Saturday, September 10, 2005

Candles: Their History and Usage (it's not as boring as it sounds!)

This is the weekend. Being a free-spirit, I always go where the winds (or whims) take me. I do a variety of things that interest me, but might not interest others so it's sometimes hard to explain. For instance, last night we went to a bar to listen to this great local heavy metal band (they're friends of ours). We had a good time, but I still prefer to be in the solitude of my home, relaxing and doing different crafts. One of the things I love to do is putter around my kitchen, making candles.

It's Ozma's birthday soon, so I took her to dinner last night at her favorite Thai restaurant and tonight a bunch of us are going dancing, so I'm finding my peace and solitude while I may.

There is something mystical about candles. One of my friends (who is Wiccan) says that we have always practiced primitive candle magick from the time that we were children and blew out our first candles on our birthday cake and made a wish.

The earliest candles were actually oil lamps made of pottery, with a reed or a piece of twine used as a wick. The oil was usually animal oil of some sort. Later they used hardened fat (have you ever drained the fat from bacon and watched it harden?). Still later (in the 1700s and 1800s) the poor mixed fat with a small amount of wax to create (foul-smelling) candles. The wealthy, who could afford beeswax or bayberry candles, had candles that were smokeless and pleasant to smell. Just as we give our workers benefits if we wish to keep them, the better households also offered benefits to their servants. For instance, all servants got one day out a week. Many also were allowed to take any left-over candle stubs for their own use.

Candle magick has been observed for thousands of years. For instance, historians say that the Catholic church initially began the tradition of burning candles for the dead, or for favors, because many of their parishioners came from pagan backgrounds and used candles for the same reasons. The Catholic church was notorious for compromise in order to strengthen their numbers (my apologies to my Catholic friends; this is not a slam on Catholicism by any means).

Practioners of Hoodoo, Voodoo, Wicca, Satanism, New Age, and other faiths also use candles ritualistically. (Note: I'm not necessarily endorsing any of these faiths, I'm just reciting facts). The Jews also use candles in traditional ceremonies (the Menorah, for instance) but they don't use them in a magickal context (i.e. to create or get something). Instead, they use them for symbolism.

In the 1800s, many slaves brought certain traditions and beliefs to America with them. This involved the belief that certain colors were effective when asking the spirits or God(s) for certain favors. Black was used either for evil or to repel evil, white for purity or as a substitute for any other color, orange for money or strength of purpose, green for success or healing, brown to win court cases or improve a pet's health, red was used for evil or to create passion or to work healing, pink for romance, blue for fidelity and health, yellow for happiness or attraction, and purple for domination. Figural candles also enhanced the spell. Some figural candles used are (and were) of cats, people, genitalia, celestial signs, and more. Each one serves a symbolic purpose and not always in the way someone would guess.

But why are candles so wildly popular today, even though many people don't use candles to practice their religious beliefs?

Candles are homey and warm. Candles are the psychic equivalent to comfort food. For me, it's so relaxing to settle down with a good book and a hot cuppa tea, next to a fragrant lit candle. Some of my friends love taking a long, hot bath by candlelight. The fragrance is a welcome bonus, but it's the atmosphere that the candle creates which makes candles welcome in every home.

Why make your own? Because you can. And it's so very easy to do. I'll tell you more about how to go about it tomorrow.


Kathleen said...

I can't wait. I understand there is an art to making good candles. You have piqued my interest.

Saur♥Kraut said...

Kathleen, great! There is an art to it, but much of it is error and correction until you learn what works. Still, I've honed some of the techniques and can probably make it a little easier for you as a beginner. ;o)

michelle said...

The candles are beautiful! As you know I want to learn, and so does my son. My husband loves to burn candles so he will very appreciative.wr

(Off subject, we have heard you say you life heavy metal. What local band did you listen too)

Saur♥Kraut said...

Michelle, go to 727. They just signed with a major promoter. They're truly talented. You'll hear "Killing My Sunshine" when you go onto the site. That's one of their own, though they play covers also.

michelle said...

Cool Thanks. I need to get out a bit more don't I?

Of course the hanging out by candle light definately has it's plus's

Jeff said...

shhhh...Don't tell anyone, but when I have days off...I like to buy a boquet of flowers for my house just because "I" like they way they make my house smell. Pretty gay isn't it?

Here's what you asked for. It's always been there. These are not the best I have ever done but they are they best tapes I have. I set them up to be more like a progress report for people that like me and want to follow along. Sadly though, the people I paid to host and work this site for me are douche bags and that's why I quit using it until the time I paid for hosting is up. VERY LONG STORY THOUGH. The whole story is on the site if you really want to read it, but it will take several days to get through. This is a direct link to the clips...

You'll have to let me know what you think.

Until later...

Jamie Dawn said...

I'm going to start burning a lot of orange and green candles.
I love the mood burning candles set. I instantly feel calm and relaxed.

Anonymous said...

Now I understand why my wife likes to burn candles.

Fred said...

Since I live in a house full of women, there's always a candle burning. We have certain rules, though (I'm afraid they'll start a fire!) on where they are and when they can be used.

I'm sure my kids will be interested in how to make them - bring it on!

Senor Caiman said...


I have always been a little confused by candles. This hot good smelling lady at work invited me to a candle party. I was very excited. To make a long story short, when I whipped out my candle and laid it on the table a hush came over the room. Boy was I embarrassed.

Saur♥Kraut said...

Mr. Gator, *LOL*

Fred, your kids will probably love it. Mine do!

Canadian Dude, glad you liked it!

Jamie Dawn, I think there's something hypnotic about the flame. I truly do.

Jeff, No, just being domestic! Good for you. I think it's so important to be able to set a tone in your house. It needs to be your 'get-away', you know?

I love the clips! It's sooo cool that you have them!

Michelle, so you think the kids will try it?

michelle said...

oops, I answerd this on the candle making thread.

Tea & Margaritas in My Garden said...

Really interesting post! I love how each colour means something different. I can`t imagine though now, having ones kids having to use a candle to light their way. I`d be constantly worried about fires.
But I think kids were far more grown up than they are now....they really had to be in those times for everything.