Whereas Catholic religious practice presents us with the novena (nine-day) candle, in hoodoo, we see instead the seven-day candle, sometimes referred to by older practitioners as the "7-day vigil candle," due to its being burned for difficult cases or ongoing situations over the course of seven days, while one watches and waits for divinatory signs.
There are four types of 7-day candles used in hoodoo:
The candle divided by seven needles or pins:
I believe that this is the oldest form of the 7-day candle. To make one, take a regular offertory or jumbo-size candle and seven needles or pins. Poke the needles into the candle, dividing it into seven equal parts (the seventh needle or pin can go at the top or at the bottom, but no one i know ever uses SIX needles or pins to divide the candle into seven parts). Write your wish (or seven wishes) on a piece of paper. Turn the paper 90 degrees sideways and write your full name over the wish or wishes seven times, crossing and covering the previous writing with your name. Place the paper under the candle. Dress the candle with an appropriate oil. Burn it for seven nights, pinching it out (NOT blowing it out) each time a needle falls. Save the needles when they fall. When the last needle falls, stick the needles into the paper in the form of two X patterns surrounding one double-cross pattern (that has two lines crossing one upright line). Dispose of the ritual remains in an appropriate way : Bury the paper and any leftover wax under your doorstep if your intention is to draw something or someone to you. Throw the paper and wax away at a crossroads, in running water, or in a graveyard if the intention is to get rid of something or someone.
THE SEVEN KNOB CANDLE:
I have seen ads for these under the name "The Famous 7-Knob Wishing Candle" dating back at least to the 1930s; they might be older, but i do not know. They are mentioned favourably in Henri Gamache's "Master Book of Candle Burning" (written in 1942) and they are very popular in the African-American community, which seems to indicate that they are efficacious. Seven-knob candles generally come in four colours, with the usual symbolism implied (white for blessing or wishing, red for love or sex, green for money or gambling luck, black for destruction or revenge). Carve a brief wish on each knob -- either the same wish seven times or seven different wishes, one per knob. Dress the candle with an appropriate oil. Burn it for seven nights, pinching it out (NOT blowing it out) each time a knob is gone.
THE SEVEN CHARM SORTILAGE CANDLE:
This is a hand-made candle that contains seven tiny metal charms (milagros or ex-votos) inside, which are revealed one per day as you burn the candle down over the course of seven days. It is more common in Latin America than in the USA. Often the charms are religious as well as lucky, and they may include a cross, an angel, the powerful hand of God, a man's head, a woman's head, and so forth.
THE SEVEN-WISHES GLASS ENCASED CANDLE:
This style of 7-day candle only became popular from the 1970s onward. It is made with seven layers of wax in different colours, poured into a tall, narrow glass container. Burn one layer each day with appropriate prayers or wishes. It's interesting to note that this is the same size and shape of candle which the Catholics call a novena candle, although they expect it to burn for nine days. For many more examples of glass encased candles in both the Catholic and hoodoo traditions, see the sections below on glass encased religious candles and glass encased vigil candles.
Sunday, April 25, 2010