practicing magic, positive or negative.
The way that a candle burns has everything to do with what is happening around us. Invisible energy, much like the air, vibrations, or magnetic forces, influence the events that happen around us. If we pay close enough attention, our interpretations can help us decide what to do next or where to go from here.
Upon initiating magic, conducting a spell, praying, or asking a question, there are subtleties to look for as the candle relays a deeper spiritual significance. Pay attention to smoke, sounds, the movement and strength of the flame, and the quickness or slowness of the burn.
The Sides of the Ritual and Vigil Candles
Ritual and vigil candles usually have a design on either the candle or the glass holder itself. If you are working with a candle that does not, you may wish to choose and mark an area to act as the front.
- The front of the candle is the material world. In prosperity workings, it is money. In healing, it is physical health. In protection, it is your home or the people you wish to protect.
- The back is the spirit, mental, and emotional world. Anything related to these invisible energies is represented here.
- The left side is the past. No matter whether it is distant or recent, it is represented here.
- The right side is the future. It is what will likely happen if no changes are made.
Interpreting How The Candle Is Burning
From strong to weak burning, the speed at which a candle burns, or other events that happen during the burn - learn what it all means.
A Clean, Steady, and Strong Burn
This generally means a green light, for your intent is clear and your prayer or spell has been successfully sent. Especially if the candle is burning in glass and there is no wax residue, scorching, or blackening where the flame is, then there is a good chance your intentions will work in your favor and you will receive your answer or wish quickly.
A Slow, Weak Burn
This could point to a weakly conducted spell, prayer, or general intention. Focus your energy, and perhaps fine-tune and direct your intention with time and effort. If the flame grows larger, it means your intentions are gaining power.
A Candle That Hisses, Sizzles, Crackles, or Pops
Listen closely! The one to whom the message is directed is responding. A spirit or ancestor may be trying to work with you. The louder the sounds become, the stronger the will to communicate with you.
A Candle That Will Not Burn At All
Cleansing must be done before continuing. Smudge yourself and the room you are focusing on with purification herbs, like white sage or mugwort, to cleanse yourself of negative energies.
A Candle That Burns Only On One Side
Expect only a partial response or an incomplete spell to happen. This could leave things unresolved or unsettled in daily matters. The type of candle could have been the culprit. Refocus your intention, find a better candle, and try the process again for better results.
A Candle That Burns Very Fast
There are two ways in which a candle can burn down quickly. If it burns unevenly, it indicates that something was not right — try performing your spell or ritual another time. If it has a controlled, even, fast burn, it means your spell was successful.
A Candle That Explodes and/or Catches Something On Fire
Be very careful! Either someone is attacking you or the person you are attacking is protected from harm and the spell has been reflected back at you.
Of course, not every single thing the candle does is a sign. Variable factors such as a draft or even the way the candle was made will affect how it will burn. Also, every person may inspire a different meaning from each burn, so approach this ritual with a clear, open mind and proceed accordingly.
One of the most important facets of ritual and spellwork is the idea that everything is a sign of some kind. If something out of the ordinary happens during a ritual, even something mundane like the chirp of a bird or the movement of incense clouds, it can be a sign. Divination using a fire is called lychnomancy, and candles are a simple, inexpensive way to do it.
Interpreting Ritual Candle Flames
The divination of a candle's flame is known as pyromancy. Watching a candle burn can give you a lot of insight. In the middle of a ritual, it can tell you what kind of energies are present, or how successful you are likely to be. Every waver, pop, or crackle has a meaning.
An Unsteady, Jumping, Sputtering, or Flickering Candle Flame
Why do candles flicker when there is no wind? As long as there is no draft in the air, there may be resistance against you. Try putting more willpower and energy behind your intention. If you are directing a spell toward somebody, they could be picking up on it and working against it, consciously or not. The higher the jumping flame, the more resistance there is.
A Vanishing Candle Flame
Either your intent is insufficient or the spirit in question may disagree with your motives. Sharpen your intent, rephrase your prayer, question, or plea and try again.
Having To Continually Relight The Candle
If your candle keeps unexpectedly going out and there is no draft or other real condition causing it to extinguish, your intentions are still being considered by your spirits. There is still work to be done. Keep focusing.
A Small, Strong Candle Flame
As a rule, the smaller the burn, the less energy is present. During a candle spell, a low burn means that there is less energy fueling the spell itself. If it is steady, not weak or flickering, it is not a bad sign. It will usually grow as the ritual continues, showing you exactly how the energy increases and decreases. Your spell is working, but the low energy may make it take longer or be less effective.
A Bright or Tall Candle Flame
A high, steady burn means that there is a lot of energy going into the spell. It does not always mean the spell will be successful, but the results are likely to come quickly and powerfully.
A Candle Flame That "Dances"
You may be looking at your ritual candle burning and asking yourself, "Why is my candle flame moving so much?" Some candles flicker, and some move in a steady, dancing rhythm. If your candle's fire seems to dance, this is a sign that there is a lot of energy present — but maybe not the kind you want. Unlike a flickering burn, a waving, dancing burn is a sign of high chaotic energy. If the fire is tall and bright, the spell's success will have a twist. If it is low or weak, it is likely to come with a lot of complications.
A Candle That Burns With Multiple Flames
Two or more flames on a single candle could indicate that someone is either working alongside you or against you. Depending on your intentions, it could mean either unity or separation. Since a split flame in a ritual candle can indicate duality or conflicting energies, and a need for balance and harmony, the person conducting the ritual should pay close attention to their intentions and consider who may be working against them.
Blue Candle Flames
Blue is the color of the spirit. A flame that burns blue has a lot of spiritual energy pouring into it — keep an eye out for white soot to see where spiritual help is likely to manifest!
Red or Yellow Candle Flames
Red is the color of the mundane world. If your flames burn red or yellow, it means that your working is being powered by regular, worldly energy.
Flickering Candle Flames
Flames can flicker in different directions. If yours does, first check for drafts. If there are none, you can read the flickering.
- If it flickers toward the north, it is for a mundane reason, not a spiritual one.
- To the east, it means that the mental aspects of your spell will be successful.
- To the south, it means that there is a lot of physical power in your ritual.
- To the west, it means that there is a lot of emotional energy involved.
Interpreting Ritual Candle Smoke
Candle divination by smoke is called capromancy and can tell you a lot about your candle-burning ritual.
Puffs of White Smoke
Blessings upon you! A good sign indeed, as it indicates that your intentions were heard and will be granted.
Puffs of Black Smoke
There is something or somebody in the way and perhaps working against you. Negative energies might be being fought or purged.
The Smoke Drifts Toward You
If you are performing a ritual to draw something to you, like love or money, this is a good sign. It means that you are attracting what you seek. If you are performing a ritual to send something negative to someone else, like a hex or jinx, it is a very bad sign. You will not be able to get away from the consequences of your actions, and that negative energy is going to stick to you if you continue.
The Smoke Drifts Away From You
- This can be a sign of energy that is slipping away from you. In most spells, this is not a good sign — it means that your working is not getting everything it needs to be successful. If you are sending positive energy outward, like in a healing spell, it may be a sign that the energy is flowing to where it needs to go. Watch the shape and color to interpret what it means.
Interpreting Ritual Candle Remains
Candle divination by smoke is called ceromancy and can give you important information on the results of your spell or ritual.
A Clean Burn Without Wax Drips
This is a sign that everything has gone according to plan. The candle burns cleanly, and no mess remains. You can interpret the shape of wax drips for more information about your ritual, so a dripless candle means that the divine has nothing more to tell you right now.
Not everything is an omen. Sometimes, an untimely breeze or a damp wick can make a candle do things it normally wouldn't. Use your intuition, and keep your eyes open for other signs that your spells are working correctly.
During a spell or ritual, the way your candle burns can tell you a lot. Everything from how much energy is going into a spell, to how likely it is that you will receive what you ask for, can show up in your candles. There are still more ways you can use your candles' wax and flames to see what is influencing your spells.
Black Bits In the Melted Wax of the Candle
If the candle's wick "sheds" as it burns, it will leave small black crumbs in the wax. Even if the ritual works, these can signify that success will bring a lot of baggage with it — a love spell might leave some broken hearts behind it, or a success spell might have unintended consequences. If you continue the ritual, be ready to do some cleaning up when you are done.
Wax Remains in the Candle
If leftover wax sticks to the sides of the candle described above, make a note of where on the candle they are. Wax, glitter, herbs, or other candle remains stuck to the side of the glass can mean that there is unfinished business in this area. You may need to do more work to resolve the difficulties that remain there.
If the candle leaves a lot of glitter, roots, stones, or herbs behind it, it may have been overloaded. More is not always better when you are dressing or loading a candle! If only a few remain, you can read their shapes to see what you are able to divine.
Black or White Soot Remains in the Candle
White soot represents spiritual help, while black soot represents challenges. If black soot appears near the top of the candle and turns white further down, it means the challenge was overcome. If black soot appears near the bottom, it means that a challenge has interrupted your working. On the other hand, white soot near the bottom means that your spell was helped by spirits, and is likely to succeed.
Look for areas of soot on specific sides of the candle holder. These show specific areas where help or challenges may arise.
At Original Botanica, we have our own line of long-lasting ritual candles in several categories, including plain candles, prayer and saint candles, scented candles, and more. We even carry a line of image candles as well as candle refills. Be sure to check out our custom hand-carved candles and “Big Al” candles as well.