All things are chem-mechanic and made of magick. Magick is the design of function. Magick has essence (form, arrangement) and existence (what it does / is).
Candles are a specific mortal magick. Candle-makers, candle historians and candle buyers are the candle experts. Occult, religious and social activities often incorporate candle and wax magick.
Before we begin this candle magick class, please check out one of Spookywood's favorite YouTube channels — The Dead of Night. The Dead of Night ambience videos focus on dark, eerie and atmospheric soundscapes for sleep, study, reading, writing, relaxation and meditation.
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Candles began with the use of animal and plant fats and oils compressed into fuel and ignited for flame. Candles were used to light and warm spaces and facilitate human survival.
Feeling the warmth of an amber glow powered by freshly-caught game may not be the typical candle experience any longer, but their history adds dimension to what can be appreciated about candle magick. Spookywood defines magick as the design of function.
Candles are a composition of wax, wick and oil. They bring ambience, coziness and color to special events and home spaces.
The candle is a fetish when used to concentrate the brain's attention and neural simulation. Colors, fragrances and symbols summon the senses to instigate different thoughts according to our emotions, memories and dreams.
Some of the earliest preserved candles were crafted in China and Japan using whale fat, insects and tree nuts. The Romans made wicked candles by mixing papyrus into beeswax and different fats. Wax can be made, as demonstrated by our ancestors, from tree barks, saps and aromatic berries.
Michel Eugene Chevreul
Michel Eugene Chevreul is known as the father of lipid chemistry. He was a chemist during the 19th century who discovered a method of dissolving soap in water, treating it with hydrochloric acid and separating insoluble acids from fatty acids into layered solutions.
He studied how fats, when heated, can be separated from glycerol, a simple polyol compound that is colorless, odorless, sweet-tasting and non-toxic. Glycerol can be found in toothpaste, lotions, cosmetics, edible sweeteners, flavors and cough syrup.
Chevreul pioneered research in plant and animal fats and co-founded a candle manufacturing patent with J.L. Guy-Lussac, a French physicist and chemist who discovered that water is two parts hydrogen and one part oxygen.
Image Description: A Portrait of Elderly Michel Eugène Chevreul with Fuzzy White Hair
Michel Eugène Chevreul contributed to the arts by theorizing the law of simultaneous contrasts — the observation that every color, when placed beside another color, appears different from what it really is. Thus, proximity modifies color.
Chevreul was a color theorist and director of the dyeing department at the Manufacture Royale des Gobelins in Paris.
He was known to hate beer, wine and the smell of tobacco smoke. He didn't like politics, and he endured PTSD from witnessing the execution of two young girls during the French Revolution.
In 1963, the Association Française pour l'Étude des Corps Gras (AFECG) (French Association for the Study of Fat Substances) announced the Chevreul Medal awarded to anyone who makes significant progress in the field of fats.
Candle shops were made popular in England and France in the middle ages by chandlers (candlemakers) who go from door to door making candles out of kitchen fats and showing families how to prepare them also.
During the 1800s, women and children would visit marshy woods and collect rush — a stalky, stemlike plant used for weaving baskets, chairs and making rushlights. Rushlights are stripped, thin strands of rush processed in fatty grease. The rinds are dipped in the hot fat, cooled then dipped again to make the inexpensive, layered and waxy candle.
Rushsticks were popular candleholders made of iron and sometimes wood. Rushlights may resemble taper candles, or they may look more like whiskers and waxy shoestrings.
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Candle crafting slowed down after the production of Edison's light bulb in 1879 in addition to lamps and oil burners. Candle manufacturing was less about warming environments and more a method of adding decorative glow as the industrial revolution sweeps and introduces mass production. In the 1990s, however, candles makes an intense comeback in the West as a symbol of family and aspirations.
Spherical molds, bright patterns and potent synthetic fragrances were popular. A glasswork and beading technique millefiori was commonly used to decorate globular candles.
Gel candles were also popular alternative made mostly of oil but with 5% resin added. This makes for a clear, wiggly candle that can be scented and embellished with glass marbles, sand, seashells and crystals. They are quite stunning even when not burned. Gel candles have a sad reputation of being toxic and fire hazardous, but when made correctly in candle-safe containers, they can be used without much harm.
Gel candles in champagne or thin-glass containers should not be burned, but they can be used for decoration. Only use candle-safe containers since they can burst and ignite fires. Another less-risky method of lighting gel candles is illuminating them with LED lights.
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Some of the bigger candle brands of the 90s and 2000s were Village Candles, Glade, Yankee Candle and Bath and Body Works. Colonial Candle was famous for PartyLights events that were similar to Tupperware parties. By the 2000s, candles had generated billions of dollars in profit through the sale of pillar candles, tealights, votives and novelties.
★ Wax Base (soy oil, coconut oil, jojoba oil, hemp oil, sweet almond oil, etc.)
★ Stearic Acid / Oleic Acid
★ Wax Double Boiler
★ Thermometer (food grade is multi-useful!)
★ Candle Molds / Containers
★ Wax Pourer
★ Spoon / Stirrer
★ Non-Toxic Fragrances / Essential Oils
★ Finely-Ground Herbs *optional (caution: fire hazard)
★ Micas, eco-glitters, crystals (powders can be clumpy)
★ Non-toxic dyes (avoid phthalates, parabens, paraffin that isn't food-grade)
★ Cotton Wicks
★ Wick Wax Dots (non-toxic adhesive to hold the wick in place during process pouring)
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Factory candle processing has heavy machinery that executes larger and more complex functions at faster speeds.
First, cotton is twisted and ran through paraffin. When the oil hardens, cotton is cut into wicks in a cooler location. This is a cold process that requires very low facility temperatures to keep the wax soft and snow-like to avoid clogging production units. Sprinklers shoot wax into a fine substance that gets ran through hydraulic presses that mold the wax into candles using pressure, not heat.
After setting, a wick machine sticks a large, pointy rod through the molded candle to place the wick. Traditional dipped candles start as wicks and are submerged subsequently into layers of wax around 25 to 30 to get a layered candle. These traditional candles are usually dipped in hot dye afterwards for a bright and alluring presentation. A fun activity is to dip your own candles at home or find a local novelty shop that provides the service!
Image Description: GIF of a Rotating Candle-Making Machine
Thousands of small business owners are making candles across the nation and globe. Candle making at home has become more accessible and realistic. It does requires a set of ingredients and a little bit of investment money, but if you plan on it, you can enjoy crafting candles at home for enjoyment or as a small business venture!
Soy wax is a good wax to begin with for candle-making. Check out candlemaker suppliers like Pro Candle Supply, Candle Science, Shay and Company and other online retailers. Local wax makers can be found on Facebook Marketplace, Etsy and Ebay as well as containers and eco-friendly additives. Since candle-making is time-consuming, you can also support candlemakers like Spookywood!
To make your candles at home, have a double boiler ready to warm the wax. Keep the wax warmed at least a temperature of at least 175*F pre-pour. A stove on low/medium heat does fabulous for heating your double boiler if it's not electric.
Image Description: Blue Ignited Stovetop Flame
Prepare your wicks in safe containers. Purchasing jars specific for candle-making are a good way to avoid breakage and combustion. Securing your wicks with adhesive wax or non-toxic glue dots to the bottom of the container. These hold the wicks in place while you pour the wax.
If you're using a microwave, use a microwave-safe container and heat the wax for 30 seconds to 2 minutes, until the wax is melted without clumps. Have a food thermometer ready to check and see if the temperature of your wax is ready for pouring.
Before you start the pour, let the wax cool to ~155*F. Use metal pourers with angled spickets for a smooth, successful pour. Messy pours can be costly, so it's worth giving yourself time to practice and gaining muscle memory!
Add 3-12 drops of your preferred fragrance and pigments or eco-glitter now. Adding fragrance at this temperature helps to keep the scent and color saturated.
Have a spoon ready and paper towels to wipe clean your tools between pours (some waxes can be cleaned with soapy water but others may need rubbing alcohol). Wipe your tools clean when the wax is warm and don't ever pour wax (or any kind of grease or fatty substance) into your drains.
Smaller candles can be removed from molds (unless they are jarred) within as little as a few hours. This depends on the candle's volume and container. If in doubt, leave candles to set and harden for 48-72 hours before use.
*Always trim your wick before every burn and at least every 1/4th mark of your candle! This helps to distribute the oil and fragrance evenly and will avoid smokey jars and ashy wick clumps.
Browse thrift and antique shops for candle snuffers, plates and trimmers.
Always trim your wick before every burn to avoid clumpy wicks, smokey jars and uneven burns.
Image Description: Sparkling Pink-Tinted Gif of a Clear Gel Candles with Red Hearts Lit in a Clear Sphere Jar
The magick of a candle can be secular. Candle magick, if not used for survival, is a tool that ignites nostalgia, sensory pleasure and inspiration for neural simulations.
Colors and fragrances in the candle associate the brain with distinct images, emotions and experiences based on the contents as well as the magickian's brain in response to colors, fragrances, themes and imagery.
Candle shopping is a personal experience where you get to choose your favorite colors, scents, waxes and mold types. If you're adventurous and habitual, special interests in candles make for great collectors items and keepsakes. As novelties, they are peerless gifts and cognitive portals to dreams of food, weather, landscapes, goals, holidays and much more.
Spookywood's Cottage Wax Candles are handmixed in Tennessee using soy, coconut, hemp and food-good paraffin wax. They are available for purchase in The Cottage. Cottage Wax Candles are made to order, colored and scented using non-toxic dyes and fragrances then wicked with twisted cotton. Candles are vegan, cruelty free and lack toxins, parabens and phthalates.
Thank you for learning about candles and participating in Spookywood's vision to preserve consciousness with atheist magick, multimedia and science!
SHORT FILM RECOMMENDATION
Jekyll, Gertrude. (1904). Old West Surrey: Some Notes and Memories. London: Longmans, Green, & Co. https://victorianweb.org/technology/domestic/1.html
List, Gary R. (2021). Michel Eugène Chevreul. AOCS Lipid Library. https://lipidlibrary.aocs.org/resource-material/the-history-of-lipid-science-and-technology/michel-eug%C3%A8ne-chevreul-(1786-1889)
P. K. Gode (1951). History Of Wax-Candles In India (A. D. 1500-1900). Annals of the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, 32(1-4), 146–165. doi:10.2307/41784587