Want the best love spell? Do this.

Ceremony and Ritual

D

ear Miracles: Valentine’s Day (one of my most favorite holidays ever!) is right around the corner. I am known for having a deft hand when it comes to love magic, in fact, my writing on the ins and outs of love magic has even been published in a book. So it isn’t really surprising that during this time of year there is one question I am asked again and again:

What is the strongest/best/most awesome love spell you know?

There are many ways to make beautiful ritual when it comes to love. But the best ritual act I know of?

Love yourself.

We are frequently told to love ourselves. As far as advice goes, it’s right up there with honoring our boundaries. However, we are not often told why. Why does self-love matter? Why should I bother with loving and taking care of myself, especially if my focus is to draw a new lover to me or keep the lover that I have happy and satisfied? As it turns out, a lot.

I advise my clients and students to love themselves because the first step in doing that is learning to pay attention, and that in turn makes us really excellent lovers. As important is this truth: we teach others to love us by the way we love ourselves.

 

Think about it: do you want someone to show up for you consistently?

If so, ask yourself this: am I showing up for myself?

 

Want someone to be generous with their time, their money, their attention?

How generous are you to yourself?

 

Desiring sweet words and deep romance?

How do you speak to yourself? What romantic thing have you done just for you and just because?

 

After thinking about these questions and their relations my favorite thing to do ritually is create a sugar jar, a magical microcosm dedicated and consecrated to you…being the best lover of yourself, ever.

 

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

How to be the greatest lover ever

Lunar Letter

He prayeth well, who loveth well Both man and bird and beast — Samuel Taylor Coleridge from the Rime of the Ancient Mariner

(Listen to this lunar letter by clicking here).

We yearn for one thing more than good health, wealth, power, or influence.  What we desire most of all is love. We want to make it, give it, and receive it. If our jobs are upside down and we find ourselves in a financial mess, it doesn’t matter as long as there is love. And when we feel the absence of love, everything else in our lives can be wonderful and amazing and that doesn’t matter either. Without love everything just seems flat, dull and lifeless.

What does it take to be a really good lover? Flat abs? Regular romps in the bedroom? A little blue pill? Lightning striking the first time you kiss or touch? No. What about the practical stuff: agreement on the fundamental questions, ability to communicate with one another effectively, mutual respect and admiration? Again, no.

To be the greatest lover ever there is only one thing you need to do:

Pay Attention.

It sounds really easy, right? Pay attention…I can do that, anyone can do that!  And this is true, anyone can do it, but all too often we don’t. Why? Because paying attention means looking beyond your beloved’s strained smile when they get home from work, seeing the stress around their eyes, and even though you have dinner to make and a dog that wants to go for a walk, stopping everything, taking their hands in your own and saying “tell me, my love, tell me what’s going on.”

Paying attention means putting down the phone, the computer, the baby and saying “honey, let’s go out to that new place you’ve wanted to try.” It means touching, holding, and kissing not the way you always have, but the way that your beloved needs you to — right now, today.

John Duns Scotus, a medieval theologian and philosopher, defined love in this way: I will that you are. To understand love in that way, as I will that you are, is to say that I love you — I want every single day for you, I want every moment for you, I love your existence in this world, I love your being in and of itself. To will that someone else is, is to pay attention and embrace all that they are, all that each of us is…our shiny parts, our dark places, our stories, our scars. Love that pays attention sees the miracle of the beloved’s existence every single day and is resolved to be responsive and alive to it.

Something more happens when we pay attention as well. We begin to fall in love over and over again. We fall in love with our beloveds, our partners, our spouses every single day. But more than that, we fall in love with the world…with the way that sunlight falls on this branch of ivy after an afternoon rainstorm, with the way that fat purple crocuses surge up, up, up to the light through the ice and snow, we fall in love with the sound of a hawk’s cry on the cold north wind, and with the squawking of fat baby blue jays filling their bellies with blackberries. And so it is that it doesn’t matter whether you are in a love “relationship” or not.  We are all lovers. There is something or someone that you hold precious, something or someone that is your very own beloved, something or someone that is no less than a daily miracle.

This lunar letter was  brought to you by the poem Rime of the Ancient Mariner, the devotion of Jim Henson, and this album of Cantos de Amor by the Gipsy Kings.

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

For La Señora

Prayer and Blessing

L

ady of the stars, beauty bearing scars.

With mantle green and blue, and the form of mountain,

Rich red earth skin, from you all life fountains.

You carry our prayers, our loves, our fears,

Holiest of women, you carry our tears.

With work-hardened hands you heal,

the woman in the boardroom, the man in the field.

Mercy. Mercy. Mercy. Mercy, your words always say,

For I too know loss and there is a better way.

Our blood goes in the earth and our tears reach the skies,

As surely as night turns to day and death again to life.

Lady of the Stars, beauty bearing scars.

Holder of the Sacred Heart, witness to the soul,

with eyes that speak the truth and arms that know to hold.

Hold onto us and we to thee, until this world is covered,

in your love and deepest peace.

Amen

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

New Moon in Libra: Peace passeth all Understanding

Lunar Letter

D

ear Miracles: In these days of the Dark Moon leading up to a Libran New Moon on 9/24, it is a good idea to turn our attention and intentions to peace. Not peace in the sense of covering things up or looking the other way when faced with injustice. Not the false peace of holding our tongues when we would do better to speak out, but deep peace, abiding peace, peace that truly does surpass our reasoned understanding or expectations.

I chose the image of two otters holding hands because first of all: Otters holding hands! And secondly, I think this is such a true image of peace. Two creatures, content for the moment, holding onto one another as they drift in mamma ocean. The ocean, like the world in which we live, can be full of wonder or terror and we all know that calm seas can turn stormy in an instant. The otters know that peace is often found in partnership — with a friend, a loved one, a generous ally. So it is for us too, when we are in right relationship, with our loved ones, our body, our work, our creative aspirations, then there are moments of peace.

As many of you know, the New Moon in sacro-magical work is the time of beginnings. It is the time when we can plant the tiny seeds of our intentions for the month, the next quarter, or even the entire year. One time-honored way of “planting” is through ritual. So what seeds, what rituals are most appropriate for this particular New Moon?

Peace obviously is one good focal point. Libra, the sign of balance and harmony, chooses conversation over conflict and diplomacy over threats. Mars in Sagittarius places his discipline and drive for perfection in the areas of learning teaching, philosophy, and exposure to other ways of doing things — together these two can work beautifully especially in the areas of international relationships. Whether you are dealing with family drama or concerned about a geopolitical crisis, this New Moon offers a cosmic “reset” button…allowing us to change approach and strategy to create more collaboration and less strife.

Those of you dealing with a court case or legal issues may find that intentions and desires that are ritualized during this New Moon carry great weight and do much to bring any legal troubles or stresses to an end. (Libra is, after all, the sign of law).

Love is another good area to explore under the aegis of this beautiful New Moon. Specifically mending and healing broken love relationships of all kinds, working towards reconciliation, and infusing fireworks and fun into already existing and solid relationships is an excellent idea.

Money/Career affairs can receive an extra dose of brilliant insight at this time due to the lovely trine between Jupiter and Uranus. If you have been stuck on a money situation or feel like the financial sector of your life needs a boost then work this alignment by giving yourself a few days around and including the New Moon to brainstorm and delve deep into your relationship to money, work, and abundance. You are guaranteed to discover treasure.

Because Sagittarius has a dreamy, wildly psychic and creative side, this New Moon is quite good for sign and synchronicity watching as well. If you have been waiting for the right time to ask the universe for a sign, this period would is hard to beat!

Two good divination questions to ask during this beautiful black moon are:
Where in my life and/or what in my life needs peace now?
How can I provide or make space for that peace?

Wishing you deep, meaningful, peace.

PS: Don’t forget that registration for Three Ways of Wisdom closes on 9/22. If you want to take a tarot class with me this year, this is the class and now is the time!

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

This is how we heal

Lunar Letter

N

o sooner did I start pondering this month’s lunar letter, than it occurred to me that healing would have to be its theme. For the Full Moon shines down on us from Pisces, and the Fish is the healer of the zodiac, ruling over the 12th house of our charts, the area where we confront once and for all the beliefs, traumas, ideas, and habits that cut, wound, and tie us down, leaving us feeling broken, scarred, and scared.

Healing is a word we bandy about with the best of intentions. How many times have we heard it said that we need to heal, or that we need to be open to healing, or that what is needed now is healing? All of that is fine and good, but we may wonder, after years of healing, and perhaps even after little or no results: is it even possible to heal? What does it mean to heal?

We might turn to the icon of the Sacred Heart for help. Here we have the familiar heart symbol, but there is a fountain of fire pluming from within the heart’s division, and the heart is encircled with lines of radiance, or sometimes wings. When we see it in its radiant glory, we may easily forget that the shine and radiance is that of a heart and spirit that has been to hell and back.

In image and imagination, every possible wound has been inflicted on the Sacred Heart. The Sacred Heart speaks to the scarred heart — pierced by a thousand swords, cut by a thousand pieces of glass, wrapped in rusty barbed wire and a crown of thorns — and sometimes, at first, we think that those scars are something to hide from the world, something to keep quiet, keep covered up.

The Sacred Heart speaks also the scared heart, afraid because we know we can be harmed, frightened of our worst dreams coming true, scared that the wounds Pisces asks us to face cannot ever, really, be healed. Experiencing the traumas to body and spirit that cut so deep, the ideas that bind us to a limited view of life and love, the habits that keep us from not just living life, but living life well, we are afraid that we will only ever be broken.

Fleeing from our pain, we will reach out for healing far away from the scars and brokenness, to cover it up, to be free of it. But to flee from our condition in this way is to flee from what makes us sensitive and alive, from what transcends and supports our own mortality. To the Sacred Heart, those salves and remedies for which we reach are a mirage: the greatest healing power comes from within the very darkness and brokenness of our condition, just as a lily flower blossoms from out of the muck. To the Sacred Heart, what we call broken shards and scars are for it the crown jewels which bedeck and bedazzle.

The Sacred Heart will not be covered up nor will it be silenced. Like a phoenix rising up out of the ashes, it shines through fear and a forest of scars and the clothing that we wear and the protections that we weave about ourselves. None of these matter to Sacred Heart for it is made to shine. And so it does. It shines out in radiant splendor, saying:

My blessedness is in and among the broken, ever, and always.

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Mars retrograde in Libra–Swords to Ploughshares

Divination and Dreams

D

ear Miracles: The bad news? The planet Mars is transiting the sign Libra until July 2014 and it just went retrograde. In classic astrology there is no sign that Mars less likes to be in than Venus ruled Libra–he even likes Taurus better than Libra!

The awesome news? Mars is transiting the sign Libra until July 2014, just went retrograde, and we can all learn a lot of lessons from this experience!

This astro situation usually shakes down in one of three ways:

1.) Passive Agressive Alert! Libra does not like confrontations–we like harmony, peace, and love (also champagne). Mars lives for conflict, super charged drama, and risk (high adventure, no?) When Mars goes retro in Libra it can make people who tend to be more direct and unafraid of conflict feel…muffled. It can also make those who do not tend towards conflict feel unusually short tempered and irritable. Thus the scene for some massive passive aggressive attacks is set.

Response: From now until May 19th watch your words and actions–if something rubs you the wrong way and you are usually pretty low key then ask yourself–is this really something I need to bring up and get into it about. If the answer is yes, by all means proceed–with clarity, honesty, and direct communication.

2.) All show, no go: For Libra pretty is powerful and superficial concerns are anything but. For Mars and it’s associated sign of Aries appearance matters but mostly so we can figure out who plays what role and then do something dramatic, daring, and adventurous (and high fives if we manage all three at the same time). Mars retro in Libra can lead to superficial concerns that really are superficial–with no undercurrent of awesome and likewise, can lead into situations that look like they are potentially difficult but worthy endeavors (along the lines of nothing ventured, nothing gained). But are less Mission Impossible and more Mission Stalled Out.

Response: Keen-eyed discernment people! Mars/Aries rules the head and Libra (house of art and diplomacy) is no dummy. This astro has brains, beauty, and brawn so put all of yours to work for you. Do NOT let Mars get the upper hand and go chasing after unlikely/impossible/soul sucking ventures. Do not get caught up in the Libra project gone wrong and spend 2 hours organizing your nail polishes so that they match your lipsticks when what you really need to do is call your boss and have that difficult (and not passive aggressive) conversation about the raise he promised you but never delivered on.

3.) Blue Aisle Special on Global Skirmishes and Political Unrest…yes, Mars retro in Libra can lead to some pretty fine messes on a geopolitical level. Financial weirdness can occur but with this particular astrology it’s more likely that diplomacy in some cases will be a total no go and elected leaders will embrace might over right. You may be yawning and thinking, what else is new? But the Mars retro action does raise the stakes.

Response: Other than sending blessings of wisdom and self control to elected (and unelected) leaders throughout the world, we can all collectively take a page from Isaiah and encourage swords to be turned into ploughshares. The global brandishing of weapons may feel overwhelming and inevitable, but Mars retro in Libra can also send some pretty essential messages about peace and reminds us that harmony emerges first from discord.

 

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Of Glass and Fire: How to work with Devotional Candles

Alchemy and Magic

D

ear Miracles: A version of this article was first published in the Summer 2013 issue of Witches and Pagans Magazine.

If you have ever wandered into a Botanica or Latin American grocery store you may have found yourself staring down an aisle or wall filled with brightly colored glass candles–some with silk-screened images on the glass, some topped with foil or Saran wrap, and others that are plain and unmarked. These are glass novena candles, also called vigil candles, vigil lights, sanctuary lights, or devotional candles, and while they often go unmentioned in the classic pagan books, they have been used in candle and fire magic for years with great success.

Glass novena candles were first used in Catholic religious devotions known as “novenas”– 9-day prayer rituals with the intention of seeking the aid and building a relationship with a specific saint usually for a specific purpose. The novena ritual does not come out of Christian scripture but is derived from ancient Greek and Roman pre-Christian rites around honoring the dead. The devotional candles sanctioned by the Catholic Church were originally 100% beeswax and poured so that they would burn for 9 days–they were sometimes affixed with a paper prayer card of the petitioned Saint which in turn gave way to large paper illustrations of particular Saints on the front of the candle and prayers for the saint on the back of the candle.

In Catholic families and communities the novena could at times take on a party atmosphere-with friends coming over to sit in vigil, feasts shared, and group prayers performed or they could be quiet and intensely private affairs. Through them, all the glass-encased devotional candles would be burning. Folk magic traditions grew up around novena rituals and their glass-encased candles and then in the early 1940s, these devotional candles started getting advertised in spiritual supply catalogs as “religious” goods.

Candle shops that catered to African Americans and stocked supplies for those working in the Hoodoo and Conjure traditions bought from these spiritual supply catalogs and thus the glass encased vigil candle found its way into Southern Conjure. Meanwhile, specialty shops known as Botanicas began to spring up as immigrants from Mexico, South, and Central America came into the United States in the ’60s and ’70s. Pharmacies and grocery stores in Latin American neighborhoods also began dedicating an aisle or two to commonly used spiritual products-often with a focal point of glass encased devotional candles-which by this point in time were no longer composed of beeswax but petroleum-derived paraffin. Silkscreen printing on glass became popular at this time as well and the devotional candles began to branch out into more mainstream culture-with candles no longer being set only to Our Lady of Guadalupe or Saint Martha for love magic-but instead also getting labeled with more generic petitions like “Love Me” or in some cases maintaining a Biblical connection with a formula like “Adam and Eve.”

By the late ’70s, glass-encased candles were available in straight up magical supply shops, as well as religious supply stores and they, are now used by a variety of practitioners for both religious and magical purposes. Pagans who were raised in or around Catholic tradition, specifically Italian or Mexican, Central, and/or South American strains of Catholicism are usually familiar with the glass novena candle already and may find the tradition of blessing and dressing a candle to be second nature. Those who do not may find that working with the magic of a devotional candle is something that appeals to them and opens new windows for the philosophy of fire, as Henri Gamache so poetically puts it.

In modern-day candle magic, there are several steps involved in preparing your devotional candle. These are: write a petition, “fixing” the candle, setting the candle, reading the candle, and ritually disposing of the candle.

Writing a petition for devotional candles

In a traditional novena, the devotional candle represents a way to honor a specific saint but it also gives light, energy, and the magic of fire to the devotees’ petition or prayer. So it is in our own magic making-we begin with our petition, our intention, or the desire that we wish to manifest. Looking at devotional candles now we often find that when the candles have paper images in the front and prayers in the back there are sometimes lines underneath the prayers for you to write your own petition. When working with plain devotional candles that do not have any papers or labels affixed to their sides a petition may be written on a small piece of paper and taped to the bottom of the candle or in some cases affixed to the sides of the candle. I have also seen candle shop and botanic owners use a sharpie to inscribe a client’s petition directly onto the glass side of the candle. Another popular way to include the petition is to write it into the wax at the top of the candle-using a screwdriver, icepick, or blade to inscribe. If using paper for your petition you may anoint the paper with ritual anointing oil, pass it through ritual incense, anoint it with your own bodily fluids if appropriate, and/or in the case of affixing a piece of paper to the bottom of the candle enclose small bits of personal concerns within the paper, fold, and then tape it to the candle.

Dressing & Blessing or “fixing” devotional candles

Once the petition has been created it is time to bless, dress, or “fix” the devotional candles. The top of the candle may be poked with holes or inscribed with a sigil, name, or short petition-it may also be left alone. Next, a pinch of dried herbs or a dried herb mix is sprinkled on top of the candle. Years of burning candles for myself and clients have taught me that the finer the herb mix the better-a spice grinder is ideal for this-and keeping the herbs relatively far from the candle wick is a good practice. The herbs should, of course, be ritually appropriate to whatever situation it is that you wish to magically address. Thus if you are working to cleanse and purify you may wish to use a pinch of sage, to bring about love work with red rose petals, to increase protection use ginger, to increase academic success consider deers tongue leaf, etc.

After the herbs are added you may desire to include a slightly larger curio (in Conjure the addition of lodestone grit, small pieces of pyrite, and High John the Conqueror root chips is often seen, while in Latin inspired botanicas I have been given devotional candles studded with quartz crystal tips-very pretty! pennies, and even large horseshoe confetti. Non-toxic, fine, glitter may also be added for extra sparkle and shine.

So far all of the dry ingredients have been added-now its time to add our wet ingredient-a ritual, essential, anointing, or pantry oil. Some essential oils are flammable so it’s important to do your research if you are using a straight essential oil. A more traditional method is to use a ritual anointing oil-these are also usually available at candle shops and Botanicas or you can make your own. I will say that many of the mass market available ritual oils begin with a base of mineral oil due to its cheapness and personally I steer clear of those. You may make your own ritual anointing oil by gathering dried herbs that are appropriate for your situation and soaking them in almond oil for several weeks or you may simply use olive oil out of your kitchen pantry! The important thing to remember is not to drown your herbs or the candle wick-for doing so will leave you with a weak or dirty burning candle and that will have an impact on how you read the candle. A few drops and you are good to go!

Now the candle has been dressed with herbs, oil, and perhaps some sparkle. And if you notice you also have represented three of the four elements-Earth is invoked by the dried herbs, air is invoked by the scent of the herbs and oil, and water is invoked by the liquid oil. All that is missing is fire! It is time to bless the candle. I have been taught many ways to bless a candle but my favorite way is to hold the candle up at my heart level and speak into it. Sometimes when I do this I go into a bit of a trance and sometimes I will ask my guides for a specific, physical sign during the course of the candle burn to let me know if the magic is manifesting. In some traditions practitioners will set the candle down and clap over it one or three times to seal it, tap the bottom of the candle on the table three times (this is referred to as “knocking” the candle) or using one hand to cover the top of the candle and then lightly tapping that hand with your other hand.

When preparing many candles at the same time I have been taught to take a towel or sheet, place it over them and tap it in the center-all of these are various ways to seal the candle and to let the spirits know that you are ready for them to help you in your magical endeavors! When devotional candles are prepared at a shop for clients they are often blessed and dressed and then covered with tin foil or saran wrap so that the client may carry them home and set them.

Setting devotional candles

Once your candle has been dressed, blessed, and fixed its time to set it! The best practice when working with glass devotional candles is to set them up in a place where they can burn continuously without interruption. Unfortunately, this simple instruction can cause a lot of confusion and worry.

Fire safety is important when dealing with candles of all kinds. If you are away from home for most of the day, have a cat, dog, or small children that are sometimes left unattended then working with glass-encased devotional candles may not be the best choice for you unless you can place them somewhere out of reach. It is possible to snuff out devotional candles but I strongly prefer to work with taper or figural candles if I am going to be snuffing a candle out repeatedly. I will say from my own experience of burning thousands of candles that if a glass devotional candle tips over it is most likely simply going to go out-its very hard for a fire to start from one of these lights-but of course caution is always advised.

A devotional candle should really be allowed to sit and burn. I have seen these candles placed in a large aluminum stock pot, in glass casserole dishes filled with water, sand, or lovely rocks, in the kitchen sink, in a bathtub, shower, and fireplace. When I lived in a one-room apartment and lit candles for clients I placed them in the kitchen sink and bathtub whenever I went out, when I moved into my house I had a local blacksmith make two metal candle houses for me after going to a local Catholic grotto and seeing a design there that I was able to alter for my needs. If you are setting more than one devotional candle do be aware of putting them too close to one another especially in a closed area like a stock pot-they will increase one another’s heat, melting will happen faster-especially with the paraffin candles and the glass around the wax can break or scorch.

I like to light my devotional candles with wooden matches. You may light them and say a charm or prayer over them or you may light them in silence. You have now added the 4th element-fire to your magical candle-may it burns brightly!

Divination with devotional candles

One of the nicest aspects of working with glass devotional candles is that after they have finished burning you may perform a simple divinatory reading of the glass and candle to determine whether your work is on its way to manifesting or needs to be repeated or refined in some way and you can also pick up other important signs and symbols that may have specific meaning to you and your situation. When reading a glass candle there are three main parts I look at: the glass itself, remaining wax and debris from the candle, and if the candle has a paper petition or label attached to it the paper. On the glass of the candle, we may see black soot, discreet scorch marks, a gray fog or haze, or the glass may be completely clean and clear. I have found over the years that performing divination with glass candles is a very personal and subjective art but in most cases, a clean and clear glass casing indicates that your road is open and the petition has been heard “loud and clear!” Black soot indicates resistance or obstacles while gray haze or fog can indicate a lack of clarity or a scattered intention. Discreet scorch marks may indicate that the work will manifest in many ways but there may be one specific challenge that is first addressed.

Some people read the candle from bottom to top-meaning that the base of the candle is considered to represent the “present” while the further up along the candle we travel represents the near future and future. Others, including myself, read the opposite way-the top of the candle indicates the present situation and as we move down the candle towards the base we may forecast future events. When considering the wax and debris inside of the candle we may notice that some of the wax has not melted completely, that there is wax-often is specific shapes-along the sides of the candle, and that debris from our herbs and such may also adhere to the inside of the glass-again, often in specific shapes. There are many good books out there that can assist you in decoding the meaning of specific shapes and symbols-books on Tasseomancy and Bone Reading are particularly useful in this respect I find. However, the more you work with these candles the more you will discover your own unique language of symbols for those of us that come to magic from inherited traditions we often find that a symbol that has deep meaning for us also has meaning for someone else in our family! Sometimes rings of wax will form on the candles and these may indicate the numbers of days/weeks/months you will need to wait before your work full manifests. Often when there is residual wax at the bottom of the candle it may indicate that a similar candle should be lit again for the same purpose.

Paper labels and petitions are usually not affected during a candle’s burn-but every now and then a candle becomes so hot that the paper will singe, scorch and in rare cases catch fire. The specific meanings of these events must be considered within the context of the candle’s intention and the purpose of the papers in the first place.

Devotional Candles as part of the ritual

So far I have written about devotional candles as a spell in and of themselves-you have a specific need or request, you create a petition, dress your candle, light it and let the magic spiral out into manifestation. But devotional candles may also be used in more elaborate altar rituals as part of the altar set up or as “magical backups” to your main ritual work.  In these cases, one would usually fix and set the devotional candle first so that they are burning and then turn to the more intricate ritual components. Candles worked with in this way may be read in the manner I described above and they are often read in conjunction with other aspects of the completed ritual.

Tricky burns and other situations

Often when we first start working with devotional candles we will encounter the candle that refuses to light, the wick that continues to drown, the herb that catches on fire, floating wicks (especially in paraffin candle and other similarly trick situations. Schools of thought diverge on what the best methods for dealing with these candles are. On the one hand, some practitioners believe that messing with the candle at all destroys the ability to get an accurate read from the candle. For those of us who light candles for clients professionally, this is especially difficult because often part of the candle service includes a report wherein the candle is read. Others, like myself, believe the physical manipulation of the candle to ensure that it stays lit and burns as best it can without interruption is part of the service and caretaking of the candles. When a candle has to be physically altered in some manner a note is made and this is considered when the finished candle is read for signs.

Ritually disposing of devotional candles — environmental concerns:

Devotional candles have a long history of use in religion, magic, and American folk magic but as we progress into the 21st century I feel some remarks about their environmental impact should be considered. Many old spells call fur burial of candle remains and some practitioners have taken this to mean the remains of glass candles as well. For ecological reasons, it is preferable to recycle glass candle casings or better yet-reuse them! The majority of glass encased devotional and novena candles today are made of dyed paraffin. Paraffin is a petroleum by-product and the wax is whipped with air to create a softer, malleable product that can be easily poured into glass containers. Whereas these candles were originally for novenas or 9-day rituals, today’s candles last an average of 4-5 days if there are no difficult burn situations. Parrafin has a specific scent and burning it does release toxins into the air, including the assortment of chemicals that are found in diesel fuel. Some paraffin glass devotional candles also contain lead in their wicks so you have the added worry of burning lead. On the other hand, many people love these classic candles because they grew up with them and they are also very inexpensive. Pull out paraffin candles are available at many spiritual supply stores so that once your original candle has burned out you may clean out the glass casing and insert a new candle in.

For those who do not wish to burn paraffin for whatever reason (I stopped burning paraffin candles myself several years ago due to health concerns and because I had birds that could not tolerate paraffin), there are alternatives. You may buy empty novena style glass containers or any other style of a glass container and read your candle, you may also order beeswax glass devotional candles from several suppliers. Whereas paraffin has many negative properties, sustainably harvested beeswax has wonderful properties-including color, scent, texture, the release of negative ions into the air, and the added magical properties of bees and honey! Last time I compared a beeswax novena candle when burned alongside a paraffin novena candle-outlasted the paraffin candle by 4 to 5 days. The downside of beeswax is that it is considerably more costly-but as far as I’m concerned that’s a great motivation to get to know and support your local beekeepers!

The presence of fire through a prism of glass has a magical allure all its own. Glass encased devotional candles are considered a standard magical necessity by some and exotic tools by others–but their ability to function as both spell and divination reading makes them one of the more versatile magical tools and allows for one more way in which our lives might be blessed by the power of fire!

Sources:

Cunningham, Scott. Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs. Llewelyn. 1985.
Dey, Charmaine. The Magic Candle. Original Publications, 1982.
Gamache, Henri. Masterbook of Candle Burning. Original Publications, 1985.
Yronwode, Catherine. Hoodoo Herb and Root Magic. Lucky Mojo Curio Company, 2002.

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.