Candles hold many different meanings and functions. They are ceremonial, ritualistic, symbolic and utilitarian all at the same time. They can shine bright or glow dull. They can flicker or synchronize movement with other candles, and they can blow out suddenly for no apparent reason. The way that a candle burns can hold hidden significance about other worlds, the energetics of a room, the direction a ritual is going, the presence of otherworldly ancestors or any number of spiritual occurrences.
For thousands of years, candles have been employed for spiritual insight. As a conduit for fire, the candle represents illumination in the dark, for both the material world and the spirit realm. The open flame is an avenue for communication to other realms of existence, making it useful for carrying prayers, transmitting chants and asking questions. One would light a candle to accompany them on journeys through darkness and unknown territory. The candle also symbolizes consumptive power, elemental magic and transformation. It is the ideal tool to have for conducting spells and practicing magic, positive or negative.
The way a candle burns has everything to do with what is happening around us. Invisible energy, much like the air, vibrations, or magnetic forces, influence the events that happen around us. If we pay close enough attention, our interpretations can help us decide what to do next or where to go from here.
Upon initiating magic, conducting a spell, praying or asking a question, there are subtleties to look for as the candle relays a deeper spiritual significance. Pay attention to smoke, sounds, the movement and strength of the flame and the quickness or slowness of the burn.
A Clean, Steady and Strong Burn
This generally means a green light, for your intent is clear and you prayer or spell has been successfully sent. Especially if the candle is burning in glass and there is no wax residue, scorching or blackening where the flame is, then there is a good chance your intentions will work in your favor and you will receive your answer or wish quickly.
A Slow, Weak Burn
This could point to a weakly conducted spell, prayer or general intention. Focus your energy, and perhaps fine-tune and direct your intention with time and effort. If the flame grows larger, it means your intentions are gaining power.
Hissing, Sizzling, Crackling or Popping
Listen closely! The one whom the message is directed is responding. A spirit or ancestor may be trying to work with you. The louder the sounds become, the stronger the will to communicate with you.
An Unsteady, Jumping, Sputtering or Flickering Flame
As long as there is no draft in the air, there may be resistance against you. Try putting more willpower and energy behind your intention. If you are directing a spell toward somebody, they could be picking up on it and working against it, consciously or not. The higher the jumping flame, the more resistance there is.
Puffs of White Smoke
Blessings upon you! A good sign indeed, as it indicates that your intentions were heard and will be granted.
Puffs of Black Smoke
There is something or somebody in the way and perhaps working against you. Negative energies might be being fought or purged.
Either your intent is insufficient or the spirit in question may disagree with your motives. Sharpen your intent, rephrase your prayer, question or plea and try again.
Your intentions are still being considered by your spirits. There is still work to be done. Keep focusing.
The Candle Doesn't Burn At All
Cleansing must be done before continuing. Smudge yourself and the room you are focusing in with purification herbs, like white sage or mugwort, to cleanse yourself of negative energies.
Burning Only On One Side
Expect only a partial response or an incomplete spell to happen. This could leave things unresolved or unsettled in daily matters. The type of candle could have been the culprit. Refocus your intention, find a better candle and try the process again for better results.
Burning With Multiple Flames
Two or more flames on a single candle could indicate that someone is either working alongside you or against you. Depending on your intentions, it could mean either unity or separation.
Of course, not every single thing the candle does is a sign. Variable factors such as a draft or even the way the candle was made will affect how it will burn. Also, every person may inspire a different meaning from each burn, so approach this ritual with a clear, open mind and proceed accordingly.