By Michael Forde
Wax is a very delicate and interesting magical ingredient. On a basic level it represents potential energy (as a fuel it can be burnt) and a giver of energy in rituals through warmth and light. This feeds into the use of wax, with a lit wick, to pour energy into ritual as a form of exchange or sacrifice.
This energy is added to our own and lasts long after we finish the prayer or ritual. So to a first approximation the wax is merely our material to prolong the energy given to a spiritual work or experience. In this way we can see that burning any suitable fuel such as olive oil, palm oil, coconut oil, beeswax, paraffin, soy wax etc can be used in this way. Indeed, wax is an offering.
Taking things up a notch, in more afro-centric traditions, we say the wax represents the devotee (mankind). Like wax the heart (desire) of man melts and wanes until it is transformed into something else; like wax man gives off light (an aura) which can attract or repel other beings and objects, like wax man has the potential to give energy to any work.
We liken the candle’s wax while it is burning to our desires waning because they are being fulfilled. In other words the burning of the wax releases the energy to make our desires manifest and as they manifest we no longer have need of them so they (desires) wane into nothingness.
I have also heard the explanation by older spiritists that the wax is like the womb of a woman and the wick like the sperm of a man. Basically this association says that the wax is always ready to be embedded with our intent; sort of an empty well full of the structure of a well but without the water to make it useful. The womb is fertile but never on its own in humans as it needs an extra source or ignition from the male to get things going.
We could write a whole article on the biology and its likeness to the use of candles here but I won’t bother to go that far. Though the association previously mentioned is not very popular it is very true. This association is the driving force behind use of wax in candle magic. We impregnate the wax with life (through the wick) and then the wax impregnates our petition with its energy.
Up a notch again we start associating the wax with the divine avatar. Back in the day I used to hear in church, “Jesus is the light of the world, and you must be a light like him” followed by the whole doctrine about not putting your light under a bushel. Now in this doctrine many people failed to realise the meaning behind the avatar represented as a lit candle.
The body of the avatar (Christ) is like wax that melts while its purpose is being accomplished and the divinity of the avatar (words and teaching) is like the light that creates a lasting impression on the viewer by sight or by feeling heat. This reminds us that when we become more like the avatars we too must give of ourselves as part of the cycle of salvation.
There is another line of doctrine I’m recalling now that says we are like wax that melts and is no more.
So there you have it….wax and wicks have a meaning after all.