Greetings My Magickal Reader,
We have covered many ancient magickal techniques over this past month from using hair, stones, music and todays discussion will cover the ancient magickal technique of using candles. When I use the term 'magickal technique' it covers the tools, supplies and the actual usage of such tools and supplies.
Before candles were developed, candles as we know them to be fashioned with a wick in the center, rush lights were used and were made from sheaves of reeds dipped in animal fat and set on fire. Yet before candles in some areas of the world, around approximately 4,500 B.C.E. years ago the first oil lamps were created in countries that used oils such as olive oil. Then approximately 3,000 years B.C.E. candles were credited to the Egyptians who took scrolls of papyrus and rolled them tightly and dipped them repeatedly in animal fat, inserted a wick in the center and burned them, resembling closely the candles we have today.
The concept of magick surrounds the candle / oil lamp because before this time, the darkness was a handicap to deal with for everyone in the nighttime. Many times one would have a fire or even more than one but when one went to bed or even moved a few yards away from the fire, the darkness surrounded them. The idea of being able to hold a light and carry it with you was magickal and would quickly have come to represent keeping the spirits and harmful things that hid in the dark away, thus bringing a sense of protection to surround the one carrying the light.
Originally the first candles were made from animal fat, primarily beef tallow, but that made for a smoky, smelly darker light and the candles dripped and often when blown out flaming globules of fat were a danger of catching the surrounding area on fire. I have often wondered if this may have been the origin of our now common practice of never blowing out spell candles but always snuffing them out? Perhaps a habit of safety that hearkens back to a time in the long distant past?
At a later time the Egyptians had started using beeswax for their candles, at least the Royals did, as it was much more costly to obtain, and prepare, but burned cleaner, made for a brighter flame and smelled sweeter. The poor were still subject to using the tallow candles if they could afford to make any at all.
It is very hard to find early written evidence of the use of many magickal techniques, as so many written works, if they were written down at all, were usually destroyed by the invading forces of a civilization which overtook another such as the Roman Empire, or eventually the Catholic church which tried to eliminate that which did not adhere to their desired version of historical events.
I find many of the earliest magickal, or call them spiritual or religious techniques are readily preserved in the bible, most especially in the Old Testament, again most especially the versions of the Old Testament that are the first 5 books of the Torah called the 5 books of Moses, that have not been adulterated and revised as in some Christian bibles. They present not just religious teachings but historical information of legend that can tell us so much about a time when magick and miracles were considered one and the same.
Many do not realize that in Jesus's time it was a common practice for 'religious men' be they called Priests or Wise Men who would go door to door knocking and asking the inhabitants if they had need for any magick to be done on their behalf? During this time it was common to cast healing spells, curses upon those who had caused you harm, protection spells, most especially legal spells, and many others.
Magickal practice was as common then as going to a physician is today. It was not frowned upon or considered evil or bad. It was considered something that was part of regular society and people lived in a world that understood that magickal forces were around them everywhere.
It only makes sense that candles would also be used for magickal purposes. Many old candles have been unearthed by archaeologists that have been found with pins stuck through them for some unknown ancient purposes. Candles have been found in cess pits, in tombs, and in unearthed foundations of abandoned ruins of ancient churches.
I have found early Catholic church dictates that made it forbidden, that colored candles never be used in church or by Catholics, but only white candles, as colored candles donated Pagan practice, which tells us a lot by this simple rule of the new Church. So it is apparent that Pagans were using colored candles before the Catholic church took hold and that was approximately 600 C.E. when Pope Gregory unified the Catholic church in Europe. Now the church did exist a bit before this time, but it was truly empowered and came into full strength in the 7th century, along with most of it's new rules, regulations and newly enacted sins.
Today this most ancient of magickal practices, using candles for our magickal spell casting, to use in ritual, to honor Divinity, actually Pagans and witches use candles in just about any and all opportunities, allows us to touch a deep, ancient magickal place within ourselves.
One of our most ancient of all candle spells, which just about everyone has practiced and does so every year, whether they feel they are magickal or not, is the birthday candle spell. Yes, if you have ever blown out the candles on your birthday cake, you have cast a candle spell that goes back appx 5,000 years ago, this time to ancient Greece. You see ancient Greece was very close to ancient Egypt right along the Mediterranean and as such they shared and often came up with similar innovations at about the same time. Well, this candle spell can be attributed to the ancient Greek temple of Artemis.
It is reputed that people would go to the temple on a night when the moon was full, as the temple had an open space in the roof so one could see the moon shining down. They would bring small, crescent moon shaped cakes and tiny candles. They would lay out the cakes on tables and put candles all around. Then each person would light a candle, ask Artemis for a wish, blow out the candle and take a tiny cake and eat it, thus assuring the wish would come true. In a sense like an offering you would take into your body similar to our cakes and ale ceremony or the Catholics Holy Communion.
There is no doubt, just with this simple candle and moon shaped cake spell that candle magick has been around for millenia. Even today, it is not just Pagans or magickally minded folks who believe in candle magick. There are many Christians who burn candles to Saints, or for loved ones who are sick or needing prayers. Even those who do not think of themselves as spiritual, religious or magickal are known to burn some candles on the table when serving a special dinner for lovers, for Valentines day or an anniversary or other special occasion.
Candle magick has a long, varied history and today can be as simple or as complex as one wishes. There are entire books written on candle magick, but the best advice I can give you, is if you have candles in your possession, . . . burn them. Hanging onto them, will do you no good, unless you release their energy, by burning them.
I have an altar where I burn a candle every night. A love candle, to send love out into my world, every single night. I will also burn a candle if someone I know is sick and has given me permission to burn a healing candle for them, or for some other special reason. What you send out will return to you on one level or another. This is one way to do that. A most ancient of ways.
Live, Laugh and Always Love, Ms. Faith
© 2010-2017 Faith M. McCann. Portions of this blog posting may include materials from my book “Enchantments School for the Magickal Arts First Year Magickal Studies.” For more information, see www.enchantmentsschool.com or go to the title of tonight's discussion and click, it will link you to my school's website. Please note that the copying and/or further distribution of this work without express written permission is prohibited.
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