To many traditions and spiritual paths, Fire is a Guardian, protector and a living being. It has been used to describe the words and presence of the Divine, the life energy and our sexuality. It is a mighty force of creation and destruction. And it can be used for divining the future or examining the past.
Naturally, then, candle burning is a long established method of worship and spiritual practice worldwide. Devotees from every part of the globe light candles in prayer, divine intercession, divination and magic.
Candles are ancient tools that have been used for meditation and trance, scrying, spells, and even communication with the dead. The symbolism of creating light in darkness is a powerful, ancient motif and one that is especially appropriate as we approach Yule.
Candle power is so pervasive that there are, in fact, thousands of websites for nearly every religious tradition, offering “virtual” candle lighting and prayers at just the click of your mouse.
Rituals around how candles are lit, how they are extinguished, and everything that happens in between is a universal experience for most of humankind.
Some view the candle as symbolic of humanity, with the wax corresponding to the human body, the wick representing our mind, and the flame being our spirit or soul.
Candles come in all sizes, shapes and colors, and may be made from a number of materials. For magical purposes, many prefer to avoid candles made from petroleum products. Paraffin candles release far more soot (toxic black smoke) than those made from other materials.
This soot contains eleven known toxins of which two are known carcinogens — toulene and benzene. Both the American Lung Association and the Environmental Protection Agency have published reports warning about the health dangers of this smoke and soot.
Tomorrow, we’ll look a little closer at some candle lore.