Candle Working Lessons:  The Basics

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by

Nefer Khepri Hemet, Ph.D., R. M-T.

Magickal-Musings Nefer Khepri Hemet

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This page contains basic information that you should have a very good understanding of before you attempt any form of candle work.  Performing candle work without proper education (either by reading on your own or finding someone to mentor you) can be disastrous, to say the least.

Once you have read and understood the information contained on this page, then you are ready to start manifesting your dreams, so let's get started!!

 

Basic Ritual Design

Before you perform any type of Candle Working or Enchantment, I strongly urge you to write what I call a "statement of intent."  This is merely your desire written in your own words.  Basically, I address mine to whatever deities I will call upon for help. In writing my letter I first explain to Them exactly what I desire, and I do mean exactly.  The more exact and specific you are, the more likely you are to get exactly what you want.  In your "statement of intent" if you require that the candle work help to manifest in a certain amount of time, please specify that, such as, "please help me in this job interview which is on September 14, 2004", for example.

If this is the first time you will be working with the deities you have chosen, the beginning of your statement of intent should be a brief introduction where you tell them just a little bit about yourself.  You don't have to go on for pages and pages, but a little politeness never hurt anybody.  Put your statement of intent aside.  You will be reading it out loud during the performance of your candle working.

Gathering the Items Needed

Simply, this is the first stage when you decide what color & shape of candles & candle holders you will use, what scent of incense (if any), and any other aids, such as oils, herbs, and stones.  Once you have gathered all your materials (don't forget your lighter for the candles & incense!), then you are ready to begin.  Be sure to have everything you will need during the ritual.  It will completely ruin your efforts if you have forgotten a crucial item and then have to leave the circle to retrieve it.  This breaks your focus and concentration, which causes the energy you have called up to become scattered, thus severely limiting your chances of success.

Cleansing Your Items

This can be done in or outside of sacred space (see below).  Personally, I prefer to do all this before I cast my circle.  Please feel free to do what feels right to you.

In order to make your items fit for enchantment use they must be spiritually cleansed.  By this, I mean that all negative vibrations must be removed.  When you purchase a candle or herbs you don't know who handled that item before you bought it.  Usually, unless you gather the herbs yourself (which I do not recommend for beginners), you don't know where the item has come from.  Were the people who made it, shipped it, or sold it to you in a bad mood that day?  You have no way of knowing.  All items have the Universal Life Force flowing through them, whether they are natural or man-made.  Therefore, they have the ability to retain energy.  Not wanting to take any chances that my candle work may fail, I cleanse all items before using them.  The following methods have worked very well for my students and I.

Cleansing Candles:  Simply rub the candle from the middle out to both ends (don't forget the wick!) and imagine all negativity leaving the candle.  I visualize the negative energy as black blobs floating off and out of the candle.  The same method can be used for incense sticks, but in their case, do the entire package at once so you don't have to repeat this procedure every time you use a stick of incense and you also don't get the scent all over your hands.  This will work through the plastic wrapping.  You can use the same method for bottles of oil, too, but open the bottle so the negative vibrations have a way to escape.

Cleansing Herbs:  Place the herbs in a stoneware, ceramic, or glass bowl and slowly mix them counterclockwise with the index (first) finger of your dominant, or writing, hand.  As you stir, again imagine the negative energy leaving the herbs.

Cleansing Stones:  Place the stone(s) in a bowl of water with some salt mixed in.  Unless you need them quickly, I place my stones out under the moonlight for an entire night to be cleansed.  The next day I offer the water back to the earth, then take the stones inside.  I rinse them off, then I make another mixture of water and salt (usually 1 teaspoon of salt per average bowl of water) and place the stones in the sunlight to be charged.

 * ImportantAmethyst will fade in the sunlight so use special care when charging amethyst in the sunlight. I only charge mine for 2 hours and amethyst tends to hold a charge very well.

Your Altar

The altar is the place within your circle where you will do your work.   You can place your altar anywhere within what will be the boundaries of your sacred circle.  I have mine in the west because I work with the Egyptian pantheon and this is where these particular deities prefer the altar to be.  In Wicca, common places in which to have your altar is in the east or the north.  However, the placement of furniture in the room may limit you to where you can place your altar.  Anywhere is fine, as long as it stands within the confines of what will be your magick circle. 

Any flat surface is fine for an altar.  I know that many of you live in homes where everyone may not support you in your spiritual endeavors.  If this is the case, I suggest doing what I did when I went to college and had to deal with college roommates.  I used an old tv tray.  This way I could take down my altar and put up all my things and my roommates didn't have a clue as to what I was doing.  A tv tray is also a good idea for those of you who may wish to work outside for certain enchantments.  The use of a tv tray means you do not have to have a permanent table set up outside for your outdoor rituals.  Other types of altars for beginners can consist of a table top cleared for the candle working, a bookshelf, a desk, dresser, even a kitchen countertop. I even have a client who uses her bathtub as her altar surface!  Anything is fine as long as you feel comfortable with it.

The only requirements for your altar is that it be a flat, stable surface, and that it be large enough in area to hold any candles, herbs, oils, & stones you will be using, plus any enchanting tools that you have.

By enchanting tools, I mean those items that are commonly associated with witches.  The most commonly used tools are the chalice, which is used to contain water or wine and is symbolic of the womb of the Goddess, the athame, which is a ceremonial knife that is never used to cut anything physical.  The athame represents the God and is used to direct magickal energy in casting your circle and in sending energy out into the universe.  Another tool with the same use as the athame is the wand.  As you grow in your abilities and start collecting things to help you in your candle workings, your list of tools may grow.  These tools are not necessary for successful enchantments, no matter what you may have read or what someone may have told you.  Some of my most successful candle workings are performed with a simple taper or votive candle with nothing else to aid me but my powers of concentration.

In organizing your altar, you do need 2 illuminator candles.  These will be placed at the back of your altar at the spot farthest away from where you will be standing for the ritual.  These candles represent the female and male aspects of Deity.  As such, you may want to pick a white or silver candle for the Goddess, and a yellow, orange, or gold candle for the God, but this is not required.  In addition to these candles you may wish to place a small symbol or image of the Goddess and God in front of each candle.  This is up to you and will also be dictated by how much room you have on your altar.  Items you can use to symbolize the Goddess are:  a flower, a cup or chalice, a pentagram (more on the symbolic importance of this symbol later), a statue or image of a woman.  For a representation of the God you may wish to use: a wand or athame, anything that is phallic in shape, woodland animals such as a stag, male deer, or any type of horned animal, an image of the sun.  You can even use stones to represent the Deities.  I have used white and blue stones to represent the Goddess and tiger's eye or long, angular quartz crystals to represent the God.

In between the two illuminator candles you can place your incense holder.  If you have allergies, like I do, I strongly urge you not to place your burning incense on your altar.  You will be standing at the altar performing your enchantment and the last thing you need is for your incense to be causing you to sneeze or to have itchy and watery eyes.  For those of you with allergies or with limited space on your altar, you can place your incense holder on the east side of your circle.  The east is the home of the element of Air and incense is one of the symbols used to represent this element.

You will be using the center area of your altar as your work area.  Here you will be setting up the candles you will be using and you will also have a small bowl of the herbs you are using, any oils, or stones, and any other enchantment aids.  So the more clear and uncluttered your altar is, the more work space you will have without having to move things around.

This is the most basic altar set up.  For more advanced methods of organizing your altar I refer you to the following sources:

 

Creating Sacred Space

In order to perform candle work and/or enchantments safely, you must create sacred space in which you will be standing while doing such work.  This is commonly referred to as "casting a circle."  There is a variety of ways you can do this.  I include the simplest and most generic version here.  

For a basic circle casting you will need a bowl of water with approximately 1/2 tsp. salt mixed into it.  You will be sprinkling this to create the perimeter of your circle, so if there is any fine wood or furniture, please go lightly on the sprinkling.  Salt can leave stains on wood and fabric once the water has dried.

Once you have mixed the salt into the water, hold your hands palms facing down, over the bowl of water and say 3 times:

"Salt & Water, by mixing thee,
No spell nor unknown purpose be,
Except in true accord with me,
And as my will, so mote it be."

(from Helping Yourself with White Witchcraft, Al G. Manning)

This is my favorite invocation for cleansing and consecrating my water & salt mixture.  Al G. Manning's book was the first I ever read on magick.  It is very useful and has some great spells in it, along with examples of how these spells have worked in the lives of Manning's clients.  I highly recommend his book.

As you see, I have you say this invocation three times.  The number 3 is sacred to the Goddess as it symbolizes the Trinity of Maiden, Mother, and Crone - the three aspects of Goddess energy.  When saying an invocation, always say it at least three times.  Three allows it to sink into your subconscious.  Also, the repetition puts your mind into a calm state and you are better able to concentrate on what you are doing.  Other numbers sacred to the Goddess are 7, 9. and 13.  Usually, I repeat my invocations for love and money 7 times as the number 7 is associated with luck in Western culture.  For enchantments about completing something, or bringing something to an end, I use the number 9 and repeat my invocations 9 times.  For heavy duty enchantments, like a demonic exorcism or if someone is in danger of any kind, I use the number 13.

Once your water is consecrated, beginning at the point in the circle where you have your altar, lightly sprinkle the water clockwise for manifesting (bringing something positive to you) or counterclockwise for banishing (sending something undesirable away from you).  Begin and end at your altar, then place the bowl of water on the west side of your circle.  This water will also represent the element of Water, which resides in the west.

As you sprinkle the water, you may chant the names of the deities with Whom you are working, or you can say something like this as you cast your circle:

"Here I create a boundary 
Between myself and all harm.
None but Love may enter, 
and none but Love may leave 
 My sacred sanctuary  
Which the energy of the Gods warms. 
 And as my will, so mote it be."

Everyone will not experience energy the same way; however, the majority of my students and I experience this energy as great warmth.  This is why I include the line, "which the energy of the Gods makes warm" in my personal circle casting invocation.  Feel free to use my words, or make up one of your own. 

For a proper circle casting, walk the perimeter of your circle 3 times while sprinkling the water & saying the invocation.  It also is very helpful to imagine yourself encased within a sphere of blue, white, or gold light.  This is the boundary that the circle creates.  Although called a "circle", the circle is actually a 3 dimensional sphere that goes around you and your altar.  It also extends up toward the ceiling of your room (or the sky if you are working outdoors) and down into the floor or earth below.

Once your circle is created, return to your altar.  Now it is time to cleanse your aura.  This is very simple.  Merely imagine irridescent white light entering the top of your head and filling you up.  At this time you may wish to make sweeping motions along the length of your body with your hands, or you can do the same with a stick of incense or a smudge stick. 

Aura cleansing succeeds in removing the daily junk we all pick up from day to day and it also puts you in a better frame of mind to perform your magick.

Now it is time to call in the elements, which I have been briefly mentioning in this section.  Just what is an element?  The elements are Air, Fire, Water, Earth, and Spirit.  These are the building blocks of all creation and of all life.  Without one of these elements life as we know it could not, and would not, exist.  They are all equally important and are all helpful in manifesting your desires. 

There are two main ways to view the elements.  Many practitioners view them as the actual physical elements of the Air we breathe, the Fire we use for warmth and cooking, the Water we drink and in which we bathe, the Earth upon which we all live, and Spirit, which is contained within each one of us.  Another way the elements are viewed is as magickal beings or entities.  From ancient times the elements have been used in magick and it is from medieval times that the following associations come down to us.

Air is located in the East.  Its color is yellow.  The elemental beings associated with Air are sylphs, sort of fairy like creatures that live in the air.  Their ruler or king is Zephyr, which is another name for the elemental being associated with Air.  Other creatures associated with air are the Eagle and any type of bird.  The archangel associated with Air is Raphael, archangel of healing.

Fire is located in the South.  Its color is red.  The elemental beings associated with Fire are salamanders.  These are tiny lizards.  In medieval times it was believed salamanders could live in fire, which is not true so don't try to burn any salamanders, please!  The ruler of the salamanders is Djin (pronounced Gin).  Other creatures associated with Fire are dragons, lions, the phoenix.  The archangel associated with Fire is Michael, archangel of protection.

Water is located in the West.  Its color is blue.  The elemental beings associated with Water are undines.  These are sort of like mermaids.  Their ruler or king is Neckna.  Other creatures associated with water are fish, dolphins, mermaids and mermen, and any other type of sea creature.  The archangel associated with Water is Gabriel, archangel of communication.

Earth is located in the North.  Its color is either green or brown (I visualize green).  The elemental beings associated with Earth are trolls, elves, and dwarves.  Their leader or king is Gob, who is a troll.  Other creatures associated with Earth are dragons, the bear, and just about any other earth-bound animal you wish to use.  The archangel associated with Earth is Uriel, also known as Ariel, the archangel of divination and prognostication.

In order to complete your circle, you need to invoke or call upon the elements to witness your endeavor and to protect you as well.  The boundary of the circle itself acts as a buffer, keeping negative energies out that may be attracted to the energy you are raising.

You may wish to use symbols to represent the elements.  Here are a few of my suggestions:

            Air (East):  windchimes, incense, windsock (if you're outdoors), kite           

            Fire (South):  a burning candle (perferably red, yellow, or orange - the most common colors found in fire itself)                                                                                                 

            Water (West):  a bowl of water, a running fountain, or you can situate yourself so that your sink or bathtub is in this area and then allow some water to run during the ritual.                                                                                    

          Earth (North):  a bowl of dirt, sand, salt, or rocks of various sorts.  You can vary the type of rock used with the intent of the ritual.  For love, you would want a rose quartz in this quarter, for prosperity - malachite, citrine or aventurine.

Once you gather all these items together they all must be cleansed and then consecrated to be fit to dwell within your sacred space. 

 

Invoking the Elements

To invoke the elements, begin and end in the East.  You may use my personal invocation or write one of your own:

After all items are consecrated you shall begin in the East.  Pick up the incense that will represent the element of Air.  Approach the East and light the incense.  Place it in its holder.  Raise both arms in the air above your head, palms facing outward.  Look upward as you invoke the Element of Air:

"By the power of the Goddess and the God,  
I call upon thee, Element of Air,
To attend my circle here.  
Mighty Zephyr, ruler of the Sylphs,             
Bringer of cleansing winds, 
Bless these proceedings with your presence          
    Within this sacred circle."

 Try to visualize a yellow mist as you walk the perimeter of your circle or perhaps feel the brush of wind against your body as you acknowledge the presence of the Air elementals.

  Next, pick up the candle and go to the South.  Light your candle and set it in place.  Again, with your arms raised above your head and palms facing outward, address the Element of Fire:

"By the power of the Goddess and the God,
I call upon thee,  Element of Fire,
To attend my circle here.  
Powerful Djin, ruler of the Salamanders, 
Provider of energy, purger of evil, 
Bless these proceedings with your presence
Within this sacred circle."

 Visualize a red mist before you as you walk the perimeter of your circle, or perhaps some dancing salamanders as you make the manifestation of the element of Fire as real as you wish.

 Move toward the West with your container of consecrated water.  Put the water in place, and once again, raise your arms above your head with palms facing outward as you invoke the element of Water:

 "By the power of the Goddess and the God,
I call upon thee, element of Water, 
To attend my circle here.
 Sublime Neckna, ruler of the Undines, 
Crest of the ocean's waves, 
Bless these proceedings with your presence 
Within this sacred circle."

 At this time, try to visualize a blue mist as you walk the perimeter of your circle, or perhaps a waterfall with mermaids and mermen swimming amidst the cascading water. 

Lastly, take up your container of earth, salt, sand, or your special stones and approach the North.  Put the elemental representation in place and, as before, raise both arms above your head with palms facing outward as you say the invocation:

 "By the power of the Goddess and the God,
I call upon thee, element of Earth,  
To attend my circle here.
Droll Gob, leader of Gnome and Troll,
Protector of the Earth's treasures, 
Bless these proceedings with your presence
Within this sacred circle."

 At this point, visualize a brown mist as you walk the perimeter of your circle.  Or perhaps in your mind's eye you can see gnomish faces appear, or the slight bodies of elves.

 Return to the east.  If your altar is in the North, walk slowly around your circle clockwise (unless you are performing a banishing ritual, then you will be walking counterclockwise) and acknowledge the presence of the Elementals at each quarter until you are in the North again at your altar.  Stomp your foot three times on the ground and say:

 "The circle is now established and complete.  Naught but Good shall enter and   naught but Good shall leave.  So mote it be."

 Note: if performing a banishing, you will establish your circle counterclockwise (widdershuns) beginning in the East, moving to the South, then West, to North, and ending in the East.

 Now your circle is cast and you are ready to invoke the deities with whom you wish to work.  This is done at your altar.  The usual practice is to invoke the Goddess and then the God.

 

Invoking Deity

Since the invocation of Deity is such a personal matter, I leave this up to you.  The only suggestion I make is that each time you decide to work with a different deity, please take the time to introduce yourself to Them and to thank the other deities with whom you have done candle workings and enchantments in the past.

 

The Spell or Enchantment

Once you have invoked Deity, it is at this point that you perform the actual candle working or enchantment.  This is the time when you anoint your candles with oil, use your herbs, any particular type of incense, and say the chant that goes with your candle working/enchantment a minimum of three times.  The number 3 is sacred to the Goddess, as is 5, 7, 9, and 13.  Depending on which pantheon of gods you finally decide to work with, the sacred numbers could vary.  For example, in Egyptian magick chants are usually done in series of 4 or 7.  Individual research is required in order to discover if the gods with whom you wish to work have preferences for specific numbers.

 

Closing the Ritual (never skip this step!)

At this point, you conclude your candle working since you have just released the energy out into the Universe.  Now you are ready to close your circle.  This step of your ritual is of extreme importance. Never, ever skip this step.

First, take this time to thank Deity.  Word your thanks as if They have already granted your request.  For example, you may say something like:  "Mother Goddess and Father God, I thank You for Your Presence here today.  I thank Your for Your protection, love, and support.  You have my sincerest thanks and gratitude for the _______ <fill in with your desire> that you have granted me this day.  Blessed be."

Next, you MUST close your circle.  This is of critical importanceWhen calling the elements, although I provided you with a very generic elemental call, you have indeed called up and have awakened real energies.  These energies can wreak all sorts of havoc in your life if they are left in place.  Therefore, you close your circle. 

Closing your circle is done in the opposite direction in which you created it.  So, once again, you will begin and end in the East.  For manifesting you created your circle moving clockwise.  In order to close the circle, you now move from east to south to west to north, and then back to east.  At each elemental station, say some words of thanks.  This is what I use, which I adapted from a circle casting in Scott Cunningham's Wicca:  A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner.

O, Element of the East (south, west, north), 
Element of Air (Fire, Water, Earth), 
I thank you for your presence here for my ritual.  
I ask that you go now in peace 
and return to your native habitat, 
harming no one on your way.  
As you go, please convey my goals and desires to the 
Universe 
so they may manifest quickly.  
Merry meet, merry part, and merry meet again.  
Blessed be."

Say this at each elemental station, replacing the name of the direction and the name of the element for each station.

If you first created your circle for a banishing and created it moving counterclockwise (east to north to west to south), then when you close your circle move clockwise (east to south to west to north).

After you finish, return to the east.  Center yourself in whatever way feels comfortable.  Go to the center of your circle or at your altar and say:

"The circle is open, but never broken."  Stamp your foot, clap your hands, or ring a bell three times.

Your work is now at an end.

You can begin today to manifest your desires into reality by following these guidelines and through your own powers of concentration.  Everyone is capable of doing this.  All it takes is a little practice and some patience.

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