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Wednesday, April 28, 2010


Lots of folks don't have full privacy to do spell-casting in their homes. They may live with their parents, or they may live in shared housing such as a dormitory, or -- tough as it is -- they may be performing a spell that is intended to directly affect a family member in the home, such as a spouse, child, or in-law. Pretty much every system of magical working can be adapted to function under conditions of secrecy, but candle-burning is the most difficult form of rootwork or conjure to hide, for obvious reasons.

One method used by many practitioners to conceal candle work is to burn the candles a bit at a time and hide them between burnings.

When candles are burned a bit at a time -- which we call "burning in sections" -- they may be left up on the altar or hidden away between lightings. It is customary to burn them for at least 15 minutes at each session -- just long enough to get them going well and to spend some time over them in prayer or petition before putting them out. In order to keep one's link to the candles continuously strong during the switches from "on" time to "off" time, practitioners long ago developed two further traditions, "pinching them out" (for all candles) and "wrapping them up" (for candles that are hidden away).

In hoodoo, one oft-heard piece of advice is, "You should never blow a candle out if you want to return to it, because that ends the spell, but if you pinch it out, you can come back to it any time." This is a customary, but not compulsory, way to deal with candles that are to be burned in sections. When i say "customary but not compulsory," i mean that you may work differently, but you will be in the minority, since most hoodoo practitioners prefer to pinch out candles when a spell is ongoing and the candle must be stopped for a time.

To pinch out a candle, just lick your thumb and first finger and -- sffft! -- put out the wick. Or, you can keep a pretty metal candle snuffer at the altar (and it can do double-duty as a shaper for incense cones).

Pinching or snuffing out the light is done for all candles burned in sections -- that is, both for candles that will be left on the altar and for those that will be hidden away.

When hiding away candles or any other altar objects, it is the custom in hoodoo to wrap and tie them. This secures their spiritual energy, and marks them as still being in use. The most common way to wrap candles that are being burned in sections is to place them in a brown paper grocery bag and twist the top shut. They may also be rolled up in a flat piece of brown grocery bag paper and tied with cotton packaging twine.

As you can see, burning candles in sections does not "ruin the work." On the contrary, it is a common, practical, and useful way to work, and it is so often done that an entire set of terms and traditions has grown up around the custom of burning in sections.

Another way to burn candles in secret is to have spiritual practioners, such as those at Missionary Independent Spiritual Church, set lights for you, but hoodoo will enjoy hoodoo more and learn to become a sharper practitioner if you try working candle spells on your own.

Remember, too, if you are new to candle magic, to be careful and safe with fire -- don't set lights near wind-blown curtains, nor where pets can knock them over.