The Pagan Basics series is for those looking to find out more about the basic concepts, symbols and values of paganism. A series of short articles which give explanations to some of paganism’s most fundamental concepts, images and shared understandings.
A candle is wax commonly surrounding a single wick, which is lit. Candles in pagan traditions come in a variety of sizes, colours and can even have scents which are released when they burn.
Most common is a small candle, approx an inch tall, made from cheap wax and encased in a soft metal shell. This is usually known as tea-light, and can be used in special holders, or on altars. These are not only cheap, but due to the metal shell, are safer to use, as the metal shell encases the molten wax, making disposal easier.
If an individual undertakes spell work, it may call for a specific color of candle to be used, the colour representing aspects which are to be invoked within the spell. Candle magic is a branch of magical working which uses candles as a primary focus through which to bring about desired change.
The above candles are made in successive layers by being dipped in hot wax. Candles can also be made from rolled beeswax, as shown below, although these can be more expensive.
Altars or shrine spaces will commonly have candles present, either in a colour specific to the deity being honoured or festival being marked, or plain white. These will be lit when specifically honouring the deity, during prayer or to create the right atmosphere when undertaking ritual.