Candle Magic: A Witch’s Guide to Spells and Rituals, by Lucya Starza
Moon Books, 978-1785350436, pp. 128., 2016
Candle Magic: A Witch’s Guide to Spells and Rituals is an excellent resource for anyone interested in candle magick for any purpose. It is concise and written in a style that neatly straddles whimsy with straightforward advice and information. Lucya Starza wrote the book for both candle magick novices and longtime practitioners, and this definitely comes through. She starts simply, discussing the basics of candle magick, and increases its complexity, which is significant, especially considering this is a short volume. By adding elements as readers go, candle magick can be made as elaborate and personal as one wishes.
Lucya Starza is a UK-based Pagan and eclectic witch who has been practicing for more than 30 years. She makes the work of candle-based ritual instantly familiar by invoking readers’ memories of spellwork in common practices: birthday candles, candlelit dinners for romance, candlelit baths for self-care, and use of candles in non-Pagan religious contexts, such as in Catholic mass.
The structure of the volume is well thought out. She introduces the basics of candle types and includes considerations pertaining to colour, and scent. She does discuss placement for ritual and ceremonial use later in the book, but early on she introduces elements I hadn’t seen discussed elsewhere in relation to candles: herbs, chakras, moon phases, and even days of the week are all discussed as possible elements to incorporate into one’s candle magick. Gemstones are also covered for complementary use.
Starza encourages creativity, and explains how one might go about selecting herbs, for example, and preparing them for use in candle ritual. This can be as simple as adding ground rosemary to softened candle wax for the purpose of a protection ritual.
She provides an excellent basic grimoire of elements readers might consider to begin ritual and spellwork, and also provides the basic examples that readers can use or expand upon. Her tradition of eclecticism in her witchcraft comes through beautifully, and the reader is encouraged to feel empowered in creation of their own magical rituals. For example, she describes how candle colour dictates recommended use, but also advises the reader to meditate on the colours also, and use those associations preferentially for spellwork and ritual. Starza is not a dogmatic or authoritarian witch!
This is critical for those beginning candle magick, in order to encourage creativity in the development of spells and ritual that have personal meaning, and to communicate the understanding that we are in charge of our own magical practice. This book is also an excellent primer for more experienced Pagans, who are likely to appreciate her thoughtful and creative approach.
Candle Magic isn’t a regimented book with hard and fast rules. It’s also remarkably easy to follow considering the complexity that Starza incorporates. The second section is devoted to ceremony and ritual, and expands on how a witch might combine the basics of colour and placement and all the wonderful gem, herbal, essential oil, chakra, moon phase, and other elements explored in the first section.
The foundations of candle magick are made more complex when they are added to altars, used in casting circles and in seasonal celebrations. Each of the seasons are discussed according the witches’ calendar, incorporating suggested ritual considerations and candle recommendations. In the third section she discusses using candles to facilitate meditation and divination including psychic sight. She discusses also how one can incorporate flame and smoke into meditation and divination, which was new to me. She discusses scrying into smoke for instance, which lends a wonderful and interesting element to candle work that I hadn’t considered previously. The incorporation of divination and visualization add new layers and complexity to candle magick.
I liked that she saved an exploration into candle history and candle-making for the last section. It seems appropriate that a typical reader is more likely to want to delve into the history of candle use and to consider making candles after the practical applications of the craft are understood.
Starza also includes an excellent and concise bibliography at the end of the book. She relates to the reader that she generally consults a volume in her reference library when she is working on creating a ritual. This is significant as it lets the reader know that not only is learning about witchcraft, or Paganism (or any of the many spiritual practices that fall under those mantles), is never complete; it also communicates that even experts require these resources.
As the practitioner learns more and adds to their personal grimoire, they are able to improvise more and with greater confidence to achieve desired outcomes. Yet, there is always a need for volumes like Starza’s, which familiarize practitioners with the basics, provide inspiration for innovation, and introduce new elements to spiritual practice. She does incorporate ideas about ethics, (for example, in the tradition of the Wiccan Rede, “harm none, do what ye will”) discouraging spellwork that affects others; but also playfully gives the reader permission to use their own discretion if they feel spellwork is necessary to discourage a thief, for example.
I love the way this book is presented. I would recommend it to anyone who is motivated to read about candle magick. One of my favourite things about it is the amount of information Starza covers in an accessible way that encourages the reader not only to improvise, but also to seek out more information about the elements that most appeal to them.
I’ve been inspired to revamp my own altar for summer solstice using this book as a resource. I have already planned to incorporate the magical herb, colour, essential oil and moon correspondences that she recommends. Candle Magic: A Witch’s Guide to Spells and Rituals is an excellent addition to a Pagan or witch’s library for reference and use in planning ritual and ceremony.