Candles, Lamps and Setting Lights

The use of candles in ritual is pervasive across cultures and religions. In hoodoo, they are used both as a focal point to prayers and petitions, especially with glass-encased candles, but also used symbolically in "moving candle" rituals much as described by Henri Gamache. In this type of magic, candles are arranged and given significance by color and placement and are often symbolically paired and moved to indicate the change in relationship. Candles will also be carved with names, anointed with oils and powders and herbs, and manipulated in various ways. They may also be dressed and lit singly as a focus for a petition in what is referred to as "setting lights" on an altar. For many, the way that the candle burns and the resulting patterns of wax shapes and soot can be used to divine the outcome of the petition.

Many old time rootworkers will use the old style kerosene lamps, adding herbs, minerals and condition oils to the reservoir of the lamp oil. This is especially powerful for ongoing petitions.

Dressing a candle

In addition to simply anointing a candle with a bit of condition oil, candles can also be encrusted with herbs and minerals and with powders. The candle can be inscribed with names and petitions and they can be used as supplements to other rituals such as honey jars to increase the energy of the work.

Choosing a Candle

Choose a candle based on both purpose, color and size. The glass-encased candles typically have the purpose, color and sometimes the prayer or saint petitioned labeled on them. I often will use multiple small "wind chime" candles or even birthday type candles in place of a single large taper.

Shaped Candles

Another category of candle is those that are cast into shapes - from crosses, to black cats, to male and female figures, to skulls to genitalia - there are lots of symbolic shapes available to enhance particular works.