We are but dark misty shadows to the beings of Light. And are as beings of Light to the dark misty shadows.
I was asked “If all aspects of Magickal rituals are filled with symbolism, what is the symbolism of using a candle?” …*
Candle Magick is possibly one of the most popular forms of spell work/ritual available with many books published on the topic. Including two very popular ones from the same author “Practical CandleBurning Rituals” and “Advanced Candle Magick” both by Raymond Buckland.
Beyond all the colours, smells and symbols there is symbolism in the lighting and burning of the candle itself. Please note however, this is my personal opinion and symbolism of my own creation. It is not universally accepted and I have not seen anything published publically about it at this point. However, the symbolism is rather simple so I am sure something similar would already exist.
Lets assume you have already began your ritual, you have a black candle setup and all your initial work such as charging the candle (filling with energy) has been complete and you are about to light it. This is where this explanation of the symbolism kicks off. (I recommend using “Black” candles by default when charging with energy, this is because of blacks receptive nature. However, feel free to use any symbolic colour you prefer. I also use other symbolism depending on the ritual, for example: White to light the working area, and black as the charged candle and vice versa. Black to light the working area, to absorb any negative energy that would attempt to move in and interfere with the ritual, and white because it represents “Light” and does not so easily absorb energy, which would include energies which would interfere with the energy you have moved into the candle.)
These three aspects combined create the symbolism of the Candle and its flame.
1. The Colour: Simply, black absorbs energy. Its use in this explanation is for the feminine principle in its “Receptive” nature (gender principles do not refer to actual physical genders… an explanation of this would require its own blog. If you get all anti as a few have in my experience, you are not yet ready to be working any of the material in my posts and I suggest more theory work).
2. The Candle: The candle represents “stability” and “form” and is also feminine in its principle. It also represents “Earth” and the “dark” creative womb of the Mother.
3. The Flame: The flame represents the counter part (some Wiccans would describe this as the “Consort”) of the Black candle: Light of the Flame – Black of the Candle. It represents the masculine principle in “Force”. It also represents the element of “Fire” and the flame of spirit.
The Lighting of the Candle:
When the candle stands alone, uncharged, before you being to “impregnate” it with your will. It represents the Dark void – nothingness. It represents “Form” without “Force”.
Once the candle has been charge with your “Will” and filled with “Energy” it now has a force dormant within it. “Impregnated” with your will.
Lighting the Candle represents the “Force” which puts motion and action into the form. The flame represents the life force of the candle. From its birth into life at its lighting, to its death when its physical matter is destroyed and the flame extinguished.
In the lighting and burning down of the candle, one does not destroy the other. Rather they unify to create. Bring into being the “Will” or “goal” which the ritual was directed toward. For a simple example, you can liken it to the Phoenix, which destroys (burns) itself and from the ashes a new phoenix arises. The physical being of the candle once lit can be liken also to some theories around what happens after our lives, while the flame of life burns within us, we are learning and working toward our spiritual goals. While the flame of the candle is burning, it is working toward the goal with which we have charged it. Once completely burnt out, its energy is then release, as our spirit is released from our physical body, to complete its “spiritual” work.
The energy impregnated into the form and given purpose through our will is released upon the destruction of its physical form. It is “Passive” in its form (charged candle), “Active” in its release (lit candle) and is “Formative” as a result.
The destruction of one form to build anew the next.
*… And I answered: “In candle magick; we Destroy to Recreate”.
Sunday Morning and the bell tolls for the church across the road. The perfect alarm to start making a coffee.
Last week, this had me thinking, the minimum expected attendance for our coven member is only 8 days. The Church across the road… around 52 days. Dragging myself out of bed in the morning is hard enough, without sacrificing every weekend also.
I have decided to share the Attendance expectations of my coven and some others I have meet with.
Our Coven… You are expected to attend the eight Major dates (The wheel of the Year). We do hold a few nights, about 4 to 8 a year which we meet for the full and new moons.
Other Covens… Expectations are either non-existant, similar or more extreme. Some meet Every Full Moon and the eight major dates. Others seem to have member come and go without any knowing due to no expectation.
The theory behind our Covens design is:
We can meet and due group rituals at this time. Discuss coven “Business”, perform “Initiations”, have the majority of the Coven present when a potential Fledgling visits for the first time, etc, etc.
Some Full and New Moons:
During Full and New moons a lot of members like to do their own “personal” workings. By creating a few “optional” meetings during these moon phases (especially applicable to new members) we can cover some ritual basics: Theory and Practice.
Even though we say these dates are “Expected”. The expectation is that you attend, or notify the High Priest/ess of your absence. This keeps us informed that you are still a member or wanting to retain membership. Just like some work place situations, three strikes and your out… kind of. After three absences without notification to the “Expected” meetings and you forfeit your voting rights when electing the next High Priest and High Priestess as well as your rights for advancement (you stay in the current Degree + Grade and when/if you return you start that term from the beginning). The High Priest/ess is expected to attempt to contact you, if no contact is made and a 4th date is missed; membership is revoked.
Why so strict? Because we have initiation and advancement dates, by not notifying the Coven it messes with the dates causing delays for other members. This is why, if you are due for advancement and you only make contact on before the 4th date, you have to start the term again, because your reserved place for advancement would’ve well passed and have been push back.
Structures and Systems are what have kept our Coven alive. A lot fall apart because there is no base understanding, no knowing of the expectations. You attend one of the main meetings, and you are informed of the up and coming optional meetings, as well as initiation and advancement dates. Communication is Key! If you join a Coven, my advice is to get as much time in as you can in the early stages. Discover the rules/mutual agreements as well as ritual techniques the coven employ, even if they are dissimilar to your own preferred method. Personal ritual work can always be uniquely yours, but coven work has usually been worked upon and agreed upon by members so that all are happy with the system.
When rituals beyond lighting candles and mumbling some poetry begin, some strange feelings can occur.
When you begin to raise and direct energy, assume god forms or attempt to go out of body, these feelings will occur.
In the West we gained enlightenment and developed spiritually through Ritual, while in the East they used Meditation. Merging the two together, West and East, as with God and Goddess, Mercy and Severity, Yin and Yang, and so on. We can form a total system.
Some Wiccans incorporate Yoga such as Kundalini, which I will be covering here, because it is far easier and more a stable method of attaining the same results. Rather than just from intense ritual work for this spiritual awakening.
Just because one Speaks Spanish, does not mean they can not enjoy Sushi. Just because one Practices Martial Arts, does not me they can not be peaceful. The same applies to Wicca and Kundalini, just because ones religion is Wicca, does not mean they can not practice Yoga. Merging Kundalini and other forms of Yoga into your system is fairly simple, or you can keep it separate, the same way you would go to the gym for exercise and go to your sacred space for magick. Just because you practice magick, does not mean you can not practice rowing.
Take a look at how Aleister Crowley merged Kundalini with his system in this beautiful piece:
I am the Heart; and the Snake is entwined
About the invisible core of the mind.
Rise, O my snake! It is now is the hour
of the hooded and holy ineffable flower.
Rise, O my Snake, into the brilliance of bloom
On the corpse of Osiris afloat in the tomb!
O heart of my mother, my sister, mine own,
Thou art given to Nile, to the terror Typhon!
Ah me! but the glory of ravening storm
Enswathes thee and wraps thee in frenzy of form.
Be still, O my soul! that the spell may dissolve
As the wands are upraised, and the aeons revolve,
Behold! in my beauty how joyous Thou art,
O Snake that caresses the crown of mine heart!
Behold! we are one, and the tempest of years
Goes down to the dusk, and the Beetle appears.
O beetle! the drone of Thy dolorous note
Be ever the trance of this tremulous throat!
I await the awaking! The summons on high
From the lord Adonai, from the Lord Adonai!
The Golden Dawn also had a method vary similar to Kundalini work.
The Qabalistic Cross, instead of moving up from the base chakra, came down from just above the head, and down into the floor. Then from the heart centre spread out to each side. From a Kundalini sense, we could see this as work on our Arms and Legs, in preparation for Kundalini.
The Middle Pillar, this is by far the most obvious. Down from Kether, just above the crown light is drawn to the throat center, then to the heart center, the base center and to the feet and at either side stands the two pillars. This symbolised the Man on the tree of life. I did not agree completely with Regardie’s view on this, I believed that the 7 chakra can be likened to 7 aspects of the tree. Kether = The Crown, the synthesis of Chokma and Binah = The Brow, the synthesis of Chesed and Geburah = The Throat, Tiphareth = The Heart, the synthesis of Netzach and Hod = The Solar Plexus, Yesod = The abdomen and Malkuth the Base chakra. The arms and legs already worked in the Qabalistic cross and also the belief in one of the simplest forms of Qabala, the Tree of 11 sephiroth was the Evil Tree. The goal is not to assimulate oneself with the Tree of the Qlippoth, but with the Tree of Life. Not including Daath, but eventually returning Tiphareth to its correct place (Daath) that was left after the fall.
In Wicca Kundalini can be merged in many ways, and this is totally up to your creative skills. There is no set way to merging, and to my knowledge there is no Wiccan Tradition which directly mentions Kundalini, though practices (as with Crowley’s and the Golden Dawns previously mentioned) that are very similar do exist.
There are many ways of raising Kundalini. The quickest way, and probably the most dangerous way is to overload/over stimulate the base chakra. When the base chakra is overloaded it bursts with energy that moves upward, activating all the other chakra until it reaches full Kundalini or hits a blockage.
Another way, is longer, but said to be safer. And that is to stimulate all your chakra, one at a time, work them a prepare them attempting to remove any blockages. Then stimulate each chakra until you feel the “pressure” one at a time from the base to the Crown. This can in itself trigger kundalini, but usually the base is stimulated to the overload point again, and Kundalini Awakens.
Another method is with long meditation sessions just moving your consciousness up and down your spine, around your aura, etc, in a fashion you choose.
My Recommended Method
Spend a bit of time “opening” or “stimulating” each of the chakras. Don’t just overload the base and expect it to work, it can cause some serious discomfort and the need to stop practice if it hits a blockage with too much force. Working the other chakra and even the path prior to attempting to raise Kundalini will reduce this risk. For those who have practiced the above Western methods of the Cross and Pillar, the path is prepared, the 7 chakra now just need to be prepared and full Kundalini is not far off.
There are many good books of Kundalini. Basic principle. Don’t buy to deeply into the scare tactics, though some dangers do exist, I am sure there are thousands of people who practice Kundalini who well say differently.
Find a system you like. I recommend reading both the Modern methods and the more traditionally correct methods. You will find modern works which remove the core and create, through the authors practical experience, a method which delivers results quicker. Similar to Crowley’s work in Book 4 part 1 which summed up the main points of importance and allowed people to gain a good level in Dharana in a few months, rather than spending years learning and mastering countless Asana before even glimpsing Dharana (Dharana being of great importance in Magick — loosely translating to “Concentration”).