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Sunday, July 15, 2012

Beyond Remains: Divination with Candles

Types of Divination

Magickal practitioners have long used candles in their work to perform divinations, as well as to cast spells. Most forms of divination with candles takes three forms, they are:

  • Pyromancy: By the Actions of the Flame.
  • Ceromancy: By the wax left behind, or poured into cool water.
  • Capnomancy: By the movement or pattern of smoke during/after a fire. 

Pyromancy, or divination by fire,  itself can be broken down into several subcategories of divination. However, most of these subsets consist of either 1) observation of the flame 2) burning materials such as dried herbs, bones, or shells and 3) a combination of both.

Review: About Signs 

Burning a candle for one's goals is akin to a journey. The top of the candle represents the beginning of your path and the bottom of the candle is where you end up regardless of your intended destination. The signs or marks that appear on a candle (soot, wax, etc..), the behavior of the flame,  the events that transpire while the candle is burning---these things act as a record of your journey, your experiences, and what you can expect to occur.

For example, a candle that starts with a weak from but grows stronger as it burns could indicate that you got off to a bad start but that you will achieve your goal. Conversely, if you candle starts out burning strong but burns out with a slow, weak flame could indicate that you got off to a strong start but your goal will not manifest. If you were burning a glass-encased candle there may be dark smudges on the glass at the point where things went wrong. The pattern of the smudge may indicate who, or what, interfered with your working. If you were burning a free-standing candle and there was wax leftover, there may be signs in the form of symbols that were left behind in the wax.

Beyond Spells and Workings

You need not be performing a spell or working to use candles for divination. In another entry I describe how you can use candles to Perform a Spiritual Checkup. In a similar fashion, you an use candles to divine answers to subjective or specific question. I will describe two methods below. 

The first method consist of choosing a candle whose color matches the nature of your question. For example, if your question concerns love you may use Red, or Pink; if money, green; if protection, blue, etc....Next, you can write your question directly on the candle itself, hold it in your hands while thinking intently on your question, or writing your question on a scrap of paper and placing this under your candle or burning it in the flame of the candle after it is lit.  Finally, light the candle and watch it for signs and omens which should speak directly to the nature of the question. 

This next method is used specifically for questions of a subjective nature (i.e. yes or no). Write your question on a piece of paper, and place it between a black candle (representing "no") and a white one (representing "yes"). Finally light the candles and watch them closely. Should the white candle burn out first, you answer is no; if the black candle burns out first, the answer is yes. 

This second method may be used to determine the name of a thief, potential lover, or other choice. You can have more than two choices by increasing the number of candles, just be sure that you know which candle represents which person or outcome by slipping a piece of paper under each candle with its designation written on it or draw a little diagram for yourself so that you know which candle is which.

For example, you have three potential suitors: Tom, Dick, and Harry. You each of their photos under its own red candle and light them. Tom's candle burns out half way through, and Harry's candle burns weak and eventually drowns in its own wax. However, Dick's candle burns strong and bright long after the other two flames have died. Therefore, Dick the person that is right for you. 

Spirit in the Flame

As we have seen spiritual practitioners and rootworkers have traditionally placed a great deal of emphases on the behavior of a spell-candle's flame and signs that may have been left behind after its burning.  However, candles themselves can be used as tools for divination in a similar manner as Ouija Boards and Pendulums.

The technique that I am about to share with you is one that I discovered quite by accident. I have not seen any other practitioner use this method of divination, nor have I read about it in any book, blog, or other written form of communication. 

When I was a member of a small coven, we often got together on regular occasions for ritual, teaching, field trips, and socializing. The boyfriend of one of the group's members had been having difficulty with the passing over his mother a year prior. The boyfriend was skeptical of our witchcraft, but we decided to get together to perform a seance so as to help the boyfriend make peace with his mother's passing. 

We sat at the dinner-table in the center of which was placed a ouija-board. The lights were dimmed, a single white-candle was lit and we invoked the Goddess for protection (this was a Wiccan circle). The four of us placed our hands on the planchette. As the leader, I explained why we had come together that evening and petitoned the spirit of the mother to come forward and communicate with us if she was both inclined and able. The planchette slowly swirled about the board, but the movement was weak and whatever power which moved it seemed unable to spell out any message.

Determined to help bring healing to the situation, we continued asking for the spirit to appear and speak with us. At some point, my attention move away from the board and to the candle we had lit. It was then that I noticed that all the while we were focusing on the board the candle flame had been jumping up and down! I took my hand off the planchette and addressed the candle directly. "Naomi, is that you?" The candle flame rose up about four inches, then returned to normal. 

Wary of trickster spirits, we asked Naomi a series of yes/no questions (with the help of the boyfriend) to which only she would know the answer.  Knowing that the spirit had a 50/50 chance of getting any subjective question we asked right, we took our divinations a step further. A simple question was asked followed by the slow recitation of the alphabet. When the flame rose up at the correct letter, it eventually spelled out simple words and phrases. Using this method of spirit-contact we were about to help heal the pain of the boyfriend's loss and he was able to move at with his life at peace. 

The Spirit of Divination

After establishing contact with Naomi, I used the same technique to establish communication with my own ancestors. I improved the process by placing the candle near my spirit-pot on the Ancestor Altar where I  interact with the spirits of my Ancestors on a daily basis. Through the help of my ancestors, I was able to come into contact and develop a relationship with my familiar-spirit, or spirit-of-divination.

Though I initially communicated with my spirit-of-divination through the candle, he has since taken up home in a special house in the form of a human skull. The top of the skull comes off and I am able to place items inside. I started off with two black-eyed peas with which the spirit is able to see into both worlds, a cowrie shell through which is is able to speak (the shell resembling a mouth), and a small piece of amethyst which is said to aid in divination. 

He (I have been instructed not to reveal his name, nor to post any pictures of his skull) can now be found on my reading-table where I keep my main deck of tarot cards, my pendulum, and a copy of the Psalms and where I do most, if not all, of my divinations. I often have discussions with the spirit while in the process of reading the cards and he has helped me greatly in the practice of interpreting the Psalms.  


Divination with fire is an ancient practice that has continually evolved throughout the centuries into several subsets of divination which mainly consist of burning materials, observation of the flames, or both. Modern spiritual practitioners emphasis observation of the candle flame, the manner of its burning, and any signs left behind with the candle is spent.  A candle may be used alone or in conjunction with other objects as tools for divining the answer to subjective questions as well as to communicate with spirits of the dead, as well as other types of spirit.

Happy Hoodoo-ing!

1 comment:

alexisaura said...

Hi Carolina Dean!

What does it mean when your candle's wick becomes black as it burns and curls up then falls of after a while.
At the end it burns better though!
It occurs during the candle burning I do for Dymphna to strengthen my emotional/mental health honey/herb jar.
Thank you!