Candle magic is one of the easiest and most adaptable forms of magic. Almost every book that has spells or magic in it will have at least one spell that uses a candle. Candles can be used in sympathetic magic, where the candle is Named as the person/thing the spell is being cast on, or in comparative magic where the candle represents something.
Any type of candle can be used. Figure candles (people, couples, cats, skulls, etc) are the best types to use for sympathetic magic. Pillar candles are brilliant for longer-working spells. Votives and tapers are great for spells that require the candle to be burned over a number of days. Chime or “spell” candles are good for those where you burn the candle once, and don’t want to be there for hours watching it burn down.
Coloured candles are ideal in that you have an extra association for your purpose, which can be a fantastic focus tool. Some rich witches claim that candles used for candle magic should be solid-coloured; that is, being the same colour all the way through rather than merely being over-dipped so that the outside is coloured, but the inner candle is white. Skint witches say fuck that, use whatever they can get their hands on, and have fantastic results with those. As with all things, experiment and find what works best for you.
Scented candles are something I try not to use in candle magic, mostly because chemically scented candles give me a massive headache. If I want to incorporate scent into my working, I’ll simply dress an unscented candle in the oil/s I require so that it smells when it burns. If you make your own candles, or buy naturally scented ones, you have a huge range of scents to choose from. Again, choosing ones that match your goal is probably a good idea.
As for candle holders, the easiest thing I’ve found is to take a mug, fill it with sand, salt, those mermaid tears things, or anything else that won’t catch fire and can hold the candle upright, and use that. It saves you having to buy new candle holders every time you want to use a different kind of candle.
There are arguments over whether matches or lighters should be used to light the candles. Unless your particular tradition or path has a rule on this, I suggest simply going with what suits you. I’ve used both and haven’t had any problems whatsoever. However, if you hate the smell of sulphur, matches aren’t gonna be your thing. Lighters are trickier to use sometimes, especially if you have a short candle in a tall holder. This is why I recommend the use of tapers - life is so much easier with them. Light the end of the taper with lighter or matches, and use the taper to light the candles. No worries about burnt fingers (although wax drips on the carpet are a possibility!) or being able to reach anything.
Equally, there are arguments over how you should extinguish your candles. If your spell calls for the candle to be burnt down in one go, that’s great, you can just leave it until it extinguishes itself. Apparently, “blowing out the candle blows away the power” - which has never made sense to me. I -want- the power to leave, not stay in the candle. I have no problems blowing a candle out - especially if I can do so so that the smoke blows out a window and off towards its goal. Snuffing is great, but can result in a LOT of smoke which isn’t exactly ideal. Candle snuffers can also be really pretty… Until they get a lovely layer of soot on the inside, with a pretty layer of wax and sand covering the bottom.
I don’t recommend pinching candles out unless you have a high pain tolerance and don’t mind getting burnt fingers. Even then, it works better and burns less if you lick your fingers - or dunk them in water - before pinching out the candle.
Various spells will tell you to prepare the candle in a certain way. The purpose of your spell will often change the way you prepare - you wouldn’t Name a candle for a comparative spell. I do recommend cleansing, consecrating and empowering candles before using them in spellwork. Having said that, I have an “emergency supply” of candles that are cleansed and ready to go if I need something in a hurry and don’t have time to do all the ritualistic pre-spell work. Cleanse candles as you buy them, and then at least that’s one less thing to worry about.
I like empowering my candles the day before I do any pre-planned spell work. My method is straight out of Marie Bruce’s “Candle Burning Rituals” which is very neo-wiccan in its focus, but this method works for me. Write your goal on a slip of paper. Wrap it around the cleansed candle, and tie with string/thread/ribbon/whatever you like. Put the candle on the pentacle (or just on your altar, if you don’t use the pentacle, or wherever you do your workings, if you don’t have an altar) and leave it to charge. When ready to perform the spell, unwrap the candle, empower it, and begin.
When your spell is finished, it’s time to dispose of the candles. Some of the more irresponsible ways to do that are to bury or throw it into running water. Alternatively, you can bin the stub… Or you could melt it down, cleansing and banishing any remaining energy from the last spell as you do, and save it to make a new candle with.
Some things I’ve found to be useful when building a “candle magic kit” as it were, are:
This has been your basic introduction to candle magic.