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History of Candle Magic

668 words (3 pages) Essay in Cultural Studies

03/07/18 Cultural Studies Reference this

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Introduction and Historically Speaking

The history of candle magic or fire can be traced back to Paleolithic times. Fire is a source of inspiration and its immense power that inspired awe and wonder from ancient man in the early years of our development. Fire, not only kept the cave man warm, cooked his food, but also frightened away animals for their security.

Can you imagine back in the past not having electricity and having to eat by candle light every night? Today we take so much for granted and now we treat eating by candle light a special occasion. Well historically the very first known candle-type was called rushlights and this was the first use of beeswax and use of animal fats. The process for making rushlights was soaking pithy reeds in animal fats and/or beeswax. This was noted as early as 3000 BC. As tombs of rulers were being unearthed they found candles resembling today’s beeswax candles. It wasn’t until the Romans improved candle making and used wicks of woven fibers to light up their places of worship and their homes.

Before the first candles were invented, ancient cultures used oil lamps for light. The oil lamps are much like the ones we have today with a fiber wick. Back in ancient days the wick was made of flax and their burned as fuel plant oils, olive oil, beeswax and animal fats. The original meaning of the word candle comes from a Latin word Candere which meaning is “to shine.”

Another ancient way to make candles came from India. They made candles for their temples and homes by boiling cinnamon and using the by-product of the boiling to create candles with. In India there was a ban to burn any candle made of animal fats because animals were considered scared.

Candles are the physicaltool to connect to the Element of Fire. Fire has not only lit our way in this life, but it also corresponds directly to life and the creation there of.

Although the importance of the candle died out with the invention of electricity and the light bulb, it’s still important in sacred religious ceremonies in many parts of the world.

As history continued, humans quickly understood the need for light during the dark hours of the night. Later on, this power to illuminate took on a religious significance. In India, presenting a lit oil lamp in front of the God/Goddess is still practiced at home and in temples and it has become ceremonious practice. In Egypt, the followers of Isis kept her temple lamps lit at all hours, both day and night, to symbolize constant hope and life in the afterlife. In Paganism the Sabbat known as Yule (Dec 20-23) involves candles used on the Yule tree. The Festival of Lights, the Sabbat known as Imbolc (February 2nd) and is the Fire Festival for winter purification. In Irish Celtic belief is all centered around Saint Brigid, the Goddess of fire, fertility, home and hearth, livestock, crops, wisdom and poetry For Wiccans and Neo Pagans, this ceremony of lighting a candle signifies the element fire as we call upon the elements to join us in our ritual and draw from their energy. Knowing what candle to light, when to light, moon phases, and what colour to use can increase the potency of the intent of the practitioner. In Christianity lighting candles on or near the altar is an essential part of their practice.


The following questions are to be submitted below at the link. Each answer should be answered in detail and should be in your own words.

  1. How do you use candles in your own practice?
  2. Why is Fire compared to life and important in ancient Egypt’s tombs?
  3. What is the importance of using candles during rituals and crafting work?
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