One of the oldest forms of magic is called sympathetic magic. Put simply, sympathetic magic is “like attracts like”. The spell worker uses an object or a symbol that represents the person or thing the spell is intended to affect. She then concentrates her will on the object, and the magic – intention, or energy, if you will – will echo through the object to the thing or person that it represents. An example of this is when a witch wants to cast a spell on someone and uses some of that person’s hair as part of a poppet, or doll. The hair psychically and spiritually connects the doll with the person.
The most common kind of sympathetic magic that witches use today is candle magic. It’s as ancient as the use of fire itself. A candle is selected for its color and sometimes for its shape, and it becomes the focus, or the stand-in for the person receiving the spell’s intention. We’re going to talk about candle magic in more detail soon, but first there are some important rules of order to get out of the way.
- Never take away another person’s free will.
The Wiccan Rede states it best: As long as you harm nobody, do what you want. (“An it harm none, do as thou wilt.”) It is categorically wrong to use magic to take away another person’s autonomy. Don’t do magic intended to force someone to do something, or to choose something, or to suddenly want or dislike something they ordinarily wouldn’t. That sort of thing – and love spells count as this kind of magic – is intrusive and abusive. People must be allowed to make their own choices and form their own opinions. You can cast non-harmful spells on other people, like protections and good luck invocations, but before you start any spell work, you should be certain you know exactly what you’re doing and why. If the spell you’re casting is coming from a place of love, that’s perfect. If it’s coming from anger or jealousy, then that’s a step down the Dark Path, and most Wiccans and witches prefer to stay in the path of Light. Be careful and know exactly what you’re doing. Magic is nothing to play with, and it can be dangerous. Remember, everything you put out into the universe will return to you at triple the strength.
- Words matter.
When you’re casting a spell, think of it as a contract between yourself and the universe, or between you and the Goddess or God (or other supernatural being) whose aid you’re invoking. Be specific and straight-forward in what you’re asking the magic to do. Be realistic, too. You can’t use magic to make an average Joe look like a movie star overnight. You might use magic to help him lose weight, or to help him stop drinking sugary sodas, but your magic has limits. Overnight transformations aren’t reasonable things to ask the gods to do. Be sure your incantation and stated intention leaves no loopholes, especially when you’re dealing with the Fae. Some of the citizens of the Unseen World are mischievous, and they’ll take any opening you give them to have a little fun at your expense. Choose your words carefully and be certain you know exactly what you’re saying.
- Be grateful.
This is something that many witches I’ve known have forgotten to do. They invoke a god or goddess or spirit to come and help them with their magic, and when they get the result they wanted, they forget to be grateful. When someone in your daily life does you a favor, you say “thank you.” The Goddess and the God, and especially the elementals and the Fae, deserve nothing less. When you find that your spell has acted as you’d hoped, remember to thank them for their intercession. This gratitude doesn’t have to be elaborate or couched in some codified ritual. Just acknowledge the aid in your head and in your heart. If you forget to be grateful, the next time you call on that entity for help, they might not answer, or worse, they’ll actively thwart your intentions. The elementals and the Fae especially dislike being “dissed”, so, as they say in my day job, govern yourself accordingly.
Casting with Candles
Candle magic can be as simple or as elaborate as you want to make it. It’s a very elastic and malleable format. What I’ll be describing here is a very simple candle spell. Feel free to use it as it is, or adapt it to suit your own purposes.
Magic should be cast using your altar as a working surface. It’s already consecrated and buzzing with the energy you’ve imbued it with during all of the rituals you’ve conducted there in the past, so that built up energy will be like battery back-up for the spell that you’re casting. Chances are that your altar is also in a safe and private place, so you won’t be disturbed or interrupted while you’re working.
There are certain things that should always be on an altar, just as basic building blocks for your Wiccan devotions. These things are:
- The cauldron or chalice, to bring Goddess energy;
- The athame, to bring God energy;
- Incense, to carry your intention out into the universe; and
- Candles (naturally!)
The candles that you have on your altar and the candles you use for your spells should be different. The altar candles stand in the cardinal directions, and their colors are selected in close association with the directions and powers that they represent. The North, the element of earth, is represented by a green candle, signifying growth and abundance. The East, the element of air, is represented by yellow, the color of intellect and imagination. To the South, the element of fire is shown in a red candle, representing passion and energy. The West is the seat of water, and its candle is blue, which stands for healing, intuition and emotions. In the center is the fifth element, spirit, and that candle is usually white or silver for the power of intuition, the purity of the spirit, and for truth.
There are optional things that you can include on your altar, and they can help amplify the work that you’re going to do. These are representations of the Goddess and the God, either as the Triple Goddess and the Horned One, or in the personification of the pantheon you’ve chosen as your own: Isis and Osiris, Minerva and Jupiter, the Danu and Dagda, Freya and Odin. As long as the divine feminine and the divine masculine are present and accounted for, and as long as their identities mean something special to you, it’s all good. You can also decorate the altar according to the season: autumn leaves, spring flowers, ripe summer fruits, or holly and evergreen boughs. Again, this isn’t strictly necessary, but it helps give a little extra “umph” to your spell work. Anything you can do to bring your energy to a higher vibration will be beneficial.
Before you get started, make sure that you have all of the materials that you’ll need for the spell you intend to case. In this case, that’s a clear idea of what your spell is about, a dedicated and consecrated candle, essential oils specially chosen for your intention, a piece of paper, a pen or pencil, and a calm and centered mind.
So, you have your altar. Now you’re ready to get down to work.
Begin by casting your circle. There are a lot of different ways of doing this, some that require a ton of space, and some that are appropriate for small spaces like dorm rooms and apartments. No matter how big you draw your circle, make sure that it’s complete and that it surrounds you and your working surface. This is both for your protection and to help direct your energy and intention into the work you’re doing. The energy that you raise as part of your ritual and your spell work will be concentrated within the circle, unable to dissipate until you release it. That makes it very, very powerful.
Now it’s time to Call the Quarters, just as you would do for any ritual. If you haven’t cast a circle before, there are dozens of variations on how to do it. You can find directions and suggested words to say in books, in magazines, and on line. Whatever you decide to do, and whatever words you use, it’s important that it means something to you. The circle and your Craft are personal. Your words should be, too.
Once you’ve cast the circle, it’s time to cast your spell. Again, this is a very simple candle spell that can be done on its own or as part of a larger, longer ritual. As with any work with the Craft, you should match your intention to the phase of the moon. A waxing moon is the time to cast spells that look to increase something or to draw something in. If you want something to decrease or to leave your life, then the time to cast that spell is when the moon is on the wane.
The candle that you use for your spell is important, too. Different colors of candle have different magical resonances, and the energies they bring are best suited to different tasks. Select your candle according to the following color meanings.
- White – the Goddess, your higher self, peace, purification, cleansing and truth
- Black – protection, binding, banishing negativity
- Brown – animals, pets, friendships
- Silver – the Goddess, reflection, intuition, female energy, dreams
- Purple – psychic ability, hidden wisdom, ambition, power
- Blue – the element of water, wisdom, peace, spiritual growth, psychic and spiritual healing
- Green – Mother Earth, the element of earth, physical healing, growth, fertility, abundance, money
- Pink – compassion, romance, partnerships
- Red – the element of fire, sex, passion, courage, energy
- Gold – the God, male energy, riches, financial success, business
It’s sometimes hard to find candles in the right color to match your spellwork, and that’s okay. Not everybody has access to a fully-stocked metaphysical store or witchcraft shop. That can be a total drag, especially if you’re trying to do your Craft in an area where alternative religions aren’t welcome. The good news is that white candles can stand in for any color at all, because it’s the catch-all color. The other good news is that most hardware shops and grocery stores carry white candles, ranging from emergency power outage supplies to birthday cake candles. The candles that you use don’t have to custom-created for the purpose, although you certainly can get those, too. I buy my metaphysical supplies – candles, a lot of herbs, some flowers for the altar – at Kroger, which is a grocery store chain where I live. Arts and crafts stores also have candles for sale. Sometimes when the anti-witchcraft Christian evangelical groups get busy in my area with their anti-paganism sermons, they get a lot of support from places like Wal-Mart, Christian bookstores or Hobby Lobby, so I go and buy my candles at those businesses just for spite. Shh! Don’t tell.
(I know, I know. I’m giving the “enemy” my business and sort of rewarding them, but I feel a subversive thrill when I’m using their supplies in my spells. I feel a mild sense of vindication and it doesn’t affect the quality of the spell work one iota. I’m just a naughty witch. Bad witch, no broomstick!)
Now that you have your candle selected, it’s time to dress it. Dressing the candle means to anoint it with oils to amplify your intention, and to inscribe your intent onto the wax of the candle itself. Some witches like to rub herbs into the candle as well. Like with the color of the candle, the type of oil and the type of herb can be streamlined to match the intention of your spell, too. There are too many oils and herbs with magickal properties for me to list them all here, but there are books and websites dedicated to the subject.
The spell that I’m going to write about is a simple abundance spell. The last time I performed this spell, I was surprised with being awarded four extra hours of paid time off from my day job. Time is money, so I count that as a spell success (thank you, Brigid).
To cast this monetary abundance spell, start with a green candle that had been purified in sea salt and consecrated to the task. I then put a few drops of bergamot oil, which is good for calling abundance, into my palm and anoint the candle. The direction your hand moves when you’re anointing your candle matters. If you’re trying to draw something to you, anoint the candle from the tips toward the center. If you’re trying to push something away, then put the oil on from the middle out toward the tips.
While you’re anointing the candle, concentrate on what you’re asking from the universe, and whose help you’re invoking. Brigid is one of my three patron Goddesses, and I call to her when I’m looking for new beginnings or to plant seeds for later growth. In this case, I invoked her help.
After the anointing, I take my athame and carve a representative symbol for what I want into the side of the candle. It can be a word (“riches” or “a raise”) or a symbol ($). Make sure it matches your intention very clearly.
During the anointing and the inscribing, I chanted my incantation. Incantations are a special and important part of spell work. It’s where you’re laying out the terms of the agreement you’re trying to reach with the Goddess, and as I said before, words matter. Use positive words. Be specific. It actually helps the efficacy of the spell if the incantation rhymes – the rhythm of it is like music and drumming, and it carries a power all its own. The words you speak are personal and specific to you and your intention. This is mine, but you can use it if you want.
“Brigid, crafty help of witches
Bring to me my needed riches.
I ask this by the Power of Three.
As I will, so mote it be.”
When the candle is ready, set it up in a fire-proof dish or candle holder that will be large enough to hold the entire thing when it melts. Light the candle with the taper representing your spirit, and set it up on the altar. Next, take a piece of paper and write on it exactly what you want. In this case, I wrote, “$ or PTO”, the PTO meaning “paid time off”. The paper and the pen can be purpose-made for the act, or it can be whatever you had around the house. I used a piece of notebook paper and a Bic. You can be fancy if you want to be, but what matters is your intention, not the materials.
Take the paper and fold it in half. Visualize receiving what you’ve asked for, your spell working, and your request being granted. Put the corner of the paper into the flame of your spell candle and get it burning. Hold onto it as long as you can (don’t burn yourself!) and then drop it either into your cauldron or onto a fire-proof plate or bowl on the altar. Take a moment to continue visualizing, focusing on the twin flames from the burning paper and the candle. The smoke from the burning paper will take your intention and your will up into the universe, like the smoke from incense.
When you feel ready, end your ritual, open your circle, and celebrate the goodness of the Goddess with cakes and ale (or cookies and milk). Food and drink should be consumed at the end of every ritual to ground yourself back into your physical being.
Let the candle burn out completely. It will either go out before it’s completely melted, or it will turn into a puddle of wax. Either way, don’t use the candle again. It has served its purpose. Take whatever’s left and bury it in the ground, returning it to Mother Earth with thanks for the help She gave you.
So, that’s a simple candle spell. Feel free to take it and modify it any way you’d like, making it uniquely yours. You can make it super fancy, or you can keep this bare-bones approach. Whatever you choose, just make it something that is meaningful to you.
Good luck, good fortune, and brightest blessings!