Early-ish last Saturday morning I walked to Enchantments, New York’s oldest witchcraft supply store, and probably the best store I’ve ever been to, witchcraft supply or not.
The shop offers a few classes and events per month, and I’d signed up for one called “Introduction to Candle Magick,” which I was drawn to because I love a good candle and I love when magic is spelled with a k on the end. MagicK, a version of a word that looks like it should be pronounced differently but isn’t, like when “shown” is spelled “shewn” in Jane Austen novels. These are a few of my favorite things!
Maybe you, too, have a soft spot for old-timey spelling, or maybe you have some money- or love-related problems (or both, am I right), or maybe you think it would feel nice to hack away at a wax candle with a knife for a while. Here is how to make your whole life better by carving pretty designs into a candle and coating it in glitter.
1. Pick a color.
What To Do: You can buy special-made candles (ideal for carving) from the Enchantments online store, but many other varieties will work. Cat, our teacher, suggested using tea lights. You can use the chart above to help pick a color.
Our class is led by a young woman named Cat who has worked in the store for eight years. She asks each of us to describe, in front of the class, our “intentions,” or what we want our candles to address. This is mildly embarrassing. For my purposes (which are a secret!!!!!), Cat gives me a large white candle (said to remove obstacles and negativity) and a small yellow candle, which she calls a “solar burst.” The idea is that I’ll burn the white one first, to “uncross” or cleanse myself, and then I’ll burn the yellow, to inspire confidence, success, and, my favorite, generalized “glory.”
Cat tells me that my intentions make her think of Jennifer Lopez. “She’s an example of someone who worked so hard and got what she wanted,” she says. These candles are going to help me become like Jennifer Lopez, which is something I hadn’t even realized I wanted.
I am mildly disappointed I am not given a black candle, because I would have probably liked to banish someone. But Cat makes it clear that using candle magick for evil purposes is discouraged, and also a bad idea in terms of karma.
2. Pick a seal.
What To Do: You can find a number of intricate seals designed for candle magick purposes in The Enchanted Candle by Lady Rhea. You can also use simpler, intuitive symbols: a heart for love, a dollar sign for money, an eye for clarity, etc. Cat recommends sealing the top of your candle with a pentagram for protection, and adding your name somewhere on the side.
Once we all have our candles, Cat draws our designated seals on a white board at the front of the room. They’re fairly elaborate, and it’s hard to etch into something round and waxy, but Cat says artistic outcome matters much less than intent.
I am determined to make my candles the most perfectly sealed candles that have ever been made by anyone.
3. Carve your candles.
What To Do: You can find sets of carving tools like the above (similar to what I used in class) at craft stores and online; you can also use a knife. Be careful!
You know what has always seemed fun, is carving wood. Like, in a rocking chair or something. But if you are not very handy, and you have no need for useless misshapen knobs of wood, carving wax seems like the next best thing. The wax falls off in little pieces all over your lap, and you brush them off, and they make a nice rain sound when they land on the floor. I could have done this all day with just three breaks for food.
4. Anoint your candle with oil, glitter, and incense.
What To Do: Put on plastic gloves (never touch pure essential oil with bare skin!) and rub a bit of essential oil on your candle, both for additional charming properties and so the glitter sticks. Pour glitter on it, especially in the carved seals. You can put offerings in the bottom of the glass, like honey, a penny, or herbs. You can also put lit incense in the bottom.
At a counter toward the back of the store, Cat helped me prepare my candle. She took it out of its glass, set it down, and asked for my hand. Then she put a drop of honey on my middle finger and told me to eat it. (It’s apparently tradition to taste edible offerings before offering them.) Even though my finger looked kind of dirty, I did. She then put another drop in the bottom of the glass and poured iron fillings—said to draw energy to the candle—over the top. She lit incense, placed it in the glass, and covered it with a book to keep the smoke inside.
Then, per Cat’s instruction, I rubbed a little bit of “uncrossing oil” over my candle for an extra uncrossing boost and held it out while she dumped silver glitter all over it. Mostly this is just so it looks beautiful. It is probably good that Cat was in control of the glitter because I would have put about 47 times as much on. A little bit of it got on my clothes and face and I expect it will be there forever.
5. Tell your candle what you want it to do.
What To Do: Before beginning your candle ritual, take a bath (not with your candle). Then focus on your intentions by writing them in a letter, speaking them aloud, or meditating on them. Light your candle with that wish in mind. Allow it to burn all the way through, if you have the time, or else re-focus your intentions every time you light it.
After replacing the larger of my candles in its glass and wrapping them both in newspaper, Cat hands them to me in a paper bag and thanks me for coming to class. I have not yet lit my candles because I am a little stressed by having to set aside the time to write a letter and take a bath first. I guess that is also the point. In the meantime, they look very pretty on my windowsill, and I plan to carve pictures and my name into every candle I can get my hands on.