For many people, the word "ritual" conjures up images of a complex, elaborate ceremony. In reality, most rituals are not nearly that involved. That does not mean that there are not any rules, however -- tradition, spirituality, and herb and fire safety all dictate how things should be done. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about performing candle rituals safely and effectively.
Where do I carve names on a candle?
This depends on the candle. On some figurative candles, like a face-to-face or separation candle, the base is the best place to carve or write a name. On a votive, tea light, chime, or pull-out candle, most people carve the sides. On a candle poured in glass, you may find it easier to write the name or names on the glass, or place a petition paper beneath the candle. It is less important where the names go than it is that the candle is appropriately labeled in some way.
Can I carve more than one name? Whole family on one candle? Just first names?
This depends on the focus of the spell. If it is to soothe a family argument, go ahead and include all first names or just the last name of the family. If it is intended to bring two people together, use the name of both partners. If it is targeted to one individual, use just one name. You can use first names if you wish, as long as it will not be too confusing for you.
What do I do if I do not know the person's name?
Some people give their ritual's targets secret magical aliases or symbols, and use those instead of actual names. This is helpful if you either do not know the target's name, or are afraid that they might find your spell materials.
What do I use for carving?
Anything hard and sharp enough to mark wax will work. Pins, knives, and quartz points are all common carving tools.
How about carving a candle versus writing on paper? Do I need parchment paper? Special ink?
Writing on paper is helpful if you either cannot carve the candle, or want to save the paper to use in another spell. Any kind of paper will work, but some will work better than others. The higher quality your materials and more effort you put into obtaining them, the more energy you put into your ritual. Parchment paper is special -- it adds to your rituals in a way that regular copy paper does not.
You can also use any ink that you like. If you have a special scented pen that feels perfect for a love spell, go for it! If all you have is a ball point pen, that is fine too. Some special inks are made with specific intentions in mind. Like parchment paper, these will add their power to your ritual in ways that other inks will not. Bat's blood ink is used for stirring up tension and sowing discord. Dragon's blood ink is used for powering up spells, commanding, conquering, luck, and thwarting evil. Dove's blood ink is used for settling disputes, love, and friendship.
Do I leave the candle, or should I blow it out?
If you ever have to leave a candle unattended, always snuff it out and re-light it when you return. You should never blow a candle out -- it is said that doing so is an insult to the flame, and will negatively impact your spell. (Blowing a candle out also carries a risk of splattering hot wax or burning herbs, while snuffing it does not.)
When I re-light it, do I have to do the ritual again?
You are the best judge here. If you feel it would be appropriate to perform the ritual again, do so. If you think saying a few words before re-lighting it is enough, do that. If you are in doubt, try using divination for an answer. Ask if you need to repeat the ritual, then draw a tarot card or use a pendulum for a quick "Yes or No" response.
What do I do after the spell is done? Should I burn the paper? Where do I put the candle remnants?
This largely depends on the spell. "What to Do After a Ritual Has Been Completed" outlines steps to take once a ritual has been completed, from grounding your energy, to getting rid of the spell remnants, to giving thanks. For a more detailed explanation of how to handle candle remains, read our post on "How to Properly Dispose of a Spell Candle".
If my candle is in glass, can I just put the herbs on top of the candle?
You can add herbs on top of the candle, but don't overdo it. Sprinkle a small amount on top of the candle. The amount should not exceed the wick. If you don't want to out herbs on top of the candle, you can always sprinkle the herbs in a circle around the glass, or place them in a dish.
How do I know if my candle ritual was a success?
We have written many articles about how to interpret how your candle has burned. In fact there is so much information on the subject, we have written three separate articles on that subject. Please read Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 to learn about "What It Means When Your Candle Burns a Certain Way".
The most important thing you can do in a ritual is use your intuition. If you feel that you should dispose of a candle stub by burying it, try it. If you want to float your petition paper away on the sea, do so. Use the best materials you can get, always observe fire safety measures, and remember that magic is a muscle -- the more you use it, the stronger yours will be.